Adding Trackpoint to Keyboard

Discussion in 'Offtopic Discussions' started by klapse, Dec 27, 2018.

  1. klapse

    klapse Central Scrutinizer

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    A generous forum member sent me a bunch of Lenovo USB keyboards with trackpoint. Unfortunately they all mysteriously developed defects where some keys would not register. All of them. I bought another one from another seller. Within a month that also developed dead keys.

    No drinks were spilled on these keyboards.

    I was now several hundred euros poorer, and decided no more Lenovo USB keyboards for me!

    Went out and got a Sharkoon TKL with clone-cherry mx blue switches. It is sweeet. But... no trackpoint!

    Since the trackpoints on my broken keyboards work, i took em apart and came up with a crazy idea - add the Lenovo trackpoint to my mechanical keyboard!

    The trackpoint module is quite flat, so if i could build an extended lever for it, it could be mounted below the keyboard motherboard, and stick up through a hole in the kbd! Well there WAS a hole almost exactly where i needed it!

    But what could i use for a 'shaft' or lever to extend the trackpoint? I wandered around the house looking, looking. Finally i saw the sewing kit and realized i could use a sewing machine needle!

    But then i had to drill a 1mm hole in the middle of the trackpoint base to stick the needle in. I found a 1mm drill bit! But i had no drill with a chuck so small. So i wrapped duct tape around the drill bit and stuck it in the chuck. It wobbled like crazy!
    [​IMG]
    It was HARD TO CENTER A HOLE on the 3mm diameter trackpoint!
    [​IMG]
    But i finally centered it!
    [​IMG]
    Then i tried to drill down perpendiccularly without wobbling, and kinda succeeded! (I have no drill press)
    [​IMG]
    Cut off the tip of the needle and it fits snugly!
    [​IMG]
    Then i needed a backplate, so i cut out a piece from a tobacco tin and drilled mounts in it and the board.
    [​IMG]
    Drilled holes in the backplate and mounted the trackpoint module
    [​IMG]
    Needed to mount the needle to figure out where to cut off the top.
    [​IMG]
    Using an industrial cyanoacrylate-based filling adhesive to bind the trackpoint cap mount (black) to the needle.
    [​IMG]
    I cut-away obstructions in the keyboard case base, and it all fits together!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    And it works! The trackpoint motion is excellent! Now i just need to reverse x and y directions in xinput (libinput) (i had to rotate the module 180 degrees to point the cable out the back.

    Anybody know how to do that? :)
    [EDIT] Found it!
    xinput --set-prop --type=float 25 142 -0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 -0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0
    (default is 1.0 instead of -0.7. The negative inverts x and y scaling, and 0.7 slows mouse for finer GIMP work).


    Also i gotta map left/right mouse buttons to left and right Alt keys...

    Will keep y'all updated! Yaay!
    :) That was a fun evening.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
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  2. AnimatedFreak

    AnimatedFreak Very Active Member

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    I've always wanted to do a similar thing but map it to the mouse input of a dreamcast and then install the track point into a controller giving it sudo dual analog controls for games like quake where you can use the controller and a mouse in combo. Just never had the technical know-how to do it. Do you think that would be possible?
     
  3. ThinkPad

    ThinkPad Very Active Member

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    I have Topre Realforce RGB Made in Japan, (around 350 Euros imported with TAX) on my main PC
    Also I managed to score a couple of brand new rubber dome Cherry`s (Made in Germany) around 5 Euro each.
    I will never do this to any of them.
     
  4. Grench

    Grench Forum Addict!

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    What model / type of Lenovo trackpoint keyboard did you use for the donor?
     
  5. kuru

    kuru Laptop und Trachtenjanker

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    Hope it's not the newer compact one. I've got one at home and one at work now. I would hate to see keys fail :(
     
  6. klapse

    klapse Central Scrutinizer

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    SK-8845CR, white keydomes, made 2015-2016.

