Zoom Power User 8K

Are you forced to use Zoom for work? Or worse, do you love to use Zoom for work, or fun, or whatever? No worries… with the 8K Controller we can enhance the experience. Zoom makes great use of keyboard shortcuts and they’re customizable, which means we can assign them to F13, F14, etc. that the 8K Controller uses. Let’s walk through the process…

Note: While the following screenshots were taken using macOS, this all works fine on Windows as well. (And once we install Zoom on Linux we’ll test it there.)

In the Zoom Settings you’ll see Keyboard Shortcuts. It lists the actions that can be controlled by key commands. One of the most popular things people want to do is mute and unmute themselves. You can do this with the key combo Command-Shift-A on macOS, or Alt-A on Windows and Linux.

You can even set some of these key commands to be Global Shortcuts, which means they’ll work even when Zoom isn’t the frontmost application. This is handy if you’ve got a browser or some other application in focus. It’s up to you which shortcuts you want to be global.

Nearly all of the shortcuts allow for customizing. Just click on the already populated shortcut and it should allow you to edit it.

Once it’s highlighted and ready to be changed you can just press a button on the 8K Controller and it will populate the field. Let’s press the F13 button.

Boom! We’ve now got F13 (the first button on the 8K Controller) set to mute/unmute Zoom, and it will work globally, no matter what application has focus. But wait, there’s more! We can keep going… Here’s a list of all the shortcuts I set.

  • F13 Mute/Unmute My Audio
  • F14 Mute Audio for Everyone Except Host (Host Only)
  • F15 Start/Stop Video
  • F16 Start/Stop Screen Sharing
  • F17 Switch to Speaker/Gallery View
  • F18 Show/Hide In-meeting Chat Panel
  • F19 Enter/Exit Full Screen Mode

Well, there’s seven, which isn’t too bad. Zoom on macOS does not recognize F20, though on Windows 10 it works fine. This was all done with the default F13-F20 that the 8K Controller uses. If you really wanted something custom, we can program the controller to use any key commands found on the Zoom Hot keys and keyboard shortcuts page, including the commands that are not customizable in the settings.

Reminder: The 8K Controller is a USB controller. By default, it’s programmed for function keys F13 through F20 (which are not found on most keyboard.) You can get one at the 2XL Networks Shop.


8K Controller with AutoHotKey

In our previous installment for the 8K Controller we used Quicksilver on macOS. This time we’ll use AutoHotKey which runs on Windows.

While I’m not using Windows as much as I used to, when I was building museum exhibits that ran on Windows I had a great collection of AutoHotKey scripts that fixed a lot of annoying things. It’s free, and pretty awesome. If you’re a Windows 10 user it’s definitely worth checking out. And hey, we’re going to use it right now!

You can easily write AHK scripts that will respond to hotkeys (I mean, it’s in the name!) Once you write your script you’ll want it running all the time. I just made a shortcut for mine and dropped it into the Startup folder so it would be running automatically each time I started my computer.

And what is this magical code I wrote? Well, it’s extremely simple. Not complex. Easy. Really. Check out the code for 8KLauncher.ahk. It really is easier than Pi.

And of course you are not limited to just opening URLs with AutoHotKey. It’s extremely powerful. I just wanted to choose a demo that was on parity with the previous example.

Reminder: The 8K Controller is a USB controller. By default, it’s programmed for function keys F13 through F20 (which are not found on most keyboard.) You can get one at the 2XL Networks Shop.


8K Controller with Quicksilver

You may already know that I’ve been building (and selling) USB controllers for the last 8 years or so. Most of them have been for photobooths, tradeshows, exhibits, museums, etc. Typically these have been very durable devices meant for use and abuse by the general public. They tend to do one thing, and do it well. Well, 2020 came along and all events and public gathers sort of… stopped, and with it, people wanting specific use USB controllers. I still sold a few, but it became apparent that lower-cost more consumer oriented devices were desires. That’s sort of what the 8K Controller is. I’ve sold about a half dozen, and I’m considering another run if people are interested in it.

Yeah, so what is it? Well, it’s a USB controller. By default, it’s programmed for function keys F13 through F20 (which are not found on most keyboard) but it can be programmed for any keys, or key combos, or even as a MIDI controller. So yeah, what can it do? Well, with specific custom key commands it can serve as a controller for Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams to mute your mic, disable your camera, and other things. As long as there’s a key command, it can do it.

If you just want the default F13-F20, you can use macro/automation software to do all sorts of other things, and I’ll write about these in the coming weeks. In fact, we’ll start right now!

Quick Disclaimer! By default the controller is recognized as a USB HID device, no drivers needed on modern versions of macOS, Windows, or Linux. In future posts I’ll jump into Windows and Linux, but I’ll start with macOS.

Today we’ll look at Quicksilver, which is open-source/free and can be found at Quicksilver can do a lot of neat things, and falls under the category of “productivity software” as many of these applications will.

Quicksilver allows you to create triggers that respond to key commands, which is perfect, because we’ve got 8 key commands just waiting to be put to use. I created a bunch of actions to open up specific web sites, and then for each one, clicked Edit for the Shortcut and pressed the button on the 8K Controller I wanted to assign it to. (I should note that I’m not a long-time user of Quicksilver. I downloaded it tonight and got this basic functionality figured out in less than an hour.)

