Gamers, programmers, digital artists, and PC power users of all kinds can appreciate how useful dedicated hardware shortcut keys are. In a competitive video game, they can help you rapidly use items or abilities to give you the edge in combat. They can also dramatically improve your productivity at work by reducing the number of key presses necessary to complete repetitive tasks. There are plenty of options out there for auxiliary shortcut keyboards, but Redditor r0ckR2’s design is one of the most practical DIY options we’ve seen.
This 3D-printed keyboard features nine individual keys, and a small 128x128 pixel TFT screen to display their functions. Each key uses a Cherry MX Red switch for a nice mechanical tactile feel. Inside the keyboard’s enclosure is an STM32 development board which monitors the key presses and shows up as an USB HID (human interface device) when it’s plugged into a computer — just like a normal USB keyboard.
But, the really interesting part of r0ckR2’s design is the “pages” feature that can be used to switch between sets of shortcuts. For instance, one page is full of shortcuts for gaming functions like muting Discord chats, taking screenshots, and recording game play. Adding another page for something like Photoshop tools or Excel formulas would be trivial. The result is a small shortcut keyboard that packs a large number of functions — something many of us would find very useful.