A collection of firmware source files for my various keyboards.
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README.md
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README.md

njbair's Keyboard Firmware Collection

This is my personal TMK/QMK firmware repo, based on the work of others and including my own custom layouts.

Quick Links

Here are some quick links to my custom TMK layouts in this repo for various boards:


Why Maintain Your Own Repository?

My main reason for maintaining this repo is that my keyboard use presents unique demands which I believe can be solved through creative use of firmware.

  1. I am a happy Dvorak user. I believe firmware can overcome some of the common shortcomings of the Dvorak layout.
  2. I occasionally play PC games.
  3. I have a lot of keyboards.
  4. I support a lot of computers.

It Makes a Dvorak User's Life Easier

What's the single biggest complaint about Dvorak among those who actually use it? In my experience, it's the fact that the most common keyboard shortcuts, Ctrl+Z/X/C/V, are remapped all over the place. Well, what if a simple firmware function could solve this issue?

Borrowing the idea from Mac OSX's Dvorak-QWERTY layout, I've created a firmware function to re-map the alpha keys back to QWERTY whenever the Left Ctrl modifier is pressed. Having this support at the hardware level means that I can plug my keyboard into any machine and get started right away, regardless of how the user has their software keymap configured.

It Makes PC Games More Fun

My standard layout uses SpaceFn, which is something you can enable through most graphical firmware layout editors. However, SpaceFn and PC games don't mix. Dvorak and PC games don't really mix, either. For these reasons, I've implemented a special QWERTY overlay for gaming which disables SpaceFn (and Enter Fn), and while we're at it disables the Win keys as well.

I still lose at Fortnite, but at least now it's not my keyboard's fault.

It Makes Maintaining Lots of Keyboards More Practical

If I tried to use graphical keyboard firmware editors for every keyboard I own, I would have given up by now. I also wouldn't be able to consistently implement all my custom tweaks. By creating this repository and extending TMK/QMK in a scalable and maintainable way, it not only eliminates a lot of the hassle, but actually makes it kind of fun.


Using this Repository

Unless you're me, you probably won't want to use this repo as-is right out of the box. But it could be a good starting point for managing your own personal keyboard firmware collection. Much care has been taken to structure this repository in a simple, meaningful, and maintainable way.

Directory Structure

[root]
|-- common
|-- converter
|-- keyboard
|   |-- keyboard_a
|   |   |-- keymaps
|   |   |   |-- default.c 
|   |   |   |-- otherlayout.c 
|   |   |   `-- anotherlayout.c 
|   |   |-- config.h
|   |   |-- Makefile
|   |   `-- [...]
|   `-- keyboard_b
|   `-- keyboard_c
`-- modules
    |-- tmk
    |-- qmk
    `-- [others]

Keyboards & Converters

The converter and keyboard directories are used to store per-device configurations. For a new project, I start by copying over something similar from the TMK collection. Here's a good starting point:

keymaps/
Makefile
config.h
keymap_common.h
macro.h

If you do this, be sure to change the TMK_DIR in the Makefile to point to the TMK core in the modules folder:

TMK_DIR = ../../module/tmk/tmk_core

You'll also need to point any additional sources back to the parent TMK folder. So then, this line:

SRC ?= matrix.c

...would become this:

SRC ?= ../../module/tmk/keyboard/alps64/matrix.c

Next, I move all layout-specific keymap files to a newly-created keymaps directory, to help cut down on clutter and simplify file naming:

mkdir -p keymaps
mv keymap_ansi.c keymaps/ansi.c

...then before you go any further, edit the Makefile and modify the keymap selection logic to work with this new file-naming scheme:

ifdef KEYMAP
    SRC := keymaps/$(KEYMAP).c $(SRC)
else
    SRC := keymaps/ansi.c $(SRC)
endif

Additionally, I have some custom configurations which are common among all my builds. I place these in the /common directory in the project root. Then I add them to the keyboard Makefile with a few extra lines:

NJBAIR_COMMON_DIR ?= ../../common
SRC += $(NJBAIR_COMMON_DIR)/init.c
VPATH += $(NJBAIR_COMMON_DIR)

Now you should be good to go.