    So either I will make a hack to make Left_Alt+Space =Leftmouseclick and AltGr = Rightmouseclick -- Or i get really gutsy and put on mouse buttons on the front, using the original keymat, but folded to fit under the Sharkoon circuit board. Will make the case thicker sadly. Not sure wat do.
    [​IMG]
    Those mats are pretty durable since i was quite rough taking it out. Buttons still work!

    [EDIT] Oh yeah those two USB ports? Useless! For linux that is...
    Code:
    kernel: [xxxxxx.yyyyyyy] usb 1-2.1: rejected 1 configuration due to insufficient available bus power
    Turns out you can tell linux to ignore hubs that don't pass whatever power test it does - with:

    Code:
    echo 1 > /sys/bus/usb/devices/1-2.1/bConfigurationValue
    Replacing 1-2.1 with whatever USB device ID it gets assigned.

    So it might be possible to hook up the new keyboard to one of the hub USB ports, if I can convince linux to skip the power test for all usb devices. That means i can hide this in the case and just have one cable going out to pc or laptop.

    Otherwise I'll need a 2nd keyboard to activate this one every time i plug it in...
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
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  7. Grench

    Grench Forum Addict!

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    So the newer TKL one without the touchpad.

    I have one of those TKL no touchpad in English, and two with touchpads in English/Vietnamese, and two full sized ones in English/Chinese. They were my go to favorite keyboards for many years. Most of them are worn out now or close enough to it. I miss my trackpoint nub. My ideal keyboard would be a blend of Yoda II (for the trackpoint) and Vortex Race 3 (for the complete layout).

    Back to your dilemma... Space bar is usually a switch in the middle/center and two guides/risers one on each side. Most of us only use the middle 20mm of the space bar - and even then, most of us only use it with one thumb. Replace it with a label-free shift key. Then you have a gap in your keyboard to the left/right complete with dead risers to put in mouse buttons?
     
  8. Linux-SWAT

    Linux-SWAT Hardcore Member

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    Great mod !
     
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  9. klapse

    klapse Central Scrutinizer

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    Maybe should add; maybe consider twice before drilling into your trackpoint stem by hand, especially if you only have one. I was just so fed up with my junk keyboards that I didn't mind ruining a trackpoint module that evening.

    Pick your stick, measure it with a micrometer. Use a drill press with a proper chuck and carefully chosen bitsize. If you got some fancy pants metalworker get him to cut you a thread so you can screw-in yer stick. I don't think threading is needed though; I found with the needle cut to the proper length it takes quite a bit of pulling and twisting to get out. I can't tell exactly what the width of the drill bit was since i have no micrometer.

    It is very difficult to contemplate stage 2 with buttons, when it's working so nicely now. :/
     
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  10. Grench

    Grench Forum Addict!

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    Proper tap for a 1mm hole in plastic would be M1.2x0.2
    http://www.custompartnet.com/tap-size-chart
    Though that is a bit of an odd-duck.

    Since you want to assemble this one time and never pull it apart, adhesives are the better course. Messing around with 1mm tap & die and trying to get the threads straight on a soft material could be either an exercise in frustration or interesting.
    Capt. Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds: Define 'Interesting'.
    Wash: "Oh god, oh god, we're all gonna die?"

    I'm still thinking that replacing the space bar's LONG keycap with a 1.75 width keycap should still be relatively comfortable to type on. Your keyboard likely has stabilizers left/right of the central switch on the space bar. Can those be replaced with live switches?
    --- Double Post Merged, Dec 28, 2018, Original Post Date: Dec 28, 2018 ---
    Now you have me considering the complete disassembly of one of my Vortex Race 3 keyboards to figure out if I can drill a hole right through the middle of them to mount a 15 year old trackpoint assembly into them.
    --- Double Post Merged, Dec 28, 2018 ---
    I found a review of my Vortex Race 3 keyboards with teardown.
    https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Vortex/Race_3/4.html
    It appears that there is a pre-existing mounting hole between the GHB keys.
    https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Vortex/Race_3/images/disassembly-4.jpg

    Reasons not to do it...
    I have several years worth of projects half done.
    Wife would kill me if I started another project - see above.
    Potential to destroy a $150 keyboard that I'm actively using now as a 'daily driver'.

