Macropads in lieu of a keyboard?

Hi. I was hoping I’d be able to buy a configuration with a (split) columnar-staggered or at least ortholinear keyboard, but that wasn’t an option. Since the macropads that are available are ortholinear, is it possible to instead fit a whole number of macropads (or maybe even with some spacers) on to the laptop? If so, would it be possible to configure the laptop to have macropads instead of a keyboard and have these programmed to act as a keyboard?


Welcome to the forum!

Damn, that’s a cool possibility. Surprised no one brought it up before.

After looking at pictures and info on their github, unfortunately it seems it won’t work, at least not with stock unmodified marcopads. And you might need to modify the touchpad module too. From the pictures, the spacing of the connectors isn’t the same all the way across. The middle 3 connectors intended for the touchpad are shifted a bit off from the right side. So an arrangement with 4 macropads (2 on the left, 2 on the right) won’t work

Framework’s github shows an example medium-sized module, such as the macropads, making electrical connection on their left sides. InputModules/Mechanical/Medium/fw_b_size_design_ref_0.pdf at main · FrameworkComputer/InputModules · GitHub

The idea comes so painfully close to being possible with just stock modules.

It’s looks so close to working that I’d try to make it work myself, if I had a Framework-16 on preorder. Modify one macropad to shift its connection points over & reposition or remove some of its magnets. Also remove anything on the touchpad module that might be blocking. I think this might be how we are going to see the first ortholinear split Framework.

The 3 middle connectors, which are intended for the touchpad, are different, and they can’t be used for macropads at all. It sounds like they are i2c, instead of usb.


There are some topics in the Creators subforum about custom keyboard development DIY Staggered Columnar Laptop Keyboard (Semi Ortholinear) [Prototype] - #48 by petitevieille

It is actually possible to create a full-width Input Module as well.


I think a full-length macro pad would be sufficient for most people wanting an ortho layout with minimal fuss. I’m pretty sure that is almost exactly the major design feature of Jack’s mockup.
Also similar to the Pocket Reform with its 60 key ortholinear matrix, though I don’t suggest that anyone could fit mechanical keyswitches in either of framework’s current laptops.

As an aside: Could be neet to see framework produce something like the MNT Reform someday, but I’m guessing that is at least a decade out if it’s coming at all.


The Framework-16 is mouthwatering close to fitting cherry ULP keys. It would take a couple mods, but I pretty much expect someone to do it sooner or later. I would not underestimate mechanical keyboard fans. Many already do custom pcbs, and 3d printed, even laser cut metal or cnc machined cases for their keyboards.


As I type this response on my Ergodox EZ, I begin to gain some cautious optimism. (Why do I feel like an inspired grunt in the great keyboard wars now?)


@all can someone who now owns a Framework 16 and a macropad module try it out with the final product? Try all the positions where it fits and works and make pictures of each position. It would be so cool if you could fit 3 macropad modules directly next to each other or 2 left, 2 right.

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No one owns a Framework 16.
Besides prototypes owned by Framework themselves.

The information Framework has given (via Framework’s github and posts by Framework employees) lets us know which arrangements will not work and which could.

3 macropads side-by-side, directly next to each other, can’t work. 2 macropads left, and 2 right also will not work. At least without significant modification. Nrp posted that the 3 middle connectors have a different interface, they are only useable for touchpad.


I was hoping to find more info about this, but I guess it would only be possible to install 3 macropads instead of five?

I took this screenshot from iFixit’s video, and drew rectangles over them.

Assuming that each input module is 2 “slots” wide, it might be possible to have 5.

The three headers on the left and the two headers on the right are for the Input Modules. All of the interfaces are the same and are documented on GitHub. The three headers in the middle are for the Touchpad and have a different interface.

(emphasis mine)

After reading quote above, I realize that it’s not possible :cry:

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If you look close, the middle connectors are also offset, they don’t line up.

It should be technically possible to have three Macropads installed, though this isn’t a use case we’ve tried.


I would truly love to see an ortholinear keyboard and if it’s achievable with three macho pads sign me up!!!

When you make a configurable laptop, all bets are off, lol.