Lyra 2

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Internal and "bigbox" versions of Lyra 2

Contents

General

Lyra 2 replaces the older version of Lyra. It addresses numerous wishes of our customers that have reached us in the past few years.

Lyra 2 lets you use a PC keyboard as an Amiga keyboard, and for the A1200 version, it also lets you connect an A2000, A3000 or A4000 keyboard to a towered A1200 by removing the jumper. This page deals with the main functionality, which is to adapt PC-keyboards to the Amiga.

While the older Lyra only had the choice of two key maps, Lyra 2 lets you do distinct changes to the key map for certain keys, giving you lots of options that would require a lot of different key maps, but also a lot of jumpers. Since Lyra 2 only has one jumper, the configuration is stored inside of the translator-chip.

Lyra 2 is available in two versions. The external version for the so-called "bigbox"-Amigas is simply plugged between the PC-keyboard and the computer. For A2000 and A3000 models, a simple PS2-adapter is necessary, with an A4000, a direct connection is possible.

For installation of the A1200 version, the computer must be opened. A special socket is placed over top of the keyboard-chip of the Amiga, and a cable makes connection to the backplane where the keyboard can be connected. The backplane can be mounted on the back of a towercase.

Entering configuration mode

Configuring Lyra 2 is done without drivers, just by hitting the right key combinations. All configuration data is saved in non-volatile memory, so Lyra 2 will remember it even if you switch off power of your Amiga. The magic key combination that lets you enter configuration mode is L-Shift+Pause. This means that you press and hold the left shift key, and while holding shift, you press the Pause key. Lyra 2 acknowledges configuration mode by flashing the NumLock LED. You now have the chance to toggle a few options, to display the current configuration or to leave configuration mode.

If you have entered configuration mode accidently, you just press the ESC key to leave it, and all configuration data is left unchanged. Lyra 2 stops flashing the NumLock LED, and brings back the LED to the state that it has been set to in your previous configuration session.

In configuration mode, function keys F1 through F6 and F8 can be used to toggle seven different settings:

F1: toggle page mode

This configuration setting is equivalent to pressing the Scroll-lock key. It toggles the page mode for these four keys:

key on PC keyboard page mode "shift" page mode "ALT"
Pos 1 (home) shift-cursor left ALT-cursor left
End shift-cursor right ALT-cursor right
PgUp shift-cursor up ALT-cursor up
PgDn shift-cursor down ALT-cursor down

The page mode is always displayed with the scroll-lock LED of the keyboard: If the LED is on, the above four keys are transferred with the ALT qualifier. If the scroll-lock LED is off, then the above four keys are sent to the Amiga with the SHIFT qualifier.

F2: Toggle NumLock LED

This key lets you toggle the state of the NumLock LED. This might be a matter of taste for most customers, but there are keyboards that switch keymaps with the NumLock LED, therefore it might be necessary to adapt this setting if you want to use such special keyboards. Especially if a small-sized keyboard does not have a numeric keypad (similar to laptop keyboards), the NumLock LED often switches on an embedded numeric keypad that's usually indicated on the keys with a different colour printing.

F3: Swap ALT and Amiga

This setting swaps the Amiga and ALT keys. Lyra 2 assumes by default that you want the ALT keys mapped to the ALT keys on the Amiga side, and that you want the Windows-keys to be mapped to the Amiga-keys. Although this sounds most logical, it doesn't get close enough to the original Amiga keyboard layout, because most PC keyboards have the ALT keys right next to spacebar, whereas the Amiga has the Amiga keys directly next to spacebar. By pressing F3, the ALT and Amiga key are swapped.

F4: Toggle Win-menu key

The third Windows-key is often referred to as the menu-key or the application-key. With Lyra, you can map this key either to the key-combination L-Amiga-m (which toggles screens), or to a generic stealth-message that can be used by Guido Mersmann's fantastic MMKeyboard. Read more about stealth messages further down. By pressing F4 in configuration mode, you toggle between one of the two choices.

F5: Toggle slash-key on numeric keypad

The Amiga keyboard has the two braces [ and ] in the top left corner of the numeric keypad, therefore Lyra 2 always maps the NumLock key the the opening brace [. Right next to the NumLock key, the regular PC keyboard has the slash or divide key. By pressing F5 in configuration mode, you toggle between two choices: Either the divide key transfers a closing brace ] to the Amiga, or it transfers the keycode for the forward slash (divide key) to the Amiga.