I’ve now got seven buttons right behind my keyboard which will pull Firefox to the front (no matter what application is running) and load a specific web site. I can have Twitter or Facebook on my screen in a matter of seconds! (Those probably are not the best choices though!)

These are really just examples though. I’ll be changing them to things I actually need every day for work. Admin interface for the online shop, a few accounts I need to keep an eye on, etc. Sure, it’s not too difficult to command tab through the open applications, get to Firefox, click a button in the bookmark toolbar, but… this is one press of a dedicated button, so yeah, it’s quite a bit faster, and I dare say more satisfying.

The view from the Raspberry Pi that has a camera pointed at my 3D printer is now just a mere button press away! (Hmmm, looks like it’s ready for a new print to get started.)

Oh, and one more thing… You may notice I used F13 through F19, but not F20. It seems Quicksilver does not support F20. I did find an issue about the higher numbered function keys, but no mention of F20. Maybe I’ll file an issue about it, but for now 7 out of 8 with a piece of free software isn’t too bad!


Sam McPheeters, Author

I just finished reading Mutations: The Many Strange Faces of Hardcore Punk, by author Sam McPheeters. It’s a great book, and I recommend it. And I don’t recommend a lot of books! (Because I don’t read a lot of books…)

Besides being a great storyteller, I share this odd kinship with Sam, though it may be one-sided. I’ve always admired his work, and we’ve crossed paths a few times. Now, in the book he mentions interactions with people and failures (perceived or real) throughout his life. I thought I would share a few times I encountered Sam.

Disclaimer: It’s been over 25 years, and I may not get everything right, but I’m going to do my best to be accurate, If I’m wrong about something, let me know.

I first met Sam when Born Against played a show in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The local Waukesha punks booked them to play a bowling alley. Somehow I rented the PA for the show or something. (I would have got it from Lincoln Music on the South Side.) I remember meeting Sam when setting up the mics and I said “Hey, you’re not gonna stick this mic in your mouth are you? I rented these…” and he looked at me and said “No, I’m not gonna stick it in my mouth.” and that was good enough for me. But… there was this hint of mischief when he said it, as if he was saying “I’ll tell you I won’t do it, but yeah, I’m totally gonna do it.”

Now, why the hell I would I ask him such a question? I’m pretty such I saw a photo from a zine (maybe MRR?) where he had a mic shoved in his mouth. I remember it being a great photo, but I was also concerned I’d return the gear to Bob at Lincoln Music and he’d be like “What the he’ll happened to this mic!?!”

I am reasonably sure he did not shove the mic into his mouth. It’s been a long time, and since I don’t remember, I’ll take that to mean it did not happen, because it seems like something I would remember. I’d probably have said “What the Hell, man!?! You said you wouldn’t shove the mic in your mouth!” and Sam would probably have shrugged or something.

The next interaction was in Madison, and I don’t know if this was the same Born Against tour or another one. Maybe it was a year later? (Hell, I don’t even know what year some of these things happened.) Anyway, I think we were near State Street somewhere and Sam saw me and (maybe) Milt, and said something like “Hey, do you guys have Z-Rock in this town?” and I told him we did not, but maybe WORT would work. He then asked where a laundromat was and we may have been able to point him in the right direction. Yeah, this is weird, but Sam is weird, and I am weird, so whatever. I’ve also been know to just randomly ask people if they have Z-Rock in whatever town I’m in. (I never bothered to look up Z-Rock until right now. Huh.)

And then on the Buried tour in 1993 we played in Washington D.C. at the 9:30 Club with Born Against, and it seemed like somehow there was a small crowd, or like no crowd or I just can’t remember but I do remember watching Born Against play and Sam was Sam and at some point he wandered off during a song and went into the women’s restroom and I think he came back at some point but it’s all a little hazy.

There’s one more interaction I had with Sam but it wasn’t in-person, it was across a computer network where he was asking me questions about something and I remember I felt honored that he was asking me. I’m not even sure I had any great answers for him, but now that I think about it maybe I’ve never had any great answers.

I did a search for Sam with a mic in his mouth and found this photo from ABC No Rio Fondly Recalls the Saturdays of Its Gritty Youth though I’m not even sure that’s the photo I remember seeing.

Sam also makes (or made) art, some of which I find interesting or amusing, and some that makes me worry about his sanity. See the art of Sam McPheeters, Artist.


Laser-Cut iMac Holder Plate

In the studio at Brown Dog Gadgets we added an iMac on a rolling cart to the photo area of the studio so we could shoot tethered using a Canon M50. Josh had some concerns about putting a top-heavy iMac on a rolling cart, so I mentioned that we could secure it to the top, and then he sent me a link to this post How I work now – the iMac stand and I told him that was exactly what I was thinking.

I designed a few pieces to do the job. The smaller “front bottom” pieces are 1/8″ thick Baltic Birch plywood, and the larger pieces are 1/4″ Baltic Birch plywood. I cut them on the laser cutter and did a test fit…

The holes are meant to allow for 1/4-20 bolts to be fed through to secure it to the top surface of the cart. And yes, the iMac stand is really close to being 1/8″ thick…

Looks good! Adding this in should prevent the iMac from toppling over while on the cart. And to be fair, we don’t wheel this cart around at any high speed. It’s a large, heavy cart so it’s a slow mover on a smooth concrete floor. But the extra precaution is definitely a good idea.

I added another plate to the back just to prevent the iMac from sliding backwards at all, and so far this has worked out well.