Button, switch and breadboard tips, now with pics!


The push buttons, both the larger 4 leaded ones and the
small 2 leaded ones, are intended for PCB mounting and won’t plug into a
breadboard without modification.

You will need to flatten out the “kinked” looking part of
the lead so that it points straight down from the switch body. I used a pair of small needle nose pliers but
you could use tweezers if that’s what you have. The switch will then plug into the breadboard
with only a bit of force. Be sure to
push more or less straight down with only a bit of wiggling as the leads will
break off if flexed to many times. I
pulled the colored caps off to make installation easier and let the kid put the
correct color on as instructed during play.

The large push buttons have 4 leads. They are double pole, single throw
(DPST). This means that there are 2
switches in the housing. Pressing the
button connects the leads that are on each side together but not to the leads
on the other side. If you follow the
engraved layout exactly, you will have the large push buttons installed
correctly and the jumper wires will be in line with the switch leads.

The small push buttons are single pole, single throw
(SPST). They only have one switch. You must take care to put the jumper wires in
the same row as the lead when connecting them.

The slide switch is a single pole double throw (SPDT). The center lead is common. The slider shows which of the outside leads
will be connected to the center one. You
will want one jumper to be in the same row as the center lead and one jumper in
the same row as one of the outside leads.

Take a look at the big breadboard. See the 2 outer columns on each side? They are labeled with a + and a -. These are the power rails. They run the full length of the
breadboard. We won’t be using these in the
Piper so let’s ignore them. Notice that
the rest of the breadboard is labeled with letters and numbers. The numbers are the rows, the letters are connections
in each row. In row 1, a, b, c, d, and e
are connected together but not to any other point on the breadboard. Also in row 1, f, g, h, I and j are connected
together but not to any other point on the breadboard. The small breadboards are the same but do not
have the power rails.

When we assembled the big breadboard, we ended up with the black
button in rows 2 and 4, columns d and g.
This means that we can put a jumper wire in row 2, a, b or c and another
jumper wire in row 4, a, b or c.

With the small pushbuttons and the slide switches, make sure
that each switch lead goes into its own row and that the jumper wire go into a
row that lines up with a switch lead and you should be OK.

For a more detailed and maybe clearer explanation, search “sparkfun
how to use a breadboard” and “sparkfun switch basics”.




My daughter is working on the power plant level, and she is having trouble putting the first button on the small breadboard. She can’t seem to replay the short video that describes with a diagram how to place the button. Plus, we’re not sure which button to even use. It looked like for a moment, that it showed a button similar to one of the controller buttons, but we don’t seem to have any of them left. Is the button we’re supposed to use have a round shape, and it has a sticker that says to wash before using? I thought you weren’t supposed to wash electrical components? Or is it one of the other buttons. I tried to read what you had written above, but it’s like trying to read another language, and wish I could understand all this! Thanks for any help about the power plant level.



Sorry about that, I did kind of word it bit, well wordy.

I’m pretty sure that what you need are the smallest rectangle switches. They only have 2 leads and the button pushes in. The ones with 3 leads slide, I’m not sure when they get used.

Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiqNaSPTI7w It’s a pretty darn boring video but starting around the 3:00 minute mark, he explains in just a few words and with pictures what I tried to explain above.

The parts with the wash instructions are buzzers. When circuit boards are soldered, a flux is used to help the solder flow. This flux can be sticky or unsightly so the boards are washed afterwards. Since the buzzer has a hole for the sound to come out, they have that protective label. You can peel it off if you like, it won’t hurt anything since you aren’t soldering them in.

I’ll take some pictures soon and post them here.



Here are the small push buttons as wired by Alex. Notice that the leads from each switch line up in the same row as a jumper wire. The green wire on the far right is in the same row as the right lead on the right switch. These two are not connected to anything else. Next, the blue wire is in the same row as the left lead of the right switch. These are also not connected to anything else. When the button is pressed, it will join the blue and green wires until you let go.



Here are the small push button, the slide switch and the buzzer. I’ve lined the switches up so that the leads point up the same row as the jumpers are plugged into. The slide switch is shown in the off position. If we slide it so the it’s over the two leads inline with the jumpers, it will be on. I don’t know if the buzzer gets used but it is polarity sensitive. Notice that label has a plus symbol and that one lead is longer. I hope that the Piper will show this clearly enough if it does get used.

Cutting my out when trying to connect wires

Here’s how my boys wired the navigation buttons. The far right one (black) activates the “inventory.”


Thank you for the correct name for the black button. I’m not much of a Minecrafter, more into fixing busted stuff That is how Alex wired his buttons except that he doesn’t have the black one wired up right now. Don’t know why.

