SiriusHardware
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Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:26 pm

I've just bought an interesting little bit of 1980s computing heritage: A Sinclair ZX81 which had been reboxed by its original owner into a full sized keyboard cabinet with proper, moving keyswitches. Not only did it make the ZX81 into a man-sized machine with proper keys, it also neatly diverted the edge connector through an internal bus and provided an internal mounting position for a 16K Rampack. It all looked really neat and made the machine much more usable and much less liable to crash when bumped. This particular example was sold by dKtronics in the UK.

This got me thinking that it would be nice if an enterprising third party hardware supplier would take a standard, cheap USB + trackball (or + touchpad) keyboard, fit it in a slightly deeper tray and use the extra depth to fit a Pi and a 4-port powered hub inside, then bring all the necessary connections, HDMI, composite, audio, the USB ports, power, GPIO and SD card slot out to proper sockets on the rear of the keyboard casing. The keyboard and trackball USB connectors would be internally connected to 2 of the powered hub's USB ports, so the only external wiring on a 'clean' setup would be 5V power going in (for both the powered hub and the Pi) and HDMI video / sound coming out. That would make the whole setup a lot easier to carry around, set up and use.

I may do a DIY version of this myself, just for my own convenience - but a commercially produced version would be much nicer.

Actually, an eventual redesign of the Pi PCB into a long, thin shape with all the connectors arranged along one edge ONLY would make it a lot easier for everyone from hobbyists to commercial users to put the Pi into whatever box suited their application.

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Jim JKla
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:32 pm

This would be a better idea for the model "A" boxed and assembled for school use which when you think about it is not that far from what you got with the Sinclair Spectrum ok you need to avoid the dead flesh keys but the ideas sound. 8-)
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DexOS
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:40 pm

Batteries not included, Some assembly required.

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Jim JKla
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:36 pm

No thats a BBC :shock:
Noob is not derogatory the noob is just the lower end of the noob--geek spectrum being a noob is just your first step towards being an uber-geek ;)

If you find a solution please post it in the wiki the forum dies too quick

SiriusHardware
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:25 am

Jim JKla wrote:No thats a BBC :shock:
Actually, no, it's not - although the keyboard itself could be a cannibalised BBC computer keyboard. And the colour / style is clearly Acorn- inspired. The BBC B has a lot more depth going backwards from the keyboard (I have two working examples in my retro collection).

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Lob0426
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:54 am

A commercially available keyboard/trackpad that housed a RasPberry Pi and a usb hub would be a great product. I am surprised that a company has not took up the idea for manufacture yet.

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domesday
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:35 am

Cost of tooling would be enormous, you'd need $5k just to start the production.

james968
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:18 pm

Something like this:

http://www.element14.com/community/docs ... ld-episode
?

He just PAINTS it to look like a BBC computer.

SiriusHardware
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Mon Sep 10, 2012 7:20 pm

domesday wrote:Cost of tooling would be enormous, you'd need $5k just to start the production.
The last I heard the Foundation were estimating the possible sale of up to one MILLION Raspberry Pis by the end of this year. That's an awful lot of potential customers looking for a nice keyboard/ mouse /case combo to put them in.

Re: Tooling, my original suggestion implied that the upper part of an existing keyboard/ mousepad or keyboard/ trackball combo would be used as designed / unmodified, mated with a modified, deeper version of the lower part of the casing containing shaped receptacles for the PI board and the powered USB hub, along with mostly standard extension cables to bring the various connectors to the rear of the modified base.

The keyboard, pointing device and their controller would remain exactly as originally designed, with no further firmware or hardware development needed. The only redesign would be a modification to the tooling for the lower tray / bottom cover. i think this is within the realms of possibility.

The ZX81 mentioned at the start of this thread sold quite well, but I think sales of the Pi must have surpassed the ZX81 a long time ago - and yet there was still a thriving industry around producing custom designed add-ons - including keyboard / housings - for the ZX81.

toxibunny
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Mon Sep 10, 2012 7:45 pm

It's a nice idea, but I reckon it's a bit iffy whether or not it'd make sense from a business perspective. I've found a source for these (click) keyboards pretty cheap, and plan on modding a few into 8-bit form factor style computers, but if you then factor in the added cost of a power supply and cables, and eventual postage, you're turning a 25 quid item into at least 60 or so... And at that point you're well out of 'impulse buy' range...
note: I may or may not know what I'm talking about...

fozzy bear
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Wed Dec 12, 2012 4:06 am

That's actually a great idea.

If anyone makes a few, I will put my order in now for one.
It could be tricky fitting all that stuff into a standard keyboard
shell ( non standard required yes ).

Toxibunny has a point though from the business viability
angle.

fozzy

?8O)}

From little things BIG things grow ( mighty oaks and even razzle berries ).

WillCK
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:22 pm

That would be awesome...the first thing I thought about was putting one in a Coco 2 or 3 case.

(I am from the states...it was sort of our version of the BBC micro I am guessing...had a rom pack slot...very little memory and ran extended basic. If you were really hardcore you could get a 5 1/4" floppy drive in it's own enclosure and with a separate power supply that would plug in the rom pack slot..for everyone else it was cassette drive or nothing.)

you would have to either get some older KB's (AT style were pretty thick ) or make a slim enclosure around a modern KB to make room underneath.

How awesome would it be to have a KB/Trackball/Trackpad combo with a built in Pi and a built in multiport powered USB hub ...all running off one power supply and in one package!

