For standard text entry, keyboards work just fine, but in other situations an auxiliary keypad like a macropad can speed up your workflow significantly. Such devices are typically configured to do some things quite well, but few are as personalized as the AutoCAD MacroMitt from creator Wingletang.
The AutoCAD MacroMitt features four buttons on top as well as a thumb key on the side, which are set up to input several AutoCAD commands that Wingletang has to enter over and over. A rotary encoder is available on top for volume control (or whatever else is needed) and the device could also be programmed for a variety of other uses. An ATmega32U4-based Arduino Pro Micro provides processing power for the unit and interfaces with the computer.
What’s really interesting about this mitt/pad is the how well it’s adapted to Wingletang’s usage. The housing was first designed in AutoCAD (naturally) based on hand measurements, then printed out on paper at full size. From here several rounds of adjustments were made until it fit perfectly.
From this 2D base, he created a 3D model for the device in Microsoft 3D Builder, and 3D-printed it in PLA on a Prusa i3 MK2. Keycaps with clear covers were used, allowing him to print out custom icons for each switch and rubber feet keep the pad from sliding around during furious CAD sessions. Wingletang reports that this pad was a satisfying project, and that it has definitely increased his AutoCAD productivity.