Idea: Trackpad Input Module with Full Sized Arrow Keys

One feature that I would really like to see on the Framework 16 is full sized arrow keys, not the half sized keys currently offered.

I propose that this could be achieved by putting the down, left, and right arrow keys on the track pad module. That would allow for what is currently the up and down arrow keys to be replaced by just an up arrow key. The current left/right arrow keys could be replaced with page up and page down.

This could be sold as a trackpad input module that includes keycaps to replace the keycaps normally on the keyboard module. This would allow for compatibility with all existing keyboard input modules while only requiring one new SKU.

Here is a quickly edited image to show what I’m thinking:

To address some responses I anticipate:

  • This only works if the track pad is centered under the keyboard: Unfortunately this is the main flaw with this idea. However for people that do want the track pad centered under the keyboard I think this is the best way to offer full sized arrow keys. The other main solutions I’ve seen suggested have major downsides.

  • Laptop key caps aren’t normally designed to be user replaceable and could be damaged: This is true, however I have popped out and back in at least a dozen key caps across four different laptop models from three different brands without any kind of issue. I hope the same is true with the Framework 16’s keyboard.

  • Putting a full sized up arrow key cap in place of what is supposed to be two keys could require high actuation force (if the key cap connects to both key switches) or result in a wobbly key (if the key cap only connects to the top or bottom switch): I don’t expect the wobble (if the key cap only connects to one switch) to be super noticeable, however if it is then I think it would be okay for it to connect to both switches and have high actuation force.

Unfortunately I have neither the expertise nor the tools to make this, however if someone (maybe Framework?) does make this I would buy it.


First though, I like it!

Unfortunately, subsequent thoughts that pop into my mind are reasons I don’t think it will work… :melting_face:
Including what seems to be a dealbreaker. There are tracks that take up the space under where it seems you placed the arrow keys.

Nrp said the trackpad module uses a “different interface”.

From something said elsewhere I suspect it might be i2c instead of usb. If this is the case, it could make custom modules for the Touchpad area no longer straight forward.

You might feel it works fine & is worth the risk of breakage, but I wouldn’t expect Framework to agree. You might have had good luck, perhaps skill, in removing laptop keys without damage, but others aren’t so lucky. If I recall, one person who did it on the Framework-13 to create a mixture of transparent & non-transparent keys mentioned breaking a few in the process.

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This is unlikely to be possible mechanically. However what would be possible is building a Medium size Input Module that has the navigation cluster on it as an alternative to a Numpad. This would be within reach of community development as well.


The angle of the photos makes it hard to tell, however I think it looks like those barely extend upwards so there may be enough room.

When I receive my batch 1 Framework 16 I will hopefully be able to measure the clearance issues of those and report back here.

Edit: When I wrote this I hadn’t yet seen that @nrp replied that it is unlikely possible mechanically. I’m still hopeful but this probably won’t happen.

The idea that users could mess something up and cause damage to the device is one of the reasons I have seen used to justify laptops that are tightly integrated and not user friendly to repair or modify.

IMO the best solution to issues like this would be for Framework to educate end users about the risks and provide tips for how to do it with minimal risk, like they’ve done in the past with other situations. Not to decide against doing something that a meaningful number of people want (I’ve seen other people request full sized arrow keys in other threads) just because it has risks associated with it.

I think there is definitely a technique to it.

With my Thinkpad keyboard the trick seems to be to use something thin (I often use my fingernail) to gently pull up on one of the top corners until it produces a slight pop noise, then to repeat with the other top corner, and then wiggle it a bit and it comes off.

With other techniques I can feel it requiring a lot more force and putting more strain on the key. I suspect that if Framework made this they could minimize risk by including advice on techniques they’ve tested to be most successful.

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This point would likely mean that Framework would not want to sell it, as they wouldn’t want to encourage users to replace keycaps if they also state that it can damage your keyboard to replace keycaps.

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