    I may have to put an alternate keycap (shift?) on my central space bar switch just to see if it is comfortable and stable...
     
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  11. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    Hmm, yeah, I wouldn't start anything like this on a live keyboard you live with personally. I have a number of half-finished projects too, which has stopped me using some things I bought, but nothing that I actively needed to replace immediately.

    I'd probably buy a cheap membrane keyboard to try this out before doing it on anything I actually valued. You can get knock off cherry Mx keyboard quite cheaply these days too.

    I could probably get away with a wide key where my space bar is judging by the pattern of wear on it on my current laptop. I always hit it on the right hand side apparently, although given the actual switch is usually in the centre, it'd be a big job to either move the switch or somehow use the stabilisation bar to transfer the movement from one side to the centre, but I'd need to make something for the new space bar to ride up and down. Since I don't actually need to free up space there, I think I'll leave it as is personally.
     
  12. klapse

    klapse Central Scrutinizer

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    Well the kbd is still workin great!
    Not so happy with X's libinput vs the older evdev though. Not getting the real fine slow-control along with fast accel when i wanna zoom around.
    Right now this is what i'm running (14 is the device number)
    Code:
     xinput --set-prop --type=float 14 142 -0.21 0.0 0.0 0.0 -0.21 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0
    xinput --set-prop  --type=float 14 286 0.97
    
    --- Double Post Merged, Dec 29, 2018, Original Post Date: Dec 29, 2018 ---
    That's cool. Ultimately the plastic i drilled through was too thin to really hold much of anything so i think those screws are mostly serving for alignment atm. The 3M thick double-sided tape is really doin the work, afaict. Awesome stuff.

    I was thinking more that someone might want to thread the brass (?) Trackpoint base, so the shaft of the extension can be screwed-in.

    I'd love to do this, but I don't know how to connect the original lenovo keymat to switches. I can't solder to it... So I'm looking at using the original bubble-dome switches.

    It turns out quite a few keyboards' circuit-boards have holes right about where you want a trackpoint, in order to provide a support to prevent flexing of the board. If you don't mess with the electronics you should be fine. Any drilling through metal is of course dangerous due to metal flakes and shorts.

    --- Double Post Merged, Dec 28, 2018 ---
    I found a review of my Vortex Race 3 keyboards with teardown.
    https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Vortex/Race_3/4.html
    It appears that there is a pre-existing mounting hole between the GHB keys.
    https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Vortex/Race_3/images/disassembly-4.jpg

    Reasons not to do it...
    I have several years worth of projects half done.
    Wife would kill me if I started another project - see above.
    Potential to destroy a $150 keyboard that I'm actively using now as a 'daily driver'.

    I may have to put an alternate keycap (shift?) on my central space bar switch just to see if it is comfortable and stable...[/QUOTE]
     
  13. Xcl4m4t10n

    Xcl4m4t10n Advanced Member

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    Do you lick it when you are alone?

    ;)
     
  14. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    That's one of the benefits of a keyboard that's not running up against the PSU section like it used to on old single case 8- and 16- bit computers; running everything at 5V max means you're unlikely to fry anything even in the worst case, just potentially confuse the logic at worst. Of course, you should always try to remove metal filings after drilling; if you're dry drilling (which you almost certainly are for a small job at small diameter here) then a quick huff and indeed a puff if required should do you fine, and should avoid blowing the house down.

    I wonder if in case there isn't a hole there (I don't know where tenkeyless keyboards have their support holes in general, and other reduced size keyboard may also do things differently, and if you're truly mass producing you could probably just support it from the back of the case and not put any extra holes in your PCB), could you just glue the nipple sensor to the pcb's front? I can't imagine it's all that thick, although it might mean you need to trim a little more of the skirt of the keycaps you're trimming anyway.
     
