VIM Pedal

(302 words)

My left arm has the carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s not severe, but it sucks nevertheless. The reason I have it is Vim, and specifically the use of the ESC key on the keyboard. So I created a foot pedal that, when pressed, hits ESC.

For those who don’t know what VIM is, first my heart goes out to you. Second I’ll briefly explain that it’s a text editor in which you type ESC a lot. Nevermind why. That’s just how it is. A lot.

For a couple of years I had the Insert key mapped to ESC for VIM. But one day during breakfast I talked to a colleague and we thought - “why not build a foot pedal that will press ESC?“. We both use VIM and we both thought that it’s a cool idea.

So here goes:

alt text

How it’s made

First we broke down a keyboard that was laying around not harming anyone. It turns out that keyboards are quite simple - they have a chip that has 25 legs (in this keyboard). Some are positive while others are ground, and each key is mapped to at least 1 closed-circuit leg.

[image coming soon]

So with a multimeter we checked which pins had to be shorted for an ESC sequence to be sent from the chip - #18 and #20. Simple enough.

Then we drilled holes through them, wired to a button and we had a small ESC-only keyboard. Neat.

Then using SketchUp I created a simple 3d model that only requires rubber-bands to operate, and printed it using the 3d Printer we have in our office’s Makers Space.

[sketchup model coming soon]

That’s it. I have plans to improve this 3d model, however it’s working so well that I don’t feel the need to print the improved version. Yet.