F6: shuffle numeric keypad

As the title already says, this configuration moves around a few keys on the numeric keypad. Since the Amiga has a rich numeric block with a total of 18 keys, there's a little more room than on normal PC keyboards these days. However, since some international keyboards also have 18 keys on the numpad, you might be lucky and your keyboard is already prepared for the 18th key. If you feel you are technically skilled, you can remove the large plus-key and see if there's space for two regular key caps instead of the big plus-key. If you can install this additional key, then the shuffle-configuration is your friend, as it moves all keys on the numeric keypad to where a real Amiga user expects it:

key on PC keyboard effect on Amiga when shuffled
* /
- *
+ -
new-cap +

The star (multiply)-key becomes slash (divide), the minus-key becomes the star (multiply)-key, the former plus-key sends the Amiga-minus code, and the new key-cap that you have installed will send the plus-key to the Amiga.

F8: toggle Stealth messages

Stealth messages are key-codes that normally have no meaning to any program on the Amiga, because they are composed of a series of so-called key-up codes. In other words: The computer believes that you are releasing certain keys, so no action is started. The fact that you haven't pressed these keys in the first place is ignored by most programs, therefore this method was named "stealth" by it's inventor Guido Mersmann. Stealth messages are used by his program MMKeyboard that Individual Computers has licensed. Although we have already paid Guido for his work, you might find his program so useful that you want to donate some more to his ongoing work for the Amiga. We surely encourage you to do so! Since stealth messages are not totally invisible to the computer, they might disturb special programs or affect gameplay. In the unlikely event of an incompatibility with your software, you can switch stealth messages off by hitting F8 in configuration mode.

TAB: display configuration

If you don't remember your configuration, Lyra 2 can display it in clear text. Just open a text editor or a word processor where you can type several lines, enter configuration mode by pressing L-Shift and Pause, then hit the TAB key and Lyra 2's configuration will be written in clear text on screen. Since memory inside the translator chip is very limited, Lyra 2 will display the shuffled numeric keypad as "18-button" for "shuffled" and as "17-button" for the regular numeric keypad. The block of text is avoiding the characters Z and Y in order to be compatible with as many keymaps as possible. We must send apologies to those people in French-speaking countries, because Lyra 2 can't know about the keymap that is set in your Amiga, so the block of text will most probably not be clear text, but garbage for those in France, the French-speaking parts of Belgium, Switzerland or Canada.

A few keys are left to explain:

F11 and F12 will always translate to the two braces [ and ] as on the numeric keypad of the Amiga. The Insert key is translated to the help key of your Amiga. PrintScreen is translated into the \ key (backslash). Most PC keyboards only have two keys between backspace and the 0-key, while the Amiga has three keys between them. You surely know that the Pause key (pressed with no qualifiers) displays the URL of this page - that's how you got here, right?

Known issues

Lyra has been on the market since october 2000, and it has shown very high compatibility with many different PS2 keyboards ever since. One property of Lyra has always put it in the top class of keyboard adapters, and that's the straight-forward handling of key-press and key-release codes from the PC keyboard, which is essential for playing games with a keyboard. This can of course only work if the PC keyboard of your choice supports pressing several keys at the same time. Unfortunately, there are keyboards on the market that fail to send all the key-release codes when the user releases several keys that were pressed at the same time.

While is is "only annoying" during gameplay, it can lead to an unexpected reset of the computer: If the keyboard fails to send release-codes for L-Amiga and R-Amiga, then Lyra will keep the information "both Amiga keys pressed" in it's local memory and a single press of the CTRL key will cause a reset. You can exit this "single-key reset" either by power-cycling the computer, or (easier) by pressing and releasing the two Amiga keys individually.

Please note that this is not a bug of Lyra, but it's a bug of the keyboard. If you observe this kind of behaviour, please try swapping the ALT and Amiga keys (config mode -> F3, see previous chapter), hoping that the PC keyboard will behave better with the other qualifiers used as the "Amiga" keys. If that doesn't help, please try using a keyboard that is meant for gaming. Such keyboards are geared towards pressing complicated key combinations simultaneously, and they are less likely to "swallow" key-release codes.

A1200 version

The A1200 version is clipped on top of the keyboard MPU. All functions as described above are available. There is no version for the A500 or A600 computers. You can only hack a total of five lines to the keyboard MPU of the A600, or the keyboard connector of the A500. The one thing you need to know for that is the location of signals on the A1200 version - provided here:

Lyra1200.gif

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Links

  • Guido Mersmann's MMKeyboard english
  • Guido Mersmann's MMKeyboard Deutsch
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