Bolts from the blue (switches)!

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Raspberry pi keyboard
(Image credit: Bolt industries)

Making your own Raspberry Pi-powered keyboard is an idea that many budding makers undertake. However, a newly launched crowdfunding campaign by designer Ian Dunn takes the hard work out of the process by providing everything you require in an entire kit.

Raspberry pi keyboard
(Image credit: Bolt industries)

The Raspberry Pi in question is the $4 Raspberry Pi Pico which has a mechanical keyboard. Its Bolt Industries Pico87 keyboard is fully customizable and programmable using its Arduino IDE – a tenkeyless keyboard with 87 keys. Should you decide to raise the pledge amount, it is set up to work with an internal two-port USB 2.0 hub. The hub (an SL2.1A chip) will not provide blazing speeds, but the addition of 2 USB 2.0 ports will always be a welcome addition.

Another option for pledges on the Kickstarter is the Pico 14 numeric keyboard that sits nicely next to the keyboard. It runs on its own Pico microcontroller, making it an entirely separate device. Connecting this device to any Pico’s USB 2.0 ports is an elegant solution that can easily be removed for desk space.

The board comprises three layers of fibreglass-reinforced epoxy laminate (FR-4) that screw together. This board’s ABS double shot keycaps are offered in any colour. Additionally, you can choose between Galtron switches (tactile or linear, available in seven different varieties), diodes, stabilizers and diodes.

The keyboard works the keyboard with Windows, Linux and Mac computers, and every mobile device that has a USB-C port and a USB OTG converter. It runs an open-source custom firmware known as BMK developed to work with the Arduino IDE using C++, which lets any key be programmed. The firmware is now available in the Bolt Industries GitHub repository. In addition, this Pico 87 is compatible with KMK, a mechanical keyboard firmware running on CircuitPython. Or, you can leave it as is and let it function as a normal keyboard.

At the time of writing, the campaign was 50% funded and had the remaining 29 days. Remember that crowdfunding a campaign isn’t a guarantee of getting a final product. Crowdfunding a project is similar to investing that you trust in the project and wish for it to be successful. It is not the product at a retailer.