Oct 19, 201824785 views

How to Configure your ALT Keyboard

Hey everybody!
Thank you for purchasing your Massdrop ALT Mechanical Keyboard. If you’ve landed here, you probably want to take full advantage of the keyboard’s features, so you’ve come to the right place.
We’ll start with the basics, then we’ll move on to complete custom configuration.

Default Hot Keys Hold FN + listed keys to activate
LED Keys
Fn + A: LED Pattern Select Previous Fn + D: LED Pattern Select Next Fn + W: LED Brightness Increase Fn + S: LED Brightness Decrease Fn + Q: LED Scrolling Pattern Speed Decrease Fn + E: LED Scrolling Pattern Speed Increase Fn + Tab: LED Toggle Breathe Effect Fn + Caps Lock: LED Toggle Scrolling Pattern Direction Fn + X: LED Toggle On/Off Fn + Z: LED Toggle Mode (Keys+Edge, Keys Only, Edge Only)
Media Keys
Fn + Page Up: Volume Up Fn + Page Down: Volume Down Fn + Delete: Mute
Function Keys
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
Other Keys
Fn + P: Print Screen Fn + [ : Scroll Lock Fn + ] : Pause Fn + Left Arrow: Home Fn + Right Arrow: End Fn + Up Arrow: Page Up Fn + Down Arrow: Page Down Fn + Escape: Backtick ( ` ) Fn + Shift + Escape: Tilde ( ~ )
Keyboard Option Keys
Fn + N: Toggle keyboard 6KRO/NKRO (Default state 6KRO)


How do I configure my keyboard? Note: You will currently need a second keyboard to complete the 3rd step of this process.
1. Create your configuration. 2. Compile the firmware with your configuration.
Use our web-based configurator tool to handle both steps at once: https://www.massdrop.com/mechanical-keyboards/configurator . See below for more information about our configurator.
If you are comfortable with programming and want to use QMK functionality that our configurator does not support, you can manually create and compile your configuration by checking out the official QMK repository: https://github.com/qmk/qmk_firmware . ALT Keyboard is in the folder "massdrop/ALT". QMK setup instructions are here: https://docs.qmk.fm/#/newbs
3. Load the firmware onto your keyboard. To load the firmware onto your ALT keyboard, download the appropriate loader application for your computer's OS here: https://github.com/Massdrop/mdloader/releases/tag/1.0.3. Then follow the instructions here: https://github.com/Massdrop/mdloader.
We are working with Jack and the other QMK contributors to get the loader application integrated into the next version of QMK Toolbox to simplify this loading process.
As part of the loading process, you will need to reset your ALT Keyboard. The reset button is in a hole on the under side of the keyboard:

When you first go to the configurator, you will be prompted to choose your keyboard. After choosing, you will see a top-down view of the keyboard and a layer selector on the right side.
By clicking on a key, you can customize its behavior by selecting another key or function in the panel that appears below the keyboard. The currently available behaviors are:
- Keys - Individual keys such as letters, numbers, media keys, and function keys. - Layer - Activate and deactivate layers. The ALT Keyboard ships with a keymap where the Fn key activates layer 1. - Modifier - Send multiple modifiers with a single key press or allow a key to be a modifier when held and another key when tapped. - Special - Behaviors specific to the keyboard. For the ALT Keyboard, these control the LEDs.
After you have configured the behaviors to your liking, click the "Compile & Download" button in the top right to download the compiled firmware for your configuration. This typically takes around 30 seconds. You will need to load this compiled firmware onto your keyboard. See step (3) above for instructions.
If you are logged in to Massdrop, you will see a "Save as a New Copy" button next to the "Compile & Download" button. Clicking this button will save your configuration, allowing you to revisit it and modify it. The next time you go to the configurator, you will see your saved configurations above the list of keyboards.
About Layers Layers allow you to configure your keyboard with more behaviors than its number of physical keys. For example with the ALT Keyboard, by default, when you hold Fn + A to change the LED pattern, the keyboard is actually activating Layer 1 and sending the code for switching to the previous LED pattern. The physical key that is mapped to the letter A on Layer 0 is mapped to changing LED patterns on Layer 1.
For each key, its behavior is determined by the highest active layer. For the highest active layer, if the key's behavior is "transparent" (denoted by a grayed-out "(trns)" on the keyboard display), then it falls back to the next-highest layer where its behavior is not transparent.
The QMK documentation has some tips for working with layers:https://docs.qmk.fm/#/feature_advanced_keycodes?id=working-with-layers
Configurator Development Roadmap Our configurator tool is still a work-in-progress. Here is what you can expect to be added to the tool in the future: 1. Merge our QMK changes back into the main QMK repository. 2. Macros support 3. Support for changing some QMK settings 4. Support for more keyboards
Kevnwin, jdamour, and 34 others

