Instructables

Make a Staples Easy Button (tm) Control your computer

Picture of Make a Staples Easy Button (tm) Control your computer
This project is inspired by several existing really creative Easy Button hacks I've seen on Instructables.  This one is a bit cheaper than the others.  It's not wireless, nor a game show, and takes a little more work, but it'll get you going quickly :-)
 
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Step 1: Tools and Parts

I used the Teensy 2.0, available directly from them or from Adafruit for $20.  It's got USB support built in, and can be programmed using the Arduino IDE or directly with avr-gcc as you prefer.  We'll be using the Arduino IDE, so install that and TeensyDuino.

We will program the Teensy to send a unique keystroke combination, Meta-Alt-Control-W, that will be intercepted on the computer - for Windows you can use AutoHotkey, for Mac you can use QuickSilver, and for Linux you can set it up directly in the Window Manager's preferences using xev or keytouch.

You'll need to do a little scripting, but the Lifehacker links I used above have many common script libraries to get you started.

Finally, you'll need an Easy Button.

For tools you'll need a P0 or P1 philips screwdriver, a soldering iron, and about a foot of hookup wire.  A coping saw or hacksaw is helpful for cutting the hole for the usb port into the side of the button, but a pair of pliers will do just fine with the relatively soft plastic, it will just look a bit more ragged.  Not pictured are an xacto knife or small flat screwdriver, and a wire cutter/stripper.

Disclaimer:  I'm not affiliated with Microsoft, Apple, PJRC, Adafruit, Lifehacker, Quicksilver, Autohotkey, nor Staples.  I just like their products and used them in this Instructable.

Any soldering or other hacking is at your own risk.
PhotonPunk1 year ago
Great Instructable! My wife wanted me to make her a button that she could press to open a new internet window easily. I used your code and wiring guide to re-purpose an antique Telegraph Key to do this. Works great. Thanks.
button.JPG

That is so cool!!!

Stimpack8 months ago
You can do it, Vinny! Also this looks like a lot of fun, I think I'll try it later. =)
so you can get this to preform any task? like open a program, etc? It's kind of hard to see in your video, what does the widow that pops up say?
rmd6502 (author)  amandaghassaei1 year ago
Oh the popup window says "There, that was easy" :-)
rmd6502 (author)  amandaghassaei1 year ago
Hi Amanda,
Yeah, on the mac Quicksilver is quite flexible - I'm using an Applescript, which has hooks into most mac programs, but you could use a shell or any executable file too. The mailcount script (attached to the instructable), for example, will start the Mail.app if it's not running, and I have scripts that will send messages also.
I played a bit with AutoHotKeys on Windows, which seems to have about the same capabilities. It can start apps, click buttons on windows, pop up dialogs, play sounds, etc.