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Macro Foot Stool

It's a macro keyboard for my feet!

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So, I'm short. I use a small step stool under my desk because I have to have the chair so high, and dangling my legs is only fun for a while.

I've wanted to build a macro keyboard for years. I'm a writer, and to be a successful writer, it's important for me to keep my fingers glued to the keyboard. Otherwise, I start playing with my hair and going down musical rabbit holes on the YouTube. I figure, I've got this stool down there on the floor, not doing anything but supporting my underemployed feet. Why not make it into a tool of my trade?

Unless you've had to substitute them for hands your entire life, feet are pretty dumb and imprecise. This calls for comically large buttons I can press with my toes. The design of the stool makes it a pretty great enclosure. I can mount the microcontroller inside, away from most of the cat hair, and run a USB cable out one of the existing holes.

main.py

sssssssss

plain - 8.39 kB - 12/09/2019 at 03:25

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fzz - 83.78 kB - 10/30/2019 at 16:41

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lock.stl

Temporary, press-on lock for the hinges so the stool doesn't collapse and crush things

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 24.78 kB - 10/01/2019 at 15:43

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tray.stl

A carhop-style tray to hold the board

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 494.44 kB - 10/01/2019 at 15:43

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View all 6 components

  • Life in plastic, it's fantastic

    kristina panos10/01/2019 at 15:41 0 comments

    The red button finally came, and I was more than ready to solder it all up. I knew I was going to use a perma-proto board, but wasn't sure where or how to mount it. Adhesive foam is gross, and I don't really want to drill holes in the stool just to mount the board.


    The native openings in the stool are pretty convenient, both from a design standpoint and a getting-your-hands-in-there-to-work standpoint. I watched a lot of Flintstones reruns as a kid, and was reminded of the end credits and the giant t-bone that Fred orders at the drive-in restaurant on the way home from the drive-in movie.

    Here's a real-life carhop tray:


    I wanted to apply this principle and make a tray for the board that hangs on the bottom of the opening in the back. So here it is. STL is in the files.


    Another problem for the 3D printer --  lift the stool by the handle, and it folds up for storage. When you have a bunch of wires and electronics inside your stool, this is not idea.

    Again, I favor removable solutions where possible, so now there are foot stool lock caps. Again, STL is in the files.

    O

    Oh, and here's a video of it working.

  • Surprise! Now Get to Hacking

    kristina panos09/09/2019 at 18:47 0 comments

    Some of the untrackable buttons came early! The seller split the shipment into two—one with the red and one with the other three. This one was supposed to come after the single button package, so, bonus. I can get three quarters of the way there.

    The buttons go together easily.

    As it turns out, the stool comes apart and opens flat.

    The button shafts measured 1". At my brother's suggestion, I bought a Forstner bit and drilled slowly.



    Drilling through the stool was easier than I expected, and went a lot better than I imagined it would. You can probably see the X bracing on the inside of the stool, which is the thickest part (7mm).


    It took a while to drill all the way through, but the hole is nice and clean. Well, clean enough.

    aaaaaand it fits! The buttons are nice and clicky, but not too loud.

  • Message in a Bottle

    kristina panos09/03/2019 at 13:13 0 comments

    A year has passed since I bought my stuff

    I should have known this right from the start

    only hope can keep me together

    stuff can mend your life, but stuff can break your heart


    I ordered the buttons on 8/25, and got shipping notifications on 8/26 and 8/27 with unsearchable tracking numbers. Okay, whatever, they're on a slow boat from China.


    This morning I got an email from the seller that says:

    Dear valued customer

    The items was send out today with the good package.
    If you find anything wrong with the product when you receive it, please contact me first . We will solve it for you on the first time.
    Hope we can get your understand.Thank you in advance.

    Kindest regards,
    Customer Service Team

    So . . . yeah. The good package is coming. Okay.

  • The Waiting is the Hardest Part

    kristina panos08/26/2019 at 15:02 0 comments

    I found 45mm LED arcade buttons on the 'zon and ordered one each of red, blue, yellow, and green last night. The red one is shipping earlier than the other three, so I can start testing things and figuring out what size hole bit to buy.

  • I Like Big Buttons and I Cannot Lie

    kristina panos08/23/2019 at 16:26 0 comments

    But the 60mm buttons might be too big. I did some measurements on the stool, and they will likely hang down over the front hole. Worse, four of them would be a tight fit across the front.

    I wish there were 45mm buttons, or something. I think 30mm might be too small to hit with my toe without looking down to make sure I'm getting the right one, which kind of defeats the purpose.

    I will keep looking for buttons. I'm usually in my stocking feet or barefoot, so stomp box switches would probably hurt.


    UPDATE: As Santa Claus said in that M&M commercial they trot out every Christmas, they do exist!

View all 5 project logs

  • 1
    Gather parts and prepare the foot stool

    Open the stool flat and slowly drill holes for the 35mm arcade buttons using a 1" Forstner bit.

  • 2
    Test the buttons

    Mount the buttons on the stool and practice clicking them. This is important; do not skip this step. This is a good time to measure out lengths of wire for the buttons.

  • 3
    Wire that puppy up

View all 5 instructions

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Discussions

Dan Maloney wrote 11/06/2019 at 16:22 point

I miss Aldi. There aren't any past the Midwest, other than California. I hear they'll be expanding nationwide, but not soon enough. I'll have to stock up when I go to Supercon!

I like this idea. I'm not short, but I do use a stool as a foot rest under my desk. I should think about macro-izing it too.

  Are you sure? yes | no

kristina panos wrote 11/10/2019 at 04:35 point

Hooray! Do it! :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ken Yap wrote 08/22/2019 at 11:28 point

Ha Aldi, no wonder the picture looked familiar! 👍, er I mean, 🦶!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Øystein wrote 08/22/2019 at 09:03 point

Nice idea! I heard the teensy microcontrollers is quite popular for custom keyboards as it can present itself as keyboard to the computer.

  Are you sure? yes | no

kristina panos wrote 08/23/2019 at 16:27 point

Thank you! Teensy is high on the list for sure.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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