Input Module Keyboard Switches

That sounds like an excellent solution.

I’m guessing/hoping that they will reserve enough room for these modules to be mounted to a rigid base plate of some sort, so I can still arrange them at my desired angles and wire them all together.



Ohoy! I’m late to the party. I ended up here after thinking the exact same thing about Cherry ULP switches. I’m a bit unclear on the dimensions offered on the Input Module GitHub page though. I’ve seen the number 3.7mm getting thrown around. Is that the total available area between the bottom of an input module and a screen when the laptop is folded?

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Yes. From the top of the keycap surface, to the bottom of the input cover / keyboard assembly.

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It comes from the Framework-16 announcement

Really, almost anything can be created into an Input Module. The only limit is your imagination, and the 3.7mm height constraints.

Given that they’re not talking about parts or components but about whole input modules, I would take 3.7mm as the total available height of a complete input module.


Yeah… oof… That’s what I thought. 3.7mm is a reaaaaally tough constraint to work with. I don’t even think a good chunk of traditional scissor switches would fit in that tight of a footprint.


I think the one-key scissor module the @nrp brought up is going to be mandatory if Framework wants to see creative keyboard layouts as part of the ecosystem. The tooling required to get a custom layout from a laptop keybed manufacturer is likely prohibitive to most makers.


Aren’t you giving up on Cherry ULP switches a little quickly? We have a whole 0.2mm to work with!


I’ll eat my shorts if someone can fit a durable PCB and keycap in 0.2mm. :rofl:

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I don’t know why Framework would launch a “power user” focussed laptop - especially mindful of the value they put on the Maker community - that does not accommodate the benchmark brand discrete keyboard switch, that being Cherry. This strikes me as a grave error.

Is the die cast or is is the design still subject to modification prior to full production?

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They certainly could have designed a laptop around cherry switches, but I think Framework recognise that the market for 4cm thick laptops is not very large.


When referring to Cherry I meant their ULP switch linked to upthread (3.5 mm deep mechanism). I apologise for not clarifying, having just assumed readers would be aware.

Whilst nobody wants a 4 cm deep computer, Framework already have an ultra-portable, and this 16" model does not have to compete with the 13" for portability or aesthetics. In fact there are gamer or prosumer laptops with these discrete switches already, so other firms think that the better typing experience justifies any additional bulk. The implication is that power users will give up some degree of portability for a better computing experience.

Whilst not perhaps the “grave error” of my previous post, a keyboard depth that precludes discrete switches seems like a glaring omission from a firm that otherwise is keen to engage makers. The keyboard of the last model was widely discussed, and thus desire by some for discrete switches from the likes of Kailh and Cherry would be known about to the design team. That they now hope to offer “one key modules” to allow hand-built keyboards suggests a desire to support the maker community after all, but who wants to use a proprietary solution which is probably inferior to that from firms who specialise in key switches, especially when subject to their self-imposed depth constraint?

I close out by commenting that a keyboard module depth that forecloses on commercially available discrete switches seems a regrettable decision to seek marginal reductions of thickness, an oversight, or at worse might be a deliberate choice to lock out the makers or aftermarket parts community from this area. I assume not the latter, in which case perhaps it is possible to make detail design changes still to rectify this?

I think it could be possible to change hinges and increase the thickness of the laptop this way :thinking:


There is also one detail regarding this: The closed laptop screen will be suspended in the air and not supported by anything. So it would need to somehow not break and be supported by something.

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For instance it could have a separate cover just for closing the lid. Like mechanical keyboards do but this one would be for closing.
It could be 3d-printed or something.

This one is for keyboard itself but I expect it to cover all of the bottom chassis so that the pressure would be dispersed to the frame of the closed screen:

Like this (this is really sloppy sketch but I don’t care):

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That looks ever so comfy to type on. Sorry, couldn’t resist. :upside_down_face:
Might I suggest you attach it to the bezel instead.

Not attach it permanently.
You’d open the laptop and remove it. So you’d be carrying the laptop with it but open the laptop and remove this green part.
Maybe it could work idk.

Also it could be attached to bezel. It would work the same.

All good and well, but I still feel it a missed opportunity not to accommodate discrete laptop switches from the get-go.

As you say, altering the lid with a deep bezel to recess the screen may do the trick. The frustrating thing is this only needs to be very few mm from the standard design, you are going to the trouble of commissioning an aftermarket part for something that should have been standard.

Probably a dumb idea, but with enough screen protection (e.g. with a keyboard cover as mentioned here: Input Module Keyboard Switches - #21 by Martynas), could the hinge’s force allow the laptop to be closed while depressing Cherry ULP keys (3.5 mm tall, up to 1.8 mm travel)?

The actuation curve of the switch (MX ULP TACTILE - MX ULTRA LOW PROFILE - MX SWITCHES - CherryMX) suggests that at 1.5 mm depression, the force per key is 30 cN, so even with 50 keys, the total force would be 15 N. I have no idea what the hinge’s force is as a function of angle, or even what the right order of magnitude is there. Could that be altered by e.g. magnetic strips on the keyboard edge that attract the bezels to shut the laptop stronger?

Do laptops have to close, anyway? :stuck_out_tongue:

Ideally, the single-key PCBs mentioned by @nrp would be great, but if those don’t work out, it would be nice to be able to use off-the-shelf parts to make a split-ish ortho input module.

What I would love would be something that would adapt a T-class Thinkpad keyboard and track pad to the framework 16.

Given that they are plentiful and inexpensive in the aftermarket this doesn’t seem entirely impossible. Might have to do a bit of soldering to replace the existing flex cables with a new design that handles the signaling and connects to the right place, and I haven’t measured whether there is enough space, but I can dream.

I wonder if any of the aftermarket clone vendors would do a run of a thinkpad-inspired keyboard and track pad for the 16?


A bunch of people are working on thinkpad-based keyboards over in Thinkpad keyboard mod (super early stages)! – some of the discussion has touched on the feasibility of expanding the hinges somewhat to allow space for slightly larger keyboards.

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