Sunday, April 3, 2011

Keyboard map complete!

This weekend's mini-project was simple - use a physical pushbutton like this to mimic the behavior of every key on the Kindle 3's main keypad.  The result?  Success!

Of course as we all know, every silver lining has a cloud.  It turns out that the D-Pad (called a "5-Way" in most Kindle documentation), while useful for menu navigation, cannot actually be used to turn a page. 

You read that right.  The Kindle offers pairs of oversized buttons on halfway up either side of the unit for turning pages but does not duplicate this functionality in the 5-Way connector they offer on the main keyboard.  These dedicated keys are routed to the motherboard through their own connectors.  It looks like I'll have to clone this second, much smaller connector as well.

Back to Mouser, and it looks like the smallest FFC (Flat Flex Cable) connector they've got has 6-pins, which matches nicely with one of the small connectors on the side of the Kindle.

The 6-pin page turning keypad connector
 marked by the upper-right arrow

Once the dedicated page turn keys are cloned, this phase of the project will be complete.  

Phase II begins with an organ transplant.  The main keypad from the V.Reader unit referenced in an earlier blog post will be removed and wired into an adaptor that will allow it to be used in place of the Kindle's own keypad.  This adaptor will also need to be created.

Phase III, hopefully the final phase, will be the creation of a simple stand for the assembly.  It will need to position the Kindle in such a way that the screen is easily visible, but will also need to present the custom replacement keyboard so my sister can use it.  Finally, the entire assembly will need to be physically secured to a desk or wheelchair tray to provide stability.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Hey Glenn,

    Great blog! Would you post the keymap you figured out? It would help those of us following along at home... Anyway, good luck as your project proceeds.

  2. Thanks for the comment!

    I'll post the keyboard map and everything else once the project is completed.

    Right now I'm working like a madman to try to get a rough prototype ready to present to my sister this weekend so I don't have a lot of time to translate my notes into anything that would pass as "human readable".

    I'm hoping to have some time in the coming weeks to go back and post everything I've learned on this project. Stay tuned.