Software-less programmable keyboards

Grim Fandango 1

05 Oct 2014, 23:41

I'm looking to get myself a programmable keyboard for work but I'm not going to be able to install any software that might come with it, I've had a look and it really isn't obvious at all, hence why I'm here, so can anyone help me?

So what I'm looking for:
A programmable keyboard that doesn't need software to work (!)
Must have a numeric keypad
Don't want to be spending loads, so let's say about £40 limit
Half dozen-ish additional programmable keys is all I really need
Having fancy lighting is quite cool, but not really needed
(Just in case it makes a difference) a UK qwerty keyboard

So thanks in advance for any suggestions :D

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Muirium
µ

06 Oct 2014, 00:16

If Kbdfr was around, he would suggest a Tipro, which looks something like this:

Image

They can be programmed very extensively, and then they store it onboard so you can use them without software on any computer. That one's for sale right here, but I don't know the price. They're generally pretty cheap, though.

Also, you can make any classic (pre-USB) keyboard into a programmable USB keyboard using Soarer's Converter. It runs on a Teensy (a postage stamp sized chip) that you can put inside the original keyboard's shell. Then you can program it however you like, again all stored inside the keyboard and without the need for any software on the work computer.

So you could use something like this:

Image

If they can stand the noise of a Model M! But any old PS/2 or AT/XT keyboard would do.

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Halvar

06 Oct 2014, 01:23

Of course both the Tipro and Soarer's converter need to be programmed once, and you must install software to do that.

I don't see how you could sensibly program a keyboard without any software just by blindly pressing keys. That would probably be really hard.

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hasu

06 Oct 2014, 02:31

You should check Gateway anykey, Avant Stellar and its predecessor Nothgate Omnikey.
Not sure all your requests are met but worth to look into them, at least.

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Britney Spears

06 Oct 2014, 09:06

Halvar wrote: I don't see how you could sensibly program a keyboard without any software just by blindly pressing keys. That would probably be really hard.
I don't think this is what Grim has in mind. It sounds more like his is simply not allowed to install any software at his work and therefore needs to have a board which does not rely on any software at "runtime" ;), which still leaves the option of programming the keyboard at home.

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kbdfr
The Tiproman

06 Oct 2014, 10:52

Muirium wrote: If Kbdfr was around, he would suggest a Tipro, which looks something like this: […]
:mrgreen:

Personally I prefer those old-fashioned beige keyboards, but well… :mrgreen:
Tipros being completely modular (i.e. you can add a numpad) and completely programmable, they are definitely first choice if the "doesn't need software to work" requirement means "but OK if it needs software for programming first as long as once programmed it then works on any system".

If you want a keyboard which needs no software at all, then you have a difficult choice between two Cherry boards:
the quite obsolete G80-2100 (with the old-fashioned 10 F keys on the left side instead instead of the modern 12 F keys upper row):
Image
http://deskthority.net/wiki/Cherry_G80-2100
and its successor, the more modern G81-8308, which is even easier to program but has the awful MY switches:
Image (the bottom one)
discussed here:
http://deskthority.net/photos-f62/battl ... tml#p13080
On both, the upper 24 keys can be programmed on the fly without any software (but only actual keys of the keyboard itself can be programmed).

Another solution would consist in keeping your actual keyboard and just inserting a small keypad between it and your computer.

Give more details about what you need and you'll get more details about what would fit :mrgreen:

Grim Fandango 1

06 Oct 2014, 22:36

I've considered having a keyboard that I pre programmed at home but thinking it through I'm likely to want to change the macros whilst at work, I do have some very repetitive tasks but they are different each time

I have found keyboards that you can program on the fly like the Razer Anansi but down sides to this one, looks like it needs software and it's too expensive
http://www.razerzone.com/gb-en/gaming-k ... zer-anansi

Am I asking for to much? :|

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Compgeke

06 Oct 2014, 22:56

There isn't a lot on the board but on one newegg review it says you can't program it without using the special Razer driver and such. I have a feeling that'll be the same with any board from them.

I'm another one going to say it's probably easiest to go with a custom controller in a board. Something like a Rosewill RK9000 and a Black Petal controller would be a fair bit more than 40 but infinitely more useful in my opinion.

Image

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Daniel Beardsmore

06 Oct 2014, 23:20

Halvar wrote: I don't see how you could sensibly program a keyboard without any software just by blindly pressing keys. That would probably be really hard.
It's tricky. Starting out programming a Poker II—which is programmed entirely using the keyboard itself with no software—is awkward, although there is a way to read out the existing binding for a specific key (it types out a dump of the binding into the computer).

Reprogramming almost a whole keyboard using itself is possible, and that's what a Poker II offers in Pn mode; the downside is a stray LED left lit under a key the whole time (indicates Pn mode active), and I am guessing you have to switch to Pn mode each time you power up the keyboard.

