Rapoo mechanical keyboards gotchas and setup

The short version: Rapoo V500 and V700 mechanical keyboard series have full macro capability and can work completely independently of the operating system (no software is required to be installed on the operating system for the macro functionality to work – unlike some other manufacturers that shall remain unnamed at this time). But they require a Windows computer to configure both the macros and the colours for the keys.

An otherwise excellent keyboard for the price is let down by poor documentation and software bugs and limitations. The websites are also severely broken. E.g., there isn’t any obvious way to get from the product page to the required (specific) software. And the search/filter in the download center is completely broken, always returning false negative results (the search result is always empty).

Introduction

The Rapoo V500 and V700 keyboard series are mechanical keyboards, often sold in a Kailh Blue keys version – the equivalent of Cherry MX Blue keys. All three keyboards have the all important full macro key capability, a feature usually reserved for very expensive high-end mechanical keyboards. Models include:

  • V700RGB. Full-size (incl. numpad). Full-colour backlight for each key (in “game” mode))
  • V700S. Full-size (incl. numpad). A fixed colour for each key, depending on the row it is in, and one of five brightness levels (incl. off) can be set individually for each key.
  • V500S. Without a numpad. All keys have the same colour (orange), and there are six brightness levels, incl. off–for all keys, not individually settable.

Installation of the setup software

The setup software only runs on Windows. Though the keyboard works completely independent after configuration for both background colours and keyboard macros. For instance, it works perfectly fine under Linux.

For V700RGB, use the direct download URL, from the download center, “V700RGB合金版游戏键盘驱动”. Or using that page, keep pressing “View More” until “V700RGB合金版游戏键盘驱动”, “V700S Driver”, or “V500S Driver” appear (there are a lot entries with similar names. To get the full list, it is about 10 clicks on “View More”). It is only about 2 MB, but it is a full application. Note that the software is not universal, even for similar keyboards; there is separate software for each keyboard. From the same page, direct download URLs for V500S (“V500S Driver”) and for V700S (“V700S Driver”).

After installation, the software has a name like “RAPOO V700RGB Keyboard” in Windows. Pressing the Windows key and “Rapoo” should bring up only one possibility.

Note that the software actually works back to 32-bit Windows XP and thus an, say, old laptop with Windows XP can be dedicated for this purpose (isolating the potential security risk). It also works in a virtual machine if USB for the Rapoo keyboard is allowed through. This was tested with VirtualBox on Linux and Windows 10 Home (64 bit) running inside it. ExplainingComputers has an excellent video with all the necessary information and instructions to do this from scratch: Running Windows in Linux: VirtualBox configuration.

Note that the software programs for the three keyboards can be installed at the same time. They don’t interfere with each other.

Running the setup software

The software for V700RGB is launched the normal Windows way, but extra steps are required for V500S and V700S for it to work at all. They require extra permissions. One way is (for V500S):

  • Win + CMD. On “Command Prompt” (Windows 10), right click and select “Run as administrator”
  • Say “Yes”
  • Copy-paste these two lines into the window (on Windows 10, the normal Ctrl + V works):
    cd "C:\Program Files (x86)\RAPOO\V500S"
    start.exe
  • The configuration program will launch.

The exact path and name depend on the version of Windows and the keyboard model.

For V700S on Windows 10, it is:

cd "C:\Program Files (x86)\RAPOO\V700S"
V700SConfig.exe

Essential setup information

There are two modes for the keyboard itself, “standard mode” and “game mode”. “Standard mode” also goes by the name “office mode”. The modes are toggled by the key in the upper right of the keyboard, “M” with an outline. “Game mode” is indicated by a white background light of the “M” key. In “standard mode”, it follows the colouring of other keys, (the default is cyan) in “static mode” (see below).

Note that both different colours for individual keys and macro keys only work in “game mode”. The only real option for “standard mode” is a steady backlight with the same colour for all keys. Though the default colour is cyan, six other colours are possible – see below.

