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Programmable illuminated "Push Button"

Posted on 2013-02-04
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Last Modified: 2013-02-24
This might be more in the "hobby electronics" category, but I'm wondering if anybody knows of a potential product or component that might work here:

I'm looking for a push button that I can fairly easily connect to a computer that can serve these functions:

   - Connect to the computer via some kind of standard interface (USB?)
   - Programmable API, driver or software to configure what happens when the button is pushed (e.g. execute a program?)
   - Programmable API, driver or software to configure when the switch is and is not illuminated (e.g. a program can send a "command" to the button to illuminate or not)

I know this is a pretty "generic" device... probably something closer to what Sparkfun or some other hobby electronics place would sell.

There's lots of pushbuttons out there, even illuminated pushbuttons, but making them talk to the COMPUTER without getting elbows deep into an Arduino or something is what I'm having trouble with.

Any ideas?
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Question by:Frosty555
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Expert Comment

by:aburr
ID: 38852524
Get an illuminated push button which has a separate lead to the lamp. Make a simple lamp driver with a single transistor and connect the base of the transistor. Connect the base to one of the programable wires in a usb connector. Another wire can be an input from the switch to the computer. (Make sure the voltages on the usb wires are reasonable.)
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Author Comment

by:Frosty555
ID: 38864904
I'm not sure I'm following you. You are suggesting you can write a driver that talks to a USB device and the USB device interface can be a simple as one single transistor connected to the data line?

Do you have any further information or details? What language would you write the driver in? Are there any examples of this sort of thing being done?
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

by:aburr
ID: 38865204
You are suggesting you can write a driver that talks to a USB device and the USB device interface can be a simple as one single transistor connected to the data line?
yes

Do you have any further information or details?
not much


 What language would you write the driver in?
any

Are there any examples of this sort of thing being done?
yes but I do not have any handy


--
The usb output has two data lines (pin 2 and 3) Each has two states. Can you program the lines?

The usb device is a simple one transistor switch with the collector tied to one end of the bulb in your switch with the other end of the bulb tied to the +5 usb line (pin 1). The base goes to the data line (through a resistor). The emitter is tied to ground (pin4)
Can you design a simple transistor switch?
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LVL 31

Author Comment

by:Frosty555
ID: 38874522
aburr,

I don't think this is going to work. Like I said I wanted to avoid creating this whole thing from scratch. I'm sure the transistor switch is fairly simple, but even writing a USB driver will prove to be overly challenging too - for one thing even after it is written it won't be signed by Microsoft, so installing it onto a system - which prohibit non-signed drivers and the only workaround being to disable it via a boot flag - is going to be difficult...

I need something higher level than what you are proposing here. Either a product that already does something like this, or ideas for what kinds of products I can cannibalize.
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Accepted Solution

by:
Frosty555 earned 0 total points
ID: 38905881
This sort of functionality seems to be addressed by enthusiasts of old arcade games. I can use something like a Jamma Board to emulate joystick button presses.

Then use a utility like Joy2Key to turn those button presses into executing a command, emulating a keystroke or some other function.

http://www.jammaboards.com/store/joysticks/

http://www-en.jtksoft.net/
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LVL 31

Author Closing Comment

by:Frosty555
ID: 38922745
found my own solution
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