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I am looking for some hardware that can be connected to a PC. I want to code up a quiz game to use for my company's stands on conferences. The requirement is that they have four/five buttons, and that I can connect a few of them to the machine. I also need programmatic access to them - either on a low-level or as easy as beeing able to map the buttons to keyboard keys.

Does anyone have any suggestions for this?

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Shopping questions are off topic as per the FAQ. –  Wuffers Apr 10 '11 at 15:53
    
I wasn't looking for exact product recomendations, just ideas for which "product types" I should consider. :) –  Espen Herseth Halvorsen Apr 10 '11 at 20:25
    
That still qualifies it as a shopping question. –  Wuffers Apr 10 '11 at 20:48
    
Well, then use the "vote for closing"-button, as the comments are for useful things - not for duplicating already existing functionality of the site ;) –  Espen Herseth Halvorsen Apr 11 '11 at 21:42
    
I have voted to close, weird. It's not showing up that I have. –  Wuffers Apr 11 '11 at 21:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I would go for separate input devices.

1) Gamepad for Xbox 360 is USB compatible with Windows PC's, but might look a bit "gamer/unserious" depending on your product and customers.

2) Touch screen, perhaps just a very small one, might be a choice?

3) External numpad can also be attached. That gives you at least 10 buttons.

That would be my first 3 choices.

You could go for option #1 and the take them apart to get to the buttons inside. There are many buttons on an Xbox 360 gamepad. http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/gaming/productdetails.aspx?pid=091

at the front you have 2 buttons left and 2 buttons right. On the top you have 4 coloured buttons for actions. For your left thumb you also have a digital direction-pad with 4 directions + combined ofcause for diagonals.

That gives you at least 3x4 buttons from hardware connection. Question is if you want to mess around with your own buttons and cords, because you ought to be able to extend the cords of these onto some kinda arcade board of your own.

The controller itself is fully recognized by Windows, once plugged in.

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Wouldn't all external numpads be detected as a single unit? Whenever I connect multiple keyboards to my computer, there's no easy way to determine from which keyboard the input came. –  AndrejaKo Apr 10 '11 at 15:18
    
I believe if you go "low level" then you have a USB device you can query directly. Ofcause if you just make a "GetKey" call you wouldnt see the source as its probably just a "key-stream" or something –  BerggreenDK Apr 10 '11 at 15:22

If you want to make something yourself you may be best off getting something like a cheap USB joystick or two and pulling them apart. Use the fire buttons as your quiz buttons.

Alternatively, a cheap USB keyboard could be ripped apart and buttons linked to the circuit board inside (it uses a matrix style interconnection system, so experimentation may be needed).

There are probably products pre-existing to do this, but we don't make shopping recommendations here as they are off-topic.

If you do fancy tinkering with making your own, I'd consider taking this to http://electronics.stackexchange.com

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+1 for mentioning electronics. This would be trivial to solve using microcontrollers. There are countless started kits which come with a microcontroller and a board for experimentation (for example Arduinos based on Atmel's AVR microcontrolleers are extremely popular and come with a nice IDE too). Detecting a pushed button is traditionally the second thing a embedded programmer learns, right after LED control. –  AndrejaKo Apr 10 '11 at 14:01

Hard to tell from what you've said so far, but if you're interested in something that's already programmed, wireless, and works with powerpoint: Keypoint was created for audience-response & training scenarios.

(disclaimer: yes, I know them - but I'm really just posting the link because it may fit)

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