How to Make Hot-Swappable Mechanical keyboard PCB?

Hot-swappable mechanical keyboard allows you to replace switches and LEDs on the go without soldering and without even powering off the keyboard. In this short video tutorial I explain how to make hot-swappable any printed circuit board for a mechanical keyboard with footprints for Cherry MX plate switches. Other brands such as Gateron and Kaihl are compatible with the Cherry MX switches so this solutions is universal.

Hot-Swappable Sockets for DIY Mechanical Keyboard

The video has been created with a maker kit of the open source mechanical keypad ANAVI Macro Pad 8. I have customized it by adding holtite sockets to make it hot-swappable.

Required Hardware

ANAVI Macro Pad 8 with holtite sockets for hot-swap of Cherry MX and Gategron mechanical switches

Step 1

Using the tweezers place the holtite sockets into the PCB. The sockets are small so be careful not to lose any of them. Turn on the soldering iron. Heat each socket and gently push it. So we are using a soldering iron but in this case not for soldering. We are just mounting the sockets using its heat.

It looks easier than it is. It took me some time to do it for all switches and LEDs. Each key has 2 holes for the switch and 2 holes for the LED so basically you need 4 sockets with appropriate sizes for each key.

Step 2

Next step is optional and specific for ANAVI Macro Pad 8. The maker kit includes WS2812B addressable LED strip which should be soldered on the back of side of the keyboard. Please note the arrow that indicates the direction of the LED strip and make sure you are placing it properly as shown in the video.

Step 3

Cut the legs of the 3mm LEDs to make sure they will fit well in the hot-swappable holtite sockets that we have already mounted.

Step 4

Assemble the switches, the LEDs and the key caps. Once you are done with steps 1 this is easy because you already have a hot-swappable printed circuit board for your mechanical keyboard.

Custom ANAVI Macro Pad 8 with blue Cherry MX switches and green 3mm LEDs for backlit

By default ANAVI Macro Pad 8 is with Gateron red switches, red LEDs and white translucent keycaps. However, in this case with the hot-swappable version I am experimenting primary with blue Cherry MX switches, green LEDs and dark translucent keycaps. I have purchased several different mechanical switches: Gateron Red, Cherry MX blue and Cherry MX brown. Please note that these particular Cherry MX brown switches in the video do not have slots for the 3mm LEDs.

Although in this video I am using the maker kit of ANAVI Macro Pad 8. The same approach with holtite sockets can be applied on any other PCB for mechanical keyboard with footprint for Cherry MX switches.

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“Spiderman” Raspberry Pi with ANAVI Infrared pHAT

Jesús Figueres, a data scientist interested in artificial intelligence (AI), shared in Twitter his setup of Raspberry Pi and ANAVI Infrared pHAT. It is living upside down on his lab’s ceiling so he calls it “Spiderman”. No doubt this is a suitable name in this case!

Jesús has attached various sensors for collecting data as we as a Raspberry Pi camera to take pictures of the room. He has developed energy efficiency algorithms running in the cloud which make decisions based on the data from the sensor and after that ANAVI Infrared pHAT takes care for transmitting commands as a stream of infrared signals to his air conditioner.

ANAVI Infrared pHAT
ANAVI Infrared pHAT

ANAVI Infrared pHAT is a low-cost open source hardware add-on board for Raspberry Pi with infrared receiver and transmitted. Furthermore it has slots for attaching up to 3 I2C sensor modules as well as convenient UART pins. We launched it in 2017 and it is one of our best-selling products. ANAVI Infrared pHAT is available at our distributors around the world and you can order it to build a similar home automation solution.

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Microchip ATmega32U4 – The Heart of ANAVI Macro Pad 8

Have you already ordered our open source mechanical keypad ANAVI Macro Pad 8 from the recent crowdfunding campaign? It is powered by Microchip ATmega32U4: an 8-bit microcontroller with 32K bytes of ISP Flash, USB Controller and I2C. This microcontroller is part of the AVR family of microcontrollers developed since 1996 by Atmel and acquired by Microchip Technology in 2016.

Microchip ATmega32U4 on the open source mechanical keyboard ANAVI Macro Pad 8

Microchip ATmega32U4 is how ANAVI Macro Pad 8 connects to the USB port of a personal computer, shows graphics and text on the mini OLED display through I2C. Furthermore, this microcontroller has more than enough general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins for the mechanical switches.

Photo of Microchip ATmega32U4 between microUSB connector and 4-pin slot for I2C mini OLED display on ANAVI Macro Pad 8

The popular open source Quantum Mechanical Keyboard (QMK) Firmware supports Microchip ATmega32U4 and therefore it is easy to use as the default firmware for ANAVI Macro Pad 8. However, it is technically also possible use ANAVI Macro Pad 8 as a development board and upload Arduino sketches compatible with Arduino Leonardo through Arduino IDE or PlatformIO. Many popular development boards such as Arduino LeonardoSparkFun Pro MicroTeensy 2.0Olimex eduArdu also use ATmega32U4.