Modules

This repository stores the core third-party firmware projects in the modules directory, along with some other necessary third-party repositories. The included modules can be found here:

The repositories are included as subtrees, so they can be updated using standard git subtree syntax, as follows:

git subtree pull --prefix module/tmk https://github.com/tmk/tmk_keyboard.git master --squash
git subtree pull --prefix module/qmk https://github.com/jackhumbert/qmk_firmware.git master --squash
git subtree pull --prefix module/chibios https://github.com/flabbergast/ChibiOS.git master --squash

I like to add the third-party repositories as named remotes in my local git repo:

git remote add tmk https://github.com/tmk/tmk_keyboard.git
git remote add qmk https://github.com/jackhumbert/qmk_firmware.git
git remote add chibios https://github.com/flabbergast/ChibiOS.git

...which makes pulling in updates that much easier:

git subtree pull --prefix module/tmk tmk master --squash
git subtree pull --prefix module/qmk qmk master --squash
git subtree pull --prefix module/chibios chibios master --squash

Building & Flashing the Firmware

I have only had success building the firmware on Linux. I tried Windows once but gave up and installed a VM running Ubuntu LTS. I recommend you do the same.

Required Libraries

To build on Ubuntu, install the following libraries:

  • gcc-avr
  • avr-libc
  • dfu-programmer

Additional required libraries for ARM-based firmware (e.g., Infinity Keyboard):

  • dfu-util (required for flashing)
  • gcc-arm-none-eabi

Building & Flashing in Linux

To compile the firmware for a custom keymap stored in the file keymaps/hhkb.c, issue the following commands:

$ make clean
$ make KEYMAP=hhkb

The process for flashing the firmware is different for each device. Most simply, to flash the firmware for an AVR controller in Linux, issue the following command:

$ sudo make dfu

For the Infinity, issue the following command:

$ sudo dfu-util -D build/infinity.bin -d 1c11:b007

Building & Flashing in Windows

As mentioned above, at this point I haven't managed to successfully build TMK natively in Windows. Instead, I use a Ubuntu VM to build the firmware, then use Atmel's FLIP application to flash the .hex file.

Initial setup:

  1. Download and install Atmel's FLIP application.
  2. Plugin the converter and place it into bootloader mode.
  3. Open Device Manager and update the driver for the ATmega32U4. Browse to C:\Program Files (x86)\Atmel\Flip 3.4.7\usb

Flashing via Atmel FLIP

These instructions have been tested on hasu's USB to USB converter dongle, and hasu's alps64 PCB.

  1. Open the Atmel FLIP application.
  2. Click Device > Select and choose the appropriate device type from the list.
  • For hasu's USB to USB converter dongle, choose ATmega32U4.
  • For hasu's alps64 PCB, choose ATmega32U2.
  1. Click Settings > Communication > USB and click the Open button.
  2. Under Operations Flow, make sure the boxes are checked for Erase, Blank Check, Program, and Verify, then click Run.
  3. Once the firmware has been flashed, check the Reset box next to the Start Application button, then click the button.

Flashing the USB to USB Converter firmware onto an Arduino Leonardo with USB Host Shield

We don't have a driver for this that works with FLIP, but we can use avrdude to do it instead.

  1. Open Device Manager and find out which COM port the Leonardo bootloader uses. It's listed under Ports (COM & LPT). You may need to use View > Show hidden devices first.
  2. Open a command prompt or PowerShell window. Place the device in bootloader mode and issue the following command: avrdude -p atmega32u4 -c avr109 -b 57600 -U flash:w:usb_usb.hex -P COM7 where COM7 is the port name you found in Device Manager.