2012.02.01

It’s a known problem that I take on too many projects, and that tends to make some of them drag out longer than they should… has it really been more than a month since I started this one?

Yes it has. In my UI Mockup/Diagram Apps post, I was working on a control panel for the CNC Router we have at the Milwaukee Makerspace.

First Attempt

The image above was my first attempt to hack something together. I wanted to do a layout with paper to get a good idea of the physical size of things. As you may notice, the buttons are big, and make the whole thing fairly large. Larger than I wanted. So through a few posts I connected with a fellow maker in Madison who offered me some smaller buttons…

Control Panel

Once I had the smaller buttons, I sat down with some paper and the calipers, and started measuring things, and making the new layout. These were, like the previous attempt, just some rough sketches on paper. Once my paper sketches were done, I moved on to Inkscape, and made the digital version of my control panel.

Paper Mockups

I then went back to paper, by printing out my files, to get a feel for the size and spacing of everything. I didn’t go as far as mocking up an actual 3D model, though it would have been easy with some foamcore or matte board, but it’s one more step to take if needed.

Cut Panel

And as long as I was at the makerspace for some laser-related shenanigans, I figured I’d cut a test of the control panel using acrylic. (I’d like the final done in wood, but I had some scrap clear acrylic on hand, and it’s easier/faster to cut than wood.)

As is often the case, I screwed up one bit of the file, and the lower-left cut is too large. The two holes on the right are waiting for buttons I don’t have yet. Right, make that: buttons I didn’t have yet. More buttons showed up, but they are slightly smaller, so I’ll meed to re-size things again before the next cut. Back to the old drawing application, as they say.

And hey, I better finish this project soon, because there’s talk of adding a 4th and 5th axis to the router! I don’t really mind though, because so far I’ve really enjoyed the process, and I’ve learned a lot along the way, so even if this thing is outdated by the time I finish it, I’ll just start on an upgrade. :)

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