Num Pad Reborn As Stream Deck

Stream decks are cool and all, but they are essentially expensive, albeit sorta cool-looking macro pads. So why not try to make your own? You don’t necessarily have to start from scratch.

It all started when [dj_doughy] found an extremely clicky num pad in a recycle pile. It was so clicky, in fact, that even though [dj_doughy] didn’t need an external num pad, they wanted to keep it around as a fidget toy. From the video after the break, they look to be white ALPS switches. The only problem? It had a PS/2 connector.

Well, okay, there was another problem. The chip inside seemingly has no datasheet available. [dj_doughy] took to Discord for help, and was advised to just have the thing use extended keys, like F13-F24, and assign those as hotkeys in OBS.

In order to make it USB, [dj_doughy] need a microcontroller capable of acting as a Human Interface Device (HID). While [dj_doughy] tested using an Arduino Leonardo, they ended up using an Arduino Beetle due to its diminutive size. [dj_doughy] had a bit of trouble with the code sending two key presses, but found out they were just missing some variables. Now it works like a charm.

Would you like a macro pad that lets you physically reassign macros? Then check out this tile-based macro pad.

Students 3D Print Low Cost Braille Keypad

Numerical keypads are common entry devices for everything from home security systems to phones and more. Unfortunately, a great deal of them are difficult to use if you’re visually impaired. This high-contrast Braille keypad aims to solve those issues with simple design choices.

The keypad was developed as a school project by students [Nicholas Nguyen] and [Daniel Wang]. It uses a regular layout, with 1 at the top left and 9 at the bottom right. The keypad itself is 3D printed with large buttons for easier use. Each button has its numeral inlaid on the face which allows it to be easily filled in with paint for high-contrast readability.

The real neat feature, though, is that each individual button features its relevant number in Braille. The pips are directly 3D printed into the shape of each button. For those that familiar with the tactile writing system, this makes the keypad much easier to use. It obviates the need to guess at the keypad’s orientation, and we’re honestly surprised we don’t see this on more devices out in the wild.

We’ve featured a variety of neat Braille hacks over the years, including this neat tactile display.

Continue reading “Students 3D Print Low Cost Braille Keypad”

Recreating A Numpad For The ADM-3A

[Evan] already had a working ADM-3A (a dumb terminal from 1976) but was starting to eye the accessories hungrily. He had only seen the numpad on Wikipedia and in the manual. So when he found some authentic stackpole numpads on a surplus sale, he grabbed them and converted them to be ADM-3A compatible.

Looking at the schematic for the ADM-3A, [Evan] figured out that the numpad was parallel to the keyboard matrix, not adjacent. This meant that pressing a five on the keyboard was electrically equivalent to pressing a five on the keyboard. So holding shift while punching on the numpad leads to some unexpected characters for those of us used to more modern keyboards. Since [Evan] only needed to make one or two of these, he soldered wires directly to switch contacts in the matrix that the ADM-3A expects. A 3d printed housing, some rubber feet, and a ribbon cable later, it was done. While it looks slightly different from the original, the vibe is right, and given that it is a stackpole switch, it has the same feel. With the spare numpads, he created a replacement PCB that runs QMK and connects to a more modern computer via USB-C. The files for the 3d printed housing are also up on GitHub, along with the PCBs and QMK configuration files.

If you’re interested in what more you can do with an ADM-3A, why not hook it up to a Raspberry Pi?

Rotary Dial Number Pad Is The Perfect Prank For Retro-Phone Enthusiast

We’re not sure about the rest of you, but to us, a keyboard without a number pad all the way over to the right just seems kind of — naked? We might not be accountants, but there’s something comforting about having the keypad right there, ready for those few occasions when you need to enter numbers more rapidly than would be possible with the row of number keys along the top of the keyboard.

What we are sure about, though, is that rapid numeric keying is not what this rotary dial numpad keyboard is all about. In fact, it’s actually an April Fool’s prank [Squidgeefish] played on a retro-phone-obsessed coworker, and it worked out pretty well. Starting with an old telephone dial from what must be an exceptionally well-stocked parts bin, [Squidgeefish] first worked out the electrical aspects of interfacing the dial with a cheapo mechanical keyboard. It turns out that there’s a lot of contact bounce in those old dials, leading to some software hacks to keep the Arduino happy.

