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Custom controller fun

Steven Marlowe

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Hey all!

Long time lurker, got lots of inspiration from some of the threads here about custom controllers. Decided to dust off my soldering iron and raid my spare parts drawer to throw together a controller!

Here's what I've got so far, the main display is nearly finished, the craft control section is just a mockup.



The idea was to have a display section with the numbers I usually needed most from the map and whatnot... The bottom panel is cut out of an old tape deck. Thought the recessed analog gauges were really cool, also some of the switches and knobs were cool. So going to mess with that some more.


Started a bit too low when cutting the slots for the 7 segment LED strips, so was only able to fit three. Also the slots were cut with a hand held grinder, so not very accurate. Ended up having a bit of a gap, especially below the third one. So, ended up gluing some foam down as a frame for the LED strips which came out well. Also, down the road, I plan to put some blue and red LEDs on the inside of the case and have the blue ones light when the vessel is in space and has power, extinguish when out of battery and then have the red ones glow when reentering. There are vent holes on the sides of the enclosure that would glow.


Here's the mockup of how I think the final product will look. Still have to do the bottom portion, have a few small joysticks for eva/docking control and also a motorized fader for throttle control. Space Pilot Pro over on the left will be for camera control. Joystick on the right for controlling the pointy end of the rockets/planes.


Here is the inside, mostly thrown together with random parts I had laying around in my junk drawer and some of the wiring that came out of the tape deck that was dissected for the face plate and switches. Kind of a rats nest. Considering doing a whole PCB fab for the craft control section to make it cleaner since I'll have less room to work with. In that case I'll end up with a couple spare PCB's, so I'll re-do the wiring in the top module correctly. Whole thing is powered by a Raspberry Pi. Was originially planning on using an Arduino Mega, but figured out getting serial out from my mac was going to be harder than doing it over IP with Telemachus, so switched to the PI for more processing power and to make the IP stuff easier.

And here is the op test video of the completed display module!

Console in action!

Will post code and whatnot later on, this is probably the largest program I've done in python, so need to refactor it quite a bit to make it more efficient. Thanks again all for the inspiration! Really enjoyed doing this project.

Oh yeah and as a by the way, the 3 LED strips display Apoapsis, Periapsis, and Altitude, when the switch just to the right of the bottom bar is switch down it changes to Target Apoapsis, Target Periapsis, and RADAR altitude. The three covered switches control drogue chutes, regular chutes and abort. 

The group of 6 button switches in the top right cover antenna deployment, lights, SAS, solar panel deployment, landing gear and RCS.

Still need to add labels =)

Edited by Steven Marlowe
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