How to use a mini keyboard with a Raspberry Pi 4

Friday, November 20, 2020

How to use a mini keyboard with a Raspberry Pi 4

Description

Wondering about the Gecen Mini Keyboard and mouse? In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley unboxes and then does a Gecen Mini Keyboard setup with a Raspberry Pi 4 computer.

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For a written transcript, go to Labists Starter Kit for Raspberry Pi 4.

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Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 4.0 by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com.

Intro/Exit


Hot Swing

Incidental


werq George Street Shuffle

Contents

Transcript

Introduction

Wondering how well one of these inexpensive wireless mini keyboards works?

So do I. So I got one and we're going to open it up and see how well it works on Raspberry Pi and Linux.

I've used a number of Bluetooth devices on a number of operating systems and hardware platforms over the years. I've always found them to be a little finicky. Sometimes you turn them on and they work and sometimes they don't. I've had some devices i just couldn't work get to work at all.

So, i'm hopeful that this will work. It's got some really cool features:

  • It's got RGB backlight on the keyboard.
  • It's a full keyboard in a very small form factor.
  • It's got a mouse control that has adjustable DPI so, depending on the size of your screen you're working with, it makes it easy to control.

On the surface it sounds really cool, but it's bluetooth and I'm kind of skeptical about that.

So we're going to open this up and take a look at it and try getting it running on a Raspberry Pi.

If we're just meeting, Welcome! I'm Harley and this is the House of Hacks. I make stuff here, usually out of wood or metal, but sometimes that involves technology like Raspberry Pis and mini keyboards.

Unboxing

Let's open this up and see what's inside.

So I'm kind of hopeful that this is going to work well. I would really like it to.

So it comes out with first of all a short USB cable with a large and small connector on it. I'm assuming this is for recharging purposes.

And then we have just the keyboard unit. It's in bubble wrap to help protect it.

A very small user guide. It's all pictorial. No... a little bit of writing inside. And not much to it. A small trifold thing.

And there's the device. It's got some keys for... for controlling things and then the keyboard. It actually has a pretty nice feel to it. It has some a click feel and real positive action. I've been pretty impressed with it so far.

I don't know how to use this at all. It's controls are a little confusing.

It fits well in the hands but so... yeah it doesn't doesn't feel too bad.

It looks like it has a battery compartment back here.

OK, so here's the receiver unit... so maybe it isn't Bluetooth. Oh, that would be cool. Maybe it looks just like a regular keyboard. That would be better... interesting. And it has a little slot in here for storage.

It has one battery that's easily replaced and it's a BL-5C, so that's nice. It's probably rechargeable since it has the cord here but is it easily changed. At first i thought it had AAs in it, or AAAs, and that was going to be a little bit of a pain.

But that looks like a nice unit.

It's got a switch here on the top. I assume that's the power switch and then a plug here for the USB cable which, as I said, I assume that's just for charging purposes.

I'm going to read the manual and take a look at this and try to get it hooked up.

Setup

I've got the Raspberry Pi here set up with my little tiny video monitor and it's plugged in. I don't have any keyboard or mouse though at this time.

I have gone through the instruction manual that came with this thing. Like I said, there's not much to it. It basically says plug it in and turn it on and use it.

One thing of note, it does say though is it will take either the battery that we saw before in it or it will also take two AAA batteries.

Well, the manual said it would take AAA batteries...
and the case has a place for AAA batteries...
but there's no actual connectors for AAA batteries...
so while you could technically put them in here, I don't think they're really going to do anything.

And then it has a little troubleshooting section that has just basic common sense kind of things... and maintenance... "Don't submerge it in water," that kind of thing. So not a whole lot of interesting stuff there.

So I did throw it on the charger for a little bit and I'm going to take this out for the receiver... out of the little holder thing... close that back. I'm going to put this in one of the USB slots and turn it on and let's see what happens here.

I turn the power on my screen... Raspberry Pi boots...

And this does have, in addition to kind of the D-controller that looks like it works for the mouse, there's also a touchpad.

We'll see how that works... We'll turn this on... Now it's booted and... Well the mouse works for the touchpad. It doesn't seem to work using the D-controller.

There's no instruction manual on this so it's kind of going to be a little bit of experimentation.

Looks like there's a mouse button here that brings up the context menu. It's right click and then you use the up and down arrows to select something.

The mouse does work and you can tap it to double to do a click and it's supposed to have some sort of scrolling... Oh, that probably works if you have a... if you have an app open...

Let's try opening the browser... and we'll just pull something up here...

So it's working really well other than learning how to navigate the keyboard.

One thing i did notice is it only has shift and control on the left side. There's nothing over here on the right and also the Windows key is on the right side which is opposite most keyboards. So if you want to do... you know control keys... and you have to kind of reach over the keyboard. Probably not a big deal with a small enough keyboard.

Triple fingers will allow you to scroll... As does the D-controller... scrolls either way.

So yeah, overall it looks pretty cool.

It's got the backlit keyboard. I have no idea how you change change the colors on the keyboard. It defaults to blue.

Oh, I see these... it's hard for me to see without my glasses... This keyboard has buttons on here... This is a right click and looks like a left-click buttons... But that's not kind of what I saw... it seemed to be the other way around.

Oh, if you triple click it will bring up the context menu too.

So the icons seem to be backwards to me. This one says it's a a right click... that's the way i would interpret that icon... but it's actually a left click. And this one is a right click and the button looks like a left click to me. I guess it's one of those cases where you can't... when you only have two items and there's one there's a little graphical differentiation between them, you don't know which the graphical representation means. It's kind of like when you have a menu item and something's highlighted but you don't know if the highlight is the selected item or the unselected item. That's always kind of fun. The same same issue here.

Summary

But it seems to be working just fine. No problems whatsoever hooking it up. It's not Bluetooth like i originally thought so that's probably why it actually works. It doesn't have all those finicky drivers that you need to hook up.

So i'm really impressed with this little thing... I think I paid $13 or $14 for this... I think it was under $15...

So it seems to be working really well. I assume that there's a way to change the colors. I'm not going to try to fiddle with that here on camera but just first impressions it's working.

I give it a thumbs up! Yeah!

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