CNC Physical Controls Panel V2

When I started to build a panel for physical control buttons, I had planned to use arcade console buttons. Big, bright, and durable, they were designed to take a punishment and I thought they would serve well. But before I finished the first version, I had switched to a more task specific button for the emergency stop. I proceeded with arcade buttons for the other two, but [Emily] had a better idea.

She had salvaged some control buttons from retired industrial machinery, so these would be buttons originally designed for the purpose of machinery and not controlling a video game character. They should be given a second life doing their old jobs on a new pieced-together CNC vertical mill.

Salvaged switches for hardware buttons

Using them would require designing and printing another panel. They were smaller in diameter so I thought maybe I could get away with a shim, but even though their smaller diameter required less panel front surface, their mechanism for disassembly and installation actually required more clearance under the panel. As a result I had to rearrange the buttons from forward-back to side-by-side. This is a good thing – the results more closely mimicked that seen on real industrial equipment like this Haas console. My three-button panel is a poor comparison to that full featured beast, but is a lot cheaper.

I also appreciate the black rim on these buttons, making them more difficult to press them accidentally compared to arcade buttons lacking such protection. It was also interesting to note these buttons have provision for three switches underneath, controlling three circuits at once. These, however, only have a single switch in the center slot and given these were salvaged we are unlikely to populate the remaining two slots.

I started the physical button control panel task planning to use three arcade buttons I had on hand. By the time I completed the second version of the panel, no arcade buttons were used but the panel looked better and worked closer to the way they would be on actual machinery. I call that a success, and turned my attention to the Z-axis homing switch.

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