The Steam Deck is a handheld game system with a touchscreen display, built-in controllers, and a custom GNU/Linux-based operating system designed for gaming. But it’s also a full-fledged computer capable of running a wide range of applications.

Some of those applications work best with a keyboard, but the Steam Deck doesn’t have one built-in. And while you can connect a USB or wireless keyboard, that’s another thing to carry around. So hardware hacker Kārlis decided to try building a custom Steam Deck keyboard that’s “paper thin” so it can fit inside the Steam Deck’s carrying case along with the deck itself.

Kārlis called the project the Keysheet, and describes some of the build process for the DIY keyboard in a project page.

The goal was to “make a keyboard which is sufficiently thin to fit inside” the official Steam Deck case, and in order to do that Kārlis designed a keyboard made with flexible PCBs, copper tape, and a Raspberry Pi Pico that features the keyboard firmware and connects the keyboard to a USB port on the Steam Deck.

The end result is a keyboard that’s 0.5mm thick and does indeed fit inside the Steam Deck case when it’s rested on top of the deck’s display.

But Kārlis also says the project is “not practical in any way,” and that the “typing experience was awful,” as the keyboard is extraordinarily thin and offers no tactile feedback when you press keys.

In other words, you might be better off just using an on-screen keyboard, but there is at least one advantage to a flip-out keyboard like the Keysheet: it won’t cover the display when you’re using it.

Most folks looking to use a keyboard with a Steam Deck are probably better off picking up a compact USB or Bluetooth keyboard and carrying it in a separate case though.

Update: @[email protected] pointed out to me that there are existing Bluetooth keyboards small enough to fit in the carrying case along with a Steam Deck. You can pick one up from Amazon for around $12 to $15

via HackADay

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  1. Tip for those looking into small portable keyboards for their portable gaming devices or whatever – look at the keys, see if they are properly staggered and like a normal keyboard, check if they didn’t sacrifice alignment, made some weirdly shaped keys to fit the format, and stuff like that. That’s the thing that will likely matter the most.