On the keyboard itself, V700RGB

In “standard mode”, a steady background light (called “static mode”) is obtained by key combination VPro + F5. The background light is cyan by default and can be changed to another colour by VPro + PrtScr (see below for details). The brightness level, incl. backlight off, can be adjusted with VPro + Arrow up and VPro + Arrow down.

In “game mode”, the background light can be set up to a number of colours – for the “RGB” models freely 24-bit colour for each key.

On the keyboard itself, V700S

In “standard mode”, it is similar to V700RGB, but confusingly the keyboard combination is different, VPro + F2, for “static mode”. In fact, most of the keyboard combinations for the same backlight modes are different between the two models… The colours can not be changed as they are fixed for each key, but the brightness level be set as
for V700RGB.

Configuration

The software itself, unlike the documentation and locating the software, is fairly intuitive (but see the gotchas below).

Macro keys

Macro keys are configured in two steps. First, a named macro is defined. Second, the named macro is assigned to a key by unchecking the “Light” checkbox, clicking on the key to be assigned to the right, clicking button “Macro”, select the macro in the list, and pressing “OK”. Do not, repeat do not, press button “Apply”. Instead, make sure check box “Light” is checked and then press button “Apply”.

Change backlighting in “game mode”

The RGB models have full flexibility for setting the colour for each key. The other models have less flexibility.

Before configuring the colours for the keys, make sure “Game Mode” is selected in the dropdown to the right of checkbox “Light”. After the colours have been configured, press button “Apply” to transfer the key colour definitions to the keyboard.

Note that some of the animation modes available in “standard mode” are also available in “game mode” (e.g., “Aurora”), but they must be set via the software – it is not possible to change them on the fly like in “standard mode”. There is also “Fixed_on” that can be used as a shortcut if all keys should have the same colour.

Change backlighting in “standard mode”

The default cyan backlighting (green 255 and blue 255) for all keys for “static” mode (VPro + F5) can be changed by VPro + PrtScr. The seven possible settings are cyan, yellow, violet, rainbow (from left to right on the keyboard, red through blue and back to red and colours in-between), red, blue, and green.

Note, however, option “Fixed_on” in the setup software applies to “game mode”, not “standard mode”.

Check list

  1. Always make sure the checkbox “Light” is checked. Only unckeck it when assigning macros to keys. And then immediately check it again, before pressing button “Apply”.

Confusing terminology

The setup software is referred to as a “driver”, but it is actually a normal Windows application. As far as I can tell it doesn’t install any drivers.

Gotchas

Gotcha 1: The software for V500S and V700S must run with extra privileges

If the software for V500S and V700S is launched the normal way (on Windows 10, saying “yes” for it to be launched), it does not work. Windows XP 32-bit reports “Device not detected!” and on Windows 10 nothing happens (there is a running process, but it doesn’t have an associated window).

Note that it does work in the standard way for V700RGB.

The workaround is to run with elevated privileges (see the main article for how to do this).

The reason is not known at this point, but it is probably due to some permissions issue. The problem was the same for Window XP 32-bit on real hardware and for Windows 10 running under VirtualBox (but with slightly different symptoms).

The security implications of this is not known. It is all the more reason to isolate the software, e.g., by using an old noncritical system (say Windows XP) or run Windows inside a virtual machine like VirtualBox.

Gotcha 2: Missing keys

In “game mode”, the extra keys not on a US keyboard are not supported. Thus they can not get back light and nothing happens when pressed. They only work in “standard mode”. For instance, the 102th key on European keyboards, often with “<", ">“, and “\” (the last two using the Shift and AltGr keys, respectively). The only way to make the key work is to switch to “standard mode”. It is not known if the selection of language in the installer for the setup software has an influence on this or not (or if there is some configuration that controls it, like in the Windows Registry).

On Windows, it was observed that the two Windows keys (ironically) did not work either. The workaround is to use Ctrl + Esc instead (but that only works in Windows, not on Linux, at least not in Cinnamon, by default). On Linux, they did work – it is not known why there is a difference.

This is definitely a bug. Even if configuring a colour would not be supported, something should happen when the key is pressed.

