Keyboard Hack Tutorial

(This is where the fun begins)





1 Keyboard (The cheaper the better)

1 Roll Electrical tape

1 Old movie rental case

2 Plastic contact strips (Sizes Depend on the keyboard you use) 

1 or 2 rolls of .18 gauge solid wire

1 Black Marker

1 Package of little blank white paper labels

1 Coil of solder

6 short screws





First Things First


Take all the screw out of the back of the keyboard, The keyboard should open easily. Inside you will have a bunch of button, a rubber sheet, a plastic

matrix plate, and the main part we want to use for the hack... a small controller board.  (The cord should be attached to this little board.)

You need to keep the plastic matrix plate and the controller with the cord, the rest can be tossed in the junk box.


Preparing The Controller


Right at the base of where the cord attaches to the controller there is just a plastic interlocking joint holding them together. Use the marker to mark a line

down one side of the little plastic joint, that way you can remove the cord while you are soldering, (It makes it easier). Now when you want to put it back on

you are sure to put it back on correctly. (I know it's pretty much idiot proof already but why take a chance.)

Also there will be the 2 spots where the plastic matrix is attached to the controller, Just put the plastic out from between the contacts on the controller board.

You should also be able to pull the plastic covers off of the contacts on the controller board.. This will make soldering easier than trying to use the

small solder points on the back.


Why a Movie Rental Case


The reason you need the old movie rental case is for mapping the controllers matrix rather than trying to follow every little wire on the plastic matrix sheet.

You can use a bunch of things I guess, but I used an old folding movie rental case because it let me work on the controller and kept the wires separate for me.

(I will explain more later.)


Giving The Controller Hair Plugs



The first, and most boring step is to solder one 8 inch wire to each of the little metal pins that were covered by the plastic sheath you took off of the

controller board where the plastic matrix was attached. I don't have a picture of this step but if you think you need one just E-Mail me and I'll gladly kill another keyboard.

Now you should have a controller board with like 30 wire hanging off of it. Use little pieces of electrical tape ,and allot of patience, to cover every pin and bare

wire at the base of every pin & wire connection you just soldered. This will take a while but save you a headache or two.




Movie Time



You will have noticed by now that there are two groups of wires. one set is pretty small compared to the other.

take the smaller set and count how may wires there are, (write it down). Now count the amount of wires in the large set, (write it down).

I'll write the rest of the tutorial as if you are using the movie rental box for the case and matrix helper for the rest of the project.

on the top of the movie box on edge write the numbers 1 to (whatever number of wires there was in the small group). Make sure to leave enough

space in between each number to draw a line that separates each number from each other, like so.


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | --ect.


These numbers should all fit along on of the short ends of the movie case.

Now do the same for the large group of wires but on the long edge of the movie box. Making the same line in-between each number.

You should have a very artistic looking movie rental case. Screw the controller onto the bottom inside the move case. I know it's not easy but

it helps allot :) It should only take 2 screws.



The Matrix Preparation


There should be little numbers on the controller board letting you know which pin is the "1" pin but if it doesn't it won't make much of a difference.

Starting with the Small group of wires you should take the first wire in the row, (or rows - there might be two rows), and use a little piece of electrical

tape to tape into the "1" position on the top of the movie case on the small group side. There should be enough of the wire sticking off the movie case

that you can strip off the plastic coating and still see the number on the movie case, (So don't get tape happy ). Do this for each pin down the row, (or rows)

until all of the small group of wires is nicely organized and taped to the top edge of the movie case.

Do the same for the large group. ( I know , I know... why not use the contact bars. But there is a good reason...keep reading.)




Touch And Go


Now that you have what looks like a scribbled up movie case covered in spaghetti, it is time to figure out the matrix of you keyboard controller.

This is a very slow but rewarding process, you will only do it once so don't start to cry yet.

Plug the keyboard cord back into the controller card, (Remember if you can't remember which way it goes on just look at the black mark you drew

in it at the beginning of this tutorial.... or where you to good for that? :) ). Turn your computer on and get into something like WordPad and then

plug in your hacked up controller. By using another 8 inch wire you can test the matrix in WordPad. All keyboard key presses are made by connecting

a wire from one wire in the small group to one wire in the large group. Touch one end of you Handy dandy 8 inch test wire to the "1" wire in the small group

and then touch the other end to the "1" wire in the large group. A letter should have been typed on the screen, If not don't worry not every connection makes a noticeable

key press on the screen. now write down what letter you got if you got any. It might help to write up a piece of paper as follows...

small group         Large Group    Key
wire 1 wire 1 (What ever key you got)
wire 1  wire 2 

(What ever key you got

ect. ect. ect.



  That all you do, Touch all the large groups wires with the "1" wire from the small group then move to the "2" wire in the small group and

again touch all the large groups wires and write down the results. This is the lesser of two evils. You can do this or try to follow every wire in the plastic matrix.

There are also some programs that show you what key was pressed available on the net but this is the way I did it.




Now You Know, And Knowing Is Half The Battle


Now that you have a list of keys and how you got them we can build a button list. Find out what keys you need to run the emulators you want to run and write

out a list of what 2 wires make that key press. With this list we can now add up how many slots we will need on the contact bars before we buy them. You will

need one contact bar for the small group and you will need one for the large group. More that likely every wire in the small group will be needed but only one quarter

to one half of the large groups wires will be needed. Label and connect the wires to the contact bars you can also screw the contact bars to the top of the movie case

after all the wires are attached to it.




How Much Wire Would A Wirechuck Wire If He Could Wire Wire?


With the list of buttons and  their wire code you can add up how many of each wire you will need. for example you might need 4 wires from the small groups "1" wire,

and 6 wires from the large groups 7 wire. If you can buy 2 different colors of wires that way you can use one color for the small group and another color for the large group.

On one side of the contact bars all the wires going to the controller are attached, so on the other side we will attach the wires that go to the Arcade controls. Trying to put more

than one wire under the screws on the contact bar is useless so cut enough 4 inch pieces of wire to attach to the contact bar as a go between from the contact bar to the

multiple wires needed for all the keys you want. Now attach all the wires needed to go to the arcade controls to the little wires you just put into the contact bar.

You should now have something that looks like a giant squid from a really bad "B" Movie.




That's all there is to it, I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. Please E-Mail me with any questions or requests, or mistakes ( not like there are any :) ).