This is how Alex has the small push buttons wired. He says he has done the power plant level.



thanks, lasermike for posting this picture. I didn’t see this until today. So she is to use the four really small button components, it was just really hard to tell from the video only showing the button for just a second or two, it seems to me, then blinking with white and grey-coloring buttons, so this picture really clears things up a lot! I guess for a lot of kids they can figure this out on their own, but for many, without some visuals like this, these other kids would usually give up on STEM related activities, because they need more visual support, I know that I do! I will have her try this sometime to see how it works for her… Thanks so much for this visual!


Thanks for the all-over visual of the electronic components and how they go!


Thanks again, lasermike! I’ll have to watch that video sometime, to help us understand and get our bearing about electrical components and this type of electrical engineering! Thanks for explaining why the labels were on the buzzers. I guess I get confused on what are buzzers, switches, and whatever else different components could be called, so your explanations definitely help us and hopefully others who read these posts looking for answers! You’re pictures have been so helpful, I hope the Piper people will use them or their own when they finally get their website or wikia developed, because many people can’t figure these types of STEM activities out, since many of us were never to exposed to this in school or as a hobby before. Thanks!


Ahhh… this explains a lot. My son was totally confused once to the powerplant level. I think the biggest problem is that we do not have any of the smaller switches in our kit. Is there a list somewhere that we can compare to and evaluate what is missing? I don’t believe I’ve seen the slider switch or the buzzer shown in the photos either…


I had trouble figuring out what the video was show also. Alex seemed sure of what he was seeing and used the small push buttons. He was able to play the level so I’m pretty sure he got it right.

You are welcome for the guidance, I have a rather rusty (1983!) AAS in Electronics Engineering Technology and love to share knowledge. I do sometimes forget that others don’t have the sort of background that I do so I don’t always explain things clearly enough the first time around :wink:

I’ve posted in “Buzzers not working”, how you can test the buzzers if you want to play around. I don’t think they will be hurt if you get the + and - mixed up but it’s best to keep an eye on it.



Sounds like you need to send an email to Tommy@withpiper.com and ask for the switches and any other missing pieces. If you can’t wait, you can get some that will work from Fry’s or Radio Shack (if you still have one). Size and shape don’t really matter as much as whether they fit in the breadboard. Just take the picture of the buttons and slide switch with you to get a close match.

The voltage is low enough that if you want to experiment, you could bend up some paper clips. Search for “how to make a switch with a paperclip” and take a look at the images. Just make sure they are shiny, painted ones won’t work unless you sand off the paint.



Thanks @lasermike. I’ve got some switches en route from Tommy now! My son did manage to figure out he could manually hold wires together, since I told him that’s what a switch was doing. It’s tough to slow them down sometimes!!


You rock!! Your feedback in this post and MANY others has been invaluable to the Piper community. Thank you!

  • Jordan


Yes, edenn, it would be helpful, when they have time and either add to their website or a wikia, that shows all the different electrical components that everyone should have. I just think the piper team has been swamped with creating and distributing their product, knowing there would be lots of hiccups along the way, but hopefully once they get this part of their company going, then they can concentrate on building their website and posting photos and diagrams.


Thanks, lasermike! I could tell by your explanations that you probably had a background in electrical engineering. I am used to not understanding technical issues and concepts, so this is nothing new for me! My daughter is back at school full-time in the fifth grade, struggling with learning fractions in math class, so she will probably not get to work on this much until the weekend. I will try and have her try the power plant level, using your photo diagram, I think it will really help! I will check under buzzers not working to see what information you have written down. Thanks!


Jordan or anyone else that is on today-I would like to upload a photo to this forum, to see if my daughter is one the right track for the first button and wiring for starting the power plant level. But I can’t figure out the easiest way to upload a photo here. I have a Blackberry phone with camera, and I usually don’t have a problem posting the pics to Facebook, etc., but can’t figure out the best way for here. Is one of the buttons above this post for attaching photos. I am sorry this sounds like something I should be able to figure out, but I honestly can’t! thanks for any helpful advice!



My daughter is finally back to working on her piper power plant project, but when I showed her this picture, she said this is for more than just completing the power plant level, that this also included the Funky Fungi? level. I am trying to figure out how to upload a pic of her breadboard and how she positioned the first button and wiring, but I can’t figure out how to upload on this site. I know it is probably easy, but I can’t see which button is the attachment button up above the text box. Any help you might provide when and if you happen to come back on here would be greatly appreciated. Right now, the piper battery is being recharged, my daughter really enjoys exploring the world on the piper minecraft, but just from an hour or two yesterday evening and a few hours this morning, it ran down the battery completely, so it is in recharge mode at the moment.