Monday, September 13, 2010


Here's an idea I've been kicking around with for quite some time now: A small, custom USB keyboard with pre-defined functions for doing math on your PC. The buttons would allow easy input of things like radicals, sums, exponents, fractions, and other miscellaneous formulae. The box would also have a three-position toggle switch to let you effortlessly select between normal, super, and sub-script input. Other buttons might include hard-to-find logical operators like "not equal", "greater-than or equal to", etc.

Anyways, I've managed to get the hardware more or less hacked together (on paper at least) but I'm kind of stuck for the software. My idea was to base it around the PIC18F4455 because it has USB on board and supports a whole whack of HID-related classes out of the box. I'm not sure what kind of software would be required on the PC side; the actual characters ("Not Equal To") should just have ASCII codes that can be fired into the keyboard buffer, but I'm not sure how you'd carry out functions such as selecting super- or sub-script.

If anyone has any ideas or input I'd be interested in hearing from you. Though this was meant to be sort of a personal project there are lots of scientists, engineers, and math teachers out there who have computers and like to do math on them, and they might be interested in an alternative to entering ASCII codes directly...


Oh - and in other news: I wasn't paying attention this morning and I accidentally blew up the WizNet Webserver for the bread maker, so the internet connectivity portion is on hold for a while. The PIC firmware still needs a lot of work (i.e. it doesn't even run yet) so that and school should keep me busy in the mean time...

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