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Halvar

06 Oct 2014, 23:26

From what I'm reading in Amazon reviews, the 18 macro keys of the Corsair K95 can be programmed without installing the software that comes with it. Unfortunately, they don't have a detailed description on their web site.

http://www.corsair.com/en/vengeance-k95 ... g-keyboard

@Daniel: yes, I had forgotten, but my "Hohe TheBoard" from the 80s also has that functionality with a key that you can press to record a macro for any key. Unfortunately, the keyboard only had volatile memory so all macros were lost when you switched off the computer ... :o

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Compgeke

06 Oct 2014, 23:36

The Focus FK9000 is also programmable directly on the board without software. Downside to it is it's a tad hard to find to actually one of them and they're a tad big.

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kbdfr
The Tiproman

07 Oct 2014, 07:25

Grim Fandango 1 wrote: Half dozen-ish additional programmable keys is all I really need
Easiest and cheapest solution in case you have PS/2:
http://deskthority.net/wiki/Cherry_G84-4700
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/221564625266

I use one myself (in addition to my 248-key fully programmable Tipro!) to program those momentary repetitive tasks which woulnd't justify opening the Tipro software.

JBert

07 Oct 2014, 12:13

I have read that the Ps2AvrU firmware has a programming menu (i.e. you open notepad and it actually will try to guide you through the menu), but the linked guide is incomplete.

Apart from having to test it yourself, that would also mean that you'd need to have that custom controller in a keyboard or make your own custom keyboard.

All in all, £40 is a tough limit.

davkol

07 Oct 2014, 23:19

Some Teensy firmware supports on-the-fly macros (like Kinesis Advantage), if additional memory is provided.

Grim Fandango 1

07 Oct 2014, 23:32

Maybe I was being a little too optimistic! I suppose having a keyboard that can record what you're typing into a macro could be used and abused to grab peoples passwords, especially in a work environment, so perhaps that's why they don't really exist. Well not currently, it looks like all the examples everyone has suggested are a little old

So what am I going to do? Well I think I might get a keypad and program it at home with a selection of useful shortcuts, Ctrl+c, Ctrl+v, alt+tab, tab, tab tab etc, and get myself a nice keyboard (the work ones crap!)

Thanks everyone for your help :D If anyone does find one though do let me know!

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Laser
emacs -nw

08 Oct 2014, 01:33

My personal advice is this combo: CM Storm Quick Fire Rapid TKL (your desired mx switch) + bpiphany frosty flake replacement controller + easy avr firmware and keymapper software (GUI) - you get, pretty cheap (but not *so* cheap as you wish) a strong (FILCO-comparable) TKL keyboard with a completely customizable controller + a cross platform keymapper/macro etc. GUI based solution.

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DanielT
Un petit village gaulois d'Armorique…

08 Oct 2014, 12:13

JBert wrote: I have read that the Ps2AvrU firmware has a programming menu (i.e. you open notepad and it actually will try to guide you through the menu), but the linked guide is incomplete.

Apart from having to test it yourself, that would also mean that you'd need to have that custom controller in a keyboard or make your own custom keyboard.

All in all, £40 is a tough limit.
ps2avru is a good choice, you can program with just a notepad, and works also on Linux in Vim. You can modify key mapping and macros directly. I did that on the faceU board and works like a charm 8-)

edlee

24 Nov 2020, 08:45

Here are some modern USB keyboards that record and play back macros on-the-fly at a fixed speed without the need for external software:

1. Inland OMK-X

2. Redragon K586-PRO Brahma Pro

3. Thermaltake Meka Pro

The Inland OMK-X might be the cheapest and is available from Microcenter.com in the USA. The Inland OMK-X is basically the same keyboard as the more expensive Brahma Pro keyboard. Both keyboards use optical light switches. Both the Inland OMK-X and Brahma Pro keyboards respond to the same undocumented key combination Fn PrintScreen to reset the macros and lighting. The Brahma Pro has 5 horizontal macro keys on the top left of the keyboard and the same macro keys vertically repeated on the left side of the keyboard while the Inland OMK-X has only the 5 horizontal macro keys on the top. The Inland OMK-X only comes with clicky blue switches. I had the impression there were blue and brown switch versions of the Brahma Pro keyboard.

The Meka Pro has the fastest macro playback among these keyboards. My Meka Pro has clicky blue switches. There is a toggle button that changes the function of some of the regular keys to be macro keys.

The Rosewill RK-9000V2 keyboard records and plays back macros on-the-fly without external software, but the keyboard records and plays back the delays between keystrokes. That might be desirable for some games but undesirable for word processing or computer programming. My Rosewill RK-9000V2 keyboard has clicky blue switches.

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