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8K Controller for Ubuntu & Blender

A new request came in for the 8K Controller along the lines of “I’m using Blender on Ubuntu and would like these eight key commands programmed to make life easier.” So yeah, that’s what we’ve got.

While the 8K Controller (and all the USB devices we create) should work fine on macOS, Windows, Linux (and even Android and iOS) I still wanted to do the testing on Ubuntu. Luckily I’ve still got a Linux laptop lying around, even if it’s not running the latest version. (It worked great!)

There was also a request for specific colors, which we were able to do. (Note: I’m debating if I should add button color choice to the ordering process or make it a “get in touch” sort of thing. This is the first order that has specifically asked for certain colors.)

As for Blender, it’s been years since I tried to use it, though people have told me it’s gotten a lot easier to use. I know a few die-hard users who just love it.

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) but can be customized for any key or key combo. You can get one at the 2XL Networks Shop.

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Zoom iPad Keypad Control

While it’s possible to use a Bluetooth keyboard with an iPad, you can also use a USB keyboard (or keypad) with an iPad. Some quick tests revealed that the 8K Controller worked just fine. In fact, we programmed it for the following Zoom controls:

  • Mute/Unmute my audio
  • Start/Stop my video
  • Display/Hide Chat
  • Minimize meeting
  • Display/Hide manage participants

While “Minimize meeting” only minimizes and does not maximize, all the other controls are toggles. Press a button to mute yourself, press it again to unmute yourself, etc.

The command to “Close the front window” (which works fine on the macOS desktop application) did not work on iOS. (This may be due to being the host of the meeting… more testing is needed.) Everything else worked great!

So how do you connect a USB device to an iPad? It doesn’t exactly have USB ports… While Apple’s Lightning to USB Camera Adapter and USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter should fit the bill, I used a cheaper option, an OTG USB Adapter that was less than $11 USD.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 qsapp.com 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!