Not exactly a touch screen, but…

Last week, I was working on the tutorial for making control mechanism for the interactive projection system I told you about that was inspired by one I saw at Salt in Nashville.  In the middle of one of the groups I frequent on FaceBook, I saw that someone asked if there was a way to have a teaching monitor that the pastor could advance the slides on with just a touch.

That got me to thinking.  Sure, you could do it the right way and get a touch screen monitor, but what if you already have the TV or only have the budget for a consumer version without touch?  Could you do it a different way?

I’m editing the tutorial that shows how to control a computer with an external board called an Arduino Leonardo (affiliate link).  Unfortunately, not all arduinos do this (I had two others that wouldn’t work).

Basically, you take the Leonardo, upload a program to it, and buttons attached to it will do whatever you told it to.

So, why not take some of these little momentary buttons (affiliate link again) and put one in the lower left corner of the screen and one in the lower right.  Then, you attach them to the leonardo and program one for the left arrow key and one for the right.  Now, when your pastor wants to advance a slide, it’s as easy as tapping the button.

The downside is that a computer has to be close enough to the monitor to be attached to the board by USB, but still, it’s a pretty budget minded solution (about $11).

So, what do you think?  If you’re interested, the full tutorial (along with links to the code I used and the free arduino programming software) will be up here soon.

There’s also another solution.  There’s a board called a “Makey makey” (one last affiliate link) that does the same thing without programming.  It’s pricier (about $50), and will only do a finite set of button presses, but the left and right arrow keys are included, so you could use it instead.


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