Cash register keyboard

Custom Keyboard From A Cash Register

Having a high-quality mechanical keyboard is often a rite of passage in the computing world, with gamers and coders alike having strong opinions on the best devices. Even then, the standard keyboard layout can be substantially limiting, and often something a little extra and customizable is needed beyond even the highest-quality QWERTY keyboards. Reddit user [RonaldMcWhisky] was looking for a keyboard to use for macros, and discovered that it is possible to put cash register keyboards into service for any unique task.

Cash register keyboards have a number of advantages over a standard QWERTY design. They have big keys, the keys can be labeled, and the keys can be ordered in a way the user wants. The hardware is also cheap since cash registers are everywhere. Adapting one to work with a standard computer took a little bit of doing. Since this is /r/linuxhardware, you’re not going to find any Windows support here, but assuming you have the minimum system requirements of a Linux install to recognize the keyboard itself, a Python script can handle the events as the keys are pressed and interpret them in whatever way you want.

The actual hardware in this specific build was a Wincor Nixdorf TA85P — let us know in the comments if you’ve got one of those in your junk box. But the idea of using a cash register for a custom keyboard is interesting, and certainly a lot of work is already done for you if you don’t want to build your own custom keyboard from the ground up.

Adaptive Macro-Pad Uses Tiny OLED Screens As Keycaps

When we first laid eyes on Keybon, the adaptive macro keyboard, we sort of wondered what the big deal was. It honestly looked like any other USB macro keyboard, with big icons for various common tasks on the chunky keys. But looks can be deceiving, and [Max.K] worked a couple of surprises into Keybon.

First of all, each one of Keybon’s buttons is actually a tiny OLED display, making the keycaps customizable through software. Each of the nine 0.66″ displays has a resolution of 64 x 48 pixels, which is plenty for all kinds of icons, and each is mounted over an SMD pushbutton switch. He had to deal with the problem of the keycaps just wobbling around atop the switch button without depressing it; this was solved with a 3D-printed cantilever frame that forced the keycaps to pivot only in one axis, resulting in clean, satisfyingly clicky keypresses.

The other trick that Keybon has is interactivity. By itself, it boots up with a standard set of icons and sends the corresponding keystrokes over USB. But when used with its companion Windows application, the entire macro set can be switched out to accommodate whatever application is being used. This gives the users access to custom macros for a web browser, EDA suite, CAD applications, or an IDE. The app supports up to eight macro sets and can be seen in action in the video below.

We love the look and the functionality [Max.K] has built into Keybon, but we wonder if e-ink displays would be a good choice for the keycaps too. They’re available for a song as decommissioned store shelf price tags now, and they might be nice since the icon would persist without power.

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Micro Macro Keyboard Is ‘Mega-Based

There’s a certain kind of joy that comes in throwing something together from spare parts, or from finding utility in a proof of concept for another project. [Clewsy] is cooking up something clacky and built this baby keeb to prove some stuff out, such as reading a key matrix. Now it’s become a music/media controller that looks great next to a giant matching volume knob.

Beneath the gently backlit Gateron blues is a custom ATMega32u4-based board, which is viewable through the clear acrylic bottom plate. That’s a nice touch. We’re not sure if the wood came from a picture frame, but if not, they seem like a great candidates for enclosure material.

This keeb looks fantastic, and we are partial to both the clear and the chrome keycaps. We can only hope [Clewsy] sends the details of the next build our way.

If you want to get started building keyboards, you can’t go wrong with a macro keyboard like this one. If you have way more than four macros in mind, build something bigger, like a custom game pad with a joystick.

Macros For A Mazda

[Arik Yavilevich] recently upgraded his second-gen Mazda’s control console, going from the stock busy box to an Android head unit that does it all on a nice big touchscreen. It can also take input from the handy steering wheel buttons — these are a great option for keeping your eyes on the road and occasionally startling your unsuspecting passengers when the radio station suddenly changes.

The only problem is that [Arik]’s stock steering wheel doesn’t have any media-specific buttons on it. After a short trip to the junkyard, [Arik] had a fancier wheel to go along with the new head unit.

