Steven Shamlian Creator of Things

Buried in Minutiae

2019 April

Joy Detector

I had this grandiose idea while I was in college that it would be cool to have a wall of illuminated pushbuttons which changed colors when you pushed them. It would be a fun way to draw pictures in community, especially if you networked them together. I looked for pushbuttons with RGB LEDs in them, but didn't find anything easily available, and concluded that it would be way too expensive to build such a thing in 2006.

Being between some things in life, I recently had some time to think about this project again. I looked, again, for RGB-illuminated pushbuttons, but again didn't find anything I liked. I went to Adafruit and purchased some white-illuminated arcade buttons. I took one apart and found that it housed a pushbutton and an illuminator board. After reverse-engineering the board outline, I found that it could fit four SK6812MINI (aka Neopixel Mini 3535 RGB LEDs), and the case already had spots for four spade terminals (instead of the original two for just power, I would also need data in and data out). I designed a board, soldered a bunch together, and wired them up in a simple box.

Unsure what to do with this, I left it on my desk at work, on. It was interesting: some people were drawn to the box, pecking at the buttons and oohing and aahing at the lights. Others simply ignored it, or asked, poked, and then shrugged. I've decided that this box functions as an indicator of a person's intrinsic propensity for joy. The source files are provided below with a CC BY-SA license (Lady Ada, if you're out there, please make these a standard product!)


Next project: → Santa's Ringers


Code for download (save link as):

Electrical Gerbers

Mechanical CAD

Simple Arduino Example