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Graphically Programmable Arduino Shortcut Keypad

I made a shortcut keypad which can automate anything at the press of a button! It is programmed with a drag and drop interface I created.

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Available now in the UK! https://theamazingshortcutkeypad.com/

The Problem: Computers can do amazing things nowadays but we still interact with them in the same old way – with a keyboard and a mouse.

The Result: We waste time doing repetitive and tedious actions like navigating long menus, entering keyboard shortcuts and typing commands.

The Solution: A shortcut keypad which can automate anything you can do with your keyboard or mouse at the press of a button! Typing text, keyboard shortcuts, repeats, delays, mouse control – in any combination.

It is programmed with a graphical interface so you can automate in seconds without any coding. It also uses sharable automation ‘recipes’ so that anyone can share their automation

Demo Video:


Contents:

1) How It works

+ The Keypad

+ The Desktop Software

2) My dream of sharable automation

3) The story so far

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1) How it works:

The Keypad

The keypad contains an Arduino Pro Micro which can act as a keyboard or a mouse to control your computer. The Arduino receives strings of commands from the desktop software and stores them in its EEPROM memory.

When you press one of the keypad buttons, it retrieves from memory the automation commands assigned to that button and then turns it into keyboard or mouse actions which result in something happening on your computer.

The string of commands looks like this:

75013*8*911*4Hello Hackaday Readers!*5|2~73~74~`

For example, the above command string (when interpreted by the keypad) will type "Hello Hackaday Readers!", just as if you had typed it yourself.

The Desktop Software

The commands are generated by some desktop Java software. However, all you have to do is drag and drop little boxes and the software does the rest for you! You can automate stuff in seconds and upload it straight to your keypad, without ever having to worry about how it actually works.

Here's what it looks like:

2) My Dream of Sharable Automation

You know those strings of automation which I talked about? Well, they can be copied and pasted into emails, internet forums and websites. That means an automation recipe you create can be sent to your friend and uploaded onto their keypad in seconds.

But it doesn't stop there, I could approach software professionals (e.g. a Photoshop expert) and pay them to create a package of automation recipes which contains the best and most efficient ways to automate Photoshop. I then put all of those recipes online and then suddenly anyone with one of these shortcut keypads can access professional-level automation within seconds.

Now extend that to every piece of software that ever existed and make it work on every single keyboard ever made and you have my dream!

3) The story of how it came to be:

This first started out when I didn't know how to design 3D prints, circuit boards or anything like that. So, I downloaded a 3D print file off Thingiverse and bought an Adafruit Trellis matrix keypad to make this:

I also put together some software using Processing. It was really buggy but it did the job... kinda! Here's what it looked like:

After a while, I taught myself JavaFX and started towards a slightly better version using little drag and drop boxes. Here's how it looked halfway through...

It looks pretty dodgy (and it was!) but I was just learning how to code Java at the time.

Meanwhile, I was prototyping different versions of the keypad hardware using folded aluminium.

I was a bit disappointed with all the fold marks on the casing and the proportions just didn't work. Luckily, by that point, the software was pretty much finished and here's how it looks:

The next piece of the puzzle was to get a circuit board designed and I taught myself how to do this using the Sparkfun EAGLE tutorials which are super helpful. I added a few small 3D printed parts to space the components correctly. I think it turned out really well!

Finally, I mastered (ish) 3D AutoCAD and designed a nice snug case to fit it all. Here is the end result!

I'm really happy with how this turned out. It took over a year from start to finish and there was lots of learning along the way. I've really enjoyed making it and am thinking of crowdfunding/selling on Tindie so if you might be interested in a kit in the future, you can put your name on my mailing list at www.theamazingshortcutkeypad.com

Thanks for reading and I'd be delighted to hear your comments!

  • 1 × Arduino Pro Micro Made by Sparkfun
  • 12 × Cherry MX Keyswitch Delightfully clicky keys!
  • 1 × Custom PCB The first PCB I've ever designed
  • 1 × EEPROM Memory Chip To store automation recipes
  • 1 × 3D Printed Case The first proper 3D print I've designed!

  • We are go for sales!

    Robin Hartley6 days ago 0 comments

    Wow, I can't believe it - I've just made my first couple of sales of The Amazing Shortcut Keypad and it feels fantastic! It's taken 3 years and thousands of hours of work to get to this point but I'm delighted to now be able to offer keypads for sale.