If DROP comes out with an ALT2 that will save the configuration I'm up for purchasing an upgrade.
hey guys! i've just tried this for the first time, my goal was to create another color for the backlighting, which i manage to create and flash on my ALT keyboard correctly. but it seems that i have deleted all the other color options and now have only the new one. is there a way to have more than one configuration of colors with this tool? or do i need to get deeper into QMK programming?
I still can't download my QMK firmware. It's been more than 4 hours and it's not downloading. I tried with chrome, opera , edge.
So I'm new to this customization thing. I want to switch the windows key and function key (easy enough I think) The big one is if the base QWERTY board is Layer0 and the Function key and everything else is Layer1. Can I make it so holding Fn and Ctrl brings up Layer2? I want to set up a number pad on my Alt. I haven't actually had any success yet as I'm afraid to F up my keyboard and I also don't know what Microcontroller this board has. GOT IT WORKING!!! Need help use this video for help! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93bQ1p8SggY
This would be awesome if you could develop a desktop app with a great UI.
Please make us a 104 keys ALT KB!
Okay, someone please help. I spent hours on hours downloading home-brew, and atom, and learning how to use terminal, GitHub, QMK Toolbox, qmk firmware etc with ZERO prior experience in coding. When I finally try to flash, It doesn't work, and I learn from someone on reddit that I have to use mdloader. OK. Here's my new problem(s):
  1. when I hit compile and download it just opens a tab and says safari cannot open page.
  2. Additionally, when I downloaded mdloader as instructed, I cannot open the applet file because "there is no application set to open it".
  3. In the instructions for downloading mdloader it says this:
"Mac users:
  1. Download mdloader_mac and applet-flash-samd51j18a.bin and put them in the same folder. If downloading with Safari, mdloader_mac with have a .dms extension appended to it. This is fine.
  2. chmod u+x mdloader_mac to make it executable. (chmod u+x mdloader_mac.dms if downloaded from Safari)"
what the **** does direction number 2 mean? I have been trying to configure this keyboard for so long now, and I am so frustrated I may just throw it over the balcony. Please help.
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https://github.com/LastContinue/ctrl-info/wiki/Helper-Script If you download the Mac version of this, it will download all of the files you need and set the permissions. It will also give you an icon that will allow you to drag and drop (compiled) configurations on the icon for flashing.
Thanks for this write up. It worked perfectly after adding the period up front!
So windows does not want to run the mdloader, any fix? Thanks
Try running it as administrator. (right click and choose run as admin)
Hi guys. I have a layer configured for sort of a gaming mode im trying to configure the key to active that layer for gaming mode. How i can configure that key to activate that layer? Im not so good in this kind of changing the key board, any help is appreciated, im using massdrop config. I have the 2 default layers and i added another one for gaming mode.
the function key will take you from layer 0 to layer 1. then if you're trying to go another layer deeper you have to program a key on layer 1 to take you to another 2-n. Mess around with QMK and you'll figure it out.
In the configurator, I think you want to add a Layer/TG(<layer number>) to a key on your 0 layer to toggle your game layer.
