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Thomson Reuters keypad

How to make use of it under Windows

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This is general information about Thomson Reuters TR FXT Keypad and Autohotkey scripts that make it possible to use with Windows without proprietary drivers.
This keypad has USB support. You can find some information about older version of this device (labeled only by "Reuters") that required custom connection boxes, but I was not able to find anything about this cute, but heavy, keyboard.

Note: information here is about black Thomson Reuters keypad. If you have a gray device labeled as "Reuters 3000" you should probably go to this blog post. Probably it doesn't have USB support.

This is a quite heavy device with nice mechanical switches. It came with a DE9-USB cable. Like other Reuters keyboards it was produced by Devlin Electronics, but it could be a custom order because I couldn't find any information about it.

On the front there are those eye-catching colored keys (MINE!), a numpad, and an ALARM LED.

Under a little cover on the bottom you can find a row of dip switches, and DE9 conector for RS232 or RS232-USB cable. My device came with USB cable, wired as follows:

USBDE9
GND8
D+4
D-5
+5V9

On the back there is a volume potentiometer (there is a buzzer inside) and a RESET switch. My keypad never made any sound though.

Here is a look inside. I didn't try to disconnect everything. The PCB has exactly the same shape as Reuters 3000 keypad mentioned above, but much fewer components.

This has copyright 2014, but the design for plastic mold for the enclosure was dated 1999. There is J3 connector (JTAG for programming?) and at least three testpoints on this side.

The CPU seems to be STM32F103R8 running at 8MHz.

After connecting to a PC it was detected as a HID device Thomson Reuters TR FXT Keypad but no keyboard scan codes could be detected.

After playing in Linux with reading /dev/hidrawXXX directly and dumping to hex like this:

sudo cat /dev/hidraw0 | hexdump -C -v

I saw that indeed there are 9-byte messages sent after each key press and key release.

It would be no problem to script those events in Linux, but I wanted to use this keypad with my company's laptop for daily work.

thomson.ahk

My AutoHotkey script

ahk - 6.81 kB - 05/21/2021 at 11:14

Download

AHKHID.ahk

AHK HID library, just in case the forum goes down

ahk - 28.95 kB - 05/21/2021 at 11:13

Download

  • My script and key assignments

    Maciej Witkowiak05/21/2021 at 11:26 0 comments

    I have followed the AHKHID tutorial further and used the script posted there as my basis.

    You can find the latest version in the Files section.

    At the moment I don't have any special functions assigned on the application level/ I left  the "VLC_15" function to just have an example how it can be done.

    In the default mode:

    • number keys, dot and backspace send NumPad keycodes
    • F7-F12 are mapped to F3-F8, I find it more useful for controlling Total Commander
    • up/down arrows are PgUp/PgDown instead of cursor motion
    • ConvUp/Down is Home/End now
    • INTERRUPT is Ctrl+W to close any document or active browser tab
    • tab-left and tab-right stayed as Shift+Tab and Tab
    • Deal is mapped to ALT and meant to be combined with tabulators to move between windows
    • Transfer just does ALT+Tab for switching between two windows back and forth
    • Quit/Cancel Inst. are Ctrl+PgUp/Down to move left/right across browser tabs
    • CANCEL ALL is LaunchApp2 key, which usually launches calc.exe
    • TRANSMIT is mapped to numerical keyboard ENTER function

    The remaining keys are not mapped yet. 

    I have left YOURS/MINE mapped to Paste/Copy, but this doesn't work in daily work at all. I use right hand for navigation (movement and selection), so after selecting text to be copied or finding place to paste it I would have to move my hand to the keypad to actually perform the action. But fingers of my left hand are already positioned above CTRL+C/V.

    One obvious choice for YOURS/MINE would be to accept/reject changes in git merge.

  • AutoHotKey HID to the rescue

    Maciej Witkowiak05/21/2021 at 11:04 0 comments

    I knew that raw HID events from this keypad are reported under Linux, I need to have something equivalent for Windows.

    Fortunately, there is a library for AutoHotKey called AHKHID that enables this.

    Read more »

  • DIP switches

    Maciej Witkowiak05/21/2021 at 10:52 0 comments

    I do not know the purpose of all the DIP switches. I tried changing them one by one and the only effect was after switching number 3 on the RIGHT to the bottom position (the only one that is in UP position in the photo) the keypad started behaving like a standard numerical keyboard

    Unfortunately the only keys that reported anything (verified by checking /dev/hidrawXXX device directly) were number keys, up/down cursors and tab and shift+tab keys.

    Clearly not satifactory for someone like me who bought this because of the MINE key.

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apksdesk wrote 05/27/2021 at 11:02 point

That's a fascinating device, which in my hands would make billion-dollar fat-finger mistakes trivially easy ..

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alysson Rowan wrote 05/26/2021 at 18:30 point

Might like to trace back the lines for the sounder - I had a keyboard where one of the pins on the D connector was simply a tone output to the keyboard speaker.

Now, I'm looking for a "DIG" and a "QUARRY" key for my POS keyboard ;)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dan Maloney wrote 05/24/2021 at 20:01 point

That's a fascinating device, which in my hands would make billion-dollar fat-finger mistakes trivially easy!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Maciej Witkowiak wrote 05/24/2021 at 20:57 point

If you TRANSMIT by mistake, you can always INTERRUPT the OFFER. If you're not sure which BID was wrong you CANCEL ALL and call it a day. Because the DEAL is that you can always END CONTRACT and QUIT.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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