With many conferences moving to fully virtual this year, video conferencing will continue to be a mainstay in our lives for the foreseeable future. [Elliot] wanted to spice up his video conferencing experience just a bit and make his experience a bit more ergonomic. We’ve all had the problem of looking for our Zoom window buried behind any number of other applications, desperately searching for the mute button. Furthermore, when we get called on, we’re desperately trying to give the impression that we’ve been paying attention the entire time, even when we haven’t been.
To solve all these problems, he built a physical mute button to easily toggle the mute option on and off during Zoom calls. The device takes advantage of the native USB feature of his Digispark board, and a few built-in keyboard shortcuts in Zoom. With native USB, the Digispark board can act like a keyboard, making it really simple to emulate keyboard presses using the microcontroller. Throw in an arcade-style button and do a bit of handcrafting and you have yourself your own physical mute button.
We were really impressed by the simplicity of the design as well as the elegance of the mechanical assembly. [Elliot] even made a revamped version with a second button allowing him to control his video as well. Cool button(s) [Elliot]!
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52 thoughts on “Quickly Mute And Unmute Yourself Using The Physical Mute Button”
The need to mute reminds of the need for a PTT button on a transmitter.
That almost would be a better solution – press to talk rather than press to mute.
If everyone had to hold down a button to talk, I bet there’d be a lot less long-winded diatribes on Zoom calls.
I like that idea.
You could even add a small, geared-down motor to it so the button starts pushing back up as time goes on, increasing applied force the longer you hold it down! :P
toys for boys to waste time
In the meetings I attend, the speaker is looking up stuff up on their computer or making a presentation so their hands are not free to push any buttons.
A while back I reused an old sewing machine pedal (the machine is long gone) to become part of a USB HID (keyboard) device. Basically a foot pedal for push to talk! Great for games where all of my mouse buttons are already in use… :D
This is already a feature in Zoom. Just hold down the spacebar for a temporary unmute.
Yeah, but that doesn’t work if the Zoom window is inactive.
You can set the unmute shortcut as a global shortcut (Alt + A is the default) so you can unmute yourself even when the zoom window is not active.
Copped out myself. Volume up + power for Android does this if you allow it.
Keyboard shortcuts tied to a button will live forever though and I don’t think it will ever cease to be useful.. and I don’t think I will ever get tired of hearing it. No I’m not being facetious.
Right up until Wayland happened I was even betting on this camp. :)
I bet the guy who invented this hack has at least 10 keys on their keyboard that they never use
I love the aesthetics finally someone not using 3d printing :)
I’ll add that it needs the mandatory LED. Perhaps a red one to show that the mute function is active.
That would be nice, but the physical mute button doesn’t know whether the app is muted or not, actually it doesn’t even know if the app is running.
And the application doesn’t have a plugin system, so no easy way to get information from the app.
That’s a good point. Maybe start with your conferences always being muted? Idk. It would definitely be pretty easy to get out of sync.
We pulled it off. We created a button that also shows status and works with all conferencing software. Muteme.com
Or the other way round: A big red “ON Air” LED.
I really like this idea.
using a button instead of a switch is a fundamental UI error
compound it further by adding even more unnecessary junk
it’s attitudes like yours that crash planes
But if you put it in a plane you then need a gauge for how on or off it is, and an hour meter to determine lifetime of the switch… and a test mode for preflight.
Bad altitude crashes planes.
Possibly even some altitudes above ground level…
X, you’re just a downer.
Hah! I did exactly the same thing (with a digispark clone as well) within the first few days of lockdown!
Cool! Do you have a link you can share?
No, it’s a trivial hack. It didn’t occur to me it was worth writing up. It’s literally a button, 2 wires and trivial changes to digispark demo code.
I built my for google hangouts :-D
It even works when the Browser is not in foreground.
But it is incredibly hacky.
I use it daily…
I ended up making my own version of this after I saw it: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4337023
Love it. Thanks for sharing!
No problem. While it doesn’t have the extra long press feature, it does what I need to do.
Do you a link for all the electronics? The Thingiverse link only has the mechanical assembly.
Ugh – it’s not posting the links.
It’s just a 24 mm arcade button I bought off Aliexpress or one of those sites, and then a digispark clone with micro usb from amazon.
