Core Electronics Forum

How to make some light-box-buttons with audio

Hi everyone

I would like to make a series of light-box-buttons in my house that:

  • Have a translucent front, where I can stick or replace decals

  • When you press and hold the box, it will:
    - Switch on a set of LEDs that will light the box up.
    - Play a sound file (less than 2 seconds) through a speaker within the box

  • When the box is released, the lights switch off.

Example of the buttons:

Example of the potential audio component
(8M Recordable Sound Play Module MP3 WAV Music Voice Player with Speakers)

Potential LEDs:

I think that what I need to do is wire the LEDs to the play button and also make it so that the LEDs are switched off when the play button is released. I suppose a different play button might be required.

I also need to make it easy to that the push and release of the button is controlled by the front of the box, regardless of where it’s pushed (by a toddler).

Not really sure where to start with this. But happy to try.

Any advice would be very well received.

Thanks,
Matt

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Hi Matt,

What you’re likely looking for is an audio trigger board, a board with trigger inputs that you wire to switches, some flash storage on board to store your audio files (thankfully 2s is very short so you won’t need much). Some even have a small amp onboard driving speakers! Here’s a likely candidate for a first choice:

As for the huge “buttons” you could 3D print the two parts that house any switches etc, and laser-cut a clear faceplate that your decal would sit behind (both are offered as manufacturing services here at Core if you don’t have access to them)

As for the lights, we’ve got a ton of bright LEDs in our range, you’d just need to make sure that you limited the current with the appropriate resistor, getting them to light up on press would be super easy, you’d just need a separate microswitch or similar inside your “button” whose job is just to complete the circuit with the LED.

As for micro switches, any will do, but one with a roller will give you the smoothest operation, you might need to wire them up in parallel to your trigger to make sure that they’ll close no matter how the button is pushed. To give you an idea of what I mean, these ones are pretty versatile:

That should be it really! Just a couple of 2W speakers should be all you need to get it going.

Keen to see where you go with this! Feel free to reply if you’ve got more questions.
-James

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Hi James

Thank you so much for responding and for your time and insight!

I have to make 26 of these and my absolute top budget is $8 USD per button.

I’d like the flexibility to make each one completely isolated, tempting as it would be to have a ‘brain’ and ‘power’, then link up each light-box.

I love the idea of the roller levers.

Is there a similar item to the sound board / amp / speaker that is scaled down to support 1 trigger, one, audio file and one speaker?

Thanks,
Matt

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Hi Matt,

For that budget constraint, you may be better off with the soundboard you linked initially.

James has linked the cheapest soundboard/amplifier/trigger module all-in-one product that Core stocks. You may be able to come up with a cheaper solution by programming a generic microcontroller to play a sound based on a digital input but it would take a lot more work.
Ultimately it depends on how low-level into the design you want to go and what you are comfortable programming.

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Thanks Trent and James.

Perhaps having everything as isolated systems is too much cost (to retain the required quality).

How about if the 26 buttons were:

  • roller lever switch
  • LED’s
  • a means of mechanically setting a 4 digit code (with little switches)
  • battery
  • a means of broadcasting the 4 digit code when pressed
  • brain to support the above

Without any wires, there would then be an additional module with a that would receive the code and play the appropriate sound.

Would this change my options?

Thanks,
Matt

1 Like

Hi Matt,

I can’t think of an easy way to do this. The two sound trigger boards being discussed are great because they don’t require a lot of configuration or low-level programming languages to setup and more or less do what you want out of the box, the catch is they cannot be triggered wirelessly.

Three of the Adafruit FX boards would be able to respond to 33 triggers and cover the number of inputs you are after with wired inputs.

To trigger these wirelessly you will need to program a microcontroller to receive inputs over some wireless protocol, and play audio from memory. This will probably need to be programmed in a low-level language like C or assembly.

Hey Trent

Going back to isolated systems, what about replacing the button on this one with 4 roller leavers (to cover for pressing the front anywhere) and then wiring it so that the LEDs are activated / deactivated with the same action?

Thanks again,
Matt

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Hi Matt,

I don’t have any documentation on that product but I don’t see why that wouldn’t work.

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Hi Trent,

Excellent. I think I’m ready to attempt a prototype.

Please note that I’m a super novice.

I presume I’ll need to buy:

  • a soldering iron
  • the Sound Voice Module Recordable Music Changeable Volume 8M With Adjustment Lithium Battery Charger Circuit Replaceable
  • appropriate LED module
  • the recommended number of roller lever switches
  • procure your services for 3D printed housing and slide on button cover (which I can put in different transparent decals

For the 3D printed housing, I presume it would be useful to have locations for the:

  • roller lever switches
  • LED module
  • batteries (AAA or similar, not button batteries)
  • wiring and fixings
  • holes for mounting hooks and screw holes (perhaps have an open lattice at the back for flexibility of fixings?)

Considerations:

  • it has to be rugged and be able to stand being pressed (hit) by my toddler

It seems like a chicken / egg scenario given that I can’t plan the inside of the system (ref mountings) before having the components.

Perhaps I should get the components all working together before thinking about how to arrange them inside the button.

If you agree with this, could you advise on what other materials (and tools) I would need to buy from yourselves in order to get started?

Thanks,

Matt

1 Like

Hi Matt,

If you are a super novice then I’d recommend getting one module working on a breadboard or protoboard with minimal soldering is a good first intermediate goal, that way you are less likely to find soldering mistakes to be a handbrake on your progress.
Your prototyping kit is reusable for many projects to come, get yourself a bit of a prototyping kit including the following:

Temporarily replacing some of the leads on the sound trigger module with header pins will aid in testing. https://core-electronics.com.au/0-100-2-54-mm-breakaway-male-header-1x40-pin-straight.html

You can get some assorted LEDs for testing and resistors to protect them here:

Speaking of which we have a good soldering guide here https://core-electronics.com.au/tutorials/soldering-101.html

Our 3D printing services are just for printing CAD models, not designing them for a fee. You are right though that the case is the last step and we need to know how big the electronics to fit inside ends up being before you can design a shmick case to house it.

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Hi Trent

I’ve ordered these products. Did you mean by 6 Jumper Wires or 18?

Thanks,
Matt

1 Like

Hi Matt,

Sorry I didn’t see your question until just now, if you use the reply button when making a post I will get a notification.

The jumper wires I have linked are actually three different products but the thumbnails have shortened it, one set is male to male, one is male to female, and the last is female to female.

Thanks - I’ve ordered the other two sets.

How do you recommend that I set this up?

Hi Matt,

To get one unit together and working I’d desolder the switch and replace it with male pin headers, then use the hookup wires to connect to a breadboard. From there you can experiment with adding switched in parallel (so any switch triggers the input).
I would also add an indicator LED in series with the switch (remembering to add a current limiting resistor to protect your LED).

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