SMIP – footpedal keyboard input

[iank] is tired of reaching for his mouse to use the scroll wheel, so he built SMIP. He modified a musical sustain pedal (momentary on switch) to output an unused key combination. Then he mapped the key combo in X-windows to let him be extra lazy. There are plenty of ways to map keys – usb keypads, etc, but this is the first time I’ve seen anyone try to replace a mouse command with a foot pedal.


  1. Ross Peters says:

    Wow… he has reached the pinnacle of lazy. He needs some sort of award, the amazing effort he put into being lazy is incredible. I too hate moving my hand a few inches to scroll. But seriously, great idea ^-^

  2. alex mccown says:

    i never use the mouse except for nmap outher wise im in the cmd

  3. Kevin says:

    Perhaps this gentleman would like to try out for the new reality television show premiering this fall: American Idle–searching the country over for America’s laziest person.

  4. Karl says:

    I believe Quake 3 allowed you to use any MIDI instrument as an input method, specifically added with foot pedals in mind.

  5. TheKhakinator says:

    That midi stuff sounds cool. I’d like to play Quake 3 with my synth and record what it sounds like. It’d be lol, might end up creating some nice music :P

  6. alex says:

    yah i herd about that feture in quake 3 and i would love to hear that music lol i thought it was a way to control the midi output but nothing will beat Marathon including halo

  7. xander says:

    Actually, being a laptop musician, I’ve considered many times trying to create a foot pedal board using the guts of a keyboard.

  8. Schnulli says:

    by the way: he built smip, not simp….

  9. greg schoppe says:

    hey xander, i’ve needed the same thing for sheet-music for a while. I made a two button pedal to handle page turning and some custom software to handle searching through my sheet music. If you’re interested, I posted instructions for the foot pedal at

    , and the software is on my website at

    I hope it helps

  10. punknubbins says:

    I just started working on a foot pedal set up from the guts of a cheap dell usb keyboard. Unfortunately I have not had time to map all the pin out combinations. But the controller board is small, about 1×2 inches, and the contacts are big enough to solder to. So building a multi pedal setup that can be configured to activate any key combination I want seems doable.

  11. I’ve heard of vi (the text editor) nerds using foot pedals mapped to the ESC key. This keeps the fingers on the home row, even when switching modes.

  12. Mark says:

    would be grate to use this for racing games, just use 2 of the pedals, would love to try this my self 1 day

  13. matt says:

    i’ve actually been looking for a *cheap* USB connected, single button footpedal for awhile.

    i use push to talk setting for ventrilo, and that puts me down one easy-accesible key in games. i’d love to set the push-to-talk key to a pedal so i still have all my keys… especially since the only key i’ve found works out well for me (0/insert) dosen’t work when i have foward and right arrows pressed (basically while i’m moving diagonally i can’t talk, which sorta sucks for team comms).

  14. t0m says:

    Andrew Huang (bunnie of xbox hacking fame) did something similar about 5 years ago, with footpedals hacked to replace both ctrl & shift to make working in emacs a bit easier on the carpal tunnel. Not quite the same as contolling the scroll wheel, but hey. I remember walking into his room/board fab back in school and thinking this was pretty damn cool. Two legs bad, Four legs better!

  15. andrew says:

    how does he use a keyboard with it since it requires a free ps/2 port?

  16. R4V3 says:

    You know, my old Logitech Elite keyboard has a little scroll wheel built into it right by the normal left hand position… you can scroll it pretty easily and quickly with your pinky. I’m surprised he’d never stumbled on one of them, since the Logitech keyboards with them are usually not overly expensive (albeit the aforementioned model was recently discontinued). My current Microsoft Natural 4000 also has a little zoom slider in between the two sets of keys, and could probably easily hacked with an xmodmap setup or a custom keymap to trigger scroll events.

  17. n3rrd says:


    couldn’t you buy a cheap USB keyboard, and just wire a pedal to complete the circuit between a few of the pins? You’d have to test them after hooking it up to see what pins you’re actually connecting together to find out the button combination… but the keyboard controller PCBs are quite small and you can get a cheap keyboard for < $10.

  18. Izzy says:

    I just plugged in a second “mouse,” in this case a big serial-port trackball. I can toe the center button for autoscroll and roll my foot on the ball to control the speed. Hand or foot, both “mice” work under Windows XP.

  19. Phil says:

    I have wondered about hacking a pedal onto my scope, so that I can do “force trigger” and things like adjusting the timebase while both hands are holding the probes onto the pcb. But I really need more than one button, so how about starting with a MIDI organ footboard? If there’s someone out there who could hack together a MIDI interface, a microcontroller, and an RS232 output (to connect to the scope), I reckon it could actually be a marketable product.

  20. iank says:

    #13: andrew, I use a USB keyboard, and plug smip into the PS/2 port.

  21. iank says:

    #15: that’s essentially what smip /is/, except I did it with a PS/2 keyboard (as that’s the only thing I had available).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,615 other followers