Introduction: Emoji Keyboard

About: Build.Share.Destroy.Repeat. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!

Sometimes words aren't enough when composing correspondence on your computer and you need something a little more colorful to convey your message, enter the emoji!

Emojis are small graphical icons that convey a feeling or idea, and there are hundreds of them. While emojis are commonplace in phone messaging, usually built into the digital keyboard on your smartphone, they are much less common when at your desktop or laptop computer as there isn't an easy interface to add emojis into your messages. This project is going to solve that with a programmable emoji keyboard, built for less than $10.

But, why stop at emojis? There are plenty of other graphical symbols that also convey a feeling, like shruggy ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, a $5 bill [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅5̲̅)̲̅$̲̅], and my personal favorite of a disapproving glare ಠ_ಠ. I'll show you how to add all of these into and easy to make keyboard so you can hammer our your favorite emojis into any text field on your computer.

Ready, let's make!
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Step 1: Supplies

Sure, they sell a commercial emoji keyboard for $100 that you could buy. However, that's a lot of money for a novelty, and doesn't allow you to use your own custom emojis. Also, I don't think they sell them anymore.

Here's what I used to make mine:

If you rummage around e-waste bins you might even find a keypad for free. Try universities or makerspaces for free discarded electronics.

Step 2: Remapping Number Pad

To get the numeric keypad to show emojis instead of number the keys need to be remapped. To do this I used AutoHotKey:, a free and lightweight program that does this perfectly.

In order for AutoHotKey to know what to do there needs to be a script. Luckily, this is incredibly simple and can be modified to meet your emoji needs.

Start a new Notepad file, then copy and paste the code below:

; Emoji numeric keyboard mapping 

Numpad1::Send EMOJI
Numpad2::Send EMOJI
Numpad3::Send EMOJI
Numpad4::Send EMOJI
Numpad5::Send EMOJI
Numpad6::Send EMOJI
Numpad7::Send EMOJI
Numpad8::Send EMOJI
Numpad9::Send EMOJI
Numpad0::Send EMOJI
NumpadDot::Send EMOJI
NumpadDiv::Send EMOJI
NumpadMult::Send EMOJI
NumpadAdd::Send EMOJI
NumpadSub::Send EMOJI
NumpadEnter::Send EMOJI<br>


Replace the EMOJI text placeholder text above with the emoji you like, as long as it can be read as Unicode.

Here's what mine looks like:

It's helpful to have a unicode emoji reference so you know that emoji will show up correctly. I used to get the emojis, and also shows emojis that aren't Unicode friendly as an empty box □.

When you've got all your emojis in place chose "Save As" and name the file with a .ahk extension, not the default .txt. I chose emojikeyboard.ahk. I saved this to my desktop for easy access.

Step 3: Make Emoji Stickers

Now that you've got the keys mapped you'll need to have a visual identifier to show what each key is. I measured the key caps as 15mm and made simple stickers of my emoji choices onto 15mm squares.

Step 4: Stick Those Stickers

I printed out a lot more stickers than I needed, so if I wanted to change up the emojis later I could peel off the sticker, remap the key, and put a new sticker on. This seemed like the easiest and most low-tech solution to the problem of changing emojis later on.

Stickers were placed on the keys i wanted, and had mapped, and I was ready to go!

Step 5: Emoji Time!

Plug in the keyboard, run the AutoHotKey program and then double-click the emojikeyboard.ahk saved on the desktop to run the remap script. Done! Start using all the emojis!

Some keys weren't used on the keypad I chose.

  • 00: A limitation of this particular numeric keypad is that it has a 00 key, which is just a double tap of the 0 key and not a separate key to remap.
  • Backspace: I left this as the default, so I can easily remove erroneously typed emojis from the same keypad.
  • NumLock: This acts like a power button for the emoji keyboard, so I can leave it plugged in and only have it on when I'm ready to emoji bomb an email.\

Sure, you can copy and paste emojis, but where's the fun in that? Also, for Windows 10 users there's an option to bring up an on screen emoji list by pressing WinKey+period. Both of these are options, but don't look nearly as cool as having your own dedicated keypad to your most-used emojis.

Did you make this project? I want to see it! Share a picture of your emoji keyboard in the comments below.

Happy making :)

Epilog X Contest

Participated in the
Epilog X Contest