Uses for a foot pedal?

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23 Sep 2015, 22:23

Okay, so I randomly ended up with a three-button foot pedal (Olympus RS-28). I've just got it plumbed through AutoHotKey, so I can make each button do anything!

Now, what to do with it?

Lots of folks have the questions "how to make a pedal do X" (have purpose, want pedal), but there doesn't seem to be a compendium of ideas (have pedal, want purpose), so let's start one! Here's what I've come up with so far after trolling the interwebs:

* Advance the screen while playing guitar tabs
* Sustain pedal for soft-piano (or other instrument modifiers, like guitar effect pedals)
* Gaming (moar buttons at once!)
* Boss key (not gonna speculate why your hands couldn't hit a keyboard shortcut here)
* Transcription (rewind/pause a recording while madly trying to type it)
* Macro playback (type my password directly into my work computer for simple sign-on, in blatant defiance of corporate IT policies)
* Push-to-talk voice
* Media buttons (VLC control)

In my particular case, I have an Ergodox and AutoHotKey, so I've already mapped the crap out of most of these on the keyboard already, via either dedicated keys or layer combinations. So I'm really interested in uses where the ability to not use my hands is important. (Eating? Playing an accordion? Intensely mousing?) That said, I think a general compendium would be useful, so taking all suggestions here.

How do/would you use a foot pedal?

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23 Sep 2015, 22:45

That's a damn good question. Looking it up, I see your specific hardware is for dictation and I presume the three switches are digital (on/off) which limits things a bit. I hadn't even thought of human transcribers feverishly typing out what's playing in their headphones, and now I do I bet pedals are a great boon for them to pause and repeat playback.

Piano / guitar pedals were the first thing to come to mind for me, too, but those should be analog. Well, piano ones anyway. As in an actual grand piano! I'm not sure if the electric ones for music keyboards are analog, but you sure can control the amount of damping on a grand by how far you press the sustain pedal.

I know a few racing fans who use pedals for gas and brakes in their games. Again, those have to be analog to really help. Ditto for flight sims where too much rudder is seriously bad news!

Yeah, I'm scratching my head trying to figure out a natural use for digital pedals. Gotta admit I never use them. I'd trip over the buggers at my standing desk! And when I sit to type, I like to have my feet up!

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Wild Duck

23 Sep 2015, 22:52

Once got foot pedals for my Datahand, didn't like them. Slow action, a keyboard is much quicker. And you have to take fixed positions with your feet. Then I realized my feet are all over the place, sometimes crossed below the chair, sometimes stretched, etc. Man it's like driving a car. Exhausting if you do it for hours each day.

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The Tiproman

24 Sep 2015, 09:07

fifted wrote: […] * Transcription (rewind/pause a recording while madly trying to type it) […]
This is the standard use of a foot pedal. All professional transcription systems use one, and they already did in the old days of magnetics discs and cassettes played on dedicated devices.
But they were and still are used the other way round: it's pressing the pedal that plays the recording, and when you let it go, there is an automatic short rewind the length of which can be fixed by the user.
So there is no "madly trying to type", thousands of (mostly female) professionals just type. Not "madly", not "trying" :mrgreen:

For some time I used a foot switch as well, especially using it as "Shift" to increase my typing speed when typing in German (where not only the first word of a sentence and proper nouns, but also all common nouns, have capitals: "Nimm deine Finger von meiner Tastatur, du Idiot!").
It was a failure because, as webwit notes, it forces you into a completely static sitting posture. Which in turn means that when just occasionally using a foot pedal, you will have to reach for it with your foot from a then random position. Any (even combo) keypress is easier and quicker.

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25 Sep 2015, 09:44

I have a pedal I want wire up to a pro micro and use it as a push-to-talk button when chatting / gaming.

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25 Sep 2015, 20:40

Ha, thanks all – I'm glad I didn't spend any money for it! So far, I can't stand having it lock my display, since I keep bumping it in moving my feet around to get comfortable. I've set it up so it beeps at me when I hit the buttons, and now I'm realizing both how hard it is to hit it reliably, and how easy it is to hit it by accident!

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