project: desktop volume control with Arduino

A volume control near the mouse and ready to turn. Bash the top and the video or track pauses. Double bash to skip to the next track. It’s plug and play, requires no app and it works with Spotify, iTunes or any media player.

I totally get the need for an emergency stop button for music. And using a mouse to drag the volume up or down is one of the worst creations of this age.

This device uses the odd fact that this Arduino can send a keystroke to your computer – ‘it has a keyboard emulator’. You might customise the project for movie editing. Use the turn action to tweak the playhead position and use a press to split the track. If you use an app for music editing, GarageBand or drawing, track control and mode changing may slow you down. And if someone’s selling a high priced gadget to help there, this project makes you one for a few £ or $.

Credit for this idea goes to Josef Prusa of Prusa Research – who make 3D Printers using 3D printers. Extra thanks to Mr Prusa for presenting the project so well as it got me started making crazy stuff.

What you need for this project

  • Josef Prusa’s post & video – links below
  • Arduino pro micro – with USB “Pro Micro ATmega32U4 5V 16MHz”
  • Rotary encoder – not a potentiometer
  • A project box or 3D printed case
  • Some soldering and mostly female-to-male Dupont wires.

Thanks to a messy glue-gun, there’s less soldering to do and the volume control hasn’t once failed me. The Arduino has two red LEDs, one that flashes as you turn. This had me thinking that I’ve missed the trick to exploit this light in the design. Still thinking on where to perforate the case.

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