Matt's Awesome Stuff

Matt's Awesome Stuff

LEGO button

Last updated: 16Apr2012

This is my favorite trademark violation ever. A quick one-day hack. I converted fixed Staples "Easy Button" into a re-recordable "LEGO Button."

For those that don't have a "Staples" (office/electronics supply store) or don't get their commercials, they have a motto "That Was Easy!", and marketed in commercials these buttons that repeat the motto when you press them. As a sort of gag, they at one point sold them too.

They look like this:

And sound like this.

I had a french one that says "Simple" instead of "Easy", because that's how you say "Easy" in french (pronounced closer to "sam-pleh") and Canada is bilingual so I think someone bought it by mistake.

They have no microphone and the chip has no public datasheet so you can't change what they sound like, so it sat around for 3 or 4 years.

Other hacks on the web show installing a whole 9V memo recorder, including hacking away most of the internal frame. This sucks because the coolest part of the button is that it clicks this big metal plate and gives a satisfying chunk-chunk sound and tactile feel. They also cost $10-15. I found a 10-second greeting card recorder on an auction website for $2.

Here's the bottom. I added the microphone and a different pushbutton to record through the only available spot in the case. The button has big metal weights to add to the solidity of it, I had to trim one of them to fit these in:

Chopped off half the old circuit, kept part of it just for the button and to mount my own circuit board on. (I've since taken apart other Easy Buttons, it's worth noting that there are at least 2 different circuitboards). Chopped off the 3 button cells on the new recorder (seems to run okay, if a bit weak, on the 2x AAs [3v], rather than the 4.5V it came with). Superglued the new board onto the old carcass. Oh, and you can't see it, but see the two holes in the circuit board? The underside of the dome has 4 pegs that pass through the board to depress the metal popper. I had to lop one of them off:

Then, ton of filing and sanding to get the raised letting "Simple" off. Some polishing. Then took a white license plate cover and a jeweler's saw and carved out the best thing I could think of to go on top. LEGO. Printer wasn't working so I had to draw the logo by hand, and it came out funny. Oh well. Lots of sanding and trimming. Cut up some disposable black plastic sandwich container and superglued the letters on.

A bunch more very careful trimming, the letters are only 5/8" tall:

Then, needed the yellow border. Didn't have any thin yellow plastic. Dollarstore trip yielded ugly plastic wastebasket. Farrrrrrrr too much sanding the grid pattern off later...

And then another loop with the jeweler's saw and more sanding. Then superglued it to the dome:

Ta da.

Side to side it curved well. Top and bottom are lifted 1/32" or so, couldn't clamp 'em down, actually made it look uglier by trying to squirt superglue into the crack and spilling some on the red surface. Pics don't show it but it's plain in person.

I kept the Easy button's speaker, which, with the same crappy replacement driver, is still just as loud as the original button (even though the default speaker on the greeting card is 1/5 as loud).

As the button announced: "LEGO makes everything better!"

I gave it away to a friend who's a huge fan of LEGO. My message lasted about 10 minutes before she recorded over it with one of her own.

I've many people asking if I can make and sell these to them. No! Of course I can't. I don't own the LEGO trademark so I can't go selling products with their logo on it. But I might make a video tutorial sometime showing you how to make one yourself.

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