Key-Glove. The Cheapest Wearable Keyboard on Earth

Key-Glove Recipe Ingredients

  • 21 Dritz nickel "snap on" 3/8" snaps from local fabric store ($ 5)
  • 1 pair of black leather gloves from Wilson Leather ($ 20)
  • 1 CompUSA 101 Key keyboard model #MKB931 ($ 15)
  • 1 spool wire wrap wire from Radio Shack ($3) (Douglas J.A.R. Sasse suggested: doll house wire)
  • 1 spool of black heavy duty thread ($ 1)
  • 10+ plastic zip ties ($ 1)


  1. fasten 13 male snaps to fingers of leather glove (4 each per first three fingers and 1 on pinky finger)
  2. fasten 8 male snaps to thumb (I put 4 down middle, 2 along right edge, 2 on back)
  3. cut 21 lengths of wire wrap of suitable length to reach keyboard encoder board (apprx 24inches)
  4. solder wires to buttons and run wires along back of glove
  5. sew loops across wires to hold wires onto back of glove
  6. remove encoder board from keyboard
  7. solder 13 wire leads from fingers onto contacts at bottom of board for pins 4-16 of longer of two plugs (CN2) for membrane keyboard
  8. solder 8 wire leads from thumb onto contacts at bottom of board for pins 1-8 of shorter of two plugs (CN1) for membrane keyboard
  9. fasten zip ties around lines between glove and encoder board

bad acii art schematic:

   cable         _____________________________________________
==============] |}     1-16         1-8       encoder ic      |
                | [-------------] [-----]   |**************|  | 
                |                           |**************|  |
                |______________________                       |
                                       |     o    o    o      |

                  ||||||||||||||   |||||
                  ||||||||||||||   |||||
_________________/////////// __\__________________________

                    keyboard contact sheet


Here is the key encoding for the MKB931 Keyboard Serving Suggestion

Recipe Variations

  1. build arm mount for encoder board along arm
  2. add contacts on pinky finger to trigger "shift" "alt" and "ctrl" in parallel with other thumb keys.
  3. reduce the number of contacts and reorder the linux keyboard mapping configuration so you only need 4 thumb and 10 finger contacts (See - Key-Glove: Loading new keymaps).
  4. move snaps to optimize ergonomics
  5. replace large 3/8" snaps with smaller snaps, possible sew on snaps rather than snaped on or use fine wires and sew into gloves.
  6. add more stitching to hold on wire leads

Key-Glove: Loading new keymaps

I'll keep this short and sweet.

To remap the keys in linux simply:

  • Copy current keymap (typically to a new file to edit:
    cd /usr/lib/kbd/keytables
    cp us.newmap.gz
  • Gunzip and edit new map (its very straight forward once you open the file):
    gunzip us.newmap.gz
    vi us.newmap
  • Gzip your new map:
    gzip us.newmap
  • Load new map using loadkeys:
    loadkeys us.newmap

Pretty simple eh? just add a line to rc.local to change the map, or you can change the map in your linux kernel and recompile it, but I think its easier to just execute it on the fly so if something goes wrong you get a normal keyboard map.


Update: The location of the keymaps is different from above for some linux distros. For example Suse has the maps in: /usr/lib/kbd/keymaps/i386/qwerty/ and it looks like it may use more then just the us map (assuming you're in the u.s.).

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