Alright...I may have to try and build this *s*

SiriusHardware
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:15 am

WillCK wrote:That would be awesome...the first thing I thought about was putting one in a Coco 2 or 3 case.

(I am from the states...it was sort of our version of the BBC micro I am guessing...had a rom pack slot...very little memory and ran extended basic. If you were really hardcore you could get a 5 1/4" floppy drive in it's own enclosure and with a separate power supply that would plug in the rom pack slot..for everyone else it was cassette drive or nothing.)

you would have to either get some older KB's (AT style were pretty thick ) or make a slim enclosure around a modern KB to make room underneath.

How awesome would it be to have a KB/Trackball/Trackpad combo with a built in Pi and a built in multiport powered USB hub ...all running off one power supply and in one package!

Alright...I may have to try and build this *s*
I am amazed that some enterprising third party manufacturer still has not made one of these for me, you and possibly tens of thousands of Pi owners who might also want one. I think there are already documented cases of people building Pis into the cases of other classic old computer equipment (as you have suggested) but I would not have the heart to destroy a working C64 or Atari 400 or similar just to get a box to put a Pi in.

You're right about the possibility of using an old AT keyboard case - I've already got one sidelined for the job. It's only just thick enough to contain an unmodified Pi.

The other things you'll need are short USB 'A' plug to USB 'A' panel mount socket leads, to extend the USB sockets from the Pi and / or the hub to the rear of the new casing, and an HDMI male plug to panel-mount HDMI female socket lead. The USB leads are easy enough to come by but the HDMI lead does not seem to exist yet in that specific form, so you'll have to use a short HDMI plug to HDMI plug lead combined with a panel mounting short female to female 'feedthrough' adaptor.

Acquiring a keyboard / touchpad combo which works well with the Pi may be a different matter - I have one which has an Elan Technology controller, but Raspbian only picks the touchpad up as a standard mouse so I don't get touchpad specific configuration options, such as the vital ability to turn off the tap-to-click feature. If you do go ahead with a version of this yourself try to make sure your keyboard / touchpad has a synaptics touchpad, as touchpads made by anyone else may not be fully configurable under Raspbian.

SiriusHardware
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:17 pm

Just bumping an old thread of mine here - it appears that a commercially produced combined keyboard / case for the Raspberry Pi is now a reality:-

The main website:
http://www.fuze.co.uk

Although the most advanced / expensive version of the Fuze seems to be making a serious attempt to be a modern-day educational equivalent of the BBC Model 'B' complete with near-instantly available BASIC programming language, for those (like me) who don't need that and are mainly interested in the case, it is available in a 'case and cables only' option:-

http://www.fuze.co.uk/product/the-fuze- ... case-only/

I quite like the look of it, although it only has one knockout for a USB panel mount socket, the assumption being that one of the Pi's sockets will be in use by the Fuze's integral keyboard, leaving only one free. It could do with more knockouts for USB sockets because you will eventually (I would say immediately?) want to put a hub in there as well. There's a one page review of the Fuze package in the December 2013 Linux Format (LXF177), page 22. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to like it very much.

If you are still going to go it alone with your own self-build case, this kit of cables available separately includes the almost impossible to find short HDMI male plug to HDMI panel mount female socket lead and short network connector extension lead as well.

http://www.fuze.co.uk/product/extension ... pberry-pi/

I would be interested to hear if anyone's already bought or seen one of these.

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DexOS
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:05 am

This is a cool project and i hope the Co does well.
I new such a product was coming out along time ago, so am glad to see it finally out.
Batteries not included, Some assembly required.

SiriusHardware
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:27 pm

Since I added my comment just above, I've realised that the 'Fuze' folks have made themselves available to be contacted in their own thread, here:

http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewt ... 40&t=33555

SiriusHardware
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Tue Nov 05, 2013 12:19 am

Well, I'm finally making a start on a DIY version. I've abandoned the idea of using a keyboard/touchpad combo because I can find no commonly available unit on which Linux recognises the touchpad as a touchpad. The affordable units appear to use non-Synaptics chipsets - generally Linux just sees them as a mouse, which is not enough if you want to be able to kill tap-to-click. So for the time being, I've had to accept that an external USB mouse will still be used.

So I managed to find a rather old PC-AT keyboard with just enough clearance inside to fit a Raspi board and a hub, although I think I'm going to have to remove the double USB socket because of its height and replace it with two panel mounting sockets with flying leads with wired ends soldered directly onto the pads vacated by the onboard sockets.

The keyboard is old enough that it has proper, moving clicky switches on the keys, so they have a really nice action. It currently has a 5-pin DIN plug on it but has been tested on a Linux PC by putting it through a passive 5-din to PS/2 converter followed by an active PS/2 to USB converter (necessary as the keyboard does not know how to speak USB).

Like most old keyboards it has fairly heavy power requirements and so to use it with the Pi I'm going to have to break what would be the 5V supply from the Pi to the active converter and keyboard and provide them with their own direct 5V supply - That's not a problem as I'm already powering the Pi and hub from a forked 5V 2.5A supply - neither of them powers the other.

The composite video socket (which I never intend to use anyway) is also too tall and will have to go or be replaced with a panel mount socket and flying lead.

Bruny
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Re: Pi built into keyboard / mouse combo?

Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:17 pm

This got me thinking that it would be nice if an enterprising third party hardware supplier would take a standard, cheap USB + trackball (or + touchpad) keyboard, fit it in a slightly deeper tray and use the extra depth to fit a Pi and a 4-port powered hub inside
that would be great for swag store 8-)

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