So you want to make a custom switch panel for Elite Dangerous, or some other game, huh? It's easier than you might think. I made one, and people like it... My original post on Reddit

If you've never used an Arduino or done any coding, this is a pretty good place to start. If you're not good at soldering now, you will be by the time you have finished. And if you've ever wanted to use the term 'matrix' in conversation without referring to an overrated Hollywood movie, then read on. You're in the right place.

First of all, there are a couple of fundamentals to understand before we continue. Have a cursory glance at these articles. Go there, understand what a matrix is, why it's useful here, and then come back..



You're back? Good. It's not rocket surgery, is it?

First of all you're going to want to draw a layout. Feel free to use the layout provided if you intend to follow my design completely. If you want to customise or completely change the layout, you should use a geometrically accurate drawing application. I used Adobe Illustrator.

The layout will be wholly dependant on your choice of buttons and switches. Research every switch fully, order samples and measure everything before committing to laser cutting or engraving.

Ok lets talk about parts...

Step 1: Parts & Tools

For my controller, I sourced almost everything through eBay. Here are links to every part I used in the build.

7 x Momentary ON/OFF Toggle Switch. SPST = Spring return. Missile/Flip covers available. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/361793111625?_trksid=p2...

30 x Rectangular Illuminated Push-Button Switch. Removable covers. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/301995098756?_trksid=p2...

2 x ON/OFF/EMERGENCY STOP Switch Box. I could not find the same buttons individually. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/301995098756?_trksid=p2...

1 x Retex Sloped Console Enclosure (33020102). Panel size is 249 x 161 mm http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/301995098756?_trksid=p2...

1 x Teensy 3.2 Programmable Microcontroller. Teensy is the only Arduino compatible PMC with native USB-HID that I know of. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/161870504500?_trksid=p2...

1 x 5V - 12V Step-Up Module. This is to power the LEDs, which in these particular switches are 12V. More on this later. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/161870504500?_trksid=p2...

1 x 220 Ohm Resistor. This is to regulate current through the matrix. How this works is actually a mystery to me.

1 x USB-B Panel Mount Socket. To attach to the rear of the unit.

1 x USB-A to USB-B Cable. To cable to the PC.

1 x USB-MINI to USB-A Cable. To link the Teensy with the panel mount socket.

1 x Custom Engraved Front Panel. I recommend against hand drilling the front panel.

All of the above parts cost me approximately £150. That includes the laser cutting and engraving. There are many reasons why I went to a professional engraver. The accuracy of the cutting is important due to the close proximity of the buttons to one another. That weakens the panel and hand drilling would almost certainly break the plastic. The enclosure comes with a blank Aluminium panel, so feel free to hand drill that, but be prepared for a battle with button placement. Want aluminium laser/waterjet cut? Be prepared to pay for it. So I went to a professional, and he showed me a piece of Traffolyte. It's rigid, laminated, and it provides two colour engraving with lasers. Affordable and perfect for this job. Expect to pay more than the £50 that I paid though. I got a shady deal.

Now for the tools and consumables.

  • Wire
  • Cable Ties
  • Soldering Iron
  • Solder
  • Wire
  • Cutters
  • Screwdrivers
  • Printable transparency film/acetate

Depending on your choice of buttons, you might also need...

  • Drill
  • Super Glue
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Dremel & Bits
  • Drill & Bits

Grab your parts and tools, and lets talk about labelling buttons...

