Boardsource’s Cole Smith has unveiled a microcontroller upgrade for any keyboard built around an Arduino Micro-compatible footprint, designed for use with the Peg customization platform and Python-powered KMK firmware: the Raspberry Pi RP2040-based Blok.
“Bloks elevate any keyboard compatible with [Arduino] Pro Micro footprints and grants them instant access to a modern and feature-rich ecosystem,” Smith claims of the board’s design. “Users who don’t want to touch a text editor or config file don’t have to, Bloks work out of the box with Peg. Users can map keys, set LED colors, configure rotary encoders, create OLED images, and much more all from within an easy to use visual program (GUI).”
Boardsource wants to upgrade eight-bit mechanical keyboards with an RP2040 microcontroller, using its Blok board. (📷: Boardsource)
Designed to make it easier to customize your mechanical keyboard without digging into the nitty-gritty of configuration files or firmware source code, Peg offers a friendly graphical user interface for a customized version of the Python-based KMK keyboard — but its features require a microcontroller with more resources than the eight-bit microcontrollers powering many keyboard designs. This, of course, is where Blok comes in.
“Built on top of a powerful RP2040 ARM microprocessor and designed with the future in mind, Bloks handle whatever you throw at them. Compared to older ATmega based controllers Bloks have an incredible 100x the RAM, 8x the computing speed, 500x the ROM, are 32 bit instead of 8 bit, and are dual-core instead of single core,” Smith explains.
“Bloks offer additional features and functionality compared to other RP2040 based controllers as well, such as OLED screen compatibility, innovative reset/boot switches accessible in any controller orientation, USB-C connectivity and a programmable RGB LED on-board.”
The board is designed for use with the Peg keyboard customization too — but works as a general development board too. (📷: Boardsource)
The Blok is built to mimic the pinout common to the Arduino Micro and compatible microcontroller boards — meaning it will be a drop-in upgrade for many mechanical keyboard designs. The board comes pre-flashed with CircuitPython and KMK and is already defined in Peg, Smith confirms, though it can also be used as a general-purpose development board.
The Blok is available on Boardsource’s Tindie store for $15, while information on Peg is available on the project website — while the source code is published to GitHub under a BSD software license agreement.