[Compatibility] Wireless Keypad w/ Mini Keyboard

XBOX, but not XBMC4XBOX related discussion
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Dom DXecutioner
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[Compatibility] Wireless Keypad w/ Mini Keyboard

Post by Dom DXecutioner » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:06 am

For the last 4 years I have enjoyed watching movies, tv shows, and other videos as well as listening to music from the awesomeness that is my xbox. Thanks to BuZz and the many developers whom have made xbmc the great software that it is for the xbox, I have spent many, more than I care to admit, hours of fun and laziness from comfort of my couch. Whilst all has been great and all, I have always coveted a gamedpad with built-in keyboard - much like the xbox 360 as shown in the image below - for all my typing and searching needs. Alas, this has not been available for my beloved (ok, maybe not beloved, but you get the gist) xbox.

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So, at the beginning of the year I started doing research - technically, I've been trolling the internet, but research sounds better :) - to find a viable, or at least theoretical, solution which did not involve programming a driver or XInput to DirectInput wrapper. I was surprised to find that this type of device is not that common. You'd think that a device like this would be ever-more-so common now a days, but that isn't the case.

After much 'research', I found a device dubbed 'Cool! Wireless Bluetooth 3.0 Gamepad with Keyboard' (pictured below) on ebay, so without further research into the Bluetooth technology, I ordered it.

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Yes, I do know that the xbox does not support Bluetooth, but I figure I'd give it a try nonetheless, if nothing comes out of it, I can always use it with the Firestick that I bought, configured, used it for a day, put it back into it's box, and never touched again. :)

So... the day came when the item was delivered, I opened it up, put the batteries, connected a USB dongle to xbox, placed the receiver in, and voila, IT WORKED!!!... Yeah, NO, it didn't! But you knew that, didn't you? Calm down, no one likes a smart-ass...

This is where the real 'research' into the technology began. As it turns out, one of the drawbacks of the Bluetooth is that you need a driver stack for the device to work, even if it's just a keyboard. Apparently, which you probably know smarty pants, computer peripherals use a specification labeled USB HID Class.
Wikipedia wrote:In computing, the USB human interface device class (USB HID class) is a part of the USB specification for computer peripherals: it specifies a device class (a type of computer hardware) for human interface devices such as keyboards, mice, game controllers and alphanumeric display devices.
However, whilst Bluetooth can use this specification, by default it uses Host Controller Interface (HCI) Architecture.
developer.bluetooth wrote:The HCI provides a command interface to the baseband controller and link manager, and access to configuration parameters. This interface provides a uniform method of accessing the Bluetooth® baseband capabilities.
Because of this, even standard computers are unable to use Bluetooth devices when, say in the bios, as the computer is unable to communicate with the device and therefore does not detect it. Interestingly enough, this isn't the case with apple computers.

After much reading, I found that with CSR based receivers, you can flash out the firmware and use, what they dubbed, HID proxy. In short, it sets the default protocol to HID with basic profiles so that any computer supporting HID can detect and communicate with the device. You can read more about in here. I figure that was too much drama for me, so I didn't push the issue further... until recently, that is...

I came across a device dubbed 'Rii Mini 2.4GHz i8 Wireless Keyboard Mouse,' pictured below. Although I could not find any technical specification about this device, I noticed that it was not Bluetooth, but rather uses the wireless 2.4Ghz technology, which I know the xbox has no issues with given that there are various wireless gamepads using this technology. I felt even more confident when reading that some wireless keyboards using this technology were detected and supported by xbmc. I was fully aware that this did not guarantee the device would work on the xbox, but I ordered it all the same.

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Once again, item arrived, charged the - included - rechargeable battery, connected the receiver to the xbox's USB dongle, booted the system, and VIOLA! IT WORKED!!! It really did work this time. Although is not a full gamepad with keyboard, it's close enough and I'm more than happy with this device. It performs very nicely, it's wireless 2.4Ghz as oppose to the RI remote. No more having to move around and point to the xbox if something is in the way. This has been very handy, especially with the new YouTube addon I've created (yes, i haven't publicly released it yet, relax, i will).

Overall, I'm a happy camper, and I share this just in case you use xbmc for your media playing needs, and are in need of compact keyboard. Now I just need to create a custom keymap.xml that makes use of the additional buttons found on this keyboard.

:D
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Re: [Compatibility] Wireless Keypad w/ Mini Keyboard

Post by GoTeamScotch » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:55 am

Very nice. What's the extent of the compatibility with the Xbox? So the trackpad and keyboard work? Do function keys (play, pause, etc) do anything in XBMC?
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Re: [Compatibility] Wireless Keypad w/ Mini Keyboard

Post by Geeba » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:29 am

Top work Dom! :D

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[Compatibility] Wireless Keypad w/ Mini Keyboard

Post by Dom DXecutioner » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:33 pm

GoTeamScotch wrote:Very nice. What's the extent of the compatibility with the Xbox? So the trackpad and keyboard work? Do function keys (play, pause, etc) do anything in XBMC?
The trackpad does not seem to work, which I don't really care one way or another. This could be due to a setting in xbmc and since my skin does not support a mouse, I did not see any indication of the mouse being active. I haven't really checked the log for values since I don't need it nor care for it.

The keyboard works just fine. The special buttons, however, much like in a PC, need to be configured. This is what I meant when I suggested I was creating a custom keymap.xml.

The keyboard itself is very responsive, and I like the clicking sound the buttons make when pressed as opposed to some devices making no noise at all, which can make you wonder.
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Re: [Compatibility] Wireless Keypad w/ Mini Keyboard

Post by xman » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:04 pm

Nice work Dom. Good to see I'm not the only one that buys devices to "try" a theory. 2.4GHz is far better than the short range offered by BlueTooth anyway. BlueTooth version 2 and 3 only offer 10 meters range at best, BlueTooth version 4 has this extended out to 20 meters which is better but I still prefer wireless 2.4GHz over BlueTooth wireless.

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Re: [Compatibility] Wireless Keypad w/ Mini Keyboard

Post by Dax » Sat Sep 10, 2016 9:50 pm

Nice work, dude! This is a really cool idea and it's something I've been wondering was possible for ages (the whole controller-with-a-keypad thing). Thanks for documenting this!

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