These Functional Origami Paper Buttons Drive Minecraft via an Arduino-Compatible Microcontroller
Pseudonymous maker "Karagamii" has built an Arduino-powered Minecraft control board with a difference: the buttons are made out of folded paper and a paper clip.
"My friend Nolan [Yoshimoto] helped me out with this a ton," Karagamii explains of the project's origins. "When I posted my paper button tutorial we both kind of had the same idea: To turn the buttons into actual functional buttons. He tried it out first and it actually ended up working surprisingly well — it's actually a lot less glitchy than I thought."
The buttons themselves — which offer a WASD cluster for movement control, E to access the inventory, Control, Shift, and an Escape key for pausing or quitting the game — are home-brew devices constructed from folded paper. While that's enough to provide a springy return, it's not going to build a circuit — which is where a paper clip comes into play.
"If we have some kind of conductive surface and a wire that's also connected to the microcontroller then we can tell when the button is being pressed," Karagamii explains. "So knowing that, if we have a paper clip that's shorter than the spring itself when we press the button the paper clip will touch the aluminum foil and that's how the computer will know that the button has been pressed."
The paper-and-paper-clip buttons are wired to an Arduino-compatible microcontroller, along with a flat layer of aluminum foil to act as a common ground. The electrical connections are wired in place with solder, while the buttons are secured with hot glue.
"Nolan helped me a ton with the code since I'd never coded on Arduino before," Karagamii admits, "but it was actually pretty straightforward. I just had to tell the computer which buttons were plugged into which pins and what keyboard button they were representing."
The full project video is now available on Karagamii's YouTube channel, along with a list of materials and a printable template for folding the buttons.