The AWESOME Button: A Made-to-Measure USB Input Device

Arduino Computers & Mobile Technology

After a quick search of the posts I’ve written for MAKE, it’s clear that I overuse the word “awesome.” It’s not news to me, but I had no idea how bad my problem was. In fact, I think you could say that I abuse the word. In order to cut down on my usage of “awesome” and to help me find suitable replacements, I made The AWESOME Button. It’s a plug-and-play USB device that will type a random synonym for the word “awesome” when the button is pressed. The beauty of it is that it works on any computer with a USB port in any application.

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How is it made? At the core of The AWESOME Button is the Teensy USB, a really sweet* microcontroller that has the ability to act like a USB mouse or keyboard right out of the box. Not only that, but if you’re most comfortable writing code for the Arduino, you can load your Arduino sketches onto it directly once you install Teensy Loader and Teensyduino on your system. But don’t let that discourage you, they’re both a snap to install.

Of course, I’m not totally serious about this particular application, but I wanted to show how you can make your own custom USB human interface device. If you’re a gamer, you could make a controller exactly to your own specifications. Or perhaps you could hack an Etch A Sketch to control your mouse pointer. I think I want to mod an NES controller so that it works as a Flickr browser. There are many different tremendous* ways you could use this. Leave your terrific* ideas in the comments!

* Yes, these words were actually generated at random by The AWESOME Button. For the curious, here’s the full list of words programmed into it, comment below if you think I’ve missed any: brilliant, cool, crack, dope, excellent, exceptional, fabulous, fantastic, fine, first-rate, fly, fresh, incredible, keen, laudable, marvelous, neat, nifty, rad, super, superb, sweet, terrific, tremendous, wicked, wonderful, and worthy.

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Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

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