I need to build a box with 12 momentary push button switches for 12 separate lighting sources. I plan to plug 12 fluorescent lights into the box, then I'd like to control the lights with the push buttons (so I can turn them on and off along with music). This will accompany a theatrical performance.

Here's what I'm thinking: Start with a 12-outlet surge protector power strip. Disassemble it and splice a push-button switch over each outlet's black wire. House the whole thing in a box with the switches on one side (so I can operate them easily).

I need help with the following:

  • Finding the right switch: would a Momentary SPST NO Push Button Switch AC 6A/125V 3A/250V work for my needs?
  • Finding the right housing: From what I'm reading online, a metal housing would be best to help ground the switches. But, I don't have a metalworking shop so I won't be able to custom-build a metal case. My original thought was to use a thick plastic box, which would be easier to drill and cut holes into. If I really should use a metal box, would a metal lunchbox work? What tools would I need to drill and cut into it?

Please let me know if there are any other considerations for my project, as this is my first project of this kind. Thanks!

If it helps, I'm using these lights: http://www.homedepot.com/p/GE-Slim-Line-23-in-Fluorescent-Light-Fixture-10169/202024437 -- I may need to string two of these lights together (they can connect to each other)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Fluorescent lights don't switch on quickly, and aren't at full brightness until they've been on for a while so may not be a choice for lighting. \$\endgroup\$
    – JRE
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks @JRE -- I'm also looking into using these: homedepot.com/p/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Ghan
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 14:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fluorescents don't really like being turned on and off frequently either. LEDs would be better. \$\endgroup\$
    – Simon B
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks @SimonB -- if I switched over to this lighting source, would the above plan work? homedepot.com/p/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Ghan
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 18:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see why not. If you have plastic switches, a plastic box would be easier as you wouldn't have to ground it. If the switches are metal, and you use a metal box, make sure it's properly grounded. Use HSS drill bits for a metal box. Plastic boxes are much easier to drill. \$\endgroup\$
    – Simon B
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


I don't know how much electronics experience that you have, but have you considered using a standard music keyboard with MIDI output? You can build a fairly simple MIDI to contact closure controller for switching the lights.

Although it's a lot more work, it would be SO much easier to use.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Dwayne Reid -- thanks for the reply. I did consider that, but I think given my time and budget (and current experience) constraints, I'll just stick to simple physical switches. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ghan
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 18:34

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