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I just thought I would share what I am working on. I normally hate posting a WIP because I tend to get super enthusiastic about a project and then never get around to actually finishing it. I felt that I had to share this though. I see so many awesome controllers for this game and I always wanted done of my own. 

I originally was working on a my own controller using a type of wood that was left over from when it was being used to make a child sized rocking chair. The wood turned out too thick to mount any switches or buttons to it.

Everyone on here seems to have made, or at least started, their own controller and it always appeared to involve ordering custom printed circuit boards, CNC machining, 3D printing, and so on. I just don't have the access, or the financial means, to make that a reality, so I have had to go low budget. 

After finally getting fed up with all of my components collecting dust, I decided to take a trip to the local Walmart. After a walk through of the store, I ended up buying craft popsicle sticks and wood glue. 

It is actually turning out nice. The wood is pretty strong after you glue a brace to a row of sticks and let the glue dry completely. I also have access to a power drill and a Dremel drill that I managed to get my hands on when I attempted to make my own controller the first time. 

In the pictures I have the LED lights that are going to be the annunciator lights on the panel. They are very bright and clear LEDs so you can't tell what color they are, so I had to label each of them at the LED. This works out fine since you won't be able to see the writing after the entire enclosure is finished.

I still haven't figured out what to do for the face of the panel. I used to work on military aircraft and I really liked the black plastic covers that had the lettering for the annunciation cut away so that the light shows through the lettering. Since I think that takes some kind of laser cutting and that just isn't going to happen, I will have to figure something else out. Maybe marking out some transparent sheets meant for stencils and then cutting away with an Xacto knife. 

I am seriously thinking of just making the entire thing out of popsicle sticks. It turns out to be strong enough to work with after the glue dries, and it just makes me think it is something that would be found at the Kerbal Command Center in the early days of a career play through. 

On a last note, I wanted to post this because I want to show that a controller is possible on a budget. The housing for the controller doesn't need to be super expensive to turn out decent. Put that extra money into the lights, buttons, switches, potentiometers, Arduino boards, etc. 

The code that makes it all work is the brilliance that is KSP Serial IO by zitronen. 

On a side note, holes were drilled in the sticks so the LED can poke through. Underneath that is a hole that the wiring is fed through. It is all coiled up just to make it easier to store it all. I have the wiring cut in order to accommodate connecting it to the Arduino board for testing. I didn't want to make it a permanent arrangement, just in case, so the LEDs are sandwiched together by two lengths of twist tie. 

 

As for the lighting:

All the Custom Groups (CG) are blue

SAS/RCS/Light is green

Gear/Brake is red

Fuel/Mono/Elec Cau (cautions) are yellow

the two open are just blank spots on the panel

Fuel/Mono/Elec Warn and Overheat/Stage Lock are all red.

 

The layout was originally different so that is why Gear and Brake are in with SAS, RCS, and Light.

 

fW8DUsc.jpg

 

Ge7sMjc.jpg

 

I am currently working on gluing sticks together to give the lights individual compartments to avoid lighting up the wrong indication on the panel. I am gluing the entire length of the sticks to fill any gaps and I plan to cover or paint over that so it completely blocks all light that could come from other LEDs. 

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Welcome aboard, and a cool approach to DIY controllers. The sticks have the distinct advantage that they come in equal lengths, making fitting them together a lot easier than wood you cut yourself.

I've found that most of the budget went to electronics, my enclosure is mostly made of spare wood I had lying around. I ended up 3d printing a few frames for LCD panels, but the rest is wood and paint. I used a thin MDF that was a miscut in the local hardware store (no idea what that type of store is called in English), and some three layer plywood with a cheap aluminium corner reinforcements. If I was to redo the panels, I would have given them a thin layer of filler before the paint to smooth out the structure in the wood, it might get a better imitation of metal then.

The individual panels are painted black so I can apply inkjet printed adhesive paper labels, with a bit of touch up with a black felt pen. This approach might work out for your annunciator as well, although there will be some light bleeding through the black printed paper. Personally, I intend to cover my annunciator with white paper and black letter, but i am very interested to see what you come up with.

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I remember looking at your project. 

I do have the code set up for how I want it to work so the hard part is getting everything put together. I will need to go through and probably tweak the code since I havent messed around with it since before ksp moved past 1.0.

I already have all the parts for it too and I had previously cut all the wiring needed to put it together. It was seriously the bulk of the cost of making a controller.

The hard part of this approach is getting the sticks to stay put and waiting for the glue to dry. I may go get some gorilla wood glue since I imagine itll have a shorter dry time and be stronger. 