ANAVI Macro Pad 8

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You Can Now Order Gateron Red Mechanical Switches, Keycaps and Red LEDs with the Maker Kit of ANAVI Macro Pad 8

After the launch of the crowdfunding campaign we received a lot of positive feedback about ANAVI Macro Pad 8 and great ideas from the community. Based on the recommendations of several backers a new option has been recently added. Now you can order a maker kit with an extra add-on: Gateron red mechanical switches, translucent keycaps and 3mm red LEDs.

Gateron red mechanical switches with 3mm red LEDs and translucent keycaps

Basically with this optional add-on, you can get the same parts as in the developer kit, but not soldered. In some use cases, having all the parts in one package is a convenient option for advanced users with soldering skills. This way they don’t need to purchase separately the keycaps, the LEDs and the switches. Furthermore, they can still make advanced modifications before using them with ANAVI Macro Pad 8.

ANAVI Macro Pad 8 mechanical keyboard/keypad

As part of the stretch goals that the crowdfunding campaign has already met, all kits of ANAVI Macro Pad 8 will also include 32 transparent Emoji stickers to customize further the keycaps!

Translucent keycaps for mechanical keyboard with emoji stickers included in all ANAVI Macro Pad 8 kits

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Remote HVAC Control with ANAVI Infrared pHAT

Morten Mathiasen,  a highly skilled professional with 25 years of experience in software development and teaching, implemented an open source solution for HVAC control with Raspberry Pi, HTU21D temperature and humidity I2C sensor module as well as our open source hardware ANAVI Infrared pHAT. He recently shared details in a Crowd Supply Field Report.

Raspberry Pi 4 with ANAVI Infrared pHAT and HTU21D I2C sensor module

To save energy and to reduce global warming in his vacation house, Morten turns off the Panasonic HVAC system when his family is not there. Unfortunately, as a result next time when he arrives at the vacation house, it is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. It then takes up to 24 hours to get a comfortable temperature in the house.

Controlling the Panasonic HVAC through infrared signals and Home Assistant thanks to ANAVI Infrared pHAT and a Raspberry Pi

To solve this problem, Morten wrote in the C programming language a Home Assistant-based system that uses a Raspberry Pi with ANAVI Infrared pHAT to make an internet-connected remote control. Now, he can turn on the system remotely 24 hours before arriving to ensure a comfortable temperature.

Morten shared the source code under MIT License in GitHub. Give a star to the GitHub repo and spread the word about his fascinating open source project!

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ANAVI Macro Pad 8 – (Not) Yet Another Mechanical Keyboard

After several months of development, the crowdfunding campaign for ANAVI Macro Pad 8 has been launched at Crowd Supply!

ANAVI Macro Pad 8

ANAVI Macro Pad 8 is an open source, programmable, eight-key mechanical keyboard with backlighting, underlighting, and OLED screen. The popular open source QMK firmware allows you to easily configure custom keyboard layouts and macros, even directly in a web browser.

The crowdfunding campaign has a very modest goal of just $1. We have 3 stretch goals! If we raise $500 or more we’ll add super cool 32 transparent emoji keyboard stickers to all kits. You can stick them to the top or the sides of the key caps.

Transparent stickers for the translucent keycaps on ANAVI Macro Pad 8

The crowdfunding campaign will help us manufacture it in a local factory in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, EU. We hope you’ll jump in and help us bring this entirely open source project to life!

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Unifying Remote Controls with Infrared pHAT

Recently Michel submitted a very interesting Crowd Supply Field report about his awesome project with ANAVI Infrared pHAT. He used a Raspberry Pi Zero W and ANAVI Infrared pHAT to consolidate all the remote controls (TV, DVD, cable box, etc.) in his household to a single interface available on a tablet or smartphone.

Web interface for controlling remote controls over the web with Raspberry Pi, ANAVI Infrared pHAT and LIRC

Michel runs a local Apache2 web server on the Raspberry Pi Zero W and the Infrared pHAT can record and play back the infrared signals from any brand of remote control using the popular open source software Linux Infrared Remote Control (LIRC). He shared details in Crowd Supply and GitHub.

Furthermore Michel crafted a fantastic wooden box and shared with us a couple of photos!

Wooden box for Raspberry Pi Zero W and ANAVI Infrared pHAT
Inside the wooden box the two infrared LEDs have been carefully extended with appropriate wires

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ANAVI Fume Extractor on Batteries

Recently our crowdfunding campaign for ANAVI Fume Extractor ended successfully. Right now we are manufacturing the units. In the mean time we are often asked: is it possible to run ANAVI Fume Extractor on batteries?

