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Emulating a Keystroke using a Staples Easy Button

A friend and client of mine owns a DJ business. He has photo booths that he brings to events as part of a Wedding or DJ package.

The booths are home made. I believe that he uses the program Photobooth on a Mac to take the pictures, and needed an easy way for people to step into the booth and press one button to take a picture. For this reason, I needed to make a Staples® Easy Button™ emulate the spacebar character.

For this to be accomplished, I needed:

  • a Staples® Easy Button™
  • a programmable microcontroller; I used a Teensy because it is cheap ($16) and gets the job done.
  • a USB cable
  • wire
  • a soldering iron
  • a small Phillips Screwdriver
  • a drill and/or knife
  • patience
  • I cannot take credit for most of this project. My primary source was MAKEzine. Before starting this project, I watched that video twice, taking notes the second time.

    The first thing that I did was take apart the Easy Button™ and remove everything that I didn't need. This included the metal bracket, the speaker, and all of the wires. Next I cut two holes. One from the battery compartment to where the speaker was, and also a slot in the battery compartment so the Teensy fits.

    The battery compartment.

    Next I soldered short wires, about 3" in length, from the button to the Teensy. I used ground ("GND") and "B2" as my pins on the Teensy.

    The electronics.

    Next I programmed the Teensy using this source code:

    After programming the Teensy, it is time to test it. Your computer should recognize it as a plug-and-play USB Keyboard, and every time you press the button, it should print a space in a text editor, like you were using your Keyboard's spacebar.

    If it all works fine, place the Teensy into the Easy Button™ like this:

    Teensy in the battery compartment.

    and re-assemble the Easy Button™ until you get this far:

    Easy Button™ mostly assembled.

    Try it again, and if it still works, finish assembling it.

    The finished product looks like this:

    A Staples Easy Button Keystroke Emulator

    and functions like this:

    Congratualtions, you have now built an Easy Button™ that emulates whatever keystroke you want it to!



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