Oct 19, 201841079 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
ToPhoToToTuong, urwis123, and 39 others

Hello, I really like my high profile ALT. Now, I seem to have found a bug. For some reason the board will stop registering keystrokes when using MS Outlook. It happens when text is selected and then an alpha-numeric keystroke is registered (typically this would replace the selected text with the keystroke). However, the keyboard just stops working. The lights remain on, but no keystrokes will register. Next, unplugging the keyboard and re-plugging it results in the "orange light" blinking. Either 5 blinks followed by 1 blink or 5 blinks followed by 5 blinks. So, what is the blink pattern ? Does it have a translation? Could you provide a comprehensive manual and PCB schematic for troubleshooting or editing our boards? Please help me figure out this strange bug in the board. Seems like a microprocessor issue.
How do you assign MO(1)? I do not see the option to assign it on the configuration page.
im on windows. i compiled the new .bin file in the massdrop online confiscator and downloaded that. i downloaded the mdloader_windows.exe and applet-flash-samd51j18a.bin and put them in one single folder. i figured out that terminal meant cmd in windows. (if im wrong plz tell me). well after that i have no clue how to proceed. i red the howto on the github page 20 times but i cant understand a single thing. i just want to flash my alt with a new default led configuration.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93bQ1p8SggY this gave me the info I needed!
thank you so so much. just what i needed. oh the sheer relief i feel right now.
Is anyone else having an error where it says that your files must end in bin or hex, and all your files already end in bin or hex? It's making it so my keyboard won't flash.
Is anyone else having the issue where after your Alt bootstraps from flashing a new configuration nothing has changed? I've made multiple configs and flashed multiple times with no errors but it always restarts and is the default state. My third layer is never added :(
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Flash from the command prompt. They should open the command prompt, navigate to the directory that contains their BIN file and mdloader_windows.exe, press the reset button, and type “mdloader_windows.exe --first --download FILE_NAME --restart” where FILE_NAME is their BIN file.

^ This is the response I got from support and it worked flawlessly. Hope this helps!
That's the command for a Windows computer and aside from the --download part is the command I'm running. I'll give it a shot today for the mac loader version adding the command. Thank you.
A few questions I don't see answered elsewhere?
  • in the configurator what is pattern 2 "Teal/Salmon" - those colors are extremely different and when I use it I get one or the other seemingly randomly? I want one Salmon (or maybe just call it Pink) and one Teal (or light blue maybe - you aren't dealing with a white spectrum of shades here guys)
  • Is there a way to make a key like Capslock change color when active? It does this with the default profile. I'd like it to flash when active.
  • Custom colors are VERY hard to get to be even similar to what you choose - I tried over 25 shades of blue to get something that didn't look so dark it is hard to see, white or pinky-purple. (and I have NO red keys defined) The default white is more pink than blue as I'd expect.
  • There needs to be a LOT more patterns in the configurator and at least half a dozen more colors that actually look like the colors on the keyboard
  • The configurator should show the actual color you choose on the keyboard image. Trying to remember what 7 or 4 mean is prone to mistake - especially given the custom colors DO show as the colors you choose.
Is there a way that I can configure Shift-Esc to output a tilde ~ character?
It's a bit tricky, but it's possible. See my comment in this thread: https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-alt-mechanical-keyboard/talk/2440857?utm_source=linkshare&referer=K2MJG2 Or just use my configuration as a basis: https://drop.com/mechanical-keyboards/configurator/config/3792
Anyone know if it’s possible to set nkro by default?
I'd like to know it too, but nobody seems to care about it.
yes if you compile your own file, theres a setting nfor it in qmk
Could you please add KC_GESC option to web configurator?
If anyone will be wondering how to set KC_GESC on ESC button, you can use my ALT keyboard config as a basis for your one: https://drop.com/mechanical-keyboards/configurator/config/3792
Anyone else is having a hard time compiling & downloading the config for their alt keyboard?
Not sure why, but only one cable works with my Macbook Pro. Both of my standard Apple cables (C-to-C) don't work. The only cable that works is a C-to-C that came with my New Poker III. I haven't checked two A-to-C's that I have on hand yet. Takes a minute to setup a computer with that port.
Someone mentioned that it doesn’t work with Thunderbolt 3 cables, which use USB-C connectors. That could be why.
I bought a Mechcable USB-A to USB-C cable and does not work with this keyboard. A single red/orange led comes on in the front edge but no keys work and no other LEDSs. Any idea why?
can i use this configurator to reconfigure some keys to make it compliant with ABTN2 brazilian portuguese standard?
If DROP comes out with an ALT2 that will save the configuration I'm up for purchasing an upgrade.
What do you mean by 'save the configuration'? My alt hasn't lost my custom config once even with multiple disconnects and overnight shutdowns.
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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Did you ever figure this out? Im in the same boat, very new to all of this. And I simply don't understand how to go about downloading mdloader because this instructions are shit.
If you can double click, and then drag and drop, you can figure this out https://github.com/LastContinue/ctrl-info/releases Download the mac release, then drag the zip file out to the desktop, unzip it, then move the contents onto the desktop (should be two automator files: robot looking thingys). Double Click on "Bootstrap" (which might give you a warning about "unknown developer" if it does this, you'll need to right click it, then select "open" you've probably had to do this before) That will run, make a folder on your desktop. Then go ahead and double click on the ctrl-ldr shortcut just so it'll give you the warning about unknown developer. It will then try to run but give you an error (This is good. The error should have some {} in it. I can't remember the exact verbiage) After that, you can just drag the .bin file you get from Massdrop ONTO the ctrl-ldr shortcut and that'll open a terminal and it'll walk you through the process. After you've flashed the board the first time, you can delete the bootstrap shortcut (don't delete the CTRL dir though) Don't have to worry about downloading any files, setting permissions, trying to figure out command line stuff.
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