jank

Jank without the enclosure.

jank is just another keypad. Specifically it's a 21-key usb numeric keypad. I wanted one for use with my laptop. Sure it would have cost a lot less to just buy one, but... (insert justification here when you think of one). jank is open-source with all the code and CAD files available at GitLab.

The main features of this keypad include:

I previously completed a simpler macro pad project (macr0) which served as an experiment to prepare for this project. Effectively macr0 was a trial so that I could get my head around a few concepts (key matrixing, LED boost controllers, configurable macros with the HID protocol). As such, development for jank went a lot faster since a lot of the code from macr0 worked with minimal changes.


Hardware

Hardware assembly underway.

The schematic and PCB layout were designed in KiCAD. The schematic can be divided into five main areas/components:

  1. The key matrix - 21 gateron mechanical keyswitches connected in a matrix of 4 columns and 6 rows. The key switches each include a 3mm LED.
  2. ATmega32u4 AVR microcontroller - Selected because it has enough GPIO and hardware USB. I'm also familiar with the device from previous projects and have a few on-hand. Includes an external 16MHz crystal.
  3. MP3202 LED driver - I've not (successfully) used a boost LED driver before, so this was a neat learning experience. It drives all 21 keyswitch LEDs and is enabled by a PWM signal from the AVR which allows variable LED brightness.
  4. USB type-C Receptacle - Configured to be detected by a host as a USB 2.0 device. I went with a simple 16-pin through-hole connector that is (barely) hand-solderable.
  5. 6-Pin AVR ISP connector - A standard In-System Programming port.

I ordered board fabrication from JLCPCB and had boards in-hand within a week. Sooner than some of the SMD parts which were ordered from a domestic supplier.

The keyswitches are the "plate-mount" type. Some years ago I ordered some 108-key keyboard plates laser cut from stainless steel. For my first test assembly I took an angle grinder to one of these and cut off just the end keypad section to use with jank. The assembled unit worked well and I eventually made a simple wood enclosure for it which hid the rough-cut edge. I assembled a second unit (minimum order quantity meant I ended up with five PCBs) but this time I ordered a laser-cut stainless steel plate for a nicer finish. To generate the CAD file for the plate, I took the following steps:

  1. Start with a keyboard layout generated at keyboard-layout-editor.com.
  2. Copy the text from the "Raw Data" tab.
  3. Paste the "Raw data" from the layout editor into the "Plate Layout" field at builder.swillkb.com.
  4. Select "MX {_t:3}" as the "Switch Type").
  5. Set the "Stabilizer Type". I went with "Cherry + Costar {_s:1}".
  6. Turn on the "Edge Padding" option and set all edges to "1.9mm" (this will add padding so that the overall plate dimensions match the PCB dimensions).
  7. Click "Draw My CAD!!!", check the outline and dimensions, then download the *.dxf CAD file.
  8. Upload the CAD file to a laser cutting service to order the plate. I used LaserBoost.

Following is the raw data for the layout I created. The actual text on the keys isn't important for creating the plate CAD, but I included it anyway.

["M1","M2","M3","M4"],
[{y:0.5},"Num Lock","/","*","-"],
["7\nHome","8\n↑","9\nPgUp",{h:2},"+"],
["4\n←","5","6\n→"],
["1\nEnd","2\n↓","3\nPgDn",{h:2},"Enter"],
[{w:2},"0\nIns",".\nDel"]

If you want to skip steps 01-07 above (generating the *.dxf CAD file), I have uploaded the file I generated to the GitLab repo (jank_plate_cad.dxf).

Two issues during assembly of the PCB:

  1. My fist step is usually solder in the minimum components to test the programming circuit. I.e. the AVR, ISP connector and a few passives. Turns out I had two pins on the AVR shorted and they just so happened to be VCC and GND. The programmer I was using didn't survive but fortunately I had a spare. Once the bridge was fixed I used AVRDUDE to test the AVR which was unharmed.
  2. The single SMD LED mounted on the side opposite the keyswitches (used to indicate num lock status) failed to work. In my schematic I initially had it backwards. Fortunately this was a super-easy fix (reverse the LED) so I didn't need to have the board re-fabricated.

The "enclosure" is a simple wood (spotted gum) frame and a clear acrylic base plate. There is a small hole in the base to provide access to the tact switch that cycles the LED backlighting through various brightness levels and pulse effects.


