I got a new Watcom Bamboo Fun tablet and found the 4 included keys weren't enough for the hundreds of shortcut keys I use in Maya. While browsing Walmarts electronic section I saw a number pad and the idea hit me. If I could change the keys I could use them for my shortcut keys and not concern myself with bringing my full keyboard down to my keyboard tray (where my tablet now resides).
So $10.00 (Canadian) didn't seem like a bad price for the experiment.
Equipment I Used:
1. $10.00 Lexma USB Number Pad.
2. Software To Remap Keys for your OS. (KeyTweak 2.3.0)
3. (Optional) Printable Sticker Labels.
3DBuzz made me do it.
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Step 1: 1. the USB Number Pad
1. Here is the unit I purchased for $10.00. It also has 2 USB ports at the top. Solid unit!
The only issue I have is occasionally I my PC won't boot properly during the USB initialization.
I think it may have to do with the NumLocks key, or windows trying to use it as a boot device.
Either way I seldom reboot, and when I do I just unplug it for the few moments it takes.
Step 2: 2. Remapping Your Number Pad.
2. So the program I use the most is Maya. It has literally hundreds of potential keyboard shortcuts. So I picked my 18 most used and went hunting for software to do the job. I tried a few, but the one that worked best for me was KeyTweek 2.3.0 http://www.tucows.com/preview/327616 . Its 100% free and 100 kick ass! It works for Windows 7 64 bit!
Quite simple no BS install. Run as Administrator. Usage is fairly simple, you can:
a) Click the key on the keyboard, and pick the new key you want it to be in the drop down and click remap.
b) Half-Teach Mode. allows you to press the key you want to remap (in case its not depicted which it wasn't for my number pad).
c) Full Teach Mode, allows you to press a key for the key you want to remap and what you want it to become.
After you map out all your keys a reboot is required. Its done through a registry remapping via scan codes. Nothing else will be running in the background after you set it all up.
*DOWN SIDE: your actual number pad on your full keyboard will be remapped. So if you need your number pad functionality, this won't work. Not a big deal for me, there is nothing I can't accomplish with the standard row of numbers atop my keyboard.
There is a software package that actually allows you to remap your specific device called HIDMacros. This was my 2nd attempt at software and it would have been a keeper but it was a little buggy in Win7x64, and conflicted with my Watcom drivers, so that quickly went out the door.
After the keys are all set up and you reboot its pretty much a done deal. The rest is just fluff really.
*You can manually change up all of your shortcuts in Maya, which I briefly considered but I didn't want to have to remap the default shortcuts.
Step 3: 3. Fluff - Fancifying Your Number Pad.
3. I used some old Avery labels I had with Adobe Illustrator to layout little boxes with the dimension of the keys I needed to cover.
So most were 1.3cm x 1.4 cm except the Enter key which was more than twice as tall. Illustrator has a full set of Avery label templates in one document so i just took the one i needed so my boxes would print in the confines of one of the labels. Then I cut each one out along the lines of the boxes I made and stuck em on. I know they won't last forever, but I used what I had available.
I used Illustrator simply because I could make a box with exact dimensions, but i'm sure there are other applications you could use to take advantage of this way of doing it.
If i wanted to be super fancy I would have considered getting an old keyboard and prying the old keys off of it and popping it on the number pad, but that seemed like an easy way out for me.
You might notice my main keyboard in the attached photo has 2 labels over my original number pad. This is to train myself to stop using the number pad and start using the number keys at the top of the keyboard.
I hope someone finds a use for it.