Qwerty Keyboard Slider [DIY]

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By Flash-A-Holic, Senior Member on 28th January 2016, 08:00 PM
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Hello XDA! I'm one of those old school guys who likes physical keyboard on phone. Specially I like qwerty sliders but the bad thing is that they are dying out. (Watch out small screens, you are next!). Of course there is Priv but I think that it is sliding wrong way. So I decided to make my own qwerty slider:
I bought "The Beast" Xiaomi Mi4C and a bluetooth qwerty keyboard case for iPhone 6 (about 20$). First I cut the edges from the case, drilled hole for a speaker and made the camera hole little bit bigger for flash light. Then I just glued phone and case together. Because I cut the edges from the case there was about 1-3mm meeting between case and phone. I filled the cap with Sugru™. It should last for usage and temperature changes (between -50°C to +180°C).

For the software part I rooted my Mi4C and flashed CM13. Then I installed Keyboard Manager. With that app you can change keyboard based on orientation automatically. For landscape I use Minuum Keyboard with Mini Mode because I wanted the 5th number row. In the settings you can make the Minuum Keyboard only 140px (60+80) high. It takes only 13% of your screen space on Mi4C. If you don't want to use Minuum Keyboard you can use Null Input Method. In portait I use Google Keyboard. (Hint: You can transfer your dictionary from other keyboard to Minuum Keyboard).

When you install the Keyboard Manager you need to make this fix:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ne0fhyk

If you are unable to launch the app after installation, please follow these steps:


- Look in your sdcard folder for the directory /Android/data/com.ne0fhykLabs.android.utility.kmLauncher/files/
- There should be an apk file there, Keyboardmanager.x.y.apk, where x,y stands for the version number
- Copy that file to /system/app/, and change the permissions to rw-r--r-- (Read/write for owner, read for group, and read for other)
- Reboot your device, and try running the app again.


Total dimensions are 139 x 69.6 x 16 mm and weight is 228 g but I have installed tempered glass screen protector. For comparison Motorola Droid 4: 127 x 67.3 x 12.7 mm and 178.9 g. Here is more pictures:Here are some similar projects:
Hit thanks if you liked my mod

PS: I already bought another original back cover so I can change back to "normal" phone if I like (not going to happen )
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30th January 2016, 01:01 PM |#2  
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I have found one 5 row bluetooth keyboard case. It is for iPhone 5/5s so it is much smaller. Maybe it is possible to mod it to Mi4C or other phone (Xperia Z5 Compact?):
1st February 2016, 10:15 AM |#3  
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That's great. I've seen these few Bluetooth sliding keyboards and have been wondering if it was possible to mod them to fit other phones, and obviously it is!

Does the sliding mechanism have any kind of sensor that will tell the phone whether the keyboard is open or not? I use an Xperia Pro and often slide the keyboard open to wake the phone, and also force it into landscape mode. I also sometimes deliberately shut the keyboard in order to gain access to the landscape on-screen keyboard for special symbols, and it would be easier if I could keep it in landscape mode to do that rather than switch to portrait.

With the keyboard closed I guess the speaker is a bit muffled?
1st February 2016, 11:56 AM |#4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pelago

That's great. I've seen these few Bluetooth sliding keyboards and have been wondering if it was possible to mod them to fit other phones, and obviously it is!

Does the sliding mechanism have any kind of sensor that will tell the phone whether the keyboard is open or not? I use an Xperia Pro and often slide the keyboard open to wake the phone, and also force it into landscape mode. I also sometimes deliberately shut the keyboard in order to gain access to the landscape on-screen keyboard for special symbols, and it would be easier if I could keep it in landscape mode to do that rather than switch to portrait.

With the keyboard closed I guess the speaker is a bit muffled?

The keyboard that I have does not have any sensor that could tell if the keyboard is open or not. However, I believe that it could be pretty easy to implement with NFC. You could just put NFC tag to the keyboard (where?) and the phone would recognize when the keyboard is closed. (I mean that there would be connection in closed position and no-connection in opened position). Mi4C doesn't have NFC so I can't test this. Actually I don't miss that feature at all. I'm pretty happy with double tap. Also you can simply press one button on keyboard and it will wake up the screen.