Yes, absolutely! Just use a USB power bank and connect it with an appropriate USB cable to the microUSB connector on the ANAVI Fume Extractor.

ANAVI Fume Extractor on Batteries

Yes, absolutely! Just use a USB power bank and connect it with an appropriate USB cable to the microUSB connector on the ANAVI Fume Extractor.

Measuring the power consumption of ANAVI Fume Extractor

The power consumption of the ANAVI Fume Extractor developer kit with the fan and all peripherals turned on is about 0.5A. The board operates at 5V. The 80mm fan consumes 0.25A. You can adjust the hardware jumper to turn off the WiFi and slightly reduce the overall power consumption.

For more details about ANAVI Fume Extractor visit the crowdfunding page at Crowd Supply!

ANAVI Fume Extractor with USB power bank spotted at neighborhood “Kapana” (The Trap), Plovdiv, Bulgaria

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ANAVI Fume Extractor Successfully Crowdfunded!

ANAVI Fume Extractor next to a soldering iron

Earlier this week the crowdfunding campaign for ANAVI Fume Extractor at Crowd Supply ended successfully! 83 backers from 16 countries all around the world ordered kits. With their generous help ANAVI Fume Extractor will go from prototype to mass-manufactured do-it-yourself kit for makers.

The printed circuit board of ANAVI Fume Extractor

We have already sourced most of the mechanical parts for the kits, so we proceed with manufacturing of the printed circuit boards in a small local factory in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. This is a long and time-consuming process. . The PCBs are expected by the end of July. After that the local factory has a scheduled summer vacation in weeks 32 and 33 so the assembly is planned for the end of August, and it will be done on several batches.

ANAVI Fume Extractor developer kit

Each ANAVI Fume Extractor kit will be flashed with the default open source firmware, packaged carefully and provided to the Crowd Supply team. They will ship the kits to their owners. The estimated shipping date remains Oct 29, 2020.

The whole world is gong through difficult times right now. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak the local factory is working with reduced capacity, so we will keep backers updated with the progress. So far everything is OK. Fingers crossed we will be able to carry on at the same pace.

To avoid any risks for backers, we have an agreement with Crowd Supply that they will keep all funds until ANAVI Technology Ltd provides them the kits. This way in the unexpected case of a complete inability to deliver, Crowd Supply will offer backers full refunds.

If you missed to place an order during the crowdfunding campaign you still have a chance do pre-order at Crowd Supply and to be among the first owners!

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Updating ANAVI Miracle Controller with esptool

ANAVI Miracle Controller is an ESP8266-powered, open source, Wi-Fi dev board to control two 5 V or two 12 V LED strips. To get all new features it is highly recommended to run the latest stable version of the free and open source firmware for ANAVI Miracle Controller. We have already explained how to do it with Arduino IDE. However, there is an easier way to flash the latest version with esptool!

ANAVI Miracle Controller connected with USB to UART cable to a personal computer

Esptool is a free and open source ESP8266 and ESP32 serial bootloader command-line utility. The source code is available at GitHub under GPLv2 license. It is written in Python therefore it is universal and runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and any GNU/Linux distribution (Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint, Fedora, CentOS, OpenSUSE, etc). We have already cover it for our other projects in a previous blog post. Today we will focus on ANAVI Miracle Controller although in general the steps are the same.


As of today, esptool works fine with Python 2.7 or Python 3. Python 2 has been deprecated since January 1, 2020 therefore it is recommended to use esptool with Python 3.

The easiest way to install the latest stable version of esptool is from pypi via pip. The pre-requirements are to have Python and pip installed. Open a terminal and execute the following command:

pip install esptool

Using write_flash argument esptool flashes pre-compiled binary to devices with ESP8266 or ESP32. Here are the exact steps: --port /dev/ttyUSB0 --baud 460800 write_flash --flash_size=detect 0 anavi-miracle-controller-sw-100-20200527.bin

NOTE: As of the moment the latest stable version is anavi-miracle-controller-sw-100-20200527.bin. Over the time other version may be released so please make sure you are using the latest and replace the file name accordingly in the command above!

Pretty much the same approach can be used to flash the pre-compiled firmware to any of our dev boards with ESP8266, like ANAVI Fume ExtractorANAVI ThermometerANAVI Gas Detector, etc. Apart from flashing firmware to ESP8266 and ESP32 devices, esptool has a lot of other advanced features which I encourage you to explore. Have a look at the video tutorial and run -h to learn more.

Last but not least, huge thanks to the contributors of the open source firmware of ANAVI Miracle Controller: Per CederqvistCODeRUS and Daniel Landau. Community always must be priority for any open source project and it is great to see more people involved with ANAVI Miracle Controller!

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