Our school went through a renovation and all of our old electric bells were replaced with speakers. We have a computer connected to the sound amplifier that plays the bell automatically as per the given timetable. As of now, the computer's mouse is used as input to activate the bell manually if a need for it arises.

I was tasked with finding a simple dumb device with a big switch (or button) that could also be plugged into the amplifier, which would play some kind of sound. The idea is to have a backup bell in case the computer stops working for whatever reason.

I was told that things like MP3 players aren't suitable, as in case of an emergency, the bell should work with a press of a single (preferably large) button/switch.

2 Answers 2


Make one yourself.

Something like the Adafruit Audio FX Board simply takes a USB power input and provides a 3.5mm headphone output you could hook up to the schools amp.

Judging from the products description, you simply place an appropriately named .wav-file on the board and hook up a push-button switch between the boards pin (corresponding to the file name) and ground. Minimal soldering (two wires between the board and the switch) will be required.

Adafruit also offer appropriately sized buttons.


An old-school cassette player would have a big "play" button. You need to have the cassette appropriately rewound in advance to be ready to play, but this is something even older people are familiar with, and can operate easily.

Something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Byron-Statics-Recorders-Lightweight-Batteries/dp/B07JDMB34T. It has a jack output for plugging it to the amp. The color is beautiful, too... and makes it very easy to find in a crowded closet in case of emergency.

  • An interesting suggestion, but I believe I'll be told that this falls under the unsuitable MP3 player category. From their description it sounded like they want a switch like the likes you can find on walls for turning on lights, with an audio output for a ringing sound. I believe what they want is something like a toy bear, where you press on its belly and it plays a sound, but in a more industrial and rugged style, that can be connected to an audio amplifier.
    – Aistis
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 7:57
  • 1
    I found such devices indeed, but they are toy parts, and none of them had a line out or phone out port. All they have is an integrated speaker. But you can probably make it work if you are willing to disassemble one, cut the wires to the integrated speaker and solder it to a jack so you can plug it to the amp. But that would need a bit of DIYing. Look for "recordable button" on Amazon or anywhere.
    – dim
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 8:03

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