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Ride Op Control Panel for the Computer


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A while back I had the nerdy idea to make a ride operator control panel for my computer to do otherwise-mundane tasks, like a E-stop button to lock the computer. So after months of researching and buying stuff, I finally did it!


I made a video of it in action here:


In the second part of the video you can see I modified it to control trains in NoLimits. I explain how everything works in the Youtube video's description, but basically it runs off an Arduino microcontroller which makes everything simpler than you'd probably expect.


I plan on posting some pictures of the inside soon but in the meantime if you have any questions or comments I'd love to hear them! Call me crazy but having a bunch of bright, blinking buttons (that are actually functional!) on your desk just looks cool.

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The Arduino microcontroller was $30 and the enclosure was about $30 off eBay. I bought several lot auctions on eBay for the push buttons and kind of mixed and matched til I got what I liked, so maybe altogether $30-35 for the buttons (but I have a ton left over so I could make another one if I wanted to). There's several little odds and ends like the breadboard and jumper cables but those were cheap (less than $10). Somewhere around $100 for the whole thing.


I probably could have done it cheaper had I used lower-quality buttons but they don't "feel" as good. By far the biggest expenses on any similar project are going to be the buttons and enclosure since they're typically made for industrial uses and extreme operating environments.

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Here are the pictures. I didn't want to connect all the wires again (it was a pain having to do it with needle-nose pliers) so access was limited.


Contact blocks for the buttons and LED lights.


The Arduino microcontroller that controls everything.


The breadboard connects it all together, along with some pull-up (or is it pull-down?) resistors.

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