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qmacpoint
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"Converting" a WhiteFox into a wireless keyboard

Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:24 pm

Hi guys!

I am also the proud owner of a WhiteFox - it is a fantastic keyboard, and I got it with Kailh Speed Silver switches (it is blazing fast!) - and after reading the recent review on it I couldn't help but wonder if there is any way of making the WhiteFox a wireless keyboard. Been looking online for some alternatives and the only thing I could find that could fulfill this is a Bluetooth HID Relay, which I cannot seem to find for sale, and I can only find DIY instructions for it. While I would like to build one of those myself, I don't have any soldering skills and I'm afraid I may put something on fire.

I'm looking for a wireless solution as I have limited desk space and I often have to trade keyboard space with my work/personal laptop, so a wireless solution would be ideal for me.

Would you know of any type of device that would be able to do this?
Thanks!
 
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Re: "Converting" a WhiteFox into a wireless keyboard

Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:57 am

Even though you technically could do this with a wireless USB hub, you're going to find that the WhiteFox isn't designed for power saving. Batteries are going to get nuked and the whole setup is going to be clunky. You'd need a reasonably bulky battery pack and even if you did your own soldering and 3D printing, a fully-custom solution would likely need to add two or three 18650 batteries to the keyboard, ruining it's compact size and shape.

Wireless keyboards are designed to be power-efficient. Wired ones are not. Everything from the choice of integrated circuits to the internal voltages is optimised for battery life in a wireless keyboard and when you run something off a battery that was originally designed to have access to a limitless 5V, 250mA supply, it will use it because that's the simpler/cheaper/easier to build for.

A wired keyboard doesn't even have the power management hardware or firmware it needs; There's no concept of power-saving so it will use order(s) of magnitude more power than a purpose-designed wireless keyboard. Even if you didn't use the backlighting, I'd be surprised if the wireless USB bridge and keyboard itself didn't drain a 5000mAH battery pack in a couple of days of use - oh, and if you want backlighting I'd be amazed if it lasted more than a few hours. The keyboard may not even be fully to blame, either - I have used several wireless USB bridges and I have never seen one that wasn't designed for a mains-powered device. Maybe power-saving, made-for-battery wireless USB bridge solutions exist, but their market niche must be vanishingly small which certainly means it'll be expensive and hard to obtain :(

TL;DR
It's possible in a "proof of concept" sort of way but it would be hopelessly impractical and genuinely expensive to attempt.
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Re: "Converting" a WhiteFox into a wireless keyboard

Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:44 am

I'm also wondering whether going wireless is going to introduce noticeable latency, partially negating the speed of this keyboard.

Edit:

A few years ago I looked into this issue myself, and IIRC the only wireless keyboard converter I found back then cost nearly $200. Can't seem to find that one now, but I did find this: https://www.amazon.com/Bluetooth-Conver ... 00PI7ZDOI/

You would need some sort of enclosure for it that could be attached to the keyboard, and you would also need to add a power source (e.g. portable phone charger) to power it and the keyboard. At best this would be a clunky hack, and at the end of the day probably even more annoying than having the keyboard cord going across your desk. (You'll still need to plug the battery pack in to charge it too, so sometimes there will be a cord anyway...)
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Re: "Converting" a WhiteFox into a wireless keyboard

Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:19 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
Even though you technically could do this with a wireless USB hub, you're going to find that the WhiteFox isn't designed for power saving. Batteries are going to get nuked and the whole setup is going to be clunky. You'd need a reasonably bulky battery pack and even if you did your own soldering and 3D printing, a fully-custom solution would likely need to add two or three 18650 batteries to the keyboard, ruining it's compact size and shape.

Wireless keyboards are designed to be power-efficient. Wired ones are not. Everything from the choice of integrated circuits to the internal voltages is optimised for battery life in a wireless keyboard and when you run something off a battery that was originally designed to have access to a limitless 5V, 250mA supply, it will use it because that's the simpler/cheaper/easier to build for.

A wired keyboard doesn't even have the power management hardware or firmware it needs; There's no concept of power-saving so it will use order(s) of magnitude more power than a purpose-designed wireless keyboard. Even if you didn't use the backlighting, I'd be surprised if the wireless USB bridge and keyboard itself didn't drain a 5000mAH battery pack in a couple of days of use - oh, and if you want backlighting I'd be amazed if it lasted more than a few hours. The keyboard may not even be fully to blame, either - I have used several wireless USB bridges and I have never seen one that wasn't designed for a mains-powered device. Maybe power-saving, made-for-battery wireless USB bridge solutions exist, but their market niche must be vanishingly small which certainly means it'll be expensive and hard to obtain :(

TL;DR
It's possible in a "proof of concept" sort of way but it would be hopelessly impractical and genuinely expensive to attempt.

Great post. I never thought about the careful parts selection for mobile variants to everyday peripherals.
 
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Re: "Converting" a WhiteFox into a wireless keyboard

Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:13 am

As long as you leave the LEDs (if any) turned off the power draw probably wouldn't be too bad. But fitting the wireless electronics and battery into the existing keyboard enclosure is likely a non-starter, leaving you with clunky external solutions which will be even more annoying than the USB cable.
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Re: "Converting" a WhiteFox into a wireless keyboard

Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:35 am

Wow... that's a really good reasoning indeed. However, I got the non-LED version of the WhiteFox because it would be a sin to have that keyboard with LEDs (in my opinion). I think I will start building the DIY relay - I'm ok placing those components outside of the keyboard itself, in a 3d printed housing too. Also, this could be a very good opportunity to learn soldering and other things (like programming a sleep function to the hub to save power)

Also that adapter seems like an all-in-one solution, but it may need power...
 
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Re: "Converting" a WhiteFox into a wireless keyboard

Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:07 am

Nice, could be a fun project to learn soldering on!

If you ever get it working, I'd be curious to know what sort of battery life you get.

I've not tried it with a keyboard before, but in the early days of WiFi I've had to run a USB webcam off a battery pack and wireless bridge before, and also a wireless A4 flatbed scanner. Both of them used up power far too quickly to be practical and were eventually replaced with dedicated wireless options once the manufacturers stepped up to the plate, but I never really knew if it was the devices or the wireless bridge that was draining the pack, and things have moved on in the last 11 years since I did that.
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Re: "Converting" a WhiteFox into a wireless keyboard

Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:22 pm

qmacpoint wrote:
It would be a sin to have that keyboard with LEDs (in my opinion).

Caps/numlock Indicator?
 
qmacpoint
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Re: "Converting" a WhiteFox into a wireless keyboard

Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:35 pm

Usacomp2k3 wrote:
qmacpoint wrote:
It would be a sin to have that keyboard with LEDs (in my opinion).

Caps/numlock Indicator?

Really? lol :)

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