It is also possible to implement a switcher for keyboard. With Tasker and Secure Settings you can make a toggle which change the keyboard. And if you wanna be really geeky you can control that toggle with gestures using AutomateIt (or maybe Tasker can do this also) and All in one Gestures. So if you use Null Input Method in landscape you can just swipe up to change it to Google Keyboard for example.

For me Minuum Keyboard has every special symbol that I need. Actually only ones that are missing from keyboard are "[" and "]". There are tons of possibilities to tweak with. It is possible to lock phone in landscape with gestures also. You just have to be little bit creative. Of course "native" QWERTY slider is always better but I'm happy with my mod.

The speaker is not that bad in closed position in my Mi4C. As you can se from the teardown pictures the speaker is located only in the left side of the phone when you look from back. Also the keyboard does not cover the speaker directly so there is a air cap between speaker and keyboard. You can test this by placing your thumb directly to the speaker and then test again and leave this time a 5mm cap between finger and speaker.
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1st February 2016, 12:23 PM |#5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flash-A-Holic

The keyboard that I have does not have any sensor that could tell if the keyboard is open or not. However, I believe that could be pretty easy to implement with NFC. You could just put NFC tag to the keyboard (where?) and the phone would recognize when the keyboard is closed. (I mean that there would be connection in closed position and no-connection in opened position). Mi4C doesn't have NFC so I can't test this. Actually I don't miss that feature at all. I'm pretty happy with double tap. Also you can simply press one button on keyboard and it will wake up the screen.

It is also possible to implement a switcher for keyboard. With Tasker and Secure Settings you can make a toggle which change the keyboard. And if you wanna be really geeky you can control that toggle with gestures using AutomateIt (or maybe Tasker can do this also) and All in one Gestures. So if you use Null Input Method in landscape you can just swipe up to change it to Google Keyboard for example.

For me Minuum Keyboard has every special symbol that I need. Actually only ones that are missing from keyboard are "[" and "]". There are tons of possibilities to tweak with. It possible to lock phone in landscape with gestures also. You just have to bi little bit creative. Of course "native" QWERTY slider is always better but I'm happy with my mod.

The speaker is not that bad in closed position in my Mi4C. As you can se from the teardown pictures the speaker is located only in the left side of the phone when you look from back. Also the keyboard does not cover the speaker directly so there is a air cap between speaker and keyboard. You can test this by placing your thumb directly to speaker and then test again leaving and 5mm cap between finger and speaker.


For my similar project you've already seen, I've used tasker to automate the phone unlock and horizontal rotation when the NUU keyboard slides out and so connects to BT.

On NUU keuboard there isn't nothing that inform the phone that the keyboard is closed, other than the BT disconnection timeout.

So i made a number of conditions to get practical the exit from the qwerty mode.

The phone turned in vertical, if the screen went in standby, if the phone was oriented verctically, and if a physical button was long pushed.

With tasker I had also the automated soft keyboard switch, because the SW keyboard I wanted to use with the vertical keyboard wasn't physical keyboard friendly. So I used two different sw keyboards that switched automatically depending if the phone was landscape or portrait mode.

The landscape keyboard could be the simple null keyboard, if you don't care about the spell checking function.
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1st February 2016, 12:30 PM |#6  
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How's the weight distribution with this combination? With "native" qwerty phones, like Xperia Pro, and Nokia N900, the weight is mostly in the lower half (the keyboard half), with the top half only being the screen itself. This means that the bit you hold and type on is the heavier one.

With your project, is the top (screen/phone) half heavier than the keyboard, and if so, does that mean it feels top heavy if you're holding it by the keyboard only, and feel like it might topple to the ground?

How's the battery life on the keyboard? It would be annoying to have to charge it every day like the phone itself.

Which exact keyboard did you use? Did you take any pics of the making process, to turn it into a sort of tutorial?

EDIT: Have you done this, or seen it done by others, on different model phones?
1st February 2016, 02:28 PM |#7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pelago

How's the weight distribution with this combination? With "native" qwerty phones, like Xperia Pro, and Nokia N900, the weight is mostly in the lower half (the keyboard half), with the top half only being the screen itself. This means that the bit you hold and type on is the heavier one.

With your project, is the top (screen/phone) half heavier than the keyboard, and if so, does that mean it feels top heavy if you're holding it by the keyboard only, and feel like it might topple to the ground?

How's the battery life on the keyboard? It would be annoying to have to charge it every day like the phone itself.

