There have been a number of DIY console projects and custom keyboards out there for people to build already, but I quite liked the look of this one. It comes from photographer and high school STEM teacher, Adam Iannazzone, to make his life easier when using Lightroom. It’s a simple design based on an Arduino, and it’s one of the few I’ve seen that actually contains dials as well as buttons!
It’s called the Lightroom Macropad, and it does what many such DIY projects do. It uses the Arduino to simulate being a keyboard. When you press a button or spin a dial n the device, it sends one or several – if you programme your own macros into the code – keystrokes to make your computer perform whatever action you’ve set that button to. And you can configure it to do pretty much whatever you want.
It’s a very simple build that requires some 3D printing, an Arduino, some MX key switches, keycaps, rotary encoders, LEDs and a handful of passive components. Of course, it requires a circuit board, too, but Adam has released the PCB design files (along with everything else) to the public, and you can get them manufactured somewhere like JLCPCB or PCBWay pretty inexpensively.
[Related reading: Make your own DIY Loupedeck]
At this point, it’s important to note that you do require a specific type of Arduino. Specifically, you need one with HID (Human Input Device) support. Not all Arduinos support this, and Adam uses the Arduino Pro Micro clone based on the 32u4 processor for his Macropad. But beyond that, everything else is pretty standard.
Despite Adam developing this for use with Lightroom, the device doesn’t appear to be dedicated specifically to it. After all, as far as the computer’s concerned, it’s just a keyboard you’ve got plugged into your USB socket. As such, you can use this to control keyboard shortcuts for anything. It can replace your Elgato Stream Deck for when you’re podcasting, or it could give you a bunch of extra easy access keys while gaming!
DIY console projects like these always fascinate me. While I am a Loupedeck CT (review here) user, and it’s probably the most valuable tool on my desk, I love the insight you get into how people think and design for their own needs – something that companies mass-manufacturing products can’t do. It’s also interesting, to me at least, to see how the devices come together and how advanced creators go with the making side of things. Getting custom PCBs made, for example, is already a few steps up from just shoving things into a breadboard – although the latter is how Adam said he started on this project in a chat with PetaPixel.
If I didn’t already have the Loupedeck CT, I’d definitely be making one of these. If you want to make your own Lightroom Macropad, Adam has put the entire project on GitHub for you to download. It includes all of the PCB design files, the STLs for 3D printing the case and the firmware for flashing your Arduino.
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