Pre-made control panels?

by percussivepaul on Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:56 am


I made a wearable electronics thing that uses a few push buttons and a few rotary potentiometers. I used panel-mount components, drilled some holes in a plastic case and screwed them in, soldered wires to the leads and attached those to my little PCB and everything worked great. But it was kind of annoying finicky work (especially the wiring, space was tight) and I am trying to reduce my workload for the next project.

Has anyone come across something like a pre-made control panel that has a couple of buttons and dials (rotary, linear, whatever), perhaps with all the leads pre-soldered and run out on a ribbon cable, or something like that? Does this sort of thing exist? I see it for industrial, electrical, automotive applications, but usually pretty big and designed to be mounted on a console. I want something like 3x3 inches square with a few small controls. Obviously I can keep making them custom for each project, but do any off-the-self things exist?

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Re: Pre-made control panels?

by adafruit_support_bill on Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:35 am

PS2 controllers have all sorts of buttons and pots and use a simple serial interface. There is an Arduino library by Bill Porter that makes interfacing easy.
Both wired and wireless PS2 controller clones are available cheaply from various sources. ... rary-v1-0/

We also have RF and IR remotes in the store. But they don't have pots. ... h&q=remote
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Re: Pre-made control panels?

by thefatmoop on Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:34 pm

I think honeywell makes custom control panels in small quantities, but the price is far from reasonable lol.
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Re: Pre-made control panels?

by lyndon on Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:50 pm

What part of the panel making process did you find difficult? How can it be made easier?
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Re: Pre-made control panels?

by percussivepaul on Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:57 am

The PS2 controller is a great idea. Too big for one project I'm planning but might work for another.

The part of the process I found the most difficult was interfacing the panel-mount switches to my circuit board. Space was tight but I had to make the wires long enough to be hand-solderable (at least a few inches) and there were quite a few of them. And once the connections were made I had to cram the circuit board into the enclosure and faced this big tangle of wires taking up all my space that I sort of had to shove until things fit. Not my most elegant project.

I could do a better job with the enclosure next time, buy a slightly bigger one and plan things out a bit better, but still, I am going to want the layout of switches and buttons to be compact and I expect this will still be annoying.
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Re: Pre-made control panels?

by Zener on Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:15 pm

The best solution to simplifying all that is lay out a circuit board and mount all the stuff on the board. You would need to learn the PCB layout software, but eventually you can get pretty quick. The cost for proto boards is not that bad, and you seemed willing to spend some money for convenience so that may be your best solution.
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