Converting Framework 13 to a FrankenPad

They released the cad of the bottom case without me noticing?

Pretty sure I explained that part before but for modularity, usb is definitely a good option, there aren’t that many drawbacks. Hell they are doing it on the 16 for the same reason.

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Not yet but they released one for the mainboard case which is a step in that direction.

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I haven’t tested thoroughly on other operating systems, but on Linux with Wayland, the difference is night and day. The ThinkPad Compact USB Keyboard with TrackPoint (with the unmodified stock firmware) has choppy scrolling that resembles scrolling with a cheap mouse wheel, while a TrackPoint on an actual ThinkPad laptop scrolls smoothly with pixel-by-pixel precision.

The more recent Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II (which is a wireless keyboard that uses either Bluetooth or a USB dongle) shouldn’t have this issue, so are you sure you are using the older model?

This doesn’t make sense in practice - and I’m speaking as someone who’s done a fuckton of research into laptop keyboards, including an automated tool for reverse-engineering and reusing them. Different laptops have different mainboard placement => keyboard FPC connector placement => different matrix layout. Check this RE for an example on how laptop keeb layers look inside, for instance - moving the connector means hella changing the matrix. Overall, we just need to get better at reusing them - the tech is there, it’s that ppl are more-or-less lazy about it, including me; I have a ton of laptop keeb reuse material that I’m just, sitting on :sweat_smile: USB fundamentally consumes more power, which is bad in laptops.

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While still in the prototyping phase the vision for a V2 is already underway. If the body kit for the Thinkpad keyboard takes off and sells well the next mod will be a body kit that can accommodate the MNT reform keyboard 3.0 for a completely mechanical setup with 3 mm key travel: MNT Reform USB Standalone Keyboard - MNT Research Shop and the original FW 13 touchpad.

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Update, update :slight_smile:

With the economy getting sore and leaving my job I am currently unable to fund the initial R&D for the first prototype but willing to go all in this project.

To put things in perspective I am thinking of starting a Crowd Supply campaign and try and fund it all that way.

A little bit about my background:

  • Previously 10 years in IT
  • 4 months as a laptop technician(my last job)
  • 10+ years a Thinkpad user

The plan

I have a partnering 3d printing company which is reliable and we cooperate on prototyping for a few months now.

The body kit will consist of:

  • Bottom cover(ABS ESD plastic)
  • Input cover(ABS ESD plastic)
  • Support plate between the two(probably isolated metal alloy)
  • Display cover(ABS ESD plastic)

You will be able to reuse everything else including hinges, magnets and display bezel. It’s a user-replaceable DIY body kit.

Important: V1 is based entirely on accommodating a Thinkpad Wired USB Keyboard and the input cover is without any touchpad since there is no space for the original one.

Optionally you can choose V2 with the MNT reform keyboard and reuse your existing Framework 13 touchpad. That’s subject to reality check since I don’t have one yet.

You might be able to fit any other USB wired keyboard with the same dimensions.
The keyboard is not part of the body kit and you have to obtain it yourself.

The prospective price comes up at: 499$ per body kit

This should cover all of the R&D and my personal survival throughout that period.

All models will be released as open-source once an initial batch of 100 units is sold so that people can 3d print the whole body kit themselves.

All calculations are preliminary, used for testing interest only and subject to change until the application to Crowd Supply is submitted.

Shipping can take place by the end of the year. Most likely starting with Europe since I have a registered company in EU.

  • I will pre-order V1 based on the Thinkpad Wired USB keyboard without touchpad
  • I will pre-order V2 based on the MTN Reform keyboard and reuse my touchpad

0 voters

P.S If Framework decides to donate a Framework 13 laptop for this project that will make things half way easier.

Current status: prototyping of bottom cover.

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CrowdSupply turns down 90-95% of all applications so don’t get your hopes up. I got this data point after applying, they also need to see demand and publishing build logs on somewhere like Hackaday.

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Since there was not a single vote on the poll yet I will move on with the project if it gathers some interest and when the AMD option becomes generally available.

Hi @Frankie_Wild

Any thoughts for the 16 ?

Would love a trackpoint option for this model

Thanks!

Hey @Elliott_Katz with the FW 16 and its already modular keyboard I don’t think you need a redesign at all there. Just get an external USB keyboard with a trackpoint and connect it internally to one of the ports. I will continue with the FW13 anyways because my preference goes to compactness and a plastic black body with reinforcements.

I wish Framework would have taken the approach from the FW16 to FW13 both because of the swappable keyboard and also swappable batteries with the expansion bay module. Sadly it can’t do that and the battery is internal only even with the new model.

I just found this thread again, how is everything going?

Saw that there’s a new body kit, any ideas on the dimensions compared to the existing Framework chassis?

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Hey @Jieren_Zheng thanks for upping the topic. It’s on pause at the moment until I can fund the prototype. Yes, I added the second option with a Reform keyboard just to check what people prefer. Because I have a Thinkpad keyboard for the project I will likely move on with it. The one based on Reform will be my next experiment after that.

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Ah. I recently stumbled an old thread from December last year. I suddenly wondered if there is a way to modify the input cover to use the key cap material+shapes+switches of a thinkpad keyboard. That would be expensive but could work with the existing Framework chassis.

I am curious if your body kit would work with the existing input cover. Suggesting that because I see that you might already have a scan of the entire framework chassis?

So it becomes 2 parts which can be worked on and immediately compatible I guess.

Not sure if that’s a better idea.

The body kit will consist of 3 new parts - bottom cover, input cover and display cover. The keyboard is not part of the body kit.

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I had a sudden thought, if we are going to 3D print your body kit using ESD PPS (Polyphenylene Sulfide), how much more money would we be looking at. I was thinking it would be closer to the fibreglass reinforced Thinkpads, but we will be lacking the coating to get the same hand feel. But we could probably keep the body slim due to the strength of the material.

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It’s about double the price of ESD ABS and not yet imported where I am at but that’s a minor thing since experimenting with a new material after the first prototype is quite easy. The coating itself is a paint rather and I am yet undecided whether I would like to paint the first unit. I think I would prefer a roughened surface like traditional IBM Thinkpads from the X60 era where it’s less prone to scratches and visible damage. I have to admit I love the rubbery coating though so will try that too. Think of it as many experiments with different materials and coating so that we have the ultimate choice for any use case of course while retaining that classic black plastic look.

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Any thoughts on potentially incorporating the prospective trackpoint keyboard that System76 is working on? Assuming they go forward with that and make that part independently available, that might be a more sustainable solution going forward (instead of having people take apart external thinkpad keyboards).

KiCad electrical design of the Virgo keyboard looks like it should have those specs as they work on it, and might also be useful.

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Thanks for bringing it up. It’s on my radar since it entered the news stream. I see it as one more option rather than a replacement for options so far.

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@Frankie_Wild I realised I forgot to ask. I was wondering for your new body kit, what exactly is the size? Is it comparable to the current Framework chassis?

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Same x and y dimensions, much higher z axis in the range of 24-26mm to accommodate the keyboard, have a support metal sheet below it and better cooling.

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