    There has been some small tweaks to the design recently - the EEPROM memory chip is now mounted on the surface of the PCB, making it quicker to build whilst costing less. 

    First sale selfie!

    I'm now inviting those who have been involved since the start to be the first owners of The Amazing Shortcut Keypad. This also lets me test the software and installation experience to ensure it all works as planned.

    In the next couple of weeks I will be opening up the sales to others in the UK (my home country) and from then on, I will do the necessary testing to sell into the U.S.A.

    I'm so excited, I can't believe that a project which started on my bedroom desk is now available to purchase. 

    Please feel free to visit the website: https://theamazingshortcutkeypad.com/

    ... and feel free to get in touch! theamazingshortcutkeypad@gmail.com

    Cheers!

    Robin

  • Crowdfunding Now!

    Robin Hartley06/23/2017 at 19:54 0 comments

    I'm delighted to say that The Amazing Shortcut Keypad is now funding on Kickstarter. Check it out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1311429775/the-amazing-shortcut-keypad

  • It's Done! Finished Design

    Robin Hartley04/22/2017 at 08:27 0 comments

    Exciting times, I have finished off the design for The Amazing Shortcut Keypad - it's done! So what has changed? Let's start with the finished circuit board:

    This circuit board is much smaller than the original, meaning that the big gap at the back of the keypad is now gone. The blue/red one is the finished version whilst the orange/charcoal one is the old version with the big gap.

    I have also redesigned the system of 3D prints which work as spacers within the keypad casing. It's now much easier to assemble the keypad as these 3D prints keep all of the electronic headers the correct distance apart during soldering.

    The ones on the left are the old style whilst the ones on the right are the new style.

    The new prints fit onto the circuit board like this:

    The casing is also a smaller size, meaning it takes less time to 3D print and also just gives a much nicer form factor.

    So this is the finished result, I'm very proud of it!

    The keypad will be released completely open source following a crowdfunding campaign in June. If you're interested in that, feel free to join the crowdfunding mailing list at http://www.theamazingshortcutkeypad.com/

    Bye for now!

  • Automating Minecraft with the Keypad!

    Robin Hartley03/23/2017 at 21:23 0 comments

    Hey everyone, exciting times! The Amazing Shortcut Keypad seems to be doing well in the Hackaday Prize and I'm delighted at the response it has got. It's really positive to know that this is a project people are enthusiastic about so thank you ever so much for your support.

    It has been my intention to do some demo videos with different pieces of software so I thought I'd start with everyone's favourite - Minecraft!

    Here I have the keypad automatically mining whilst placing torches as it goes. It can mine forever, all with one button press! I also programme the keypad using the drag and drop software as I go so you can see how automation is created. Enjoy and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    Peace out!

    Robin

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Discussions

Aleksandar Bradic wrote 04/10/2017 at 20:40 point

How do I get one? :) 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Robin Hartley wrote 04/11/2017 at 08:53 point

In June or July I will be running a crowdfunding campaign, if it reaches its goal, then every part of this project will be open sourced and shared. Code, circuit diagrams, design files, tutorials etc. 

There will be a few different designs so that even if you have a tight budget, you can still make one. I want to make it as accessible and hackable as possible :)

The best way to hear about this is by joining the mailing list over at http://www.theamazingshortcutkeypad.com/ there won't be any spam email, don't worry - I'll just let you know when everything begins :)

Thanks for your comment!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Jhonny James wrote 04/03/2017 at 06:47 point

Great idea..!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Robin Hartley wrote 04/11/2017 at 08:53 point

Thank you! :D

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ember Leona wrote 03/31/2017 at 22:56 point

add morse code to the buttons like double clicks and such. try and search for tripleClickr or blurb here tiny.cc/openinvent1

  Are you sure? yes | no

Shulie Tornel wrote 03/23/2017 at 17:31 point

This is beautiful. Check out Tindie.com as an option to sell. :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Shulie Tornel wrote 03/23/2017 at 17:35 point

What 3D printer did you use to make the case?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Robin Hartley wrote 03/23/2017 at 21:02 point

Hey thanks for the kind comments! I used a Makerbot Replicator 2 :) Thanks for pointing to Tindie, I think I will sell on there, it looks like the perfect place for a maker to start selling!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Craig Hissett wrote 03/22/2017 at 13:31 point

Beautiful!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Robin Hartley wrote 03/22/2017 at 14:31 point

Glad you like it matey! :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

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