There are times when it would be useful to have external buttons for your keyboard. This can let you make a custom gaming setup with foot pedals. You can make a simple data logger that tracks how often some event happens. Or you can just make a remote play switch to start and stop your music.
So in this project, I am going to show you a simple way to make external buttons for your computer keyboard.
Step 1: Materials
Large Push Light
Thin Insulated Wire
Step 2: Open the Housing of the Keyboard
The etched plastic sheets connect to a small circuit board. Whenever a button is pressed, the contacts on the plastic sheets touch and the circuit board registers key stroke.
Step 3: Locate the Key That You Want to Be Able to Activate With an External Switch
Step 4: Attach Wires to the Keyboard Contacts
Now you need to test it. Plug the keyboard into your computer. Then take the free ends of the two wires and touch them together. If everything is working properly, the computer should register the key stroke just as if the button had been pressed on the keyboard.
Step 5: Cut a Slot in the Side of the Housing for the Wires
Step 6: Select a Button That You Will Use to Activate the Keyboard
Step 7: If You Have a Latching Switch, Convert It Into a Momentary Switch
To do this, start by taking apart the housing of the switch. Be very careful not to lose any small pieces that might be inside. Somewhere inside the switch, there will be a pin or a hook of some kind. This is what latches the switch and holds it down. Carefully remove this pin. Then carefully reassemble the rest of the switch. Be sure to get all the small parts back in their original locations. If all went well, you should now have a momentary switch.
Step 8: Connect the Wires From the Keyboard to the Switch
After making these connections, you should again test it. Plug the keyboard into your computer and press the switch. If everything is working properly the computer should register the keystroke.
Step 9: Close Up the Housing of the Switch and the Keyboard
Step 10: Use Your New External Keyboard Switch
The only down side of this design is that you can't use that key on the keyboard while the external switch is attached. So if you want to be able to still type on the keyboard like normal, then you need to two keyboards. One will let you type and the other will have the external switches connected. This shouldn't be too much of a problem because you can get cheap keyboards at a thrift store and most computers have plenty of extra USB ports to use.
Step 11: Trouble Shooting
You can make the connection tighter by applying more tape. You can use a paper clip to hold the wire tightly against the contacts. Just cut a small hole in the plastic that will let you slide half of the paper clip to the other side of the plastic. You can also use conductive glue to attach the wires. If all else fails you can trace the wires back to where they connect to the circuit board and solder the wires directly to the circuit board.