[plug] USB Keypad Shennanigans

Onno Benschop onno at itmaze.com.au
Thu Jul 25 07:41:36 UTC 2013

I've been pulling out my hair for the past six hours and figured that it
was time to see if anyone might be able to help. The situation isn't helped
by the Ubuntu forum having been hacked, since much of the searching ends up

I want to achieve the following:

Use the individual keys of an external USB Numeric 18 key keypad to play an
mp3 file for use in a radio broadcast situation - think Jingle Machine with
17 Jingles. (the 18th key needs to kill all audio).

The OS is Ubuntu 12.04 on an R52 Thinkpad

Things I've tried:

   - Use the Keyboard shortcuts - doesn't work, since you cannot reprogram
   each key without holding down a modifier, like shift or control.
   - Use KeyTouch, doesn't work, the software is not available for 12.04,
   only the KeyTouch-editor.
   - I then figured I could remap a key to a multi-media key and have
   Keyboard shortcuts see those instead. I tried to use setxkbmap. I can use a
   command line like "setxkbmap -device 9 -option KP_0:KP_6" which shows that
   the 0 key is mapped to the 6, for my USB keypad, but no change observed on
   the command line when pressing the 0, nor in Keyboard shortcuts. (I also
   tried it with mapping the KP_0 to a symbol like: XF86Start.)

I've learnt that there is much voodoo in this, lots of contradictory
information and a basic assumption that you'd just want to use some or
other layout.

I've been unable to locate any information on how to create a layout that
actually generates a range of bogus keys from pressing a key on the keypad.

Note that the keypad works as expected. It's a Targus $34 keypad from
Officeworks, 18 keys, nothing special.

I need to make the interface for this tactile, rather than touch screen,
since it's going to be used during a live broadcast, so the operator will
be reading a script into a microphone and wanting to hit a jingle key
afterwards, without needing to actually look at the keypad.

I'm hoping someone has seen this, done this, wrote the book or knows where
I can find the manual to read it myself.

Onno Benschop

()/)/)()        ..ASCII for Onno..
|>>?            ..EBCDIC for Onno..
--- -. -. ---   ..Morse for Onno..

ITmaze   -   ABN: 56 178 057 063   -  ph: 04 1219 8888   -
onno at itmaze.com.au
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