ButtonBox with PiFace Digital

Difficulty: easy

Keyboards are boring - we want big buttons that say ‘press me’ and light up and flash just like real arcade games, and here's how to do it.

Building a buttonbox

Are you using some buttons in your project, but don't have anything to house them? Build a button box! Use either a shoebox or some wood to create your very own button box.

Cardboard box/Shoe box

  • Unscrew the plastic screw ring that is used to hold the buttons in place and keep it safe for later.
  • If possible, remove the switch and LED from the casing. Take care not to lose any parts and check your button’s documentation if you are unsure.
  • Place the arcade button casings (with switch and LED removed) onto the top of your box.
  • Trace around the edges of the button casings with a pencil.
  • Cut out these circles, ensuring the hole you cut is slightly bigger than the drawn circle, so the buttons will fit through the holes easily.
  • If your buttons have two little pegs underneath (to stop it from spinning round), measure their distance from the screw fitting and poke holes that distance from the main hole.
  • Paint your box and wait for it to dry. (optional)
  • Insert your button casings and refit the plastic screw ring to hold them in place.
  • Insert the switch and LED into the button casings (refer to your button’s documentation).

Wooden box

  • To build the box, measure and cut your plank into three lengths, two of which need to be the same length, the third can be longer or shorter than the twin lengths, depending on whether you want a wide or narrow box.
  • Arrange your planks on your wood sheet so the twin pieces are separated by the third piece, in a U shape. (If you arrange them in a corner of your wooden sheet, then you will only have to cut two lines instead of three or four.)
  • Use a pencil to mark where to cut on your wood sheet. Also mark where the inner area the planks create, to ensure you place your buttons away from the planks.
  • Remove the planks and cut along the pencil lines.
  • Sand down any rough edges.
  • Unscrew the plastic screw ring that is used to hold the buttons in place and keep it safe for later.
  • If possible, remove the switch and LED from the casing. Take care not to lose any parts and check your button’s documentation if you are unsure.
  • Arrange the arcade button casings (with switches and LEDs removed) on the wood sheet, being sure they keep well away from the inner edge of the planks that you marked earlier.
  • Trace around the edges of the button casing with a pencil.
  • Drill or cut out these circles, ensuring the hole you cut is slightly bigger than the drawn circle, so the buttons will fit through easily.
  • If your buttons have two little pegs, measure their distance from the screw fitting and drill holes that distance from the button holes.
  • We will now affix the top sheet to the planks.
  • Arrange your planks on your work surface and place the sheet of wood over them.
  • Drill through the sheet and into the planks, at least three holes per plank. Make sure to use a drill bit that is significantly smaller than the screws you intend to use.
  • Screw the wood sheet onto the planks. You may also wish to screw the planks of wood together to increase the box’s strength.
  • Paint your box and wait for it to dry. (optional)
  • Insert your button casings and refit the plastic screw ring to hold them in place.
  • Insert the switch and LED into the button casings (refer to your button’s documentation).