I needed a durable, reliable foot switch that I could use to send signals to my PC. Ideally, I wanted the switch to be mapped to a mouse event or a keyboard shortcut. I'll show you how I accomplished that for just a few dollars.
You can use this for a variety of purposes such as controlling the push to talk function of voice communication software, while keeping your hands free for gaming. This can also help people who suffer from repetitive stress injuries.
In my case, I wanted a foot-switch to control the operation of a photo booth.
Here's what you will need:
- a guitar pedal - I got a Boss FS-5U from Starving Musician my local used music store. I had planned to use an effect pedal, and would have needed to rewire the pedal internals to make it into a simple momentary off/on switch, but the FS-5U was ideal because it already is just a momentary switch meant to be used as a trigger, so it didn't require any modification to work.
- a guitar cable of adequate length ($3 used at the used music store)
- a 2-conductor guitar jack (you can get these online for around $2 each, but I got two of them on a mounting plate from a deceased amplifier for $1 at the used music store).
- A USB mouse. I actually bought the cheapest one I could find for $5
- some primary wire (~16-18 GA)*
- a soldering iron*
- some solder*
- a digital multi-meter*
- wire cutters / wire stripper*
Step 1: Disassemble the USB mouse
The left and right and center mouse buttons are clearly visible once the cover is removed. Beneath the outer plastic shell of the mouse, they are simply surface-mount micro switches.