Heck, maybe the next generation of keyboards will permanently include words like “SWAG” and “YOLO.”
While at work, “ch00ftechTV” and his colleagues find amusement in pulling pranks on one another, especially when one of them leaves the office. When his pal — who happens to be an avid gamer and a particularly big fan of the “Montage Parody” 1337-sp34k — went on a holiday, the Maker decided to hack his friend’s keyboard hardware to make it type some of his most commonly used words like “SWAG” “YOLO” and “420.”
Well, what began as a quick (and may add ingenious) prank turned into of an in-depth exploration of how keyboards operate. The keyboard being hacked used mechanical keys mounted to a keyboard-sized PCB, an advantage of older devices compared to those today comprised of two sheets of plastic with conductive traces. As ch00ftechTV notes, this provided him with tons of places to solder on new elements.
The plan was to pick keys that were not commonly used, such as ’Scroll Lock,’ ‘Print Screen’ and ‘Pause/Break,’ and transform them to spit out the words “SWAG,” “YOLO” and “420.” The signal tracks from these three keys were cut away and replaced with outputs from an ATmega48, and had hooked up the original connections to the microcontroller as well. A toggle switch would then enable the keyboard to be put back into normal mode where his firmware could simply pass the key input to the output.
However, this course of action was not taken due to a lack of space to install the toggle switch. Instead, the Maker decided that he would just replace the keyboard in the unlikelihood that his friend gets upset. Moving ahead, ch00ftechTV modified the AVR PCB and firmware, and was able to get the selected keys to type out his desired words.
“I quickly hooked up the requisite keys: S, W, A, G, Y, O, L, 4, 2, 0, Print Screen, Pause/Break and Scroll Lock. I opted to use the num pad keys for the 420 so that they wouldn’t be modified by pushing shift (as I figured he’d be using shift for SWAG and YOLO as well),” he writes. “I did the schematic and layout for a simple breakout board for the ATmega48 in about 15 minutes. All it had to do is bring the processor pins out to pads that I could solder to.”
Unexpectedly, this is where he ran into a few problems. “I was expecting this to be a super quick and dirty hack, but it turned into an awesome review of how keyboard scanning works,” the Maker explains. You can read all about this encounters, and the final outcome, in his detailed blog post here. As to what his friend thinks, ch00ftechTV will have to wait one more week until he gets back.