Keycool KC-SP64: The missing manual


#1

A few months ago, Massdrop put up a group buy for the Keycool KC-SP64 keyboard, a cute 60% design with a variety of Gateron switches, dye-sublimated PBT keycaps, Bluetooth, RGB LEDs with fixed patterns, and a configurable backplate underglow. It’s a ton of features at a pretty good price, with a few major weaknesses:

  • As far as I can tell, the firmware isn’t replaceable, nor is it programmable.
  • There’s effectively no documentation, except for a one-sheet quick reference in Chinese that’s been machine-translated at a couple different places.

My first priority once I’d hooked this thing up was figuring out how to turn off the eye-searing waves of LED rolling across it, followed by trying to figure out how to get it to pair. I’ve figured that, and a bunch more, out thanks to some internet detective work by people in the Massdrop discussions group, and thought I’d contribute back by starting a topic here with the instructions as I understand them. Leave me comments with corrections or clarifications as you figure them out and I’ll incorporate them into this post. This is a pretty good keyboard for the money!

Bluetooth

First, ensure the SP64, which includes a 1200mAh rechargeable battery, is adequately charged. Then flip the keyboard over and turn it on using the (small) switch on the underside of the case.

The Q, W, and E keys are used for pairing to Bluetooth under three separate profiles. The RGB light under each key doubles as an indicator that that Bluetooth profile is in use, pairing, reconnecting, or unused (see below for details). You will be asked to enter a matching code when pairing as a typical Bluetooth security measure.

Pairing

To put the keyboard into Bluetooth pairing mode, hold Fn + Q/W/E for 3 seconds. When the RGB LED under the key flashes rapidly (at 2.5Hz), the keyboard is in Bluetooth pairing mode for that profile.

Reconnecting

To reconnect using a previously paired profile, do a short press of Fn + Q/W/E. The RGB LED under the key will flash slowly (at 0.6Hz) if the corresponding channel is unpaired and will automatically enter Bluetooth pairing mode.

Example: If the Q profile has been paired, but the W profile is unpaired, a short press of Fn + W will cause the W LED to flash about twice a second, after which the keyboard will enter Bluetooth pairing mode.

Function key mappings

  • Fn + Esc = ` / ~
  • Fn + 1 = F1
  • Fn + 2 = F2
  • Fn + 3 = F3
  • Fn + 4 = F4
  • Fn + 5 = F5
  • Fn + 6 = F6
  • Fn + 7 = F7
  • Fn + 8 = F8
  • Fn + 9 = F9
  • Fn + 0 = F10
  • Fn + - = F11
  • Fn + + = F12
  • Fn + [ = Home
  • Fn + ] = End
  • Fn + Ctrl = swap Caps Lock and Ctrl
  • Fn + Win = disable the Win key

Numeric keypad mappings

  • Fn + n = 0
  • Fn + m = 1
  • Fn + , = 2
  • Fn + . = 3
  • Fn + j = 4
  • Fn + k = 5
  • Fn + l = 6
  • Fn + u = 7
  • Fn + i = 8
  • Fn + o = 9

Lighting effects

  • Fn + \ = cycle through fixed RGB backlight colors, dynamic lighting effect patterns, and per-key color assignment (see the next 3 items for how to configure each of these 3 modes)
  • Fn + Enter = cycle through fixed RGB backlight colors (off, white, red, green, blue, yellow, purple, cyan)
  • Fn + Del = cycle through dynamic lighting effect patterns (snake, chaser, starburst, etc)
  • Fn + Backspace = hold for 3 seconds to switch to per-key color mode, press each key to be assigned to cycle through modes, and press Fn + Backspace again to save reconfigured keys.
  • Fn + Spc = pause or resume lighting effect animation
  • Fn + up arrow = increase LED brightness
  • Fn + down arrow = decrease LED brightness
  • Fn + left arrow = lighting effect speed increases
  • Fn + right arrow = lighting effect speed decreases

Underglow

The KC-SP64 has underglow LEDs around the perimeter of the bottom of the PCB, visible through the case.

  • Fn + A = change underglow LED color (off, white, red, green, blue, yellow, purple, cyan)
  • Fn + S = change underglow LED pattern

Vulcan nerve pinch

Hold Esc + Backspace + Ctrl + right arrow for three seconds to reset the keyboard to factory settings.

Credits to Jmk_007, Derlavai, mygraine, and loudermilk on the Massdrop forums. Jmk_007 put together their own version of the manual at http://wireopt.blogspot.com/2018/08/keycool-kc-sp64-bluetooth-mechanical.html.


#2

The placement of / / ? and tilde / backtick makes my brain itch (also why is | / backslash full-width?).


#3

Thanks for figuring out a few more things on this keyboard!

Here are a few more…
Fn + [ = Home key
Fn + ] = End key

In relation to the programming of the lighting functions, there appears to be 3 configurations:

  1. fixed or dynamic modes set through Fn + Enter or Fn + Del
  2. WASD mode with green background and red WASD backlighting
  3. user programmable lighting pattern

You cycle through the configurations with the Fn + \ key. Programming of the 3rd mode is accomplished by pressing and holding the Fn + backspace for 3 or more seconds. Then, press each key multiple times to cycle through the available colors to get the pattern that you desire. Fn + backspace saves the configuration.

I’ve also emailed the manufacturer (kc-keycool dot com) to kindly request a more detailed user guide.

Cheers!


#4

Thanks for the updates! I included your tweaks into the original post – let me know if I misinterpreted what you wrote or otherwise got anything wrong.

It’s kind of weird that they put so much of the configurability into the backlight modes, given that this is a Bluetooth keyboard and the LEDs will destroy battery life…


#5

Looks good! What surprises me is that there are some still some missing keys that would have benefited from having a composite key sequence. For instance, PgUp, Pg,Dn, Ins for starters.

Though I like the Bluetooth, given the weight (which II like) I prefer to use Anne Pro (all plastic) for my portability needs. At present using the KeyCool KC-SP64 with my iPad.


#6

More discoveries!

  1. B key “breathes” green when the USB is charging.
  2. Importantly, the keyboard can be used via bluetooth with USB connected. Pressing Fn + R enables you to pair (or re-pair as the case may be) using the Q/W/E keys as described above.

#7

Indeed the Fn + R seems to toggle on and off Bluetooth operation. Works even when the device is plugged in to a charging source or computer (as a keyboard).

Discovered that Fn + ; as well as Fn + ´ are both “intercepted” by the device and not passed on as keycodes. This implies that there may be additional functionality associated with these keys that we’ve yet to discover. Same with Fn + Tab.


#8

Absolutely perfect description.


#9

I was thinking Vulcan mind meld myself :grin: