Thinkpad keyboard mod (super early stages)!

You’re putting on your own FPC connector, wow! That seems like a lot of tedious, careful work.

Hot plate, a pin, and some solder paste and surface tension does the rest, but even so I’m sure glad I let JLCPCB do all but two of those teeny tiny parts. (There’s also an unpopulated board ID resistor at R2 because the proper value hadn’t yet been documented when I sent the board out.)

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I realize as a lurker I don’t have any clout but I desperately need a touchpad with at least 2 buttons because of a disability.

This modding project is my best hope so far.

I’m just waiting to be able to throw my money at someone who will deliver a working touchpad.

Back to lurking I go …

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Hows the v2 boards working out, if you’ve had a chance?

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looking forward to future updates my good lad

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Having a laptop with an old-school, sculpted keyboard would be INCREDIBLE! I’m lurking too to see how this turns out and how it could apply to a traditional Thinkpad keyboard. I’ve wanted to modify and resurrect an old laptop just for the keyboard for years, but this seems like a more realistic, forward-thinking project. Good luck, and keep us posted!

Wow, looks pretty great. Will follow this project and see where it goes!

Exciting! Just got our new Framework 16 and we HATE the touchpad. We purchased the 16 for many other reasons though, so would love to have a trackpoint option at some point. This might be a great crowdfunding case (e.g. Kickstarter) since Framework hasn’t expressed interest in this and I know many of my professional friends have said they haven’t adopted Framework due to lack of trackpoint.

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Might not need it, OP actually has it in development, might just be as easy to do “pre-order” sort of thing and have him just order all the PCBs/etc, and give information as to what/where to find the keyboards and release 3D printable designs for anything needed.

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I also really want trackpoint, and I have been holding off on purchasing a Framework until trackpoint is available. I have multiple laptops, and I am significantly more productive when I don’t have to take my hands off of the keyboard to use the mouse. I assume that there could be some complicated legal/copyright/licensing issues around otherwise I would expect Framework to already offer this.

@Harley_Godfrey, I love what you’re doing here. If you decide to make this a business or sell this somewhere, I would absolutely buy from you. I wanted to ask you if you ever considered using one of those mini trackballs similar to those older Blackberry phones in lieu of the trackpoint. That way if you do make this into a business, and selling a ‘trackpoint’ keyboard has to be paused because of some cease and desist letter, you might still be able to sell something to keep your business running. If so, it may be a good idea if the trackball/trackpoint modules are swapable as well. I just hope that something like this is realistic with the available space.

I wouldn’t hold your breathe. I hope this gets into something real ASAP, but being realistic either buy a FW16 now/soon if that’s the machine you want, and hope like the rest of us that this project becomes viable and successful, or stick with your existing machines/Thinkpads and wait and hope.

I really want this as well, but I didn’t let it stop me because the rest of the machine is what I need/want and I needed a new laptop.

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Right now I’m just carrying a Tex Shinobi with me and setting that on top of the laptop keyboard to work. If that’s a bit large for people, the lenovo thinpad compact USB keyboard or the Happy Hacking Studio Charcoal that came out recently could work.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F3U4TQS

I am working on a different approach to get a trackpoint keyboard that may be a little easier than op’s solution, but a lot kludgier. I grabbed the lenovo USB keyboard from amazon and ripped out the insides. Next, I’m looking to just 3d print a “case” for it that would replace the current keyboard and trackpoint sections. Obviously the screen won’t completely close with the added thickness needed for the trackpoint, so I’m planning on having the front end stay open a bit, and adding support to the screen and the keyboard area so that the whole laptop is just thicker at the front when closed. I figure we’d need to do that whether we boosted the hinge or not.

The nice thing about this approach is that there’s no custom electronics other than the pogo pad to USB-micro connector, and that’s entirely passive.

This will also allow me to add a yubikey to the keyboard area that doesn’t take up one of the expansion ports. The other side may get an m.2 drive connector, though the USB speeds on the keyboard port may just make that annoying, I’m not sure.

Hopefully we’ll get something real before too long, but when I talked to the framework team, they said that they wanted a trackpoint keyboard too, but they just hadn’t found a way to do it in the depth they had available. The trackpoint itself just adds too much thickness. This might have been able to be addressed in the early production of the design, but at this point It’s way too late.

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