Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Using a USB foot pedal for VOIP comms!

It doesn't seem to matter just how many keys you have available to you as a PC gamer, there never seems to be enough! At least that's what I thought when it came to the issue of which key to assign as my VOIP key.

Like many online gamers I use a preparatory program to handle my in-game voice comms - BIG clan uses Mumble - and this demands that you set a key to act as your 'talk' button. The problem is trying to find a convenient key that isn't already assigned to another function.

For a while now I have been using a key-stoke mapped to my middle mouse button - so I press my middle mouse button and Mumble turns my mic on. Simples. Well, not so simples really...

Being a person of limited brain to finger cooridination I find it a bit fiddly to fire - left mouse button - and talk - middle mouse button - at the same time. I would assign another key and move the physical key to my Orbweaver keypad but everything is already assigned.

Well, I bought myself a USB foot controllers this week - the type secretaries use to control scolling in Word so they can transcribe stuff - as I reckoned my feet aren't doing anything so seem the ideal appendage to control my VOIP!

Much to my surprise setting up the footpad was very simple and within minutes I had it working with Mubble to control my voice comms. So, the foot-pedal clears the first test - onto using the pedal...

Assigning your preferred VOIP key to the foot pedal is easy as the device comes
with it's own set-up software on a mini-CD (Windows only).
Next I make sure that the shortcut key to my chosen VOIP key is set in my
VOIP software - in my case MUMBLE.

Right, problem number one - it *feels* funny! Using your foot to press a button is something which is quite alien to me. It might sound daft but this may be because I don't drive (maybe), but in any case finding my 'comfort zone' is a major issue.

Normally when gaming I don't even think about where my legs and feet are - they generally are just crossed in a relaxed position and don't move all through my playing session. But now I have to find a good position for my right leg so that my foot rests on the foot pedal without triggering it, but be ready to trigger it when I want to without much bother.

So, it will probably take me quite a while to find the 'sweet spot' for placing the pedal and my leg and foot, so I can't really give you a proper verdict on what I think of using a foot controller yet. It may take me three or four (or more) gaming sessions just to get used to having the pedal and finding it with ease.

...SO, watch this space!

...Oh, nearly forgot - problem number two! I would like to know if my pedal is activating my VOIP, there is a overlay option in Mumble that shows a blinky light when you are talking but unfortunately it does not work with DirectX games! Du-oh!

So I will basically just have to trust that it is working!

UPDATE: Problem 2 solved! In Mumble you can set an 'audio cue', this sounds a 'beep' when you press your VOIP key. So I now know I have definitely pressed my VOIP button!

The USB foot-pedal is made by 'International Invention' (China) and costs about a tenner. It's made of fairly cheap plastic and I am not convinced about how well it will hold up to repeated and furious foot punches! Only time will tell.

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