CNC Physical Controls Panel V1

Our mini CNC vertical mill project now has almost all the basic mechanical components in place. We’ve done a quick drill test, but that was under manual control. There still several very important things to add before we let the machine run G-code, the top of the list is an “emergency stop” button for when things don’t go according to plan. It would also be nice to have physical buttons for “cycle start” and “feed hold”, but that is less critical. I soldered some headers earlier in preparation for this, now I need to connect them to physical buttons.

I originally planned to reuse some arcade console buttons I already had on hand, but then realized there is existing convention for emergency stop buttons: once pushed, they stayed pushed until twist to release. They also have a distinct appearance everyone (not just myself) would recognize, and these are things I want to have on my own machine. I bought the cheapest one I found on Amazon (*) and the tactile feel of this unit definitely reflected its low price. If I were to do this again I’d hunt for a more substantial-feeling (and more expensive) alternative. But in the meantime, it seems to work well enough electrically and the low budget nature matches the rest of the project.

For the “Cycle Start” and “Feed Hold” buttons, I continued with the original plan of reusing arcade buttons I had on hand. I have a nice red one for “Feed Hold” but I didn’t have a green one for “Cycle Start”. I used a yellow one in the meantime, maybe I’ll paint it green later.

Then I designed and started printing a panel for these buttons, paying special attention to the emergency stop button’s support structure. I want people to be able to slam on this button hard in a panic without breaking anything. Unfortunately, due to an uncooperative 3D printer, I couldn’t get a finished print of the panel in time for a work session.

Hardware buttons panel - partial

No matter, it was enough for me to begin the wiring work for this project. Obviously I couldn’t mount the buttons on the machine until I returned later with a completely printed panel in another session. However, even as I was wrapping up this panel for physical buttons, we were already talking about an upgrade.

(*) Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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