Soemarko Ridwan

iOS & Web Developer ⟡ Coffee Addict ⟡ Scuba Diver

DIY QMK Powered Macropad

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Ever since finishing my Dactyl Manuform, I've been really inspired with QMK. Another idea that pops almost right away is a macropad. Something that'll match the look of my brand new sit/stand desk controller.

Went through all the search results for macropad, found this thing as the best one. Printed it out, it has issues;

  • It uses the header legs as mounting point, pointed up, how the hell do I mount the pins from the switches?
  • It has no mounting point to the desk, although, to be fair, the thing it's cloning, the Pikatea has picture of it mounted underneath a monitor.
  • Another thing, it's too thick and has terrible tolerances. Encoder doesn't fit. The switches can be forced in, but that will bind the switches. It clicks down, but doesn't bounced back up.

My Remix

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So I just pull out my calliper, and design my own with Fusion 360. I still tag is as a remix just because it's not 100% my original idea. And I also includes the STEP files so other can easily remix it. QMK Firmware source for Pro Micro is also available on my QMK fork. The default functions are quite obvious from the keymaps, except for the left most key, it's a custom shortcut to mute/unmute Zoom meetings (been having a lot of it recently).

As pictured, mine features:

  • Thinner front plate so the switches will just click in, instead of snug fit.
  • Screw holes for under desk mounting.
  • Mounting place for Pro Micro, a bit snug, but you actually want it snug here.
  • Better tolerances for EC11 rotary encoder.
  • The knurled knob is also 3D Printed.

Final Thoughts

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I love it, especially now I use my Macbook Pro in clamshell mode, I no longer have access to the TouchBar, this helps a lot rather than accessing like fourth layer on my DM. And QMK is friggin brilliant. While this macropad is quite simple to do with Arduino firmware, I doubt I can make it so damn stable with layers, ease of remapping the keys.

After using it for a couple of weeks, the only thing I regret not adding is headphone jack extension on it. But it's okay, I have a better idea for it. It's not like QMK support it so I can just use one cable to the computer.