If you use computer-aided design (CAD) software often, you know how many keyboard shortcuts there are to remember. Plus, power users often create macros to do repetitive tasks. What if you had a separate keypad that could simplify these shortcuts, while also knowing exactly which program you are in and which shortcuts you want at that time? The Hub16 Programmable Macro Keyboard ticks those boxes and more! With 16 keys and two rotary encoders, you can have quick, fine control over your designs.
However, it certainly isn’t limited to CAD software. Another great use case would be for digital audio workstations (DAWs) which have the similar problem of a million keyboard shortcuts and a complex graphical interface. Knobs would come in especially handy in this scenario for scrubbing across a timeline or changing audio input parameters.
Of course, it has the RGB LEDs for bling factor, but they can also be used to inform the user which context they are in, and what functions are currently assigned to the keypad. Perhaps you could have blue for Kicad PCBNEW, red for eeschema, and yellow for Adobe Premiere. The customization options are endless!
However, I think the feature that really puts this on my wanted list is the built-in USB hub. What a smart thing to add to a device that is sitting on your desk! And even better, it uses USB Type-C which is quickly becoming the standard for all modern devices. You could have your graphics input tablet connected, and have the Hub16 sitting beside it for quick keyboard shortcuts — leaving your main keyboard to the side entirely. Or you could connect your audio controller, allowing you to tweak and play with sounds and clearing space on your desk for a full-sized MIDI keyboard.
The only downside is that the switches are not included. This is understandable, as people who use mechanical keyboards often want to use their favourite keyswitch, and stocking that many different options would be a pain on a small project like this. Perhaps down the line we will see it come pre-assembled, but with its current focus on the CAD market we think any current customers would have no problem sourcing and soldering their keyswitch of choice. This also allows you to customize the keyswitches, so you could have lighter touch keys in certain positions for repetitive tasks, for example.
Whatever the use case you decide on, make sure to check out the excellent build instructions and software configuration documentation.
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