Firmware

For the most part, the firmware did not take long as it is heavily based on a previous project - macr0. The firmware can be separated into three parts:

  1. USB HID Implementation - Achieved by using Dean Camera's LUFA Library.
  2. LED Control - Uses a timer configured as a PWM signal output on a pin connected to the LED controller enable pin. A tact-switch push-button on a pin-change interrupt is configured to cycle through various LED modes. The modes include various levels of brightness and a few pulsing effects. A second internal timer is used to vary the PWM duty cycle to provide the pulse effects.
  3. Key Scanning - By sequentially enabling each row of the key matrix, then reading the state of each column, key scan functions determine which keys are pressed. The table below details the keyswitch layout and the corresponding row and column as connected to the microcontroller.
ROW0
COL0
ROW0
COL1
ROW0
COL2
ROW0
COL3

ROW1
COL0
ROW1
COL1
ROW1
COL2
ROW1
COL3
ROW2
COL0
ROW2
COL1
ROW2
COL2
ROW2
COL3
ROW3
COL0
ROW3
COL1
ROW3
COL2
ROW4
COL0
ROW4
COL1
ROW4
COL2
ROW4
COL3
ROW5
COL0
ROW5
COL2

Porting the firmware from macr0 went relatively smoothy except for one issue that took longer to solve than I will admit. GPIO pins PF4 and PF5 are configured as inputs for reading in key matrix columns 2 and 3. Alternate functions for PF4 and PF5 include JTAG TCK (test clock) and JTAG TMS (test mode select) respectively. I did not intend to use JTAG so this was irrelevant! Of course I now know that JTAG is enabled be default (as it can serve as an interface for programming the AVR) and GPIO is therefore disabled on PF4 and PF5. Disabling JTAG by clearing the applicable fuse bit solved all my problems.


Testing.

Configuration

Any key can be configured as a regular keystroke (including media control keys) or a macro (a series of sequential/combined keystrokes). The code as listed on GitLab will cause the top row of keyswitches to be configured as four macro keys while the remaining 17 keys are configured as a traditional numeric keypad, including standard Num Lock operation.

Only the keymap.c source file needs to be modified in order to configure the action for each key. The keymap.h header file is a useful reference, particularly for finding all the defined keyboard scan-codes.

So a keystroke configured as a macro actually triggers a series of one or more single "macro actions". The series of macro actions are defined within a multi-dimensional array MACROMAP[number_of_rows][number_of_columns][number_of_macro_t]. A single macro action is represented as a custom structure type named macro_t. The type definition (typedef) for the structure is listed within the keymap.h header file, and is also duplicated below for reference:


typedef struct {
    uint8_t m_action;              // m_action defines the kind of macro action (string, keys or delay).
    char m_array[MAX_MACRO_CHARS]; // m_array is interpreted differently depending on the value of m_action.
} macro_t;

The array part of the macro_t structure (m_array) is interpreted in different ways by the SendMacroReports() function, depending on the value of the interger part of the structure (m_action).

m_actionm_array
M_NULLNo macro. The m_array is ignored.
M_STRING"Type" a string of characters. The m_array is interpreted as a character array. Each character is converted to the required keyboard scancode and sequentially sent as a series of keyboard reports.
M_KEYSA combination of keystrokes (including modifiers). Each element of m_array is interpreted as a keyboard scancode. All scancodes are sent simultaneously in a single keyboard report.
M_WAITNo keystrokes. Each element of the m_array is interpreted as an integer. The value of each integer represents the number of seconds to "wait". Such a delay can be useful if previous macro keystrokes need time for the corresponding command to execute.

