Idea: adapt trackpoint keyboard to work with framework mainboard

Being one of the lenovo-turned-framework users and seeing that there is some desire for a framework with a trackpoint on these forums, i figured id share this idea in hopes that someone can maybe bring it to life.

With all the development and ideas surrounding “what to do with a standalone framework mainboard” and my old lenovo T580 (which has an effectively dead motherboard) laying around while i decide how best to reuse/recycle/ewaste it (after stealing all the parts for my framework) I had a thought. Is it possible to adapt the keyboard pinout information for the framework and the pinout for the lenovo keyboards/trackpads/touchpoints into something that will plug into a framework?

My thinking is that, this way, someone could theoretically 3d print a custom case/enclosure to serve as a bottom case to hold the framework mainboard while also accepting a lenovo keyboard and/or top case.

A little searching around has revealed a 2014 hackaday project that seems to have trodden a similar path before and may also provide insight into lenovo’s keyboard connectors.

Hope this is an interesting/useful starting point for someone. Unfortunately i’m a software person with too many side projects as is so I don’t think i can be much help with actually making this happen


i also just realized that if the intention is for this to work for a mainboard outside a framework, the keyboard connector from the linked post is probably part of the input cover assembly. The connector athat actually goes to the mainboard is documented here and contains pins for other things like the touchpad too

I’ve seen people express that this still wouldn’t be feasible due to the height of the TrackPoint cap. I’m not sure if these people are taking into consideration Lenovo’s latest efforts at minimizing the height of key and TrackPoint caps in later-gen ThinkPads.

Even before that youd need to cut a hole through the frame between some keys to make it fit.

I assume theyve also probably patented the crap out of as much as they can surrounding the trackpoint

That said my thinking when i made this post was for users with only a mainboard who are making custom enclosures for it and already have or want to integrate an existing lenovo keyboard (possibly saved from another laptop headed for ewaste) or other parts (see my other recent threads in this topic). So that probably makes it a lot more feasible.

Some ideas for usecases:

  • a compact form factor like that raspberry pi thing which is a pi built into a keyboard thats ready to go with power and a monitor/mouse