Q&A: Can I use any keyboard with a Raspberry Pi

piQ: Can I use any keyboard with a Raspberry Pi

A. For the most part, yes, you can. Because the Raspberry Pi runs Linux, you can run any basic USB wired keyboard. Just plug it in, the Pi will find it, the Linux OS will load up the appropriate USB driver and away you go. However, older PS/2 style keyboards most likely won’t work but it will depend on the keyboard itself.

For wireless keyboards, you should find it pretty much the same. Wireless keyboards that work via 2.4GHz such as the Logitech K700 for example should work just fine as this keyboard is essentially a USB keyboard as far as the Pi is concerned. The little RF transmitter/receiver dongle does the work of converting the radio signals into USB data and communicating with the keyboard itself.

The one area you may have trouble is Bluetooth keyboards. If you have a bluetooth dongle that works with your Pi, it should be able to bind with your Bluetooth keyboard and work but the trick is finding a Bluetooth dongle that works with the Pi’s operating system. If you’re using the standard Raspbian release, ModMyPi as the instructions for getting Bluetooth dongles to work.

One important thing to remember about the Raspberry Pi – the two built-in USB ports can only support around 170mA of current. That’s enough for a keyboard or mouse but not much else. The best way to use these ports is to connect up powered USB hubs that can supply considerably more power. Plug your keyboard and mouse into the powered hub along with your portable hard drives or flash card readers and you should be as right as rain.

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