Is there a detailed guide how to set up the ALT for OSX? I can't be the only one who needs this & I can't find a guide.
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Yes, I use OS X at home. The default is fn+page up/down for volume, but you can reconfigure for any keys you like, so I reconfigured the page up/down keys are my volume up/down, then on the second layer configured the fn+up/down arrows as my page up/down keys since I don't use those as much as my volume keys. Works great.
Oh perfect, thank you
I've followed the exact steps to configure my ALT keyboard and it doesn't seem to download or "flash" the configuration to my keyboard everytime I do it.
Can I use this keyboard config for other QMK supported boards? If there're answers already, please excuse my searching skills. 😅 Thanks
This is an interesting question. In terms of just taking the same bin/hex and trying to flash it onto another board: Won't work. These boards (and I highly suspect the Gemini boards from Hex or whomever IC/Kono is getting them) use a pretty unique chipset in the world of QMK so most of the instructions are unique. HOWEVER, to implement QMK "properly" for a board is to make sure that all of the commands can be executed for various boards without knowledge of the underlying chipset. I should be able to use the same macro command on my CTRL as on my Let's Split , etc, and QMK does all of the magic under the hood when you compile the code. I guess the best way to find out would to be to get another 60% board that supports QMK, copy one of your ALT keymaps into the dir that QMK uses for that board, and then "give it a shot".
Does anyone know why transparent keys, on say layer 2, doesn't send keys on layer 1?
Goes to layer 0
Does anyone have a copy of the default configuration files from https://www.massdrop.com/mechanical-keyboards/configurator/preset/alt--default? I've tried downloading it several times using different computers, but it never seems to finish "compiling".
I can build you one from source, would that help? I'm guessing you just want the default pc/Windows map?
It sometimes takes a while if a lot of people are using it. I noticed that it can take 3 hours in the middle of the day but only take 30 seconds late into the evening.
Help configuring the codes. Sorry I'm really new to this and I was just wondering on how do you use your selected color and use the effects like rainbow. I totally don't understand layers I just know how to transfer from layer to layer. Thank you for your help
Patterns you see on the online configurator is preset. If you want to configure the color pattern preset, you have to do it the hard way (wrote your own code, compile, and flash, no GUI)
is there a way i can set the rgb how i like it and not have it resest everytime m y pc turns on?
Is there a way to stop the led from changing when hitting caps lock
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exactly like that. If you can do that for me I would really really appreciate it. Would you accept money for helping? My email is EstebanMilla96@yahoo.com if you can send it there.
And yes I know how to flash it
Help! It's taking too long for me to download and compile the configuration that I did. Infinitely loading and taking too long more than an hour. Tried refreshing it and doing it again, used a different browser still nothing. Am I doing something wrong?
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Change the layer or the FN. you need to put a number (1) before FN
You mean like below? - It still does not download.. :(