There was also a little hackery needed to stuff a USB hub into the keyboard, as well as literal hacking of the keyboard’s PCB. A 3D printed enclosure allows the rotary dial to nestle into the place where the regular numpad would be, and it looks pretty good. We also like forcing the issue by replacing the entire row of number keys with a single massive prank key.

While this was all for fun, there are a couple of cool tips here, like chucking a bit of printer filament in a Dremel tool to stir-weld parts together. And even though we’ve seen that parametric keycap generator before, it is pretty cool to see it in action.

Two Nokia 1860 phones side by side - a Notkia-modded phone on the right, and an unmodified Nokia phone on the left

Notkia: Building An Open And Linux-Powered Numpad Phone

Many of us hackers have a longing for numpad-adorned mobile phones. We also have a shared understanding that, nowadays, such a phone has to be open and Linux-powered. Today’s project, Notkia, is the most promising and realistic effort at building a keypad phone that fits our requirements. Notkia is a replacement board for Nokia 168x series phones, equipped with an improved display, USB-C, WiFi, Bluetooth, and LoRa — and [Reimu NotMoe] of [SudoMaker] tells us this project’s extensive story.

The Notkia effort started over two years ago, because of [Reimu]’s increasing dislike for modern smartphones — something every hacker is familiar with. Her first-hand experience with privacy violations and hackability limitations on Android phones is recounted in detail, leading to a strong belief that there are fundamental problems with phones available nowadays. Building new hardware from the ground up seems to be the way forward. Two years later, this is exactly what we got!

Continue reading “Notkia: Building An Open And Linux-Powered Numpad Phone”

Redox Redux: Split Keeb Gets A Num Pad

What’s the worst thing about split keyboards? If they have one general fault, it’s that almost none of them have a number pad. If you can fly on that thing, but struggle with using the top row numbers, you will miss the num pad terribly, trust us. So what’s the answer? Design your own keyboard, of course. [ToasterFuel] had enough bread lying around to cook up a little experiment for his first keyboard build, and we think the result is well done, which is kind of rare for first keebs.

This design is based on the Redox, itself a remix of the ErgoDox that aims to address the common complaints about the latter — it’s just too darn big, and the thumb clusters are almost unusable. We love how customized this layout is, with its sprinkling of F keys and Escape in the Caps Lock position. Under those keycaps you’ll find 100% Cherry MX greens, so [ToasterFuel] must have pretty strong fingers to pound those super clackers.

Everything else under the hood is pretty standard, with a pair of Arduino Pro Micros running the show. [ToasterFuel] had to wire up the whole thing by hand because of the num pad, and we’re impressed that he built this entire project in just three weeks. And that includes writing his own firmware!

Already found or built a split you love, but still miss the num pad? Why not build one to match your keyboard?

Miss The Predictive Text From Your Old Nokia? Build Your Own T9 Keypad

Do you miss the mind-blowing typing speed of your old Nokia brick with predictive text turned on? Well, so did [Guy Dupont], so he created a USB keypad with T9 predictive text built-in to turn typing into a one-handed affair. Video after the break.

T9 was the first predictive text technology to gain widespread use in the late ’90s and early 2000s. The goal was to minimize the number of keypresses required for typing on multi-press keypads by matching key sequences to a dictionary of the possible words. It prioritizes words based on the frequency of use and can adapt to user preferences. [Guy] implemented T9 in Circuit Python, mainly for the RP2040 microcontroller used on the Raspberry Pi Pico, which will appear as a normal USB keyboard when plugged into any device. The dictionary is stored in the flash memory and can be updated using a tool also created by [Guy]. It can also change modes for old multi-press typing, numeric pad, or macro pad.

We would be interested to see just how fast it’s possible to type one handed with T9, and what application our readers can imagine. It doesn’t look like this implementation can learn the user’s preferences, which we think would be a worthy feature to add.

We’ve covered several unique custom keyboards recently, some more practical than others. On the silly side, these include a grenade-shaped function pad, a five-button chording keyboard, and a tiny two-key keyboard. Continue reading “Miss The Predictive Text From Your Old Nokia? Build Your Own T9 Keypad”