Gotcha 3: Forgetting to re-enable the “light” checkbox clears all assignments for macros to keys

To assign macros to keys, we have to disable checkbox “Light”. If we forget to set the checkbox back to checked, all key colour assignments are cleared…

Gotcha 4: “Start record” clears

It is not possible to add new macro actions by restarting the recording – any existing macro definitions are cleared without warning when a recording is started.

Gotcha 5: Only one modifier key is supported

Simple key combinations do not require a macro. They can be assigned directly by using “Key assignment” (still a sort of keyboard macro) after clicking on a key on the right in the setup software. However, using more than one modifier key, e.g., Shift + Ctrl + F8 will result in the error message “Please select a function”. The workaround is to define the corresponding full-blown macro.

This can be considered a bug. Or perhaps a limitation in the keyboard itself (though it ought to be possible for the setup software to transparently generate the equivalent macro sequence).

Gotcha 6: Haywire mode

After many days of use as a daily “driver”, the keyboard suddenly switched to a mode where the background light in “game mode” was similar to the one in “standard mode” (the keyboard macros still worked the same).

“Haywire mode” is my term for it.

The reason is likely a software bug, some undocumented key combination (pressed accidentally), or both. It is positively not caused by VPro + PrtScr (that is intended to change the colour for “static mode” in “standard mode”), while in “game mode” (as one could imagine would overwrite the custom colour setup of each individual key).

Power cycling the keyboard does not help. A remedy is to update the keyboard setup from the setup software to get the custom colour set up back (but this requires a Windows computer that is set up for this).

Haywire mode, mkII: In another incident, the background colours did not change when switching to “standard mode” (a sort of desired state!). And the problem with the two non-functional Win keys was in “standard mode”, not in “game mode” as in the first incident. Updating the keyboard from the setup software did not fix the problem. But this could be fixed on the keyboard itself: In “standard mode”, changing from “static mode” to some other mode and back to “static mode” fixed the problem (e.g. VPro + F4, VPro + F5). Note that the colour is reset back to the default cyan (use VPro + PrtScr to change it).

Gotcha 7: Completely broken search in the download center

The search/filter in the download center is completely broken, always returning false negative results (the search result is always empty).

Example: Selecting model “V700RGB Alloy” (second dropdown) returns blank content. There are also 186 elements in that dropdown and they are not sorted alphabetically. Internally, there are misspellings like catogory.

The workaround is to press “View” (at the bottom) enough times to get the full list (in December 2021, seven times to get 62 products listed). Locate the exact model (the work is already done and the result listed above for the three keyboards covered here) and be able to download the software.

Gotcha 8: Right mouse button is broken in macros

Some mouse actions (left click and right click) are supported, but right click is broken. It performs some extra action that causes a scroll up (at least in Firefox). So it is not possible to, for instance, to define a macro that opens the link under the mouse cursor in a new tab in Firefox (this works fine with a Ducky mechanical keyboard). It will only work if already scrolled to the top.

It is even worse on a system with two screens. The extra action will also effectively cause the right mouse click to be on the left screen. Thus a macro that uses a right mouse click will not work on the second screen, even if used in a window scrolled all the way to the top.

Gotcha 9: One USB passthrough is not enough for several types of Rapoo keyboards

When running the setup software in Windows on a Windows virtual machine, USB passthrough (“USB Device Filters” in VirtualBox) is required for each type of keyboard. Even though V700S and V700RGB by default turn up as the same name, “”Rapoo Gaming Keyboard [0001]”, they are in fact different. The USB vendor ID is 0x24AE, but the USB product ID is 0x4019 for V700S and 0x4018 for V700RGB. Thus, to be able to handle all the three keyboards described here with the same setup, three USB passthroughs are necessary. To avoid confusion, it is best to alter field “Name” from the default to:

  • “V500S Rapoo keyboard” for V500S (vendor ID = 0x24AE. product ID = 0x4006)
  • “V700S Rapoo keyboard” for V700S (vendor ID = 0x24AE. product ID = 0x4019)
  • “V700RGB Rapoo keyboard” for V700RGB (vendor ID = 0x24AE. product ID = 0x4018)

The keyboards must be physically connected when adding the USB filters.

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