Pendant PCB, Take 1

Just thought I’d throw up a shot of the first completed board from last night. The photo below shows it laid on top of what I hope will become its enclosure. The tricky part, which I hope to work on this weekend, will be working out the mounting and keypad overlay.

One of the lessons I’ve taken from the success of the Shumatech DRO is the importance of having a good enclosure solution as part of the plan/kit. These are real tools meant for use in a quasi-industrial environment, so the enclosure is as important to the functionality of the pendant as the software or firmware.

At this point, my plan is to finish up the enclosure, and then start working all the kinks out of the software. I’m ready to get back into the shop for a while after spending the past few months bent over a breadboard and deciphering data sheets!

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2 responses to “Pendant PCB, Take 1

  1. Ross January 20, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Love what you are coming up with. I looked into control panels for the CNC that we are building at my local hackerspace and they were too expensive for us out of the box. Cobbling together something also wasn’t really worth our time but having this kit (eventually) that works with an Arduino & EMC2 opens up some big possibilities. Does your board use up all the Arduino IO pins?

    Ross

  2. Colin January 21, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Ross, you bet building panels is a pain! The electronics and software are easy, but getting the fit and finish of the enclosure and keypanel right requires a lot of hair-pulling. As someone with a software background, it’s given me a new respect for the complexity of producing a physical product.

    To answer your question, yes, it uses all the pins. 2 and 3 are used by the encoder, 4-13 are used for the 5×5 keypad matrix, and A0-A5 are used as digital I/Os to drive the LCD, which is a typical parallel unit.

    Depending on what you wanted to do, my basic approach could be scaled in different directions. For instance, you could ditch the LCD and do an 8×8 matrix instead, or add a 3×3 LED matrix. I originally wanted to have LEDs to indicate the selected axis and jog rate, but the LCD creates so many possibilities. For instance, I’m working on a way to do soft menus which could take care of functions like tool changes, or even showing a tap drill chart. I think I’ve come up with a way that will use minimal memory, by using the Arduino as something of a dumb terminal for the Python app running on the host PC.

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