Mod Framework Keyboard to External USB?

I am really enjoying using the Framework Laptop Keyboard, but would also like to use it in a desktop format. Would it be possible to create a USB interface for the keyboard to make it into an external keyboard? I assume we can 3D print a case for it. Also, has anything like that been attempted yet?


It’s possible!


I was also thinking about using the Framework keyboard as the base for an DIY external keyboard. I wouldn’t mind trying to build the case!

Is there anything I can base my design around? A 3D model of the keyboard? Some keycaps? There are some pleople that are working on making CADs for the keycaps, but I haven’t found much else.

Does this microchip connect directly to the keyboard or the whole top panel has to be there?
I’d like to only have the keyboard without any additionals but the keyboards in the keyboard marketplace page don’t have this long ribbon cable. :thinking:

i.e. the second picture in nrp’s original link connects to the ribbon cable to the chip but marketplace pictures don’t include the ribbon cable.

How does it work if I’d only want to have keyboard without the trackpad chip?
How much space does the trackpad chip take and how firmly is it attached?

That tindie board requires the whole input cover. You can see that the keyboard ribbon cables connect to the board marked “Touchpad” then it’s the ribbon cable coming from the Touchpad board that connects to the tindie board.

You could use just the keyboard but you’ll need a different control board. Not sure if someone has made one already. The touchpad board isn’t needed, seems to be only passing along the keyboard signals, but that tindie board doesn’t have connectors to directly plug the keyboard in. If you or anyone else wishes to make a board, information on the connector, pinout and matrix layout can be found here Reusing Keyboard after Replacement - #9 by nrp

@Any Framework staff who might wander by, Framework-Laptop-13/ on your github doesn’t appear to include the pinout of the keyboard cables. It has the Input Cover Interface, which passes the keyboard signals but not the pinout for the cables directly connected to the keyboard. Other daugherboards are there but not the touchpad board.

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Yeah. I was thinking about getting the whole cover and ripping the touchpad board from it. But it’s not ideal as it has this bulk with it and it’s not an elegant solution.

Added Framework-Laptop-13/Touchpad at main · FrameworkComputer/Framework-Laptop-13 · GitHub


I was thinking that I should have just opened an issue on github, since that’s really the more appropriate place, but you got it anyway.

Framework is so excellent with the community. I’ve been following Framework since their beginning, active on here for awhile, I should well know how Framework is. Yet it’s still striking.

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Well I was waiting for a couple of weeks for the seller to return and they’re still not here… they marked they they were supposed to come back at 2nd of May but now it’s 7th of May :thinking:
Did anyone buy it before me? How did it go?

Heyo! I’ve been ill for quite some time now, so, had to wind my shop down while I recover; also, the controllers have been out of stock for a bit over a month now. As such, I’m still in the process of ordering a new batch of these controllers, tho at the moment, the order a few days’ time away. Also, I am working on an adapter that fits my controller and works with the raw keyboard, FPC and all - hope to show the first design to yall soon! ^~^

Quite a few people bought controllers from the first batch; would be good for someone to describe their experiences here!


Do you think it would be possible to route the cable further and away from underneath of the keyboard?
For instance it could be some kind of lengthened cable.

What I want to do is to take fw13 keyboard and put it into a chassis of a different laptop. And as the connection cable of fw13 keyboard is really short I don’t really yet know how I’ll fit that into the chassis if the board will have USB-C connector underneath. If your board would be solid then it would have to lie under the keyboard when I’ll connect it and for me it doesn’t work :thinking:

It could be two boards:
connector to keyboard board – then cable between boards – then something that actually converts it to USB.

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Would it be possible to have any forecast/idea about when we’d be able to expect to buy the first keyboard-only controller?

Today I received a top cover of fw13 and I’d like to do something with it. I could order the input controller that you have but if you’ll make the keyboard-only controller very soon then I could go with that one or with both.

Likewise, I was planning on doing something similar, and I’ve already made measurements on the keyboard to try and 3d-print a keyboard case. I haven’t posted anything yet since I still have to perfect the measurements, but I’d be happy to collab with anyone who is interested in the project.

Thank you @Arya for your work on the controller!

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I didn’t do measurements and I don’t know yet what I’m doing but I’ll want to put that keyboard into a chassis of an existing laptop.
I’ll also need to do 3d-printing or something similar (maybe I’ll simply use wood) but first I’ll have to find out how much space I’ll need and I’ll also need to take the laptop apart.

Visually comparing my keyboard to the in-built one it takes less space in every regard so maybe it could even fit with the touchpad (but I doubt it).

So the preference for me would be that the USB port wouldn’t be soldered to the chip and it would take as little height as possible.

It’s a little different use case than an external keyboard that someone would put onto a table :thinking:
Is this your goal even? You said external but for what purpose?

Yes, what I meant with external keyboard is a keyboard I could plug into any of my other computers. Not to integrate it into some other computer (or table), but to have it work standalone.

Right now I’m at the stage of building a 3D render of the keyboard layout, but I haven’t been able to work on it too much since I’ve begun my exams season. I have a physical keyboard replacement with which I have made some initial measurements and loaded them on a Fusion360 project. My next step would be to refine those measurements so they actually fit the keyboard.

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If needed I think you could use a ffc extender board meant for standard (non-notched) cables.

The Framework keyboard cable is a 0.5mm pitch 26 pin notched ffc cable. Datasheet. You’d trim off the notches on the keyboard cable.
And get a cable of whatever lenght you need: 26-Pin 0.5mm Pitch FFC Cable, Forward Direction
You’d need an extender board & cable for the keyboard backlight connector too. It’s a 1.0mm pitch 4 pin ffc cable. Regular non-notched, so no need to trim. Connector product page.
Extender board and cable for backlight in various lenghts: 4-Pin 1mm pitch Extender, 4-Pin 1mm Pitch FFC Cable, Forward Direction

Of course, it would be easier using a purpose built extender board that doesn’t require trimming the notched part off the keyboard cable.

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This means that the extender board won’t be compatible with direct chip because of the notch not being there. So I’ll need to put a paper there or something to compensate the the notch.

The connection to the extender would be ok but the connection to the chip from the extender wouldn’t.

It would fit. It wouldn’t be just plug & go. You would have to be careful that visually it looks aligned straight, and it would be best to buzz the pins with a multimeter (use continuity function) to check that the pins are aligned.
But because the width at the narrow part of the notch is nearly the same as the width of a non-notched cable the cable should be held in the correct position, in the left-to-right direction (the notch is 13.45mm +/- 0.05, a non-notched cable is 13.50mm). Straight-ness would be up to you.
It is not ideal. But the connector that fits the notches exactly is only made by one company. It might be hard to get boards assembled with that connector. I checked JLCPCB (a board fab & assembly company that a lot of people use) and they don’t have the part. One could assemble it themselves, digikey has the part, but not everyone wants to do that or is set up for it.

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What I’d really like to be able to do is use the FPR module as a power button without the keyboard. I foolishly ordered one, which just arrived, and I realized that it’s wired through the keyboard. My Thinkpad mod won’t be able to use it unless I get creative (or someone else does, which, thankfully, appears to be the case here).

What if we were to just use the bottom cover kit in addition to the input cover kit? Would that make this project really easy (albeit expensive and a bit bulky), since we no longer would need to 3D print the keyboard case?