Computer Keyboard Accessories
Various keyboard accessories are available, such as footpedals and devices allowing the use of multiple keyboards and converting between different computer systems.
Bilbo Innovations Inc.
1290 Oakmead Parkway, #118,
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
(408) 736-6086, Fax: (408) 736-6083;
STEP ON IT! Keyboard Control Pedals
- Estimated Price:
- Availability: Retail
STEP-ON-IT! Keyboard Control Pedals supplement the computer keyboard with three electronic foot switches that take over the operation of selected keystrokes and mouse clicks. The system moves part of the entry activity from the keyboard to the floor pedals - thus speeding up the typing process through reducing hand movements.
STEP-ON-IT! Keyboard Control Pedals can be custom-programmed by the end-user to assign or reassign any three keys or mouse clicks to the floor operation, to suit the needs at the time. An initial default configuration for the foot-operated switches is these frequently used keystrokes: Pedal 1 - Shift; Pedal 2 - Control; Pedal 3 - Alt. However, the operator can choose to assign any other keystroke, such as - Esc, Return, PgUp, PgDn, a longer macro (up to 13 characters per pedal), or a mouse button click.
22121 17th Avenue SE, Suite 112, Bothell, WA 98021-7404
800-4-KINESIS (800-454-6374) or 425-402-8100
Kinesis Mac Interface II
- For PS/2-compatible keyboards and mice
- Estimated price is $133
- Special bundled prices are available for both Mac and Sun boxes with the Maxim adjustable keyboard
The Mac interface device allows your Macintosh computer to accept PS/2 compatible keyboards and mice. With the new Mac Interface II, you can now connect a PS/2-compatible mouse or trackballs plus a Mac-compatible pointing device at the same time!
Kinesis Sun Interface II
- For PS/2-compatible keyboards and mice
- Estimated price is $125
The Sun interface device allows your Sun workstation to accept Kinesis' PC-compatible state-of-the-art keyboards. And with the new Sun Interface II, you now can connect PS/2 compatible mice and trackballs and Sun compatible pointing devices at the same time!
801 E. Grand River Ave.
Williamston, MI 48895
(517) 655-5523, (800) 628-3185
Fax (517) 655-4926
Order direct or they are also distributed by Micro Central-800-83-MICRO
- Estimated Price: $49.95
- Availability: Direct and larger mail order catalogs
- Y-mouse Dual Mouse Adapter
- Y-mouse Tablet and Mouse Adapter
- Y-key key Dual Keyboard Adapter
- Y-see two Dual Monitor Adapter ($89.95)
Y-mouse adapters give you the power to connect two devices to the same port. With these small, easy to use, Y shaped adapters you don't have to open your computer or install any driver. Simply plug them in and you're ready to go.
- Great for switching between your favorite pointers.
- Switching between devices helps avoid repetetive motion problems
- Daisy chain multiple adapters to attach multiple input devices.
Compatibility: Works with all standard mouse-type devices including trackballs, touchpads, and other devices using standard mouse protocal. Both devices operate on one driver. Some devices, such as the Microsoft IntelliMouse, use advanced features which may not be compatible with other devices. Please call to ensure compatability. Switching: Automatic, initiated by use of pointing device.
Attaching Multiple Y-mice: The Dual Mouse Adapter can be daisy chained with other like Dual Mouse Adapters to obtain three or more mouse ports from one.
Keyboard Compatibility Issues
A number of X terminals (NCD, Tektronix, to name a few) use PC-compatible keyboards. If you have an X terminal, you may be all set. Try it out with a normal PC keyboard before you go through the trouble of buying an alternative keyboard. Also, some X terminals add extra buttons - you may need to keep your original keyboard around for the once-in-a-blue-moon that you have to hit the Setup key.
Often, X termainals will use a small DIN-8 connector rather than the larger old-style PC keyboard connector. Have no fear! Many newer PCs also have this new smaller connector, so you can usually find adapters at good computer stores. I have also seen this adapter in a number of mail-order cable catalogs.
NeXT no longer makes workstations, but the last batch of NeXTstations were made with the Apple Desktop Bus. If you really need to be using NeXT hardware, make sure it is the latest stuff, and you can use Mac keyboards (or PC keyboards through an adapter).