  15. klapse

    klapse Central Scrutinizer

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    On this Sharkoon, the keyswitches are mounted on a metal plate, that is perched atop the plastic risers coming up from the bottom case half, through the circuit board below the plate. I like this design since it is less bouncy/flexy than the circuit board alone would be.
     
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  16. Grench

    Grench Forum Addict!

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  17. klapse

    klapse Central Scrutinizer

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    Here's the dream: Tex Kodachi

    [​IMG]

    https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=4260

    But the Vortex Race 3 is a lot cheaper at $139
    [​IMG]

    https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=3917

    and lookee here there's a convenient hole between GHB, i think...

    [​IMG]
    Ahh no it's between G and H seen from top, but there might be possibility to drill a bit below the hole.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
  18. Grench

    Grench Forum Addict!

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    @klapse
    https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=4260
    OMG - that is so freaking close to 'perfect'. $389 for a keyboard though - at that price it would need to be 'perfect'.
    So - what possessed them to put F12 on a Fn layer of F11???? Yeah - I get wanting to have a differentiation between the sets of 4 F-keys. That would have been pretty easy in design actually.

    Push the volume keys right up against Esc.
    Push the F5-F8 over to next to F4 then UP 1/4-1/2 a row.
    F9-F12 can then be at the same row as F1-F4 AND be differentiated.

    They got it SO close to perfect. If they had, I would likely have just bought one. Yeah, eliminating ONE key stops me at that price point.

    Hole noted above:
    https://pyra-handheld.com/boards/threads/adding-trackpoint-to-keyboard.83490/#post-1446727
    You found a better picture of the topside though. It is definitely something to consider someday if/when I have 'spare time' to take on another project. Hmmm...

    Oh, and if anyone is tempted by the trackpoint-ish Unicomp... Don't bother. The pointing stick on the Unicomp is floppy as hell and acts more like a joystick than the pressure sensitive IBM/lenovo trackpoint nub. I have one - I even put Linux/Tux specialty keys on it. BUT - at least they didn't compromise the keyboard layout itself to save -one- key...

    I have a -lot- of keyboards. Most of them are gathering dust. That makes it a 'collection' right?
     
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  19. klapse

    klapse Central Scrutinizer

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    Send him your suggestions - he talks to customers. (or did)

    I have no personal need to go to F9-F12 at all, so. While it's not a TKL where i most naturally reach for pgup/pgdn, It really looks nice.

    I am quite impressed by the low-profile switches on the Sharkoon. Not really wanting to go back to 1980s levels of throw.

    [EDIT]I wonder how well that would sell at $150...
     
  20. Grench

    Grench Forum Addict!

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    I'm not an existing customer of TEX.
    I have no way to contact the 'him' to whom you are referring.
    The TEX website:
    https://www.tex-design.com.tw/us-en#0
    Has 'contact us' listed as an option in a menu that is impossible to mouse over - attempting to do so switches the menu context to products-keyboards.

    That keyboard is like a Rolls Royce with a missing door handle. Yeah, you can work around it - but what were they thinking?

    There is plenty of room on that row for all 12 keys. When making the decision of which is more important between two little mostly aesthetic gaps between the F4F5 and F8F11 OR removing the F12 key completely - they made the wrong decision. (Yes, that is my personal opinion, blah blah..) My other opinion is that they're selling keyboards to people who REALLY care about keyboards - specifically who care about trackpoint keyboards - specifically people who like the old Lenovo track point notebook computer keyboards from the W500 and older days (keys, not islands). The F12 axe is a compromise on what -should- be and very well could have been a no-compromises keyboard.

    Why do I care? Because they just made the keyboard I have always wanted then screwed it up completely by removing one freekin' key.
     

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