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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

Here are the materials and tools that you will need for this project.

Materials
Keyboard
Large Push Light
Masking Tape
Thin Insulated Wire

Tools
Wire Strippers
Knife
Screw Driver
<p>Thanks for the tutorial. Worked good. </p>
<p>Hi! I'm trying to do the same did you use some kind of cable in particular? I was using the tiny cables inside a network cable with no luck. I'm new to this and any help would mean a lot. Thanks!</p>
<p>I just used a regular electrical cable. Not a single wire cable but one with multiple strands. Drilled a hole on top left corner to feed the wire through.</p>
<p>Awesome, I've been working on something similar using an arduino leonardo</p>
<p>Thank you for this great tutorial. This gave me an idea for my next stuff to tinker with, but I'm not sure if it would work because I don't know about electronics stuff. So, will this work if the pushbutton is 5 (or more) meters away? Can this be done with only 1 keyboard and 10 pushbuttons? If not, what workaround can be done to achieve this?</p>
Yes. If you have a good connection, the distance shouldn't really matter. You can use as many keys as you want. But it can be difficult to setup multi-key functions that use the same keys.
<p>Really!? Wow! Our problem is solved . . . thanks to this instructable (and to you). One more thing, any ideas on the kind of wire that is best for this setup? My friends and I are going to make a quiz buzzer sytem out of this.</p>
<p>I would recommend using fairly thin wire so that it can fit between the sheets on the keyboard. If you use larger wires, use stranded rather than solid wire. </p>
<p>well actually if cable is really long this can cause to some problems, in some cases it will may not work, or can work as different key.</p><p>this is happened to me. that is why I had to update my project to arduino.</p>
<p>i made it but no pictures basicly my mom bought lots of halloween decoration and you know how there is those buttons it comes with i used one of those and put it directly under the spacebar i wired to to F3 for minecraft</p>
<p>Thanks for the 'ible, just used it as an inspiration to add palm keys to my keyboard! I was able to maintain functionality of the original keys by using a small wire hooked up to one of the extra, unused contacts. </p>
<p>Hello, and thank you very much for great tutorial, I think it might be only one of it&acute;s kind (that I found)! I have a question, do you think, that I can trigger the key not by external USB button, but with switch, that will send 5V impulse? Thank you again :)</p>
<p>It depends on the kind of keyboard that you have. I had the best luck just using a regular switch/button and one wire on each side of the keyboards key conductors. If you want to get more complicated you can setup an Arduino that will activate certain functions certain functions when a button it's pressed.</p>
I have exactly the same keyboard
<p>The keyboard matrix is simply a bunch of contacts laid out in columns and rows. Each combination of a single column contact and row contact produces a keystroke. You can do away with the keyboard itself and just keep the controller circuit. So you could make a box with say four footswitches to control cursor movement (or whatever).</p>
<p>awesome !</p><p>47K views on instructables but only 5K views on youtube? what the hell?</p><p>youtube doesn't count embedded views anymore?</p>
<p>Embedded view do count. But most people who click on an instructable, don't read through it or watch embedded videos.</p>
<p>Excellent, quite fancy doing this with a passive IR sensor - wave your hand to play/pause!</p>
<p>I was inspired by this instructable! It helped me to make https://www.instructables.com/id/Google-Voice-Search-O-Matic/</p>
<p>Would this hack work for multiple-key commands like [Ctrl-Alt-Del] or [Ctrl-X / Ctrl-C / Ctrl-V]. I do data entry and that'd seriously make my day.</p><p>Either way, great instructable! Really clear and straightforward! </p>
Yes. You can activate multiple keys. But it may be easier to connect to one of the function keys and program it to shortcut a given command.
<p>I saw this on Facebook, and immediately thought I need one of these</p><p>Source: <a href="http://www.somethingofthatilk.com/index.php?id=274" rel="nofollow">http://www.somethingofthatilk.com/index.php?id=274</a></p>
<p>This is the best thing I have seen all day!</p>
<p>One way to use this is to connect it to a foot switch to take the load off one's fingers. For example, it could be connected to the shift key so when one wants to key in a capital letter they use the foot switch to shift up. Or the enter key would be a good one.</p>
<p>Instruction readers should note that the button you use on the keyboard you hack will no longer be usable on the external keyboard except through the external button, due to tape blocking the contact.<br><br>Has anyone found a solder that can adhere to the sheets? I made an attempt during an earlier project, and it just rolls off. I ended up having to solder directly to the encoder, which was fine for my purposes.</p>
<p>I have seen a conductive adhesive for use as a cold solder. That might work for you. Last time I saw it was at All Electronics.</p>
<p>This is a great hack - and a good gateway to hacking keyboard controllers! A quick and easy way to retain use of your chosen key is to follow those little tracks back to the keyboard controller circuit board and with luck you will be able to attach your wires there instead. Then you can do without the spare keyboard entirely - a hack I used on my arcade machine (http://youtu.be/pcR7ylW-Gok)</p>
<p>One of the things knitters bemoan, is the fact that we have to take our hands off our knitting to page down when we read while we're knitting. This is a perfect solution. I'm going to pass this around my knitting community (Ravelry). I suspect you're going to register a lot of hits. Thanks so much for fixing a long-known wish!</p>
<p>YEAH!! Thanks, I never would have put this together with my knitting, but I need it. :D</p>
<p>Also consider using a USB Keyboard external IO interface. One of the best known is the Ultimarc iPac and MiniPac designed for building MAME consoles. It makes it easy to add lots of external buttons. Of course, not as free as hacking a spare keyboard, but it's much easier to setup and modify.</p>
<p>This is something that special education teachers use all the time. It's usually very expensive as well. Great job!</p>
<p>woooo this could become an awesome racing game controller. thnx.</p>
<p>this is awesome, I made this with a old doorbell and added a autohotkey script, now I can pauze and play my music with a doorbell!!!</p>
That's cool. I like it.
<p>You could also build an external device with something like Adafruit's Bluefruit or a Teensy!</p>
<p>great, it can be useful in many circumstances </p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: My name is Jason Poel Smith I am a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker ... More »
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