Homemade PC Foot Pedal (USB or DB-9 Ports)

Introduction: Homemade PC Foot Pedal (USB or DB-9 Ports)

Have you ever wished you had a 3rd hand, and a 4th, and a 5th? A foot pedal is a handy device when you type the lyrics of a song for example or to turn the pages of the sheet music while practising your guitar. You can also generate keystrokes as if from a keyboard. Pedals are also useful for controlling all kinds of devices and software.

A classic foot pedal has three pedals that control the PLAY-REWIND-FFORWARD of an audio software like ExpressScribe (free at http://www.nch.com.au/scribe).

But it can do a lot more with PEDABLE.com. Here's what NCH people say about it, ‘Pedable foot pedal software lets you emulate keyboard and mouse functionality using your foot pedal. This clever little piece of software will increase your productivity and make getting through your day-to-day tasks a breeze.’ And it's free at http://www.nch.com.au/footpedal/

So, let's update/recycle these old devices.


1) An old foot pedal

You may find used foot pedals on the Net, hospitals, medical transcribers, secretaries, court reporters, scopists. I don't think it will cost you much as these things are not used any more. The Lanier foot pedal is well-known, but there are many other brands on the market that will work. You may also find a play/stop foot pedal (only one pedal) where only 1 wire is used (follow the instructions for welding the PLAY and Ground to DB-9).

This design does not work with electronic foot pedals. The difference between the two models is the mechanical open/close circuits (black boxes) used for PLAY-REWIND-FFORWARD which do not exist in the electronic model.

2) a screwdriver

3) a cutter

4) a soldering pencil and flux

5) a female DB-9 connector case

6) a male DB-9 to USB adaptor if you don't have a DB-9 port on your computer.

This stuff is easy to find and cheap.


Cut off the switch that connects to the recorder/player.

Open the foot pedal.

Follow the welding instructions for the foot pedal. Leave those wires already connected in the right places. Remove those that are not needed. Weld new wires where needed.

Notice the tie wrap around the wires just before they come out. This is to prevent the wires from being accidentally pulled away.


Now, you have four wires that need to be welded onto DB-9. It's a delicate operation, take care.

1) Weld wire from Tab 2 of REWIND to PIN 4 on DB-9

2) Weld wire from Tab 3 of REWIND to PIN 6

3) Weld wire from Tab 3 of FFORWARD to PIN 9

4) Weld wire from Tab 3 of PLAY to PIN 1

The first picture shows where the wires are to be welded. Do NOT cut the lead wire to the foot pedal :-(


If you have a DB-9 connector on your computer, you're ready for the next step. You're going to test your foot pedal with PEDABLE.COM. Install the software and use the included wizard to install a generic serial foot pedal. In PEDABLE, assign a command to one of the pedals. For example, assign Control-S to PLAY and see if it saves a document in Notepad when you press PLAY (the largest pedal). Test the 3 pedals. If it works, close the foot pedal and have fun. If it does not work, check the wires and the weld. It is very unusual that the mechanical circuits fail, but I guess anything can happen. You'll find replacement parts easily on the Net, but be ware that the open/close door circuit for a microwave oven doesn't work.

Step 4: STEP 4 - DB-9 TO USB PORT

If you don't have a DB-9 connector on your computer, you'll have to get a male DB-9 to USB adaptor. They're less than $10. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to install the USB adaptor. Usually, it creates a virtual com port that works well with PEDABLE as a generic serial driver. Use the included wizard in PEDABLE.COM to install your foot pedal. Test your foot pedal as described in step 3. In my experience, always use the same USB port otherwise the virtual com port has to be reprogrammed.

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