#include "keymap.h"

// Define the physical row and column pins on the microcontroller to be scanned for key presses.
const uint8_t key_row_array[] = {ROW1, ROW2, ROW3, ROW4, ROW5};
const uint8_t key_col_array[] = {COL0, COL1, COL2, COL3};
const uint8_t macro_row_array[] = {ROW0};
const uint8_t macro_col_array[] = {COL0, COL1, COL2, COL3};

// Number pad key definitions.
// KEY_X_Y where X:Row Number, Y:Column Number.
#define KEY_1_0 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_NUM_LOCK
#define KEY_1_1 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_SLASH
#define KEY_1_2 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_ASTERISK
#define KEY_1_3 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_MINUS
#define KEY_2_0 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_7_AND_HOME
#define KEY_2_1 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_8_AND_UP_ARROW
#define KEY_2_2 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_9_AND_PAGE_UP
#define KEY_2_3 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_PLUS
#define KEY_3_0 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_4_AND_LEFT_ARROW
#define KEY_3_1 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_5
#define KEY_3_2 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_6_AND_RIGHT_ARROW
#define KEY_3_3 0x00    // No key here.
#define KEY_4_0 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_1_AND_END
#define KEY_4_1 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_2_AND_DOWN_ARROW
#define KEY_4_2 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_3_AND_PAGE_DOWN
#define KEY_4_3 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_ENTER
#define KEY_5_0 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_0_AND_INSERT
#define KEY_5_1 0x00    // No key here.
#define KEY_5_2 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_DOT_AND_DELETE
#define KEY_5_3 0x00    // No key here.

// The key map array - for regular key strokes including media control keys.
const char KEYMAP[NUM_KEY_ROWS][NUM_KEY_COLS] PROGMEM = {
    //Col 0     Col 1      Col 2      Col 3
    {KEY_1_0,    KEY_1_1,    KEY_1_2,    KEY_1_3},    // Row 1
    {KEY_2_0,    KEY_2_1,    KEY_2_2,    KEY_2_3},    // Row 2
    {KEY_3_0,    KEY_3_1,    KEY_3_2,    KEY_3_3},    // Row 3
    {KEY_4_0,    KEY_4_1,    KEY_4_2,    KEY_4_3},    // Row 4
    {KEY_5_0,    KEY_5_1,    KEY_5_2,    KEY_5_3}     // Row 5
};

// The macro map array - for key strokes that are mapped as macros.
const macro_t MACROMAP[NUM_MACRO_ROWS][NUM_MACRO_COLS][MAX_MACRO_ACTIONS] PROGMEM =
{
    { //Row0
        { //Col0
            {M_KEYS, {HID_KEYBOARD_SC_F12}}, // This macro is just the same as hitting the F12 key.
        },
        { //Col1
            {M_KEYS, {HID_KEYBOARD_SC_LEFT_GUI}}, // This macro will go to the specified url in a new firefox tab.
            {M_WAIT, {1}},
            {M_STRING, "firefox"},
            {M_KEYS, {HID_KEYBOARD_SC_ENTER}},
            {M_WAIT, {3}},
            {M_KEYS, {HID_KEYBOARD_SC_LEFT_CONTROL, HID_KEYBOARD_SC_T}},
            {M_STRING, "https://clews.pro/projects/jank.php"},
            {M_KEYS, {HID_KEYBOARD_SC_ENTER}},
        },
        { //Col2
            {M_STRING, " _\n"}, // This macro will enter a series of strings to create some ascii art.
            {M_STRING, " ( )\n"},
            {M_STRING, " H\n"},
            {M_STRING, " H\n"},
            {M_STRING, " _H_\n"},
            {M_STRING, " .-'-.-'-.\n"},
            {M_STRING, " / \\\n"},
            {M_STRING, "| |\n"},
            {M_STRING, "| .-------'._\n"},
            {M_STRING, "| / / '.' '. \\\n"},
            {M_STRING, "| \\ \\ @ @ / /\n"},
            {M_STRING, "| '---------'\n"},
            {M_STRING, "| _______|\n"},
            {M_STRING, "| .'-+-+-+|\n"},
            {M_STRING, "| '.-+-+-+|\n"},
            {M_STRING, "| '''''' |\n"},
            {M_STRING, "'-.__ __.-'\n"},
            {M_STRING, " '''\n"}
        },
        { //Col3
            {M_STRING, "Bender is Great!"}, // This macro will type a string of characters then hit enter.
            {M_KEYS, {HID_KEYBOARD_SC_ENTER}},
        }
    }
};

Using the configuration above, the macro mapped to the key at row 0, column 1 is an example that uses all three types of macro actions (string, keys and wait).

