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Hack: Make a keypad footswitch for a USB or RS-232 keypad

 
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Nakamichi
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:54 pm    Post subject: Hack: Make a keypad footswitch for a USB or RS-232 keypad Reply with quote

Anyone handy with a screwdriver and a soldering iron can easily add a footswitch to just about any Genovation product. It's easy to build a USB footswitch, a serial RS232 footswitch or even a PS/2 footswitch. This hack will demonstrate adding a double-footswitch to a mini data terminal (USB or RS232) but the procedure also applies to a keyboard product such as a ControlPad macro programmable keypad or even a numeric keypad.

Footswitches (or even relays for that matter) can be a great way to add remote operation of the PC keyboard or COM port and they add keyboard accessibility for people with disabilities and are commonly used for transcription, MIDI controllers, etc.

Here are just a few obvious candidates for adding a footswitch:

ControlPad 683:


MiniTerm 900:


Step 1: Collect the parts

You will need a foot switch. Any footswitch will do as long as it is of the NORMALLY OPEN variety, and it should be MOMENTARY.

Here I am using a Rolls RP8 double footswitch. This will allow me to operation two keys. It's also metal and quite durable. This one might be too expensive for many budgets.



It connects using a 1/4" stereo phone plug on a detachable cable



I am going to use a smaller 1/8" stereo headphone type jack on the keypad end. The cable was not included with this footswitch.



Finally you will need to source the jack that you will install in the keypad and some wire and solder. Here I'm using a Radio Shack 274-0246 jack.



Last edited by Nakamichi on Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:24 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Nakamichi
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Joined: 19 Jun 2007
Posts: 158
Location: HQ

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Step 2: Open the keypad and install the jack

Most of the Genovation keypads and mini data terminals can be opened by removing two screws from the bottom.



In this case the best location for the jack is at the far bottom right of the base, deep enough to avoid the circuit board and far enough over to avoid the parts that stick out from the circuit board.



Drill a hole and install the jack in the chassis base.



Our objective is to parallel two existing switches on the PCB. (Note that for a 904 you can create two new switch positions because the 904 doesn't use all 20 switch positions on the 12-key membrane). The common line on the PCB will be attached to the ground pin of the jack. The two switch signal lines will be attached to the tip and ring conductors of the jack.





Wire the jack to the PCB.





Last edited by Nakamichi on Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nakamichi
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Joined: 19 Jun 2007
Posts: 158
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Step 3: Button it up, create macros and test

Once reassembled, you should have something resembling this:





Finally, you need to create your macros or hot-keys that will be operated by the footswitch. In the case of the ControlPad 683 (or 682), you create your keyboard shortcut using MacroMaster683 (or MacroMaster682).



In the case of the MiniTerm family you can use the device in true RS-232 serial mode, in USB virtual serial mode or in USB HID keyboard mode (the latter case being roughly the same as the 683 or 682). For the MiniTerm 9xx family you will setup your shortcuts using MacroMaster232.



You may also want to look at KeyDriver if you want to use the COM port to launch programs.

http://www.genovation.com/download.htm

There is also another great program that lets you execute arbitrary command line strings received over the COM port:

http://www.datapath.co.uk/DRIVERS/COMport.zip
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