AMS Spring 2023

Here’s a 3D Printable Palm-Fitted Keyboard for Your Texting Addiction

Inkbit

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thWhere do I get started on the topic of texting? I have been a writer for decades, relishing the refinement of my own language, as I grow increasingly confident putting pen to paper, and then WHAM! Out of the blue everything  changes. First email emerges, and I find myself grappling with whether or to strike a formal or more casual tone with someone whom I’ve exchanged several emails with in a thread. What are the protocols? Do I sign a closing salutation and my name each time? How do I apply for a job electronically? What are the protocols for emailing co-workers? Bosses?

Just when I started to get the hang of it all, of course, no one uses email anymore for much. Why? Because we are texting. Plans. Random thoughts. People even break-up via text these days. I think I could embrace this more (I have already accepted the near-complete destruction of the English language in this process) if only it was easier to text. I’m used to a keyboard, and I just haven’t adjusted to those tiny letters on my smartphone yet… What to do?

ppk_graniteHere’s an idea: for people, like me, who are uncomfortable texting: why not use a keyboard that fits in your palm? With letters bigger than your smartphone, you’ll be lots more comfortable and relaxed about sending your messages. You may even come to enjoy texting. A hack for Bluetooth and USB Palm Portable Keyboard (PPK) could be the answer to all of these texting problems. Palm Keyboards (the m100, III and VII models of the Palm PDA) are available for around $20 on websites like eBay. These keyboards fold up into a “box about the size of two Altoids tins.” These keyboards are also desirable because they use very little power. The Palm Keyboard states that the interface board is an “inexpensive way to try out these keyboards with your own PIC or other hardware.”

palm-keyboard-pcbThe PPK is able to fit in your pocket, but think about it, that’s much larger than the “keys” on your smartphone. So, in this hack, the goal is to use a small board to adapt the PPK as a generic USB HID keyboard. Even better news is that this project will only cost you about $20 if you decide to try this yourself, and liberate yourself from the confines of your smartphone keys.

To do this, you will need the 3D printable OpenSCAD for the PPK, and the 3D printed part for holding the Arduino. You can get code and implementation details at GitHub. Since the keyboard has an interface that is so friendly, you don’t even have to take the top off to get to the circuitry. Pretty straightforward it seems. Before you know it, like email before texting, you will barely remember how to use the keys on your smartphone, because you’ll be too busy using your new hacked PPK.

Have you tried out this keyboard?  Did it make texting a breeze?  Let us know in the 3D printed Palm-fitted Keyboard forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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