Of course, you can also run the NeXTstep operating system on a PC, HP, or Sun workstation, which are easier to adapt.
recommends Kinesis users remap their keyboard such that:
- Backspace = Backspace
- Delete = Command
- Caps Lock = Control
- Insert = Option
- And, in software, make Caps Lock settable with Command-Shift
Silicon Graphics newer machines (Indigo^2, Indy, and beyond) use standard PS/2-compatible keyboards and mice. I do not believe this also applies to the Power Series machines. It is not possible to upgrade an older SGI to use PC keyboards, except by upgrading the entire machine. Contact your SGI sales rep for more details.
For older machines, see if you can upgrade to Irix5 or later. The current X server supports the XTEST extension, which allows a2x to function properly. See "spoofing", below.
IBM RS/6000 keyboards are actually similar to normal PC keyboards. Unfortunately, you ca not just plug one in. First, you need a cable converter to go from the large PC keyboard connector to the smaller PS/2 style DIN-6. After that, you will probably need to run a special program (dkbd) to initialize the keyboard.
See the file rs6000 keyboard info in the ftp archive for more information.
If you are using an HP workstation, you can buy a converter box that converts the HP-HIL serial to PS2. The converter is made by Modular Industrial Computers 615-499-0700. Apparently you can also get these from Jon Simkovitz & Associates at 800-953-9262. At any rate, they are expensive ($400) because not many are made.
Newer HP workstations use PC-compatible keyboards and PS/2 mice! The changeover occured in early 1995 with the model 712. You were planning on upgrading your machine sooner or later, right?
Sun now manufactures an adapter box which lets you connect a PC mouse and keyboard to your Sparc workstation. I am told it is called the ``Sun Interface Converter'', part #X465A, and costs $75. Call 1-800-USE-SUNX, or see Suns Web page.
Kinesis (phone 800-4-KINESIS), resells Suns adapter as well as makes their own. The original Kinesis adapter required you to use your original Sun mouse. The new Sun adapter works with your original Sun mouse or any PS/2 mouse.
The downside to either of these adapters is the lack of Sun-specific keys - a Sun keyboard has more keys on it than a traditional PC keyboard. If you often use the L-keys or other obscure keys, you are going to have to learn how to remap your keys with xmodmap. For some info on this, check out kinesis sun mappings in the typing injury archive.
Spoofing a keyboard over the serial port
If you have got a proprietary computer which uses its own keyboard (Sun, HP, DEC, etc.) then you are going to have a hard time finding a vendor to sell you a compatible keyboard. If your workstation runs the X window system, you are in luck. You can buy a cheap used PC, hook your expensive keyboard up to it, and run a serial cable to your workstation. Then, run a program on the workstation to read the serial port and generate fake X keyboard events.
A number of programs can facilitate this for you. kt and a2x support ASCII input. a2x-RawPC and serkey support raw PC scancode input. Also, the new version of kt (kt18) additionally supports raw PC scancodes.
For more info about a2x, check out this URL:
a2x is a sophisticated program, capable of controlling the mouse, and even moving among widgets on the screen. It requires a server extension (XTEST, DEC-XTRAP, or XTestExtension1). To find out if your server can do this, run "xdpyinfo" and see if any of these strings appear in the extensions list. If your server does not have this, you may want to investigate compiling X11R5, patchlevel 18 or later, or bugging your vendor. X11R6 works fine, too.
kt is a simpler program, which should work with unextended X servers. Another program called xsendevent also exists, but I have not seen it.
a2x will work better, when it works, but it requires an extended server. kt does not work with every application, but it is more likely to work on older servers. Do not you love compromises?
a2x-RawPC, serkey, and kt18 can take input from a device such as the Genovation Serial Box which converts a PC keyboard into a normal RS232 serial device, but otherwise passes through the raw PC scancodes. This approach has several advantages: a Serial Box is only $150, whereas the cheapest used PC you may ever find is over $300. A Serial Box could easily fit in your pocket, while PCs tend to be much bigger. Most important, however, is the ability to use all the keys of your PC keyboard with your workstation, like the function keys. Unfortunately, Genovation no longer manufactures this box. kt includes a DOS program which can make your PC simulate one of these boxes, but that seems like overkill.
Get a2x, a2x-RawPC, serkey and kt.
Some vendors here (notably: Health Care Keyboard Co. and AccuCorp) support some odd keyboard types, and may be responsive to your queries regarding supporting your own weird computer. If you can get sufficient documention about how your keyboard works (either from the vendor, or with a storage oscilloscope), you may be in luck. Contact the companies for more details.