Once [Hide-key] saw the likes of the banana and corn macro pads, they knew they had to throw their hat in this strange and wonderful ring. Some family members suggested a sunflower, and off they went looking for inspiring images, finally settling on a more iconic and less realistic design which we think is quite beautiful.
This lovely little macro pad has seven keys hiding under those petals, with the eighth major petal concealing a XIAO RP2040 microcontroller. The rest of the major petals actuate a low-profile Kailh choc in — what else? — brown. Don’t worry, the middle isn’t a wasteland — there’s a low-profile rotary encoder underneath. Part of the reason this flower looks so great is that [Hide-key] started with SLA prints, but the paint choices are aces as well. If you’d like to grow your own sunflower, everything about this garden is open-source.
Oh yes, we totally covered the banana and the banana split, though we must have missed out on the corn. We hear that when you try it with butter, everything changes.
Via KBD #109
If you were ever looking for a small relaxing evening project that you could then use day-to-day, you gotta consider the Pico Hat Pad kit by [Natalie the Nerd]. It fits squarely within the Pi Pico form-factor, giving you two buttons, one rotary encoder and two individually addressable LEDs to play with. Initially, this macropad was intended as an under-$20 device that’s also a soldering practice kit, and [Natalie] has knocked it out of the park.
You build this macropad out of a stack of three PCBs — the middle one connecting the Pi Pico heart to the buttons, encoders and LEDs, and the remaining ones adding structural support and protection. All the PCBs fit together into a neat tab-connected panel — ready to be thrown into your favorite PCB service’s shopping cart. Under the hood, this macropad uses KMK, a CircuitPython-based keyboard firmware, with the configuration open-source. In fact everything is open-source, just the way we like it.
If you find yourself with an unexpected affinity for macropads after assembling this one, don’t panic. It’s quite a common side-effect. Fortunately, there are cures, and it’s no longer inevitable that you’ll go bananas about it. That said, if you’re fighting the urges to go bigger, you can try a different hand-wireable Pico-based macropad with three more keys. Come to find that one not enough? Here’s a 2×4 3D printable one.
Now, if you eventually find yourself reading every single Keebin’ With Kristina episode as soon as it comes out, you might be too far gone, and we’ll soon find you spending hundreds of dollars building tiny OLED screens into individual keys — in which case, make sure you document it and share it with us!
Continue reading “A Fun Low-Cost Start For Your Macropad Hobby”
Once again, [Dan Bostian] is ahead of the curve when it comes to bringing bunches of banana puns to the table, but we think you’ll find this banana split macropad
quite appealing nonetheless. Does this tasty thing look familiar? It ought to — we discovered, plucked, and uncovered the one-piece version
last summer, and this time, [Dan] simply made our two-piece, wireless dreams come true.
Peel back the — oh, forget it. Inside, you’ll find a nice!nano running the show from the right-hand board using ZMK firmware, and a banana-shaped chalk outline on the left-hand silkscreen that represents how completely [Dan] killed it with this build. You can use any switches you want, as long as they’re Cherry MX-compatible in the
shoe footprint department.
The PCBs are open source, of course, and so are the printed parts — it’s all there in the repo
. As for the stickers, well, you’ll have to produce those yourself.
[Thomas “Mel” Maillioux] is no stranger to the custom mechanical keyboard game — and faced with having to return to the office, they decided to whip up a sweet little macropad to both commemorate the occasion and make work a bit easier.
This cotton candy-colored block of beauty was designed to pay homage to [Mel]’s favorite joystick, the TRS-80 self-centering number with the single red, square button, and it looks fantastic. They started this journey by studying the key legends on their laptop to determine which macros might serve them best, based on which legends were the most worn.
Fortunately, all the macros they wanted to use — lock the workstation, save the current, active file, minimize/restore all windows, snap windows to the right or left, and volume control — are all macro’d already within Windows, so that made things rather easy.
Hardware-wise, it doesn’t get much easier than a Raspberry Pi Pico, some mechanical switches, an old USB cable, and donor CAT5 pairs so it looks pretty inside and out. Plus, the handy rotary encoder volume knob will mute and un-mute when pressed. We think the snap-fit enclosure looks great, and it needs no supports to boot. If you want to make your own, be sure to check out the repo.
Okay, we lied: macro pad making does get easier, provided you have access to a 3D-printer.
Via MKKC Discord
[Gili Yankovitch] has always wanted some kind of macro keypad for all those boss-slaying combos he keeps up the sleeve of his wizard robe while playing WoW. Seventeen years later, he finally threw down the gauntlet and built one. But really, this is an understatement, because Paws is kind of the customizable macropad to end all customizable macropads.
This thing is completely bespoke, and yet cookie cutter at the same time — but we mean that in the best possible way. Paws can be made in any shape or form, and quite easily. How is this even possible, you ask? Well, every single key has its own microcontroller.
Yep, each key has an ATtiny85 and a cute little ribbon cable, and these form a token ring network that talks to an Arduino, which provides the keyboard interface to the computer. To make things even easier, [Gili] built a simple programming UI that automatically recognizes the configuration and number of keys, and lets the user choose the most important bit of all — the color of the LED.
[Gili] wanted to combine all the skills he’s learned since the worst timeline started in early 2020 — embedded software, CAD, electronics, and PCB design. We’d like to add networking to that list, especially since he figured out a nice workaround for the slowness of I²C and the limitations of communication between the ‘tiny85s and the Arduino. Though [Gili] may have started out with a tall order, he definitely filled it. Want to get your paws on the design files? Just claw your way over to GitHub.
If your customization interests lie more toward what program is in focus, be sure to check out Keybon, which was one of the many awesome winners of our Odd Inputs and Peculiar Peripherals contest.
The need to provide custom controls for complex software packages has been satisfied in many ways, the most usual of which is to have a configurable keypad. It’s a challenge [Meir Michanie] has taken up in a slightly different way, by creating a custom touch-screen macro pad. Unlike the buttons, this allows entirely custom layouts with different shaped keys in any configuration.
At its heart is a versatile ESP32 touch screen development board of the type that can be found easily among the pages of your favorite online electronics mart. The Arduino IDE has been used to program the device, and configuration is as simple of providing it with a PNG of the desired layout, and a CSV file to define the buttons. The whole then connects via BLE where it’s presented to the host computer as a keyboard. The result is one of the coolest macro pads we’ve ever seen, with a limitless number of options.
With such a neat idea it’s perhaps no surprise among the numbers of macro pads that have made it to these pages there might be another take on the same idea.
The idea of a macro keypad is a great one, a set of keys programmable with frequent but complex tasks. But once programmed, how can the user keep track of which key does what? To save the world from grubby, hand-written sticky labels, here’s [Andreas Känner] with the Badger 2040 keypad — a macro pad with a display to show keymap info that’s fully programmable using CircuitPython.
At its heart is a Pimoroni Badger 2040 e-ink screen and RP2040 board which sits in a 3D-printed enclosure which in turn magnetically attaches to a 3D-printed keyboard enclosure. Inside is an I/O expander board, which is hand-wired to the switches. The firmware allows for easy configuration and even extension of the keypad itself, and presents itself to the host computer through USB. It’s even possible to have multiple different layouts on the same device.
Full details can be found in a comprehensive write-up on his website, and all the files are in a GitHub repository. If this doesn’t satisfy your need for customisable input goodness, then it’s not the first macro keypad we’ve shown you.