I made one based on the hpr3077 :: Video conference Push to Talk (http://hackerpublicradio.org/eps.php?id=3077)
The Tiny85 has no native USB support. It’s all “fake”! 3 resistors, 2 zeners and a really well choreographed bit waggling. Cheating with perfection! I really love what all can be done with the Tiny85ers.
𝕹𝖔𝖇𝖔𝖉𝖞 𝖊𝖛𝖊𝖗 𝖊𝖝𝖕𝖊𝖈𝖙𝖘 𝖙𝖍𝖊 𝖘𝖕𝖆𝖓𝖎𝖘𝖍 𝕯𝖎𝖌𝖎𝖘𝖕…
Early in the pandemic stay-at-home period I had exactly this problem.
I solved it with a mic that has a mute button on it. I don’t even mute the chat program anymore.
I like this solution because it’s entirely physical and analog. Much like putting a lens cap on a camera, even if someone hacked my computer and had full control of it remotely they could not listen through my mic when it is muted this way.
The down side is that the switch is across the terminals of the mic, not in series with it. It works by shorting them out. I think this is common and it is for a good reason. Leaving an open might result in picking up hum. But it also means that if the contacts on the switch get dirty it fails in the mic on position.
Ok, that sounds paranoid to say I am that worried about someone listening in on me. But my microphone is very old, from the 1960s. I actually had to take it apart and sand the oxidation off of the contacts to get the mute function working again so I don’t know if this fix will last another 50 years or fail today. And what I am actually (only slightly) concerned about is the mic being on during a meeting when I don’t expect it to be.
If I were designing a microphone myself I would use a dual throw switch. That way it can both short the wire AND disconnect one side of the element when it is muted. Also, so long as the element is being disconnected, would it maybe be better for the hardware on the other end to have a fixed resistance instead of a dead short?
BTW, another failure mode is the microphone getting disconnected from the computer, and the software automatically switching to the built in mic. I don’t know if there software would do that.
Only if the computer has one. There is no built in mic in my desktop!
Fair enough! I almost never use a desktop anymore.
I’m trying to solve this issue with having software that controls the microphone from the operating system. Then anything else that’s plugged in or removed would be recognized and also muted.
First I had a painful meeting where I could not get the mic to mute, because, well, Windows challenged me that way. While still in the meeting I ordered a thing called a “HyperX Amp” that worked with my old high quality analog headset, and it gave me a mute button with a red light.
Next I rooted around in my junk box and found a “Shuttle Xpress Contour” USB controller and programmed it to control volume and sound output on/off. Lots of my projects are ruined by having the thing I want to build already in the junk box.
The HyperX red light is valuable, can’t miss it when I am muted.
I played around with a Pi Zero with a big button on it, it is very easy to get a Pi Zero to pretend to be an HID keyboard but ended up with the boring commercial solutions being the ones I continue to use.
Shorting across the mic is the proper way to do it. Since the voltage across two parallel paths is equal, it essentially gives you no waveform when it’s shorted because the mic can’t source enough current to maintain the signal. I’ve built a few XLR mute switches built like guitar pedals, the simplest being just a switch between the hot and cold wires. They’re effective and don’t damage anything, as evidenced by companies having had them on the market for decades. If you physically break the connection, you will get a pop every time.
In later versions, I included a few passives to guard against pops when using them with phantom power. Sometimes the power on the hot and cold won’t be perfectly matched and that can cause a pop when switching between muted and open.
The only mic I use for streaming is a proper studio mic with XLR connector that needs phantom power. So it’s not on unless I press the little button on my Focusrite box, and that button has a light in it while it’s on. Unfortunately it takes 1-3 seconds for phantom power to kick in, so I can’t use it as a PTT, just a safety while not in use.
I want that same button to flush the oilet !
I also did a variation of this early in the lockdown that operates at the sound server level to avoid tie in to a given platform.
Also went for PTT.
Does anyone know if there is also a possibility for an iPad or iPhone? Maybe a Bluetooth version or something else? For me I have to use Microsoft Teams on my iPad.
I love this. I was looking for a physical switch which flips between the two states. So to know whether you’re muted or not you can just glance at the position of the switch.
hope there is one like this that is wireless or via blue tooth. My toddler is doing online classes and its a challenge keeping him on mute.
Yes this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Million dollar idea? Couldn’t find a single one out there.
How? Would love to build a DIY solution for Teams that can sync mute status but can’t find any coding guidelines.
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