  1. KEYS - Press the keyboard "GUI" key.
  2. WAIT - Wait a second for the OS context to switch.
  3. STRING - Type the string "firefox".
  4. KEYS - Press the "Enter" key, thus opening (or switching to) firefox.
  5. WAIT - Wait a few seconds for firefox to load (in case it isn't already running).
  6. KEYS - Enter the key combination "ctrl + t" to open a new browsing tab.
  7. STRING - Enter a URL.
  8. KEYS - Press the "Enter" key, thus directing firefox to the specified URL. This could alternatively be achieved by appending a newline ("\n") to the end of the string entered in the previous step.

If no macros are wanted, the top four keys can be included in the KEYMAP array while leaving the MACROMAP array empty. In the following example, the numeric keypad remains the same as the example above, but the top four keys (row 0) are configured as media controls.

#include "keymap.h"

// Define the physical row and column pins on the microcontroller to be scanned for key presses.
const uint8_t key_row_array[] = {ROW0, ROW1, ROW2, ROW3, ROW4, ROW5};
const uint8_t key_col_array[] = {COL0, COL1, COL2, COL3};
const uint8_t macro_row_array[] = {};
const uint8_t macro_col_array[] = {};

// Number pad key definitions.
// KEY_X_Y where X:Row Number, Y:Column Number.
#define KEY_0_0 HID_MEDIACONTROLLER_SC_TOGGLE
#define KEY_0_1 HID_MEDIACONTROLLER_SC_STOP
#define KEY_0_2 HID_MEDIACONTROLLER_SC_PREVIOUS
#define KEY_0_3 HID_MEDIACONTROLLER_SC_NEXT
#define KEY_1_0 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_NUM_LOCK
#define KEY_1_1 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_SLASH
#define KEY_1_2 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_ASTERISK
#define KEY_1_3 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_MINUS
#define KEY_2_0 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_7_AND_HOME
#define KEY_2_1 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_8_AND_UP_ARROW
#define KEY_2_2 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_9_AND_PAGE_UP
#define KEY_2_3 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_PLUS
#define KEY_3_0 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_4_AND_LEFT_ARROW
#define KEY_3_1 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_5
#define KEY_3_2 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_6_AND_RIGHT_ARROW
#define KEY_3_3 0x00    // No key here.
#define KEY_4_0 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_1_AND_END
#define KEY_4_1 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_2_AND_DOWN_ARROW
#define KEY_4_2 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_3_AND_PAGE_DOWN
#define KEY_4_3 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_ENTER
#define KEY_5_0 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_0_AND_INSERT
#define KEY_5_1 0x00    // No key here.
#define KEY_5_2 HID_KEYBOARD_SC_KEYPAD_DOT_AND_DELETE
#define KEY_5_3 0x00    // No key here.

// The key map array - for regular key strokes including media control keys.
const char KEYMAP[NUM_KEY_ROWS][NUM_KEY_COLS] PROGMEM = {
    //Col 0     Col 1      Col 2      Col 3
    {KEY_0_0,    KEY_0_1,    KEY_0_2,    KEY_0_3},    // Row 1
    {KEY_1_0,    KEY_1_1,    KEY_1_2,    KEY_1_3},    // Row 1
    {KEY_2_0,    KEY_2_1,    KEY_2_2,    KEY_2_3},    // Row 2
    {KEY_3_0,    KEY_3_1,    KEY_3_2,    KEY_3_3},    // Row 3
    {KEY_4_0,    KEY_4_1,    KEY_4_2,    KEY_4_3},    // Row 4
    {KEY_5_0,    KEY_5_1,    KEY_5_2,    KEY_5_3}     // Row 5
};

// The macro map array - for key strokes that are mapped as macros.
const macro_t MACROMAP[NUM_MACRO_ROWS][NUM_MACRO_COLS][MAX_MACRO_ACTIONS] PROGMEM = {};


Improvememnts

If I ever do a revision, I'll make an adjustment to the LED controller circuit. I implemented the PWM brightness control using the basic configuration as per figure 7 of the MP3202 datasheet. This arrangement is for dimming with a PWM frequency of no higher than 1kHz. This seemed fine for my purpose, however what I didn't think of was the hum from the inductor. It's only audible if the room is otherwise silent, but I could have eliminated it completely with a PWM frequency above the human-audible range. I should have configured the circuit in accordance with figure 8 of the datasheet which can tolerate higher frequencies because it has some additional passives for filtering the PWM signal.


Gallery