In this remarkable photograph of the Oval Office, showing President Trump seated behind the “Resolute” desk while being interviewed by reporters from Reuters, there are any number of interesting details: The recording devices arrayed on the large desk’s empty expanse. The photograph of Trump’s father on the table behind him. The maps of electoral results, printed out and handed to the reporters during their conversation.


President Trump speaks during an interview with Reuters in the Oval Office on April 27. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

But there’s one detail that’s seized the popular imagination more than others. This:


At lower left is a wooden box with a button on it. A press of that button, Reuters (and the Associated Press and the Financial Times) reports, and a staffer appears in the Oval Office bearing the item at upper right: a soda.

The Coke button has become an object of recent fascination, thanks to its combination of indulgence, luxurious idiosyncrasy and very on-brand loyalty to junk food. Mother Jones’s Ben Dreyfuss, for example, went down a Twitter rabbit hole trying to figure out whether the sodas that are delivered are Coke or Diet Coke, without reaching a conclusion.

So that’s likely the box, as Politico’s Eric Geller points out, with it matching the description provided by the Financial Times. Which prompts the question: How can you get one of your own?

We explored a few different options, presented here in increasing order of complexity.

The easy way

What you’ll need:

  • A remote-control doorbell ($19.42 at The Mine)
  • 2 C batteries ($7.99 for four from Amazon)
  • Someone willing to bring you a soda (If not using a volunteer, $7.25 an hour)
  • A soda ($4.18 for an eight-pack from Amazon)

How to set it up:

1. The doorbell is fairly simple. There’s the button itself, which has a built-in battery. Attach that to your desk.

2. Put the batteries in the chime.

3. Choose the sound you want the chime to make. According to the manufacturer, the options are “ding-dong” and “ding.” Perhaps discuss this with the person who will be bringing you the soda.

4. Put the receiver within earshot of the person who will bring you the soda.

Total cost: $38.84
Setup time: Five minutes

The fancier way

What you’ll need:

  • A big red push button ($9.95 at Karlsson Robotics)
  • A buzzer ($1.95, Karlsson)
  • A battery holder ($1.99, Karlsson)
  • 40 feet of wire ($15.99 from Amazon)
  • Some AA batteries (A 24-pack at Amazon is $13.75)
  • The soda-bringer (Again, if not using a volunteer, $7.25 an hour)
  • The soda (as above)

How to set it up:

I spoke with Gustav Karlsson, CEO of Karlsson Robotics in Florida, and his director of engineering, Matt Wolfe, to get a sense for how to build a hard-wired version of the Coke button. Why hard-wired? Karlsson noted that, in the Oval Office, security concerns probably meant that an over-the-air signal, say, using WiFi, would not be preferable, given limits that are necessarily in place to cut down on detectable Internet traffic. So if you want the real thing from your button, something nearly equivalently unhackable, hard-wired is the way to go.

The big red button has a simple trigger inside of it that can send a signal over a wire. (It also has an optional light-up functionality; here’s how to wire it.) We’re just going to set up a simple circuit. Not clear how that works? Read this, or see the diagram below.


1. Connect the wire to the button.

2. Run the wire to the Coke location. If your location is more than 40 feet away, buy more wire.

3. Connect the battery pack to the wire.

4. Put in the batteries.

5. Connect the wire to the speaker.

6. Play the sound for the Coke-bringer so they know what it sounds like. Answer any questions or complaints they may have.

Total cost: $55.06
Setup time: Probably about half an hour, especially if you’re going to get fancy and run the wire out of sight

The ridiculous way

The challenge I posed to my experts was a simple one: What’s a way to do this without integrating a potentially cranky staffer? The answer Karlsson Robotics gave? Robots, oddly enough.

They put together a list of the components that you would need to set up a system that would work like this:


In this scenario, a motorized tray on wheels — the robot — lives in a refrigerated room in your house and is stocked with beverages. When you hit the red button, it sends a wireless signal to the robot over the wireless Zigbee messaging system. The robot activates, detecting a black line on the floor of your house that runs from the refrigerated room to your office. The robot follows that line to your office. When it arrives, you remove a soda and hit a button on the robot, sending it back to the refrigerated room. Simple enough.

What you’ll need:

For the room:

  • A refrigeration system (The CoolBot system uses a window air conditioner to convert a room into a cooler, $888)
  • Plastic strips to keep the room cold and let the robot out ($54.89 from Strip-Curtains.com)

For the robot:

  • A chassis ($249.95 from Karlsson Robotics)
  • A motor shield ($79.95, Karlsson)
  • A battery and charger ($48.90, Karlsson)
  • The motherboard ($26.40, Karlsson)
  • The Zigbee setup ($72.85 in various parts that I will happily email you if you actually want to buy them)
  • The sensor to track the line on the floor ($29.95, Karlsson)
  • A thing to hold the cans of soda ($16.99 from Amazon)
  • The button to send the robot back ($9.95 at Karlsson)

For the button:

  • A big red push button ($9.95 at Karlsson)
  • The Zigbee setup ($47.90)
  • A battery and battery pack ($4.90, Karlsson)

Everything else:

  • Black tape (60 yards for $8.41 at Amazon)
  • Some soda ($4.88 for a 12-pack, Amazon)

How to set it up:

1. First you need to build out the cold room. There are detailed instructions for doing so at the storeitcold.com, involving insulation and such (not listed above). I’m sure you can figure it out. Do you know how to pour concrete? I hope so.

2. Hang the plastic strips over the doorway.

3. Lay the black tape on the ground so that the robot knows how to get back and forth.

4. Assemble and code the robot.

5. Assemble and code the button.

6. Put the button on your desk.

What’s that? There’s not enough detail in Steps 4 and 5? Well, we can’t do everything for you. But Karlsson can; it’d charge about a grand. So:

Total cost (with Karlsson’s help): About $1,956
Setup time: Honestly, you should just walk to the fridge