building a USB button
April 9, 2007 4:51 PM   Subscribe

How can I build a custom USB button?

Like this, but a single button and I'd like to tie it to a specific activity (printing from an application, specifically something cutom written using processing) . I can't seem to find info on how to build a single button online.

Alternatively, ideas on how to rig up something that looks like a button that presses a keyboard button and springs back. I know how to deal with keyboard input.

This is for an art project- a machine that given the press of a button gives out very unwelcome advice.

posted by pissfactory to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Depending on what you want to spend, I'd use a USB keyboard encoder (although that one is overkill) and an arcade pushbutton and microswitch. If you prefer, you could just use a microswitch with a custom-built button, but the arcade ones are very nice and durable.

All you have to do is run wires from your microswitch to GND and one of the other terminals on the encoder - no soldering, drivers, or anything. Pushing the button will show up as a keypress, with neither muss nor fuss.
posted by pocams at 5:08 PM on April 9, 2007

Carefully take apart a USB keyboard or better-yet number pad and then select the button you wish to use and wire it in?

Actually - a USB mouse would probably be easier - as there would only be a couple contacts and you could probably manipulate them better than a large keyboard.

Otherwise, it could get quite costly to go with a USB controller/chip.
posted by jkaczor at 5:09 PM on April 9, 2007

I just took a mouse apart. I think this will work. I just need a button with a spring mechanism to attach to it.
posted by pissfactory at 5:29 PM on April 9, 2007

Excellent ideas - I want to build something like this for a homemade digital photobooth sometime.
posted by god hates math at 5:57 PM on April 9, 2007

Google for "usb foot pedal". You'll probably find something that's close to what you want.
posted by dws at 6:03 PM on April 9, 2007

I just need a button with a spring mechanism to attach to it.

Time to head to Radio Shack! You will probably need to just poke around the store until you find what you need. Don't count on the employees there to be very helpful for this (realizing that there are exceptions to this).
posted by yohko at 6:16 PM on April 9, 2007

If you do go to radio shack, go to one of the standalone stores, not one of the ones in malls.

Or try allelectronics
posted by drezdn at 7:37 PM on April 9, 2007

Maybe you want this? Very cheap on eBay, and highly programmable!
posted by thejoshu at 7:38 PM on April 9, 2007

I did something similar to this.

Get a junk keyboard, USB type.

These buttons look great, I've used them.

Take the keyboard apart, connect the controller to the button, it will look like a keyboard to your software.

Great instructions here.
posted by Marky at 8:36 PM on April 9, 2007

Buy yourself an Arduino and follow these tutorials for reading a pushbutton and sending serial data to Processing. (Maybe overkill for what you're doing, especially if you're on a deadline, but the Arduino is really a great tool for making weirdo interfaces to computer programs.)

Oh, and I love those buttons from Happ.
posted by aparrish at 9:12 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you want a nice looking one, give Griffin Powermate a glance. I have one and it's really pleasing to the eye.
posted by Four Flavors at 9:37 AM on April 10, 2007

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