Is there a way to set the keyboard to go to sleep when the computer it is hooked up to goes to sleep, so that the LEDs are not constantly on?
That's going to be more dependent on your OS than it is the keyboard. My Mac has always done this, so I suspect the easier way to get this to work would be look into it at the OS level...I suspect.. 😉
I used the QMK keyboard for the first time and wasn't good at the C language, so I was a bit confused. I want to set the LED through the program to shine when I press the button and disappear after a few seconds. Is there an example to refer to?
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I really need it, thank you. You saved me :) I tried all the time, but I failed
Let me know if you can visit following Git repos https://dev.azure.com/MinorDLand/_git/QMK I added a brief description under /Keyboards/massdrop/ald/dennisz/README.MD about what changes I've done. https://dev.azure.com/MinorDLand/_git/QMK?path=%2Fkeyboards%2Fmassdrop%2Falt%2Fkeymaps%2Fdennisz%2FREADME.MD Given I changed some of the TMK core, And I haven't written C code for about 2 decades, the code style is awkward, I don't think my change will be merged into the master of QMK. Please feel free to let me know if you need some addition information.
👋 I made an update to my drag and drop loaders, and well as moving most of my gists into Git (actually did that awhile ago, but Holiday lit a fire under me to wrap this up) Here's my much longer post about it on the CTRL discussion https://www.massdrop.com/talk/9382/how-to-configure-your-ctrl-keyboard/2294450
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Lol thanks for the help man. Where is this drag and drop method because I do have internet but want to adapt! I'm not in the know with any of this stuff but I did finally manage to change colors with the GUI!
https://github.com/LastContinue/ctrl-info/releases After the release of mdloader 1.0.3, the choice between the CLI way or the Drag and Drop way are mostly a matter of choice. I built the DnD way because of the dozens of responses of on this thread from people having trouble with CLI, but if you can get the the CLI working, then 👍 Here's a couple of links for helper scripts, which are basically just shortcuts, but I use one of them whenever I want to flash my board https://github.com/LastContinue/ctrl-info/wiki/Helper-Scripts
How to save last LED profile when reconnect KB on PC?
Detailed answer is here. https://github.com/LastContinue/ctrl-info/wiki/FAQ-Lights or you can just use the GUI configurator to set the keys to what color/pattern you want (arguably easier)
Does anyone know how do i configure brightness in the configurator?
I do not see the "Save as a New Copy" button when I am logged into Massdrop. All I see is "Save" - no chance to give the new configuration a name. It is saved as "Unnamed" and overwritten every time I save.
Currently there isn't functionality to make a copy of a configuration that you created previously.
I'm trying to configure mine based on all the info that I've seen here but I keep getting this error "Error: Could not open applet file: applet-flash-samd51j18a.bin". So far, everything checks out. I've got the files on the same folder and downloaded the latest mloader. I get the error whether I'm using terminal on a mac or command line on a pc. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Thanks for the suggestion. I do have the applet file and tried to run the command line from the same directory (At least I think I do). You may be right on this as the one thing I did today was to move it all to root C and had no issues afterwards.
Ok I found it. its on github release.
Is there not a simple way to change the colour of the LEDs, as opposed to just cycling through the presets?
I love this board and got it assembled last night, but the LEDs just literally will not work. They flash on momentarily in rainbow (all keys and edge) when first connected, but then flash off and can't be turned on again with the function keys. I've tried a couple of different cords, both USB 2.0/3.0 ports on my desktop, and flashing a default version of the firmware to the board. The lights just refuse to work. What should be my next steps to take?
Are all the keys functional? Do you have a powered USB hub that you can try? It sounds like the USB ports you're trying aren't supplying enough power. Otherwise reach out to our Support team: https://www.massdrop.com/support Also do you have anything daisy-chained off of the other USB-C port on your ALT keyboard?
Thanks for the reply! Yes, all keys are otherwise functional. I thought it could be a power source issue, but connecting to my powered USB hub for my laptop (versus my desktop motherboard) did not resolve the lights issue. Got a support ticket going now since it does appear to be some sort of defect.
Hi I just received a new ALT, I found that the keyboard is missed a Insert function or key. I went to https://www.massdrop.com/mechanical-keyboards/configurator/config/1191 and configured new function for Insert in Layer 1. I also completed download bin file. But I didn't know how to load new configuration to my ALT. Please guide me the way to do that. Thanks
  1. Download mdloader here for the OS you're using: https://github.com/Massdrop/mdloader/releases/tag/1.0.3
  2. Follow the instructions here to run mdloader: https://github.com/Massdrop/mdloader
Hi jxliu Thank you for your reply I checked again the map key on alt and I found that r-shift was configured with function for typing '~' character. So that I think I must find other key for Insert key. Could you advice me key that can use for Insert key with easy for type, because I need Insert function for paste commands on command editor ? If you don not mind, please make bin file for me ? Thanks
would be nice a KC_GESC option on the webconfig
Amazed this isn't available already.
Is there a step-by-step guide for how to make new LED patterns / animations with the Configurator tool?