Which exact keyboard did you use? Did you take any pics of the making process, to turn it into a sort of tutorial?

EDIT: Have you done this, or seen it done by others, on different model phones?

I haven't measured the weight yet but I will do that later today and add it to the first post. The weight is 228g. For me it is pretty light weigh compared to the size. (Xiaomi Mi 4C itself weights 132g). The weight distribution is pretty stable. I mean if I open the keyboard and leave the phone to the table it will stay steady. I can even push the screen part and it will go back where it was. It doesn't feel that it is going to flip when I'm holding it. Of course there is more weight in the screen part but it is pretty stable.

The battery life of the keyboard is very good. I don't even know how long it will last. I have been charging the keyboard once a week. For phone I got 4h SOT in one charge with bluetooth always on. Sorry, I didn't take any pictures during the process. However, here is one picture when I was testing this combination with double-sided tape. Back then there was nasty cap between case and phone. I filled that cap with Sugru™. I don't know if anyone else has done this kind of mod excluding The Solutor. Althought I have found this: Turning Samsung galaxy note 4 (SM-N910F) into a mobile pc

I believe that I bought this one: Mini Bluetooth V3.0 Ultra-thin Wireless Slide-Out Keyboard case cover for iPhone 6 (4.7). I bought it from different seller from ebay and it was cheaper but the name is same (V3.0).
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Solutor

For my similar project you've already seen, I've used tasker to automate the phone unlock and horizontal rotation when the NUU keyboard slides out and so connects to BT.

On NUU keuboard there isn't nothing that inform the phone that the keyboard is closed, other than the BT disconnection timeout.

So i made a number of conditions to get practical the exit from the qwerty mode.

The phone turned in vertical, if the screen went in standby, if the phone was oriented verctically, and if a physical button was long pushed.

With tasker I had also the automated soft keyboard switch, because the SW keyboard I wanted to use with the vertical keyboard wasn't physical keyboard friendly. So I used two different sw keyboards that switched automatically depending if the phone was landscape or portrait mode.

The landscape keyboard could be the simple null keyboard, if you don't care about the spell checking function.

Actually you were an inspiration for me, thank you . I will check what Tasker can do for me. For now I think that bluetooth timeout method is too slow. I think that double tab is much faster and easier.
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3rd February 2016, 02:38 AM |#8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flash-A-Holic

[STRIKE]
Actually you were an inspiration for me, thank you .

Thanks

Quote:

I will check what Tasker can do for me. For now I think that bluetooth timeout method is too slow.

Well, I wrote too quickly, and I wanted to be brief just beacause I don't want to hijiak other's threads.

Anyway, the BT timeout didn't require tasker at all. It's just an internal timeout of the NUU keyboard.

What tasker did in that scenario, was the exit contition:

Enter condition ---> the keyboard slides out and connects to BT. Tasker rotates the screen, switches the keyboard, unlocks the phone (if needed) and so on.

On BT timeout (which is managed by the keyboard)--- tasker reverted the above actions.

Additionally I made a number of other conditions to force the exit task.

The phone is hold vertically for a second or so, the screen is turned off (because the power button was pushed, or because the phone turned it off), a physical button was long pushed, and maybe others that I don't remember.

Obviously there only your fantasy is the limit. You can choose a gesture, a tap combination, a shake action...

Whatever tasker and its plugins are able to manage...
21st February 2016, 06:56 PM |#9  
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Want to make me one? How much do you want?
26th February 2016, 07:46 AM |#10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Supovitz

Want to make me one? How much do you want?

Maybe it is better that you make it by yourself. I believe that shipping cost etc. would cost too much for you.
11th March 2016, 10:44 AM |#11  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flash-A-Holic

First I cut the edges from the case, drilled hole for a speaker and made the camera hole little bit bigger for flash light. Then I just glued phone and case together. Because I cut the edges from the case there was about 1-3mm meeting between case and phone. I filled the cap with Sugru™.

I was wondering about the reason for cutting off the edges and then filling the gap with Sugru. I don't have the parts yet, but I assume the problem is that the phone is slightly too large to sit within the keyboard case edges as manufactured?

It would be great if there was a way to simply remove the phone from the keyboard case just by pulling the phone out, as you can do with the iPhone 6 the case is designed for. Would there be any way to modify the case to make that possible?

Also, is the back of the keyboard case less slippery than the original Mi 4C back cover?
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