[Arik] doesn’t use cruise control, and those particular buttons can’t be hooked up with reprogramming the car’s computer, so he made them into macro buttons that control the head unit over Bluetooth, using an STM32 black pill board stashed in the glove box.

[Arik] found out that the cruise control buttons don’t ride the CAN bus — they use a resistor ladder/voltage divider and go directly into the ECU. After that it was mostly a matter of finding the right wires and then cutting and re-routing them to make the buttons work on the ACC setting as well as ON. A brief demo video is idling after the break.

Have an old smart phone lying around? Of course you do. Why not make your own head unit?

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Build The Baddest Keypad On The Block With LEGO

Like so many of us, [EducatedAce] has been quelling the quarantine blues by resurrecting old projects and finding new challenges to fill the days. He’s just finished building this blocky macro keypad to hold a bunch of shortcuts for Photoshop, thus continuing and compounding the creative spree.

[EducatedAce] already had everything on hand except the Arduino Micro. Instead of standard key switches, this macro block uses 16 of the loudest, crunchiest tactile buttons out there — those big ones with the yellow stems that sound like small staplers.

And don’t worry — no LEGO or LEGO accessories were harmed in the making of this macro pad — the base plate and switch plate are 3D printed. [EducatedAce] has the STL files posted along with great build instructions if you want to wire one up for yourself.

This is a great project because it’s sturdy, it gets the job done without a lot of expense, and still looks like something you’d want on your desk. [EducatedAce] plans to rebuild it with uniformly colored bricks, but we think it looks great as-is, especially with those vented 1×2 pieces. If it were ours, we might use a different color for each row or column to help keep the shortcuts straight.

What? You’ve never printed your own interlocking building blocks before? Well, don’t limit yourself to 1:1 scale, otherwise the minifigs have won. Build a go-kart big enough for humans!

Custom Reddit Keyboard Only Needs One Hand

Sometimes you might want to browse your favorite social media site while eating a sandwich, or throwing darts, or fending off an attacker with a sword. You know, normal things that might occupy only one of your hands. If you’ve ever found yourself in such a situation, then this custom Reddit keyboard could be for you.

Built by [jangxx], this little board is about as simple as it gets. Even if you aren’t looking for a way to browse /r/cooking while practicing your single-handed egg cracking technique, the same principles could be used to quickly throw together a macro keyboard for whatever your particular needs might be.

Inside the 3D printed enclosure is nothing more exotic than an Arduino Pro Micro and five Cherry MX Red switches. The switches have been wired directly to the GPIO pins on the Arduino, and a simple Sketch takes care of the rest. [jangxx] has written the code in such a way that you can easily define the mapping of USB HID keys to physical switches right at the top of the file, making it easy to reuse for your own purposes.

As simple as this project is, we really like the trouble that [jangxx] went through on the 3D printed key caps. The white up and down arrows allow you to navigate through the posts, and the center key selects the one you want to view. Since it’s for Reddit, naturally the red and blue buttons for rapid voting. When you want to go back to the list of posts, just hit the center button again.

Back in 2011 we saw a dedicated Reddit voting peripheral, but we think the addition of simple navigation keys makes this project a bit more compelling. Incidentally, if you can think of any other reason you might want a one-handed keyboard for browsing Reddit…we definitely don’t want to hear about it.

Focus Stacking For Tiny Subjects

Focus stacking is a photographic technique in which multiple exposures are taken of a subject, with the focus distance set to different lengths. These images are then composited together to create a final image with a greater depth of field than is possible with a single exposure. [Peter Lin] built a rig for accurate focus stacking with very small subjects.

The heart of the rig is a motion platform consisting of a tiny stepper motor fitted with a linear slide screw. This is connected to an Arduino or PIC with a basic stepper driver board. While the motor does not respond well to microstepping or other advanced techniques, simply driving it properly can give a resolution of 15 μm per step.

The motor/slide combination is not particularly powerful, and thus cannot readily be used to move the camera or optics. Instead, the rig is designed for photography of very small objects, in which the rail will move the subject itself.

It’s a tidy build that would serve well for anyone regularly doing macro focus stack photography. If you’ve been trying to better photograph your insect collection, this one is for you. It’s a valuable technique and one that applies to microscopy too. Video after the break.

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