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Posted by: MFL - Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:04 pm
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Space Walker
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Post parts   Posted on: Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:04 pm
Ok, so i am building a custom keyboard, however I am looking for certain parts, and am not sure where to look. All efforts so far have resulted in squat...lol
so, i thought I'd throw the question out here, and see if anyone might know.

I'm looking for components for either small trackballs or track points. any clues as to where I can find them? I've tried Mouser, digikey and alliedelectronics so far. no luck

the set-up that I am building would have these controlled by the thumbs. sounds awkward, but the formfactor of the keyboard would put these right where the thumbs are in a rest position and the pad of the thumb would rest on the device, i.e. the trackpoint/ball would be roughly parrallel to the ground. the right 'mouse' would control pointer movement, the left would control scroll/zoom function. The overall form factor is inspired by the Datahand series (www.datahand.com)though i plan on taking a different implimentation route. Just to clarify, this is not a commercial product i am working on, but a hobby project. This being said, which do you think would be more comfortable, easier to use, etc. : a trackpoint or a trackball ?

thanks everyone!

Mike


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Post Re: parts   Posted on: Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:57 pm
Have you thought of asking on your local freecycle or equivalent for old thinkpad laptops that had a trackpoint in the middle of its keyboard and doing some recycleing with a soldering iron if its for a one off project i seem to remember from years ago that the average lifespan of a laptop was about 18 months but as a lot of techies are hoarders thinking stuff might be useful at a later date may be willing to part with a beloved doorstop :twisted: if they think its going to a good home you never know you might be lucky.

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Post Re: parts   Posted on: Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:44 pm
Unfortunately for that idea, ThinkPads tend to have a lifespan of much greater than 18 months. ;)

Also, the TrackPoint might not be the best choice for thumbs. Instead, they have these trackballs that operate using optical sensors that I've seen in some places. No links, but look for something 'Blackberry-style', as they're usually advertised as such. I'd think that'd do the trick.

Also, I hope you're using mechanical Cherry switches, but that's just the keyboard geek in me. I use a Filco Majestouch, it's a dream! All my friends have nothing but praise for it. Unfortunately, they don't have the money...


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Space Walker
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Post Re: parts   Posted on: Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:39 pm
http://www.alliedelec.com/search/produc ... KU=8211573
this is what i currently have in mind for the switch componenet,
I'll have to make a paddle actuator for it, but no biggie. they aren't ideal, but this is the prototype afterall. just need to get the functionality working first :)

I'll have to look into the cherry switches you mentioned. they go by any other name?
I'd also thought about using blackberry trackballs, but apparently they die quite frequently. finding a less than 1 inch diameter trackball has been excedingly difficult.

So far I've picked up a Logitech Classic Keyboard 200 and have taken it apart and mapped the keys to the little control board inside. two of the 28 input pins arent used... and that makes me wonder if i could further expand the functionality. Can't find any info on the USB encoder they use, or the pin I/O for their board. Understandable, though frustrating. lol
Almost have the internal logic for the design worked out. next step will be buying the chips and building :)


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Post Re: parts   Posted on: Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:59 am
You will want to look up mechanical keyboards. They use the fantastic Cherry switches (Cherry is the name of the manufacturer, they make several types of switches with different 'feels', which correspond to a color, Black, Brown, or Blue, generally). There have been several keyboard enthusiasts who have built their own keyboards using these switches and with good controllers. I'm not sure if NKRO is something that is important for your application, but you might want to study that for good measure.

What I was thinking of was something like this:
http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/produc ... ts_id=9320
That's supposed to work with the Arduino microcontroller.
Also, perhaps you could design a touch tracking system with sensors like these:
http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/produc ... ts_id=9604
Not sure if that's particularly doable, but the blackberry sensor would definitely be easy enough to implement. It also is a nice little package.


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Space Walker
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Post Re: parts   Posted on: Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:15 pm
for the first prototype, i'll probably not worry about NKRO, as the keyboard i gutted uses a pretty basic key matrix. the eventual goal will be to replace the recovered keyboard circuit with a custom one, and to impliment a programmed device instead of standard logic (which i am doing for the prototype) I think originally I was planning on doing something similiar to NKRO (didn't know it at the time though :P )

I'll deffinitly have to look into that trackball breakout board you geve me the link to. The other component is a bit out of my reach at the moment (dont have the equipment to handle that small a part yet)

I'll keep an eye out for the Cherry switches.
Any good resources on NKRO and keyboard modding?


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Post Re: parts   Posted on: Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:09 am
Good luck with the keyboard build, I have tried several times to build a custom keyboard, I have been trying to put two switches under each key to try and have the keys work normally when pressed normally and then work as a shift + key press when pressed down hard. I have pulled apart about 5 keyboard (one was a bucky spring keyboard), several clicks pens, 1 electronic organ, and 3 laptops. I tried using model railway components to build a miniature hydraulic piston, as well as buying several different switches, from many different electronic shops, but haven't been able to get the a reliable haptic feed back, or when I have the keys have been to big to fit in a keyboard. I have been learning how to program some chips that can use capacitive sensing as well, but I'm thinking of trying to make some moulds and try making latex domes at the moment. I'm also trying to make all the keys a hexagonal shape.

I was wanting to also try and make it all clear so I could try and put a projector behind or built in to the keyboard to try and make it look like the Optimus maximus keyboard, but I am thinking I will just stick to working on getting the haptics the way I want them first.


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