Illustrated Kristina with an IBM Model M keyboard floating between her hands.

Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Breadboard Macropad

For their first custom, hand-wired keyboard, [terryorchard] aka [70rch] didn’t want to mess with making a total split, and we don’t really blame them. However, as you can see, they ended up with a monoblock split, which aside from being our own personal preference, looks fantastic, and also happened to be what fit on the print bed.

What you’re looking at is a 40% remix of the Alice layout with a columnar stagger. It’s also a bit 6×3 Corne-inspired on the ergonomic front. Brain-wise, it’s got an exposed Elite Pi driving a matrix of Kailh Choc pinks and an EC11 encoder. The encoder scrolls by default, and then becomes a volume knob on the numbers and symbols layer. One super cool thing about this keyboard is the secret third layer, which is unlocked by pressing the rotary encoder. This leads to some home row mods and disables the outside columns, culminating in a test 3×5 with two layers.

Via KBD #112

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Gorgeous Sunflower Macropad Will Grow On You

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

The macropad PCB panel next to an assembled macropad

A Fun Low-Cost Start For Your Macropad Hobby

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!

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Custom Macro Pad Helps Deliver Winning Formulas

For those of us with science and engineering backgrounds, opening the character map or memorizing the Unicode shortcuts for various symbols is a tedious but familiar part of writing reports or presentations. [Magne Lauritzen] thought there had to be a better way and developed the Mathboard.

With more than 80 “of the most commonly used mathematical operators” and the entire Greek alphabet, the Mathboard could prove very useful to a wide number of disciplines. Hardware-wise, the Mathboard is a 4×4 macro pad, but the special sauce is in the key set implementation firmware. While the most straightforward approach would be to pick 16 or 32 symbols for the board, [Magne] felt that didn’t do the wide range of Unicode symbols justice. By implementing a system of columns and layers, he was able to get 6+ symbols per key, giving a much greater breadth of symbols than just 16 keys and a shift layer. The symbols with a dot next to them unlock variants of that symbol by double or triple-tapping the key. For instance, a lower or capital case of a Greek letter.

The Mathboard currently works in Microsoft Office’s equation editor and as a plain-text Unicode board. [Magne] is currently working on LaTeX support and hopes to add Open Office support in the future. This device was an honorable mention in our Odd Inputs and Peculiar Peripherals Contest. If you’d like to see another interesting math-themed board, check out the one on the MCM/70 from 1974.

Banana Split Macropad Is Dessert For Your Desk

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.

Pretty Pico Macropad Eases Transition Back To Office

[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

Deepdeck: Going Beyond The Macro Pad

We’re used to the idea of a macropad, a small extension keyboard for your computer whose keys can be programmed to the functions of your choice. They can be made in many ways, but they all follow a similar functionality. Deepdeck from [Nick Velasquez] is another matter, an attempt to make a macropad with functionality that goes way beyond simply pressing keys.

At its heart is an ESP32 module, and it makes full use of both Bluetooth and wireless networking capabilities. It can use Bluetooth when connecting to the host computer, and the wireless connection hosts both the configuration interface via a web server and an Internet connection from which it derives those special powers.  This is a macropad with programmable keys just like all the others, but it also has the ability to connect to online APIs programmed by the user. This allows it to automate complex queries involving other sources into a keypress, which gives it many more possibilities.

A tool such as this one is one of those things which requires a bit of thought as to exactly how it might be used. A normal API connected device might display the weather on a screen for instance, but how often does one need to type the weather forecast? However we can see that this extra online dimension will find as yet unseen applications, and we look forward to the idea being taken up with other macropads.