I can use the sticks for the paneling and probably get some square wood rods that can acommidate screws to get a frame put together quickly. 

I just definitely needed to get the annuciator panel out of the temporary cardboard set up i had it all sitting in for so long. 

The only other things that needs put together are the housings for the joysticks and the mini project that is going to be the throttle lever.

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21 hours ago, kungfufishstick said:

I used to work on military aircraft and I really liked the black plastic covers that had the lettering for the annunciation cut away so that the light shows through the lettering. Since I think that takes some kind of laser cutting and that just isn't going to happen, I will have to figure something else out. Maybe marking out some transparent sheets meant for stencils and then cutting away with an Xacto knife.

For what it's worth, those transparent sheets usually work OK in an inkjet printer - you could just draw a design with white lettering on a black background and print it.

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Just now, stibbons said:

For what it's worth, those transparent sheets usually work OK in an inkjet printer - you could just draw a design with white lettering on a black background and print it.

I had thought about that but the ink in my printer is all dried out from lack of use and it will cost a lot to replace the ink. I swear, you could run a printer on liquid money for less than buying ink.

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Just now, kungfufishstick said:

I had thought about that but the ink in my printer is all dried out from lack of use and it will cost a lot to replace the ink. I swear, you could run a printer on liquid money for less than buying ink.

Reckon. I gave up trying to keep a printer at home for the same reason. On the few occasions I do need to print anything it happens either at work or a friend's place. :) 

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1 hour ago, stibbons said:

Reckon. I gave up trying to keep a printer at home for the same reason. On the few occasions I do need to print anything it happens either at work or a friend's place. :) 

Oh lucky! I am pretty much solo on this. I think I will just type out the letters I need on my phone and then trace them with the transparent sheets and cut it away with an xacto knife. 

 

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You could try dry transfer lettering, sometimes called rub on lettering or used to be branded Letraset. Its not that easy to find but there are a few supplies on ebay that have a range of fonts and sizes.

I have used them before to label the front panel of guitar amps and the results were excellent if you take your time to line up the letters and dont rush.

Now that i think of it I am wonding why I am not using this for my indicator lights!!

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Making custom electronics is a growing interest of mine and the first thing I thought of was setting up KSP peripherals, but I don't have any experience in such things yet. Was thinking of looking up learning resources for Arduino boards and the like. What kind of learning curve can I expect? Do you have to have a significant minimum level of knowledge before it starts becoming practical or is it less intimidating than it looks?

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2 hours ago, Tybot said:

Making custom electronics is a growing interest of mine and the first thing I thought of was setting up KSP peripherals, but I don't have any experience in such things yet. Was thinking of looking up learning resources for Arduino boards and the like. What kind of learning curve can I expect? Do you have to have a significant minimum level of knowledge before it starts becoming practical or is it less intimidating than it looks?

There is a learning curve, just like with any programming language. It helps to have some prior knowledge of a programming language since that helps understand syntax and things of that nature. 

Everyone here helps a lot and it really just comes down to continual practice with the coding and putting the components together properly to get the action you are looking for. I have some blue LED rocker switches that I spent a couple of days working on to get them to function properly. I wanted the LED to light up when the rocker was activated but for the longest time it would stay on at all times. There have been a lot of design aspects that I knew what I wanted but it took a lot of trial and error to get it running smoothly. 

It also helps a lot to ask questions around here if you get stumped. I know I had someone help me a ton writing the code to get the safety switch and launch button to work. 

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My controller was my very first electronics project, but I had coding experience. The hardware was pretty simple in the beginning, and you can build a controller in phases. Thus it is possible to play and develop at the same time, as your skills evolve. There are a ton of very knowledgeable coders around that can help you with any problem you might encounter on the software side.

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I'm familiar with coding fundamentals, I'm a web developer by trade (more front end than back end). Might not match 1:1 but I know enough that with some time and practice I'm sure I'd get there. It was actually the hardware side of things I know very little about.

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23 hours ago, Freshmeat said:

My controller was my very first electronics project, but I had coding experience. The hardware was pretty simple in the beginning, and you can build a controller in phases. Thus it is possible to play and develop at the same time, as your skills evolve. There are a ton of very knowledgeable coders around that can help you with any problem you might encounter on the software side.

I know you helped me when I first got into trying to code my own controller. 

 

22 hours ago, Tybot said:

I'm familiar with coding fundamentals, I'm a web developer by trade (more front end than back end). Might not match 1:1 but I know enough that with some time and practice I'm sure I'd get there. It was actually the hardware side of things I know very little about.

That was the most knowledge I had as well. What I learned from writing html raw into notepad and then saving as html :D

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