Raspberry Pi project ideas: One key custom keyboard

raspberry pi pico projects button

Sometimes your computer needs just one button to activate a specific action.

If you are transcribing an audio recording, you might want one button to rewind the track three seconds.

If you are picky about your music, you might want a specific button to skip a track.

If you are an employee who needs to hide what you’re doing on a computer, you might need a panic button that immediately does an ALT + TAB when emergency strikes.

The good news is that these projects are extremely easy to do.

And since you designed it yourself, you can put it together super easily with a Raspberry Pi Pico and a button available in many beginner’s kits.

You can make more elaborate projects such as foot-operated buttons or like this guy below, a “BOB”.

BOB (Big Orange Button)

Dmytro Panin’s BOB is a simple project built with a RP2040 on a Pimoroni Tiny 2040.

“I always wanted my laptop to have a big designated physical key that I can hit and not be afraid I’d break it,” he said.

Dmytro’s reasoning for using a Tiny 2040 was because he had it lying around and that it was small enough to fit within the nuclear-activation button enclosure.

“This was a Saturday evening project, so I just went with what I had,” he said.

Dmytro Panin’s BOB (photo from his Github)

In order to build the enclosure, you will need access to 3D printer, a keyboard switch, two M3x12 screws and a connection wire.

This project can easily be done with a Raspberry Pi Pico too. At the end of the day, what makes this project super easy is the CircuitPython Human Interaction Device (HID) library, which instantly changes your Pico into a keyboard upon plugging in the USB.

BOB instructions on Github

Printable 3D model for BOB

Minimum viable keyboard

At the heart of it, Redditor u/nogg3r5’s “minimum viable keyboard” project shows the most fundamental way to build a one-button project.

Minimum Viable Keyboard by u/nogg3r5

You just need wires, a button (could be a key from a mechanical keyboard) and a USB cable.

SaRcAsM kEyBoArd

If you want to type sArCaSm at scale, it’s quite tiring. There’s a really easy way to do it with the Raspberry Pi Pico.

Take it a step further and build a one-button solution to writing fluent sarcasm.

A while ago, I created a Raspberry Pi Pico project that uses the same HID library that the BOB uses.

To write sArCasM, I toggled Caps Lock on and off at a specific interval once a button is pressed.

If that button is pressed again, it deactivates the sArcAsm.

You can see detailed instructions, code and parts list here on our Raspberry Pi Pico in-depth article.

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