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#52 in Hardware support

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MIT/Apache

395KB
1K SLoC

ch57x-keyboard-tool Macro Keyboard Configuration Utility

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Table of Contents

What is this?

This keyboard configuration utility is for programming small keyboards, such as the one shown below:

Picture of keyboard-12-2

Such macro keyboards are popular on AliExpress, and sellers often include software for programming, but:

  • It requires Windows
  • It is very ugly and inconvenient
  • It can only program one key at a time
  • It does not expose all keyboard features

There are several modifications of such keyboards with different numbers of buttons and knobs (see the photos of supported keyboards) and with/without Bluetooth.

Both wired and wireless keyboards are supported.
⚠️ However, the keyboard must be connected to the computer with a USB cable when programming.

Supported keyboards

This utility has been reported to work with:

  • 3×4 with 2 knobs (Bluetooth version)
  • 3×3 with 2 knobs
  • 3x2 with 1 knob
  • 3x1 with 1 knob with limitations

All these keyboards share the same vendor/product IDs: 1189:8890 (hexadecimal). It is possible to override the used vendor/product ID, but it is usually unnecessary. Use this utility on similar-looking keyboard with a different vendor/product ID.

For more details, refer to the Supported Macro Keyboards section.

⚠️ The ability to override the vendor/product ID does not mean that you can use this utility to program arbitrary keyboards!

Installation

There are two ways to download the keyboard utility: getting a prebuilt release or building it yourself.

Prebuilt release

Simply download the latest release from GitHub.

Build it yourself

  1. Install the cargo utility using rustup:
    • Brew: brew install rustup-init && rustup-init
    • Linux: curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 -sSf https://sh.rustup.rs | sh
    • Windows: Download and run rustup-init.exe
  2. Execute cargo install ch57x-keyboard-tool.

Usage

Note: Windows users need to install USBDK first.

  1. Connect the keyboard to the computer with a USB cable.
  2. Create a configuration file based on the provided example-mapping.yaml.
    • The example config file has extensive documentation inside.
  3. Validate the configuration file.
  4. Upload the configuration to the keyboard.
  5. Done! 🎉

Commands and options

ch57x-keyboard-tool [OPTIONS] <COMMAND>

Commands and their descriptions:

Command Description
show-keys Display a list of all supported keys and modifiers
validate Validate key mappings config from stdin
upload Upload key mappings from stdin to the device
led Select LED backlight mode
help, -h, --help Print this message or the help of the given subcommand(s)

Options and their descriptions:

Option Description Notes
--vendor-id <VENDOR_ID> Vendor ID of the keyboard Default: 4489
--product-id <PRODUCT_ID> Product ID of the keyboard Default: 34960
--address <ADDRESS> Address of the keyboard

Validate the config file

./ch57x-keyboard-tool validate < your-config.yaml

Upload the config to the keyboard

./ch57x-keyboard-tool upload < your-config.yaml

Use 'sudo' if you get 'Access denied (insufficient permissions)':

sudo ./ch57x-keyboard-tool upload < your-config.yaml

Change LED configuration

If your keyboard supports it, you can change the LED configuration:

# Turn off the LED
./ch57x-keyboard-tool led 0

# Set the LED to the first mode (likely "Steady on")
./ch57x-keyboard-tool led 1

Windows / PowerShell

Use Get-Content for input redirection:

Get-Content your-config.yaml | ./ch57x-keyboard-tool validate

FAQ

How to do ... on key press?

A common question/request is about automation, such as "How to run a script?", "emulate several keys", or "how to trigger an action with a key press?"

This tool does just one job: writes your key bindings into the keyboard and then exits.
It does not listen for key presses. Automation based on key presses is not within the scope of this utility tool.

If you seek any automation, use third-party automation tools like BetterTouchTool.

  1. Choose a chord you do not usually use (like alt-ctrl-shift-1).
  2. Assign the chord to a key.
  3. Use a third-party automation tool to listen for this chord and have it perform the desired action.
  4. Done! 🎉

Can you implement ... feature?

I don't have detailed datasheet for these keyboards. So I can say whether something can implemented until you show me any software that can do it. Then it is teoretically possible to replicate behavior.

However, doing it requires either exact keyboard model in my hands or you to performa reverse engeneering.

Notes

Number of layers

All keyboards I have seen have three layers (three key configurations which may be switched). However, if your keyboard does not support layer switching, just keep a single layer in the configuration file.

Custom keyboard layouts

If you use a custom keyboard layout, like Dvorak, you will need to write the keyboard key's scancode in the configuration file (not the character that is produced).

So, use the QWERTY letter of the keyboard key you want to press.

3x1 keys + 1 knob keyboard limitations

This modification does support key modifiers (like ctrl-, alt-, and cmd-) for the first key in sequence only.

So, you can use: ctrl-alt-del,1,2, but not ctrl-alt-del,alt-1,2.

macOS vs Windows keyboard keys

A friendly reminder that some keys have different names on macOS and Windows.
These keys have aliases for both platforms, you may use them interchangeably.

Key Name macOS Key Windows Key
Command / Windows cmd win
Option / Alt opt alt

Diagnostics

When reporting an issue, please include diagnostics such as the list of attached USB devices and the output of the keyboard and mouse monitoring tools.

How to find and list connected USB devices

macOS

system_profiler SPUSBDataType

or

ioreg -w0 -l -p IOUSB

Linux

lsusb -v

Windows

Get-PnpDevice | Where-Object { $_.Class -eq 'USB' } | Format-Table Name, DeviceID, Manufacturer, Status, Description -AutoSize

Monitoring generated keyboard and mouse events

The simplest and cross-platform way to monitor keyboard and mouse events is using the keyboard and mouse Python modules.

Monitoring keyboard:

pip3 install keyboard
sudo python3 -m keyboard

Monitoring mouse:

  • The latest published 'mouse' module doesn't support macOS, so use the latest version from GitHub
git clone https://github.com/boppreh/mouse
cd mouse
python3 -m mouse

Supported macro keyboards

Photos of supported keyboards

3x2 with 1 knob 3x1 with 1 knob 3×3 with 2 knobs
keyboard-6-1 keyboard-3-1 keyboard-12-2

Dependencies

~12MB
~221K SLoC