Emulating a Keystroke Using a Staples Easy Button

Nov
11

A friend and client of mine owns a DJ business. He has photo booths that he brings to events as part of a Wedding or DJ package.

The booths are home made. I believe that he uses the program Photobooth on a Mac to take the pictures, and needed an easy way for people to step into the booth and press one button to take a picture. For this reason, I needed to make a Staples Easy Button emulate the spacebar character.

For this to be accomplished, I needed:
  • Staples Easy Button
  • Programmable microcontroller; I used a Teensy because it is cheap ($16) and gets the job done.
  • USB cable
  • Wire
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Small Phillips Screwdriver
  • Drill and/or knife
  • Patience

I cannot take credit for most of this project. My primary source was MAKEzine. Before starting this project, I watched that video twice, taking notes the second time.

The first thing that I did was take apart the Easy Button and remove everything that I didn't need. This included the metal bracket, the speaker, and all of the wires. Next I cut two holes. One from the battery compartment to where the speaker was, and also a slot in the battery compartment so the Teensy fits.

The battery compartment.

Next I soldered short wires, about 3" in length, from the button to the Teensy. I used ground ("GND") and "B2" as my pins on the Teensy.

The electronics.

Next I programmed the Teensy using this source code:

void setup() {
   Serial.begin(9600);
   randomSeed(analogRead(2));
   pinMode(2, INPUT_PULLUP);
   delay(5000);
}
void loop() {
   if (LOW == digitalRead(2)) {
      Keyboard.print(" ");
      delay(500);
   }
}

After programming the Teensy, it is time to test it. Your computer should recognize it as a plug-and-play USB Keyboard, and every time you press the button, it should print a space in a text editor, like you were using your Keyboard's spacebar.

If it all works fine, place the Teensy into the Easy Button like this:

The Teensy in the battery compartment.

Re-assemble the Easy Button until you get this far:

Easy Button mostly assembled.

Try it again, and if it still works, finish assembling it.

The finished product looks like this:

Easy Button fully assembled.

...and functions like this:

Congratulations, you have now built an Easy Button that emulates whatever keystroke you want it to!

Nintendo Wii Homebrew Metronome v1.3

Jan
14

I have recently updated my homebrew metronome for the Nintendo Wii. I have added a graphical interface (GUI), a practice timer, and the ability to set the number of beats in a measure. Firstly, I designed the interface from scratch in Photoshop, then I used libwiigui to help me create my first GUI ever.

You may download the Metronome here and the source code here. It is also available for direct download on the Wii through the Homebrew Browser. As of this writing, this has been downloaded over 30,000 times.