Instructables

Desk Panic Button

Picture of Desk Panic Button


When I was a kid my father had a panic button under his desk that was wired to call 911. While I thought this was pretty cool at the time, it later occurred to me that he had this because the neighborhood that his business was located in was a bit rough, and -- perhaps -- we were in perpetual danger. Nonetheless, I always thought the idea of having a panic button was pretty darn neat. Perhaps this notion stuck with me for so long of a time because I was never allowed to press it as a kid. It was 'off limits,' and thus a very appealing idea.

Now that I am an adult and have a desk of my own, I resolved that I too needed a panic button. However, I feel like one that calls 911 has limited use in my line of work, and my opportunity for panic was probably less severe. So, I decided that I needed to tone it down a bit. The under desk panic button that I have created dials my own phone when it's pressed.

Of course, you may be wondering why on Earth I would want to call my own phone. Think of this way -- an annoying coworker walks over to your desk with the intention of locking you into a long dull impromptu meeting. You have nowhere to run; nowhere to hide. There is only one way to get out of this -- you need something more important to do. Perhaps now you can see how a device that places a call to yourself may come in extremely useful. If you still can't see it, picture this; Your phone rings. You explain that you need to take this important call. In fact, this is going to take a while. You will need to continue this conversation later. Crisis averted thanks to the Desk Panic Button.
 
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Step 1: Go Get Stuff

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You will need:

(x1) Arduino Uno (Radioshack #276-128)
(x1) GPRS shield (Radioshack  #276-246)
(x1) SIM card (Radioshack #17-8167)
(x1) CR1220 coin battery (Radioshack #23-793)
(x1) Momentary button switch (Radioshack #275-646)
(x2) 1/8" mono jacks (Radioshack #274-251)
(x1) 1/8" male to male mono cable (Radioshack #42-2420)
(x1) M-type power jack (Radioshack #274-1582)
(x1) M-type power plug (Radioshack #274-1569)
(x1) 1" x 2" x 3" project enclosure (Radioshack #270-1801)
(x1) 2" x 2.5" x 5" project enclosure (Radioshack #270-1803)
(x1) 9V power supply (Radioshack #273-355)
(x1) 6" x 6" x 1/8" acrylic sheet
(x1) 1" x 4-40 nut and bolt
(x2) 1" x 6-32 wood screw

Step 2: Prep the Shield

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Plug the CR1220 battery into the socket on the GPRS shield, and insert the SIM card.

Step 3: Insert

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Insert the GPRS shield into the Arduino.

Step 4: Drill

Drill a 1/4" hole centered and the 1" x 2" side of the smaller project box.

Drilll a 1/2" hole centered on the other 1" x 2" side.

Step 5: Pushbutton

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Insert the pushbutton into the 1/2" hole and fasten it in place with its mounting nut.

Step 6: Jack

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Insert the 1/8" jack and fasten it into place with its mounting nut.

Step 7: Drill

Put the Arduino and GPRS shield into the large 2" x 2.5" x 5" project enclosure. Make a mark on the outside of the project enclosure approximately where the antenna jack is on the opposite wall. Drill through this mark with a 1/2" drill bit.

On the opposite side of the project box, drill a 1/4" hole on the center face for the 1/8" jack.

Drill another 1/4" hole right around the corner on the 5" x 2" face of the enclosure for the power jack.

Step 8: Attach

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Insert a 1/8" jack into the 1/4" hole that has been drilled center in the 2"  x 2.5"  face of the larger project enclosure. Fasten it firmly in place with its mounting nut.

Insert the M-type power jack into the other 1/4" hole and fasten it in place with a mounting nut.

Step 9: Solder

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Solder a red wire from one of the solder lugs on the pushbutton switch to the signal terminal on the 1/8" jack.

Solder a black wire from the other solder lug of the pushbutton switch to the ground terminal on the 1/8" jack.

Step 10: Connect Wires

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Solder a 6" black wire to the ground terminal on the M-type power socket, and a 6" red wire to the signal terminal.

Solder a 6" black wire to the ground terminal on the 1/8" jack.

Solder a 10K resistor and a 6" red wire to the signal terminal on the 1/8" jack.

Finally, solder a 6" green wire to the other side of the 10K resistor.

Step 11: Power Plug

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Take apart the M-type plug and slide the casing onto the red and black wire.

Solder the red wire to the plug's tip terminal, and the black wire to the plug's barrel terminal.

Screw the casing back onto the plug.

Step 12: Program

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Program the Arduino with the following code:

Step 13: Wire It Up

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Insert the M-type plug into the power input on the Arduino.

Connect the green wire wire to the 5V socket on the GPRS shield.

Connect the black wire to the ground socket on the GPRS shield.

Connect the red wire to pin 2on the GPRS shield.

Step 14: Attach the Antenna

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Thread the antenna onto the GPRS shield through the hole in the project box.

Step 15: Case Closed

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Close the case on the project box with screws.

Step 16: Cut

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Cut a piece of 1/8" acrylic using the attached template.

The solid black area around the center hole should be etched down 1/16".

Step 17: Drill

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Drill a 1/8" hole in the center of the 3" x 2" side of the smaller project box.

Step 18: Attach

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Place the mounting bracket just shy of the edge of the desk and use the two outer holes to make marks for drilling.

Drill these marks using a 3/32" drill bit.

Place the 4-40 nut into the etched portion of the center hole and then firmly mount the acrylic bracket to the desk with 6-32 wood screws.

Step 19: Mount

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Place the open edge of the smaller project box around the 1/8" acrylic bracket.

Fasten it in place with 1" bolt.

Step 20: Power

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Plug the 9V power adapter into the power jack installed in the larger project enclosure. Place this unit somewhere inconspicuous.

The whole system should now be active.

Step 21: Use

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Wait until an unwanted conversation presents itself, and then DON'T PANIC!

Discretely press the button, and politely excuse yourself when the phone rings.
1-40 of 51Next »
parisusa10 months ago
I'd like a panic button attached to a trap door in my floor which opens - dropping unsuspecting bores into a pit of snakes - :)
sf49ers parisusa3 months ago

lol!

Ploopy5 months ago

Cool!

eddevine9 months ago
What SIM card are you using? The ones I've seen require an expensive plan with a provider
elabz11 months ago
It's an interesting idea but, boy, that's a lot of extra equipment to do what your phone system is already capable of doing.

Is that an Avaya 5410 (5610) phone I see on your desk? Depending on what it's hooked up to, the system may be easily programmed to ringdown to your own extension when you go off hook on an analog phone.

You pretty much only need a pair of wires going back to the phone system (likely already have it), an analog port on it and insides of an old analog phone (like a "Princess" phone, a $2 flea market item). Well, that and buddying up to your phone system admin, of course. S/he'll need to setup a ringdown feature (?D) for that analog extension. So, you press the button closing the hook contacts of the analog phone and the system calls you up on your digital/IP extension automatically. The actual electronics content of a "Princess" phone is about the size of a credit card, can easily conceal it under the desk. 
DanNixon elabz11 months ago
If they have it setup with the IP Office software or TAPI driver then you could do it with a simple batch script.
elabz DanNixon11 months ago
Hey Dan, sure, that will work, too. They'll have to setup a physical button as a trigger - I thought the physical button was a requirement. Come to think of it - that's pretty easy, too. I have a green AMD button they used to supply with their processors a few years back, I'm sure thousands of people have it collecting dust in a drawer somewhere. It emulates a keyboard with only one key. I forgot which key but it's easy to lookup online. I'm not much of a Windows guy but there should be something of a hotkey software on Win that looks for that button press and runs the batch script you're talking about. Totally doable.
randofo (author)  elabz11 months ago
Interesting to know. I doubt our phone systems are currently set up for that and I think the IT folks are not going to be keen on me messing with it, but, you never know... will look into it.
Crafthead302011 months ago
Smart.
syweezy11 months ago
I love this!
coda87611 months ago
Genious
dchev11 months ago
How did your dad do this back in the day without arduino? Seems like there's got to be a simpler way
A P3RS0N dchev11 months ago
99.999999% of the time, premade under-desk panic button systems (very common in banks, shady-area businesses, jewelers, etc.) have a single wire that connects to a commercial alarm system, which in turn contacts the alarm company (who knows what business it is, where they are, etc.), who in turn call emergency services.

I don't think they're generally connected directly to phone lines. If they were, it could present a problem if the phone line is in use when the panic button is pressed.
Veda88 A P3RS0N11 months ago
This is not meant to call the police, this is meant to call your own phone so that you can say, "I have to take this". To get rid of someone talking to you.
Right, but he was explaining how it was done back in the day without programming, not how to make this device. That is how almost all panic buttons function. Like those LifeAlert commercials you see on TV, except wired into the desk/wall.
GorillazMiko11 months ago
Interesting.
thesamhill11 months ago
An alternate idea is to use Google Voice, AutoHotKey, and an unused keyboard key. Link your office phone to Voice. Write an AHK script to open Google Voice and send "c" to open the quick call popup. Then send keystrokes, tabs, and enters to get it to call a robot-answered number.

It doesn't matter what the number is, because Google Voice will call your number first then try to connect to the other number once you answer.

If you really want to be fancy you could fix a programmable mouse under your desk to be more like the original panic button.
KROKKENOSTER11 months ago
Years ago when I was working for SA Railways we installed something similar in the ticket office but with a foot switch as when the villains hold them up the clerk just step on the switch with his hands on top of the desk
iceng11 months ago
Of course you have already found the way to disguise the "Button" from
prying eyes like :
  • A hall sensor and tiny NIB glued to a sheet of paper on that desk w delay.
  • A sub dermal trigger.
  • A two or three step head tilt motive.
  • A vocal clue or lip smack.
  • A chair position sequence repeated backwards.
  • A piezo response to a desk drumming finger pattern.
A
HeliPilot111 months ago
Love the idea, although a flip saftey for the switch might be a need. Say something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Pico-5569pt-Black-Toggle-Cover/dp/B001RPRL3G/ref=pd_sim_sbs_auto_2
Because you've published this, now all your co-workers will know none of the calls you receive while they are at your desk are not genuine.....?
monty32411 months ago
Randofo, like all of your projects I love it and I want to build it. Voted
MidnightMaker11 months ago
Great idea!
rasterweb11 months ago
Interesting! I'd consider building an alternate version that uses the Twilio API to place a voice call to my phone. That would remove the need for the GPRS shield and SIM card, as I could just use an Ethernet shield with an Arduino to ping a private URL to trigger it. Alternately, a Raspberry Pi could be put into service, which has built in Ethernet (or you could use a WiFi dongle.)
sunjum11 months ago
Hey , what kind of camera did you use? the pictures look amazing
randofo (author)  sunjum11 months ago
I used a Pentax K-7. Not a popular brand these days, but I have been very happy with it.
garrader11 months ago
Don't limit yourself to a desk, why not put it in your pocket for any situation!
sunjum11 months ago
Hey , what kind of camera did you use? the pictures look amazing
omalachowski11 months ago
Hey, this is an amazing instructible, but wouldn't it be much simpler and cheaper just to trigger the bell directly on the phone with a 9v? This would bypass all the cell phone stuff and most of the expense, since all you need is some wire, a button and a battery.

I guess your way is the NASA way and this would be the cosmonaut way. Try the pencil.
-Olaf
Zclip11 months ago
I wonder how difficult it would be for me to make a usb version that would shut down my system and save off all open projects in sequentially numbered files (Ex. "Panic-01.*, Panic-02.*) If I have no experience in the black arts of programming, and can barely remember how to write a .BAT file
Closer11 months ago
If you have a landline on your desk now, you could use a splitter and tie in a second disposable phone that has an auto dialer. Pressing the button would activate a few simple relays that would pick up the line and autodial whatever number had been programmed. No coding or processors needed.
Darkmon11 months ago
Awsome. Always wanted a panic button that shoots spears or lasers, but there ya go! What ya got is what ya got. Great instructable!
Darkmon11 months ago
Awsome. Always wanted a panic button that shoots spears or lasers, but there ya go! What ya got is what ya got. Great instructable!
iglesia77711 months ago
Great idea. I wonder if it would be cheaper/easier to just have your phone play whatever audio track is the same as your ringtone? Or just make it vibrate. Could probably do that with just the arduino and an app (ie no GPRS shield, sim card).
Forgot to mention the need of an ethernet shield too. So not a ton cheaper.
dwream11 months ago
Years ago, when I was very young, I offered my Mother a primitive version of this device: I offered to install a button connected to her doorbell next to her kitchen telephone to help her end boring telephone conversations. I realized how effective this was when I phoned her and she answered with, "Sorry, dear, I can't talk. I just heard the doorbell ring!"
HollyMann12 months ago
This is AWESOME!!!! I'm living in a rough neighborhood myself now and it would be cool to have a 911 button!!! :) Love it!!!! And your photos are incredibly clear!
randofo (author)  HollyMann11 months ago
This actually would probably not be ideal for an actual 911 button. For that you would probably want an actual phone line. One of these days I'm going to make something that connects to a phone line and does strange things...

Yes. Photos. I spend a lot of time on photos...
HollyMann randofo11 months ago
Good to know! :) I look fwd to seeing more of your cool instructables...:)
Lindie11 months ago
Haha!!! Good one!
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