There are so many times when you hesitate, trying to remember a keyboard shortcut or even a simple button-press and you end up running through all the menus and sub-menus. For me, most of these keyboard shortcuts are in Flight Simulators but there's also lots in other software, eg: Ham Radio Deluxe, WSJT-X, Photoshop, Zoom, etc, etc.
There's now a fabulous solution to this problem and it's called StreamDeck by Elgato. Its core user base is actually Vloggers who do a lot of live streaming and want to launch programs, play a jingle, display a graphic, resize/relocate windows, etc, quickly and on the fly. StreamDeck allows this by allowing you to assign an event to a button press on the device. And these LCD buttons can have descriptive text, colours, icons and even animations on them to help you quickly identify them.
Well I figured that would be an extremely handy thing to have sat on my desk to aid me in many ways - so I got the 32 button model - the XL. It comes complete with a stand to hold the StreamDeck at a 45 degree angle for easy viewing and operation. The keyboard attaches to the stand magnetically, so it's extremely easy to connect/disconnect it. The device is powered by a single USB lead to your PC.
Let me give you an example - from the initial screen (I call it the desktop), you might have 2 options (buttons) displayed for Microsoft FlightSim - one called FS2020 Full and one called FS2020 Quick. If you press the quick button, you'll be presented with a screen full of buttons which contain 30 odd of the most common button presses in the sim, such as Gear Up, Gear Down, Flaps, Spoilers, etc, so that you can just quickly jump into the cockpit and have a fly around for a bit of R&R.
I'm new to all this, so I'm still very much learning, but it soon becomes clear that not only can you display lots of keypresses onscreen, but you can categorise them and even colour code them! You might also want to present them in a certain way, such as Up, Down, Left, Right, if that makes a certain operation seem more intuitive to the operator.
Elgato are constantly introducing new features and options to the StreamDeck and it's not just about programming in a simple keypress. You can do all sorts of things using the long list of built-in tools including Super Macros which will perform a long list of keypresses sequentially at the touch of a single button. Pretty cool!
Initially you will probably start off with a quite basic layout, but you soon learn to adapt a better workflow and start to use custom-made icons which actually make more sense to you visually instead of relying on the supplied icons.
As I get more comfortable with the StreamDeck, I hope to find more and more uses for it and will probably have a list of categories on the desktop to help me control FlightSims, General HAM Radio, Contesting, Photo, Audio & Video, Music Player, Writing, Cad, Zoom, etc, etc.
I'm guessing too, that the smarter people among us could find additional uses such as an interface for any experimental stuff they do on their computer. Perhaps even to have easy control over an antenna rotator, control a radio or some such thing, who knows?. Once you've justified the cost of purchase (as I have with FlightSim use), then everything else is a great bonus.
Prices start around £79.
Thanks for visiting - Don't forget to read through the comments below for more information.
73, Tom, M7MCQ.