Introduction: Foot Controller for Presentations

Have you ever wanted to click through a PowerPoint slideshow without your hands? Do you have a cheap or slightly broken computer keyboard lying around?

This Instructable will hopefully help you get started solving those problems.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Materials:
- keyboard (I used a Dell Multimedia Keyboard that was missing some keys)
- container large enough for keyboard circuit board (I used an old Tupperware container)
- 1/4" headphone jack (one for each key you want to be able to use)
- a few short wires (I used strands from solid core Cat5 cable)
- foot switch(es), or other (momentary, normally open) switch, such as this

Tools:
Screwdriver
Drill
Utility knife (or similar sharp instrument)
Handheld rotary tool (optional)

Step 2: Disassemble Keyboard

Unfortunately I don't have pictures of this step, but randofo has some good instructions.

The keyboard I used has a circuit board for the keyboard portion as well as one for the attached USB hub.

Step 3: Drill and Cut Appropriate Holes and Slots

If you just want to be able to plug in the foot switch(es), all you need is a hole for each of your jacks and a slot for the USB cable.

For my build, I wanted to be able to make use of the USB hub as well as the multimedia buttons on the circuit board. This meant that I had to cut slots in the side for the USB ports, and drill holes for the buttons.

To get the locations of the buttons I scanned the circuit board, printed it at 100%, and taped that to the lid as a template for drilling. It probably would be easier to use a photocopier, but I don't happen to have one in my workshop.

Step 4: Solder Wires

Solder some short wires to each of the (two) terminals on each of your jacks.

Determine which combinations from the two sets of pads will trigger the appropriate keystrokes. You can do this either by tracing the connections on the plastic that sits under the keys, or by connecting it to a computer and systematically connecting pairs. On this keyboard I believe it was F and 1 that triggered a PgDn keystroke, and H and 1 that triggered a PgUp. Again I'll refer you to randofo's Instructable for more information.

Scrape off the black stuff to expose the copper underneath that you can solder on to. I usually use a dissecting microscope for small soldering, but this should be big enough to see fine with your naked eyes.

By naked eyes, I don't mean to discourage the use of safety glasses.

In my build, I soldered the "sleeves" of the jacks together and then soldered one of them to the wire that connects to "1". I then soldered the wires from "F" and "H" to the tips of the respective jacks.

Step 5: Attach the Electronics to the Case

Insert the jacks through the holes that you drilled, and tighten the nuts.

You may be able to use some of the screws that originally held the keyboard together in order to mount the circuit board, or you may just put everything inside the box and not worry about having buttons poking through holes in the box.

Close the lid and admire your handiwork.

Step 6: Uses

Now you have a little box that you can plug into a computer and
- control PowerPoint while keeping your hands free
- allow students with limited dexterity to interact with the computer
- use more limbs for computer gaming (e.g. throw grenades with a foot switch)
- control sheet music display in a pdf viewer (thanks caitlinsdad)

Comments

author
caitlinsdad (author)2010-10-22

Nice.

Could you identify which keys correspond to the switches you have on the pedal? And is that a joystick/mouse button in the center? I'm not sure of what the 1/4"jacks would connect to? (You can label right on the images, drag a box and edit text). I was thinking of using something like this to control the pdf viewer when the laptop displays scanned sheet music. Thanks.

author
MisterHay (author)caitlinsdad2010-10-23

The 1/4" jacks are for plugging in the foot switch, which has a 1/4" plug. You're right, though I should label them on the photos.

That dial in the center is the volume control from the keyboard.

Good idea about using this with sheet music in a pdf viewer. I'll add that as a suggestion to my last step too, if you don't mind.

author
caitlinsdad (author)MisterHay2010-10-23

I thought the tupperware box itself was placed on the floor as the footswitch but I see that would be the desktop "remote" control. Those music display systems start at $800, sure, they scroll and highlight the notes but I just need something to flip the pages as I try to play.

About This Instructable

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Bio: Husband, Father, Educator, Facilitator, Nerd.
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