the Utility Pad

the Utility Pad

I don’t make any attempt to hide that I’m frequently jumping between platforms.  This can be iOS/Android (with a constant curiosity about PinePhone), but also between Linux, MacOS, and Windows.  One of the challenges is that there’s frequently a tool or feature that is great on one platform but less helpful or unavailable on a different one.

Part of what I’ve been playing with lately is modular computing.  It’s something Google looked into and abandoned, but I have a slightly less commercial approach.  I recently saw Adafruit’s Macropad, which is a sleek PCB (thank you for printing it in black) that uses a Raspberry Pi 2040 and allows for 12 programmable keys.  The idea is simple- it can emulate a keyboard and allows the use of the rotary knob to switch between programmed presets.  I was all geared up to write all the code, only to find that Kattni Rember already did a great tutorial and provided ample presets as examples.  Check out their full tutorial here.

This isn't a sponsored post, but I do think the Macropad is a pretty slick offering from Adafruit.  What is super cool is that it emulates a keyboard on Linux, Windows, and MacOS!  All it needs are standard OS keyboard drivers, no special code to use it on your computer.  To add onto this, the Adafruit author has created the code in Circuit Python, so it can be edited from your PC.  This means you can easily go in and edit or add new presets all from your computer.

What I have done is added my own take on the enclosure for the Macropad.  I’ve added a larger top plate, hex-infill 3D printed parts, and stainless steel screws and heavy duty rubber feet.

Here’s all the important links: