Mockup for a Framework Numpad / Expansion Hub


Just slapped this together. I’m pretty sure it would fit like this. Took advantage of the added room to add ports that don’t fit in a regular expansion card (the SD card and the ethernet). Also two USB ports, because there aren’t enough.

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I like this a lot.

Opens up a whole world.

Mirror image units for lefties.

Precision touch/stylus pad. Or a haptic one

Arbitrary button layouts - video switching, MIDI controller…

Nice format. Looks like it could work with other speculative Framework models.

The additional ports scratch many itches, too.

Kudos!

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I very much like this only issue is the USB bandwidth, the Ethernet will require a set of USB 3 lanes along with the extra expansion card. If you took out the extra expansion card and changed the USB ports to usb2.0 it would be doable.

Is it really that limited? I’ve seen USB C hubs which have ethernet, sd + micro sd, 3 usb ports, plus lower speed usb c and some hdmi or display port. If anything, I thought I was underdoing it with the number of ports and just kept them to one side for aesthetics. One thunderbolt port should be more than capable of driving these, though maybe not at the newest specs e.g. usb 2.0 ports and 100m lan as opposed to gigabit.

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Doing at 100m LAN would be much easier as it only needs usb 2.0. You can get usb 3.0 hub chips but are quite expensive when you need 4 channels of usb 3 without degraded performance,

Would really like to see this in my framework

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I was thinking about this type of expansion recently. I use my num pad a lot, so this has a lot of appeal to me. I would really like to see this progress!

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Very interesting to me.
Any possibility of adding dedicated arrow, home, end, etc?

Of course, the choice of additional ports is always subject to user needs.

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Doing at 100m LAN would be much easier as it only needs usb 2.0. You can get usb 3.0 hub chips but are quite expensive when you need 4 channels of usb 3 without degraded performance,
Umm what am I missing? This is $35 has 3 usb 3.0 ports, gigabit ethernet, an sd card slot, and more.

Very interesting to me.
Any possibility of adding dedicated arrow, home, end, etc?

Of course, the choice of additional ports is always subject to user needs.

The best reference pic I found didn’t have them printed on the keys, but with num lock off, all of those keys are accessible like this:

I tried to go with ports that are more or less universally desired, but yeah it’s subjective.

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Yes! That’d be cool, especially if backlight states were somehow able to sync, and (if the design allowed for it) there were legends for when [Num Lock] would be turned off!

The pass-through is a neat idea, and I can imagine there also being a light pipe for the little RGB status indicator (unless it’s already replicated on the left)

It is, but that would be a great design touch, because you could leave the expansion plugged in and still see them.

I’m imagining one plugged in on each side. Different “surface” functionality, different I/O selection. And still room for standard expansion cards.

My Framework has wings!!

Whilst I generally like the concept I still doubt that a hard connection would be practical in real world scenarios (with an exception of a fully stationary desktop-like application).

Expansion slot mechanics is probably not intended for frequent use. This thing would pose significant force on an internal connector and rails, especially if mishandled. Also, it would not be very convenient to connect/disconnect this thing on every occasion.

I believe an external numpad is definitely a good idea, but wireless or flexible wired connection seem way more practical.

Still, the idea with an expansion slot on the external device is brilliant! I think this alone justifies the need for a custom solution instead of buying anything existing on the market.

I think the device can easily host USB hub and two expansion slots even if connected by a single type-C cable. Of course that would not allow work at full speed, but you can always chose to insert power- or bandwidth-hungry cards into the laptop while leaving external slots for less intensive tasks, like USB 2.0.

P.S.: Personally, instead of a numpad I would love having a dedicated set of cursor keys with home/end/pgup/pgdown as on classic AT keyboard.

On a second thought, if hard connection is preferred it would probably be better to implement it like this:

Instead of having a card slot interface it just has two type-C connectors and probably a set of magnets for additional strength. This would allow to plug/unplug it within seconds while leaving the laptop fully functional even if numpad is not connected. In contrast, the original design would leave you with two empty slots.

Also, in case of an accident you risk only type-C expansion cards, and not the $700 mainboard.

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I like the overall idea, but I really worry about the stress put on the expansion plug and USB even if it’s supported by a table. It seems like a very easy thing to break just moving it, and putting it down wrong.

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Neat mockup, but it feels like a solution looking for a problem. There are good bluetooth numpads for $20 or less on the market right now.

It’s more about the multiple ports off of one expansion

Good point

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Okay, but why? What application benefits from using multiple ports off one expansion component. You’re not effectively utilizing 2 USB ports, you’re just blocking one port and making a laptop less portable.

As is the framework has 4 ports, one of which is gonna be used for charging. Which something like this, you are turning one usb c port into 2 usb ports, plus an ethernet and an sd card slot (with the second blocked off expansion slot being a passthrough to the expansion slot on the numpad). Some people (like me) like more ports, having one usb port be for a mouse and the second available for whenever I need to plug in a USB drive.
Fair point about it becoming less portable, that’s definitely a tradeoff.

Hmm. Wouldn’t that increase the complexity of I/O & portability?

Was thinking about this as well! Would be great.