Raspberry Pi is greatest identified for his or her vary of single-board computer systems (SBCs), however final 12 months they entered the microcontroller trade with the RP2040 used of their Raspberry Pi Pico growth board. The RP2040 is an inexpensive and really succesful microcontroller that’s now accessible in lots of growth boards from different producers. Some of the compact is the Seeeduino XIAO RP2040, which Christian Lo makes use of in every of the modules in his beyblock20 keyboard system.
Lo’s beyblock20 isn’t a definite keyboard or macropad, however relatively a modular system that one can use to create both of these or many other forms of USB HIDs. That is nonetheless very a lot a piece in progress and it isn’t but prepared for most people, however Lo has revealed the entire present information on his GitHub web page. Because it stands, there are three beyblock20 modules. The primary is a fundamental 20-key macropad with hot-swappable key switches, the second is analogous however provides a small OLED display screen, and the third accommodates a trio of rotary encoder knobs. The modules join to one another magnetically and customers can snap them collectively in any order to kind the gadget that fits their wants.
The important thing to this modular design is I2C communication. The unbounded I2C bus lets as much as 128 particular person modules talk by means of a daisy chain of different modules. That’s doable as a result of every module has its personal Seeeduino XIAO RP2040 growth board. That lets the module monitor its personal keys, encoders, and so forth, then ship the related knowledge down the road to grasp module that connects to a pc. Neighboring modules can talk by means of the magnetic connector or customary TRRS (tip ring ring sleeve) audio cables if the person doesn’t need them to the touch.
It isn’t clear but how the beyblock20 system will deal with the grasp module, which might act because the interface between the pc and the remainder of the modules. We suspect that the XIAO RP2040’s USB port on that grasp module will present the connection, however we don’t understand how the person would designate it because the grasp. Lo ought to present extra element on that has the challenge progresses.