Zoom Out Of The Classroom With A Mushroom Button

Considering the state of well, everything, we can’t tell you how glad we are to be out of school. That goes double for not being a teacher these days. [Elena] had some awesome light-up tactile buttons set aside for a killer Kerbal Space Program controller, but it’s funny how a pandemic will change your priorities. Instead, those buttons found a good home in this colorful and enticing Zoom control panel.

[Elena]’s ready pile of Arduinos yielded no Leonardos or Pro Micros, but that’s okay because there’s a handy bootloader out there that allows you to reprogram the USB interface chip of an Uno or a Mega and use it as a keyboard. After setting that up, it was mostly a matter of wiring all those latching and momentary buttons and LEDs to the Mega and making them look fantastic with a set of icons. (We all know the big red mushroom button is for aborting the call; so does it really need an icon?)

[Elena] was inspired by the Zoom call-terminating pull chain we saw a month or so ago as well as the pink control box that launched a thousand or so macro keyboards. Have you made your own sanity-saving solution for our times? Let us know!

Master Video Call Control Panel Is Made Of PCBs

[memestra] is a teacher whose life has become a series of videoconferences over the last year or so. With all the classes and meetings, they spend the whole day switching between either Zoom, Teams, or Meet. If anyone needs a single piece of hardware to control them all, it’s [memestra]. Well, and every other teacher out there.

The hardware — an Arduino Pro Micro and some buttons — should come as no surprise, except for maybe [memstra]’s use of a resistor network for the LEDs. Still, there’s a lot to like about this little box, starting with the enclosure. That’s not milled or laser-cut metal — each side is a PCB, and they’re all soldered together into a box.

We especially like the top panel, which fits down over the PCB that all the components are soldered to. Each of the non-volume buttons has multiple functions that are accessed by pressing, long pressing, or double pressing. But even the volume buttons do double duty: press them together to mute and un-mute. If [memestra] ever forgets which button does what and how, there’s a handy reference table silkscreened on the bottom panel.

In true teacher fashion, [memestra] has written comprehensive instructions for anyone looking to build a similar device. The heavily-commented code should make it a cinch to drop in keyboard shortcuts for Discord or anything else you might be using, though it’s worth noting that this box is optimized for the desktop apps and not the browser-based versions.

Just looking for a fun way to end video calls? Pull chains are pretty fun.

A Pull Chain To End Your Zoom Pain

Yay! Another videoconference call is in the books, so that must mean that it’s time to fumble around awkwardly for the hang-up button with a fading smile. [lanewinfield] knew there had to be a better way, and looked to the pull chain switch for salvation. Sure, this could just as easily be a button, but what’s the fun in that? Besides, few buttons would be as satisfying as pulling a chain to a Zoom call.

The pull chain switch is connected to an Adafruit Feather nRF52840 Express that’s emulating a Bluetooth keyboard. Firmware-wise it sends command + F6, which triggers an AppleScript that manually exits and and all Zoom calls and kills Chrome tabs pointed to meet.google.com. He’s using Apple’s hotkey wizard Alfred, but this could be handled just as easily with something like AutoHotKey.

Pull chain switches are neat little mechanisms. The chain is connected to a cam that engages a wheel with copper contacts on half the outside. When you pull the chain, the wheel moves 90° and the wheel contacts connect up with the fixed contacts inside the housing to make a connection. Pulling the chain again moves the wheel which slides to the half without the contacts. Check it out in the video below.

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