I was recently contacted by an artist who really liked The Big Button and wanted to use it for an art installation. After some discussion it turned out they really didn’t need a USB controller but needed something to trigger an audio player. When I asked what they were going to use for an audio player they said they didn’t know, so I suggested building the whole thing to ensure it would all work together. And it did.
The control box (which is the “audio player” in the simplest terms) allows the button to plug into it using a 3.5mm TRS cable. This allows the customer to swap out to a longer or shorter cable if needed. 3.5mm TRS stereo cables are everywhere and pretty cheap. Since we only need three wires there’s no need for a more complex connection. (Though if you need an RJ-45 solution, we’ve got that covered.)
The control box also has a 3.5mm jack for audio out. This is to connect to external powered speakers or a PA system. (Or headphones!) And in the center of the front panel is a Mini USB jack for powering the unit via a Mini USB cable and a 5 volt wall wart.
There’s a hole on the side of the unit for access to the Micro SD card in the audio player. Just in case sounds ever need to be changed, or if the card fails, etc. Without this hole it would be very difficult to get to the card. (Just like the Game Show Buzzer System I covered the hole with tape before shipping.)
Here’s a look inside the unit. There’s an Arduino Nano with the audio player, and the 3.5mm jack and… some wires! And a few wire connectors taped together just to prevent them from rattling. This was a quick build but it came together fairly easily. I did a good amount of testing with this one, and luckily it all went well. (I should really build a permanent testing station again, as it’s becoming of a need lately.)
So hey, if you need some weird electronic device that does something… let me know!