IBM Model M BT-USB controller conversion kits

apastuszak

24 Aug 2020, 15:08

So, I have to ask...

Any plans to update this to Bluetooth LE available in Bluetooth 4 and 5 to increase battery life? What's the highest capacity battery you can recommend?

mind_prepared

27 Aug 2020, 20:25

apastuszak wrote:
24 Aug 2020, 15:08
So, I have to ask...

Any plans to update this to Bluetooth LE available in Bluetooth 4 and 5 to increase battery life? What's the highest capacity battery you can recommend?
The BT module already supports BT 4.0 BLE and the firmware has been tweaked to minimize power consumption. A 500 mAh battery should last a week or more of constant typing 8h/day, probably longer in an ordinary usage scenario (nobody's typing that much in real life). I've recently exchanged the BT module used for an improved version of the BT chipset which supposedly consumes even less power (I haven't taken any new measurements yet). It's kinda of ironic that while I tried the utmost to minimize power consumption and hence allow using a smaller battery most guys still go for the biggest battery I offer, which is 2000 mAh. A small battery should already give you plenty of mileage, I don't think a big battery is technically necessary.
Note: Even though I haven been ignoring technology for the most part this summer, I did take the time out to tweak the BT module's firmware and add a feature to set the transmission power. So, in theory, you could do some testing in your environment to find the lowest TX value you can get away with and further reduce power consumption. The only problem is that I haven't come up with a good idea how to use the microcontroller that handles the keyboard related tasks and the USB interfacing as a USB to serial bridge so that the value can be changed via UART. Perhaps I will dig deeper into the BT stack's API and find a way to set TX power directly via the BT interface. Perhaps I can add a 'feature request' to the BT HID report desciptor and use that to change values in the firmware, which is how all non-keyboard related data exchange is handled in USB mode (s.a. uploading a layout file, setting a debounce interval, PWM values etc).

The BT chipset the module is based on supports BT 5.0 as well according to the manufacturer. I would just need to upgrade the BT stack from BT 4.0 to BT 5.0 one of these days, perhaps this fall or winter, whenever I get around to it. I have been pretty much ignoring technology during the summer. On a side note, the so-called 'pandemic' doesn't exactly stoke my enthusiasm for adding new features... I currently still cannot ship DHL international economy shipments to US destinations, and the US orders have been the single most significant factor in keeping the project going... (Note: this is my personal opinion based on the situation in Germany, where there has not been a pandemic in the strict sense of the word, the government just keeps ramping up testing to keep everybody scarred, er, I mean scared).

mszil

28 Nov 2020, 22:45

Hi Jörn,
I was wondering if there was any update on this feature request from elecsys last year - it's also something I'd be very interested in:
I also have a feature request, if you would consider it.
I'm looking for something in the vein of the Logitech MK850, i.e. a keyboard that allows me to switch between multiple devices (by utilizing multiple BT-USB bridges) at the push of a button.
I also have a somewhat poor quality Logitech keyboard with this feature and it's so nice to switch back and forth between devices with just a simple keystroke. If you don't have time but are willing to share the source and basic flashing instructions, I'd be willing to take a look.

Also - I'm based in New Zealand (I emailed you earlier) - I notice DHL now has surface mail to NZ. Are you able to ship mod kits again? Thanks.

mind_prepared

30 Nov 2020, 13:56

mszil wrote:
28 Nov 2020, 22:45
Hi Jörn,
I was wondering if there was any update on this feature request

Also - I'm based in New Zealand (I emailed you earlier) - I notice DHL now has surface mail to NZ. Are you able to ship mod kits again? Thanks.
No, not yet, but it's been assigned to a higher slot on my to-do list.

Yes, you're right, I can ship to NZ again, neat!

mind_prepared

23 Dec 2020, 18:10

btw, to those of you who asked for a Model F version of this controller board: I cannot get hold of a Model F/Brand new Model F keyboard for free or a low price, so I have nothing to start development on. Joe aka Ellipse was kind enough to offer buying merely a keyboard assembly instead of an entire board but that would still be many times more than what I've ever paid for a keyboard. Sorry for being so cheap - but I am! =^o

I will announce if I ever happen across a used Brand new Model F, so perhaps there will be a Model F replacement controller board after all one day, who knows! =^p

mind_prepared

22 Mar 2021, 00:56

just letting everybody know, this project is alive and well.

harmur

04 Apr 2021, 07:01

Yup, I can confirm that.

More explanation below.
Last edited by harmur on 04 Apr 2021, 10:37, edited 1 time in total.

harmur

04 Apr 2021, 10:36

mind_prepared wrote:
22 Mar 2021, 00:56
just letting everybody know, this project is alive and well.
Yup, I can confirm that.

I ordered one and Jörn mailed it mid March (15th?) 2021. To my surprise, the controller board arrived in Indonesia on March 31st, much sooner than I had expected given the pandemic circumstances (I had another international mail that took more than a month to get delivered). What also made me super excited was that Jörn also carefully packed the controller board in a neat and super safe packaging.

As the board doesn't come with a battery due to EU restriction on battery transporting, I have to buy one from the local marketplace. I still have to wait for a couple of days for my battery to arrive.

Today is my typical keyboard-cleaning Sunday and as I was really curious, I went a bit further. I removed the controller from my keyboard (an SSK Terminal), installed the BLUSB (with no problem at all), reassembled the keyboard shells, and connected the keyboard to (my mom's) Windows laptop using a USB printer cable, ... and it works instantly. A quick test using AquaKeytest confirms it, too. Finally, I tried it on my own laptop (Linux), and it also works great. Thank you, Jörn.

I'll update this once the battery arrives. I might also post a story about how I got my SSK Terminal from a metal scrapper.

mind_prepared

08 Apr 2021, 12:56

that's awesome, I'm glad to hear that!

Btw, the reason I cannot ship batteries outside of the EU is that lithium-based batteries are considered potential incendiary devices by airmail carriers. A special permit unavailable to private sellers is necessary to ship batteries by airmail. Shipping within or adjacent to EU countries is not a problem since economy shipments are delivered by ground transportation.

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