The club I am a part of at my school is currently trying to host a variety/dating show in which contestants will have the capability of controlling a button. There should be about 12 buttons to make in total, and these buttons serve to input a keystroke to a nearby computer (preferably wirelessly) to produce certain results in the show.

Specifically, there will be 12 contestants sitting on one side of a rectangular table, with a button in front of each contestant. Initially, there will be an "on" state for all of the buttons (maybe indicated by a physical light/lamp connected to the button or graphically on the computer).

Some ideas I had for this could be to take the IC chip of a cheap wireless keyboard, and soldering a Staples button's leads on to the wireless keyboard IC in such a way that it would send a certain keystroke when the button is pressed. Then I would have 12 bluetooth receivers connected to a USB hub, receiving the keystrokes. I have seen the wireless buttons that people have made, and are selling online, but they are expensive and require extra software, which also costs a lot of money. Is there any simpler solution to this? Will my idea be viable?

I got my idea from this youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2JCNLgubU0, but 12 of those keyboards sounds quite expensive, not to mention that they are discontinued and a newer model may not work for this idea. Is it possible to just buy the IC chip somewhere, or something that could produce the results I want?

I was thinking that in the video, the guy's idea is to use 5 keyboard IC chips to modify 5 separate buttons, but would it be possible to have one keyboard IC, and the buttons each soldered to different leads for certain keystrokes, that way eliminating the need for 12 IC chips in my case?..

Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask a question like this, but I am not sure where else to ask.

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    \$\begingroup\$ are you comfortable soldering? what about programming? it's cheaper the more you DIY. The keyboard idea is not worth pursuing if you want to light up only the "winner" of the buzz-in... \$\endgroup\$
    – dandavis
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 9:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ You don't need separate (radio) links to each button. Connect them to something like an arduino (12 inputs) and use one of the outputs to send a message over a single radio link to the PC. I'm assuming (because you do not say) that this is some form of majority voting system. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 9:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ you might also have players use their phones; a simple in-browser web app could do this for free, and you can even blink screens and stuff... \$\endgroup\$
    – dandavis
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 9:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Cough cough Arduino cough cough. If you want an Arduino that acts like a keyboard but uses those big buttons as keys, you have to use a specific variant of Arduino called Leonardo or micro (micro requires a bit of soldering). \$\endgroup\$
    – Bradman175
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 10:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can program in Java, and a bit in C. I haven't done any soldering before, unfortunately. It's not about lighting up a winner. The 12 lights should be on initially, and pressing the button would turn the corresponding light off. There should also be an option to blink the light for another special purpose. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tzheng
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 10:08

1 Answer 1


For something like this, you could use something like an Arduino. An Uno or Leonardo for example have through hole pins that you can hook breadboard jumpers from them to your button (you may need to buy male to female ones if the pins of the button are breadboard fit), thus removing the requirement of soldering. With some code similar to this to suit your 12 buttons (remember pull down resistors, or you could make the buttons pull the pin to logical 0 and have pinmode of the pins reading the buttons configured as INPUT_PULLUP, inverting the output), you could output serial and from the software side on the computer with the Arduino connected via USB to the computer, use your Java skills to read serial from the Arduino.


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