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|The Learning Circuit|
old_doc is interested in and possibly hardwiring it to an electronics project. To help him, he's wondering if Ben is interested in doing a teardown and analysis of a similar mini keyboard. He sees a mini keyboard teardown as a solution for anyone interested in building handheld projects that also preserve battery through the removal of wireless functionality. old_doc wants to build a mini computer into the case of a first generation Nintendo DS. He wants to wire a mini keyboard to his ASUS tinkerkit as the final step.
Ben and Karen wired a similar keyboard inside the Raspberry Pi Photo Booth that they recently built. Ben recalls a project where he hacked up an Xbox 360 chat pad so that it attached to the game controller. The chat pad consisted of a Microchip Pic microcontroller and keyboard matrix so there was no wireless. It was incredibly simple, so he suggests that it might be possible to start out with something similar and build up from there. However, if you were to go that route, you'd be losing all the function keys, control-alt-delete, and stuff you need for a modern computer.
It's possible that they could do a teardown of a mini keyboard to see if they could remove the wireless functionality and make it as battery saving as possible. Or, they could hook up another microcontroller to it and just make their own keyboard. To determine which approach is best, they would need to first plug the keyboard into a board and check the battery consumption to see if it's still utilizing wireless or it it just switches over to USB power once its plugged in. If you could tap into the matrix of the keyboard then you could use the buttons and address them yourself using a microcontroller. That way you would know exactly what’s going on and not have to worry about using the wireless functionality. If the keyboard either uses a separate wireless module this could be a solution but if the microcontroller is the wireless module then you can’t disable one without destroying the other. If they were to do a teardown then they would need to take a couple of different modules to see what works.