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PB Duo: keyboard substitute


Staff member
For the first two months I had my first "chicklet key" Unibody MacBook I kept knocking the Return key partially off. It wasn't that I was hitting it particularly hard or anything, there was just something about how I typed that had me hitting it at an angle the little clips weren't designed for, I guess.(?)

(Seriously, I don't know what the deal was. Maybe it was the angle, maybe I'd been catching my fingernail on it, no clue. It still happens once in a blue moon but whatever I was doing I've apparently managed to unconsciously moderate it. To say the least it left me with a rather poor opinion of Apple's toy keyboards. My desktop wallpaper and screen saver pictures consist entirely of pictures of cruddy chicklet-key home computers from the 80's, like the Tandy Color Computer.)



The first KBD I used at work was on the Gerber Sprint vinyl cutter, TERRIBLE! The mechanical keyswitches were sub-fair and they were soldered straight onto the logic board with no slant whatsoever . . .

. . . on a friggin' $20k workstation!

I've got nothing but good to say about HP's NetBook KBDs, .9x full size, but decent travel and feedback . . .

. . . then again I used Duos as my only laptop for something like 9 years. :lol:



I used a Rubbermaid "KBD" for a bit with HP_Mini in coffee shops for its PageNav keys before I decided I could live without ther rest bu using the space bar as page down. I guess starting out with crappy keyboards and using Duo KBDs more than any human should have to endure were good training for dealing with the roll up kind.

On the 1400 KBD/Duo hybrid setup I've got your classic good news/bad news situation to report:

1) I was looking at the flex cable setup upside down, it folds over to wind up inside the HDD bay which is more convenient . . .

2) It conflicts with the trackball . . .

3) If you can live with the 2300c's Horrid TrackPad, it will fold under the mechanism . . .

4) If you do so, it then conflicts with the TrackPad's flex cable to get there . . .

5) The caps under the chassis hump in the back preclude modifications to the Duo to implement the function key mod . . .

6) With a function key row-ectomy, it will fit front to back with little or no modification to the Duo's plastics . . .

7) Side to side will need modifications to the side of the Duo's plastics a/o keycaps if not outright removal . . .

. . . but the supports removed are unnecessary and the integrity of the plastics will remain acceptable. So if the 1400's KBD can be disassembled and reassembled (keycaps removed and replaced at minimum) in a workable fashion it's still a contender. I think the best approach is to fab a new flex circuit/cable for the top contacts and etch PCB for the bottom section, no remapping necessary in that case. This is something I've been considering for fixing the flex problem of the stock Duo KBD and to provide a connection path between the Docking Connector contacts the MoDem and HDD bays anyway.

The 1400 KBD graft remains a contender! ;D

And this hack dovetails very nicely with the PB100/2300c hybrid hack as well. }:)



Looking at the flex circuitry of the 1400 KBD, it looks like the top layer half of the matrix is the 11 contact right hand side of the flex cable, which allows for removing the portion of the flex cable that interferes with both the TrackBall mechanism and the cable for that diabolical TrackPad in the custom bottom matrix PCB scenario.

It's too bad there's a numerical mismatch in key matrix signals that makes remapping the signals in software impossible. It's still very doable with the KeyWarrior option and there's a lot of available real estate on the underside of the custom KBD PCB for that chippie! [:D] ]'>



My concerns about jumping to conclusions about this hack proved out:

Left and right sides of the cables/traces are intertwined. :-/ So it's back to folding the cable under and over to left or right. Mounting holes almost work with the 1400 flex circuit, dunno, it's really close. With cutouts in the copper heat spreader for more of the tallish components, a subterranean PCB or cable adapter might work out. If not, there might be room over shallower components for a cable conversion harness.

The one bit of good luck is that the connector/cable conversion might be doable straight back to the area of the CPU. It looks like it may not interfere with the video cable, but it's a tight squeeze on both sides if I have it positioned correctly by eyeball.

Lots of ifs and maybes, but the 1400 KB is still not out of the running. How's it looking from your end so far, B?



3) If you can live with the 2300c's Horrid TrackPad, it will fold under the mechanism . . .
Heck no. If I do this mod, I'm going to do it right ;)

Thanks for investigating the 1400 keyboard. I am pretty sure I have one or two of those spare, and it would be a very nice addition. It does sound like the best option will be removing the flex cable and using a Key Warrior, with two lines from there to the ADB data pins on the dock port