Project update 59 of 76
TL;DR: We’ve been making progress with the key cluster and trackpoint modules. New orders ship in a week, except non-black UHK cases.
Hi there, and welcome to our monthly status update! Let’s get right to it!
If you want your UHK shipped in a week, you should pick the black UHK case option. Otherwise your order will take longer due to temporary parts shortages. This shortage was mentioned in our previous monthly update, and we’ve been working on resolving it, but it’s taking more time than anticipated.
If you have any questions about the ETA of your order, please do read the delivery status page. We keep this page up-to-date, and we’re unable to provide more accurate information, not even if you email us.
In our previous monthly update, I included a picture of the development board for the key cluster module. In the meantime, I’ve also written firmware to drive it, so here comes its obligatory demonstration:
From a technical standpoint, the BlackBerry trackball is an interesting little beast. The ball itself is not even electrically connected to the PCB. Instead, its four spindles rotate when pushed in the four directions. The spindles contain magnets which alter their magnetic fields about 9 times during a 360 degree rotation, and the alternating magnetic field is detected by the hall-effect sensors on the PCB.
Given its limited resolution, the BlackBerry trackball is hardly an ideal device for controlling the mouse pointer (right-sided modules will perform far better in that department), but it’s very well suited for scrolling in every direction. I’m actually slightly surprised how well it’s already working, even though it’s the first working prototype. Over time, we’ll make the acceleration and speed of the mini trackball configurable, which will make it even more useful.
As far as the firmware goes, firstly, I slightly extended the UHK module protocol responsible for the keyboard halves and modules to communicate with each other. This allowed for the transmission of not only key states, but also pointer movement information. Then I wrote a driver for the BlackBerry trackball purely using interrupt handlers, which is the most efficient approach there is. Finally, I made the key cluster transmit the pointer movement information of the BlackBerry trackball to the right keyboard half which is the brain of the UHK.
The above pictures feature our most recent mechanical key cluster prototype. The creation of a working PCB is underway.
We’ve also made a mechanical prototype of the inside of the trackpoint module:
We may change the trackpoint component depending on various design constraints, but the overall mechanical design is expected to be close to final.
We’ve actually made progress with every one of the modules, but haven’t yet prototyped the others. We’ll keep sharing all their juicy details in our upcoming newsletters.
You keep sending your nice tweets which we’re grateful for! Please keep them coming!
We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and we’re looking forward to talking to you on 2019-07-10.