Ultra Budget Button Box – Programmable Mini Keyboard

Ultra Budget Button Box – Programmable Mini Keyboard

Alongside dashboards, button boxes are currently arguably the most popular accessory for the rigs of most active simracers. Unless you are aiming for a DIY project, you usually have the choice between very expensive but high-quality replicas or mostly overpriced Etsy offers of questionable quality. Since the launch of the Stream Decks from Elgato, there has been another very good alternative in this area, although the price starts in the three-digit range. This is where the programmable Macro Pads come into play, which are available for as little as €10.

Ordering and shipping

As already mentioned, the Macro pads are available in the smallest version from around €10, sometimes even a little cheaper. Here you have the choice of ordering directly from Aliexpress and Co. or from resellers in Germany. Due to the low price, you don’t have to expect additional customs duties, which makes buying via Aliexpress significantly cheaper. If you prefer the usual convenience (handling in the event of damage, return shipping, etc.), you will pay around twice the price.

Scope of delivery

Of course, you shouldn’t expect a large scope of delivery at this price. Apart from the pad itself and a USB cable, the box is empty.

  • Keyboard
  • USB-C zu USB-A-Kabel


The purpose of the Macro Pad is clear: to provide new function keys in the smallest possible space. The following features are available for this task:

  • 3 Keys: In principle, these are commercially available keyboard keys, as known from conventional PC keyboards. This means that it is of course possible to replace the keycaps or install alternative switches if required. They do their job well, but are somewhat unusual for use in a button box due to the relatively long travel to activation.
  • 1 encoder with push function: This is a relatively light-running encoder (left rotation, right rotation) with an additional push function.
  • LEDs: Each of the buttons is equipped with an RGB LED, which is unfortunately not freely configurable. More on this in the Software chapter.


There was a big question mark over the software before the purchase. Depending on the offer, this is usually provided in the form of links to Google Drive downloads and is, as expected, unsigned. Even if extensive virus scans remain inconspicuous and no other signs of malware are recognisable, the following note remains at this point: Use the software at your own risk.

The software itself is kept simple and naturally does not come close to Elgato’s solutions or more complex open source projects in terms of functionality. After a little familiarisation, however, it does offer some possibilities, although it is not feasible to create different effect layers (which you can switch between using a switch) with the Macro Pads without Bluetooth:

  • Key: Up to five keystrokes can be assigned to the individual keys here, e.g. the word ‘Hello’.
  • Ctrl Alt Shift: Modifiers such as Ctrl, Alt, Shift or the Windows key, which are used in many simulations, can be assigned here. Combinations such as ‘CTRL+ALT+XY‘ are also possible.
  • Multimedia: A total of six multimedia functions can be assigned: Play/Pause, Volume+/Volume-, Prev Song, Next Song and Mute.
  • LED: A total of three modes are available for the built-in LEDs. These can either be switched off completely, all three activated (in this mode the LEDs flash annoyingly in different colours) or set so that after a button is pressed it lights up permanently until another button is pressed.
  • Mouse: Mouse actions such as scrolling or clicking can be simulated here.

To assign a function, select a key in the software (in this case KEY 1 to KEY3), then assign the desired function and press ‘Download‘ somewhat counterintuitively to save the function. This is then assigned to the corresponding key, even if this is not visible in the software itself. The K1 Left, K1 Centre and K1 Right fields must be configured in the same way for the encoder. All in all, it only takes a few minutes to set up the six functions.

DIY-Project: Sim Rig Mount

Of course, the mini keyboard still needs to be mounted at the end. Thanks to the smooth back and the low weight of just a few grams, you can easily attach it with double-sided adhesive tape. However, it is a little nicer, especially when mounted on a rig made of aluminium profiles, with a printed holder. This angles the pad slightly (15 degree inclination) and aligns it at an angle of 45 degrees to the driver. By mounting it on the side profiles of most wheel decks, a very comfortable position is achieved for direct operation from the seat. Four M2x12 screws and matching nuts are required for mounting on the bracket to replace the original screws. Two versions (M6 and M8) are available for the connection to the rig, which are intended for use with sliding blocks, for example.


The mini keyboard in the version with three buttons and an encoder with push function is currently probably the cheapest way to add some additional function buttons to your rig. For less than 10 euros, you can get a kind of mini button box that can be programmed via software. You could criticise the software or the way the LEDs work at this point, but in view of the incredibly low price and the fundamentally convincing functionality, the Macro-Pad can be confidently recommended as a purchase. Especially on the way to a fully-fledged button box, it is a very practical accessory for your own Simrig.


In addition to the version with three buttons and one encoder, there are a handful of other variants. The version with twelve buttons and two encoders is already on its way to us and will be presented in a separate article in the coming weeks.

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