<p>Please tell me this makes sense as a &quot;Matrix&quot;?</p>
Looks good to me. Rows, columns, resistor. Good luck with the build. You're definitely on the right tracks.
<p>Just as an idea.</p><p>Have you considered using this program so as to use to or more keyboards? Of course setting up and rewiring another keyboard as well.</p><p>software</p><p><a href="http://www.hidmacros.eu/whatisit.php" rel="nofollow">http://www.hidmacros.eu/whatisit.php<br></a></p><p>And for ease of use maybe this?</p><p>hardware</p><p><a href="http://www.desktopaviator.com/Products/Model_2040/" rel="nofollow">http://www.desktopaviator.com/Products/Model_2040/</a></p><p></p><p>Great work by the way :) Voted for you</p>
<p>The keyboard app is definitely useful for something. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. The USB boards you mentioned are alsu useful, but too big and too expensive for this project. The Teensy is a really cheap way to do it.</p>
<p>Ok thanks, I will keep that in mind for myself if I ever get to do this :)</p>
<p>Hi Matt, looks amazing. Well done Cmdr. 07</p><p>I had a similar <br>idea and have bought a Arduino Due. Now some free time and a steep <br>learning curve (I have no experience with programming at all) and maybe i<br> will be able to make something similar.</p>
Arduino UNO is where I started. You can't do this project so easily without a teensy though. UNO doesn't have onboard USB HID, so it's really complicated to get it to send USB keyboard strokes. You'll need a teensy eventually. Good luck Cmdr!
<p>You're not supposed to send keyboard strokes! You can use some libraries to simulate a joystick, you can have up to 50 buttons available and even some axises.</p>
<p>Why not? I see no good reason. In fact, Elite only has 2 variations for each control. So if I had my joystick, throttle, AND the CF-1 connected, I could not apply the same control to all three, if I programmed it as you suggest. Furthermore, I use VoiceAttack. Some of the controls are duplicated there with keystrokes. Also, while assigning commands in-game, if the controller is not connected, and you apply changes, a unique controller will lose all of its assignments. Unless it uses keystrokes. If I needed axis control, joystick config would be ideal. That will be useful for my cyclic and collective project for ArmA III.</p>
<p>Oh and by the way. CF-1 = Control Freak 1</p>
<p>I've done some Fritzing.<br>Is this right?</p>
Looks spot on to me, pal. Thanks for doing that. What's the app called?
<p><a href="http://fritzing.org" rel="nofollow">http://fritzing.org</a></p><p>Thanks for your inspiration!</p>
<p>Extremely good. Loved Elite Dangerous and this project is just plain awesome!</p>
Thanks, pal. Vote up in the Microcontroller contest if you think I deserve a prize.
<p>Oh My God! I owe you sir a beer! Been wanting to do something like this for years but never had the time to look into it. Thank you!</p>
I'll have a cloudy cider. Old Rosie or similar. Cheers!
<p>Awesome! Love it! Very pro looking. I would try and make it but I already made an small acrilic one some time ago ;) For Elite Dangerous too, and Oculus Rift. I would need more destop space too hehe.</p>
Very neat. I like the minimal design. Nice engraving too b
<p>Hi<br>What's the name of the Font ( typo ) u used?<br>Excellent work</p>
<p>can you upload a video of playing it</p>
<p>I can, and I should.</p>
<p>I'm not a gamer, but this is so cool! Well done.</p><p>For reference, regarding front panels, it's worth looking at waterslide decals. The Lazertran ones can even be baked onto aluminium: </p><p><a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Making-a-durable-decal-on-metal-with-lazertran/" rel="nofollow">https://www.instructables.com/id/Making-a-durable-d...</a></p><p>(I found this because I want to make a panel, haven't tried it yet!)</p>
<p>I've never heard of Lasertran before. That's awesome!</p>
Thank you so much! <br>This is great. I have been looking for something just like this for Elite: Dangerous.<br>CMDR MrSurak if you want to get together in a wing or something.
<p>Cool idea!</p><p>I sometimes play OpenRA (a free &amp; open source RTS based on Westwood Studios' Command&amp;Conquer series), mostly in multiplayer, although I'm still far away from major leagues. The matches tend to be brutal and fast-paced, and one of the most common newbies' mistakes is relying on a mouse too much. Given that the game allows you to assign keys to nearly every in-game action (e.g. repair, deploy, attack-move, production tabs, go to radar event, fire a superweapon...), such a device could add to the gameplay greatly.</p>
<p>WOW! Awesome!</p><p>This is not cheap!</p>
<p>Looks awesome! I always wanted to do something like this for &quot;Babylon 5: I've Found Her&quot;. Unfortunately, the Starfury's control include a switch between combat and navigation mode which basically remaps the entire keyboard. So a lot of keys would have double functions. The task of accomodating the keys in a way that they work fine for both modes discouraged me before I made any real progress. My plan, however, was to dismantle an old keyboard and replace the contacts below the keys with the contacts in my custom keyboard.</p>
<p>Looks great, always wanted to do something like this. Thanks for the great instructable!</p>
<p>I'm having some trouble finding similar parts and buttons here in the US, any places other than eBay you might know of that would have them? This is my first project of this kind.</p>
<p>Start here and look around: http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/nkk-switches/YB25RKG01-2CF05-JB/360-3293-ND/2107389</p>
<p>If you don't mind to wait for couple of weeks, you can find almost everything from aliexpress (at very good prices) , here are some examples</p><p>Rectangular illuminated push button <a href="http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/FujYvJU" rel="nofollow"> http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/FujYvJU</a></p><p>toggle rocker switch <a href="http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/y7qVR3N" rel="nofollow"> http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/y7qVR3N</a></p><p>Emergency pushbutton station <a href="http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/AAUrVNF" rel="nofollow"> http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/AAUrVNF </a> </p>
<p>Nice one. The rectangular buttons you found are a lot bigger than mine, and not intended for printed inserts. It took me a long time to find the ones I wanted. I first saw them used in vehicle lighting controls at an old workplace. These are very similar: <a href="https://goo.gl/uy7jR6">https://goo.gl/uy7jR6</a></p><p>The circular buttons are used everywhere in door controls, crane controls, etc. The toggle switches are very generic.</p>
Digikey likely has everything. You could even search for 5volt LED, and skip the 12v regulator if you go that route(sorry I haven't worked with rhe teensy, but I think those are low voltage as well...) I have been wanting to do something similar to this as well, so this was a nice reminder. Now I need to throw together an enclosure design in tinkercad, and 3d print...
awesome project mate keep it up ?
<p>That's an awesome project! Great instructable :)</p>
Thank you! It's my first one.

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Bio: Engineer, Designer, Technologist...
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