For all those FX pedal, cool looking synths and other wacky machines that require control with any kind of potentiometer! This isn't an exhaustive list of solutions, don't hesitate to use your imagination and post pics of your own creations! I got sick of trying to find potentiometer knobs that looked good, I'll still buy some, but for those more wacky, funky and cool knobs here are a few ideas!
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Step 1: Materials & Tools
You'll need the following:
Tools (Tools needed will vary according to the technique you decide to use) :
- Cutter / knife / scalpel / blade (watch out it's sharp!)
- A tile (any shape size and color)
- Screw driver
- a potentiometer (preferably the type you will use the knob on) mine is a 16mm split shaft
- Marker pen
- Needle file
Materials (again, they'll vary) :
- Polymer Clay (FIMO in my case)
- Glue / silicone / electrical tape
- Tube lids, caps and things of the sort
Again, don't worry if you are lacking some of these tools or materials.
Step 2: First Technique : Polymer Clay
So you need to take your polymer clay, any color you want, get it nice and soft.
Shape it approximately to the shape you want it to be in the end.
Push your screw driver into the bottom of your future knob, this should leave a small hole. Don't have it sticking out the other side!
Now fit your polymer clay knob on to the potentiometer you will be using, continue to shape it from here.
Gently take it off the potentiometer without squashing it or changing the shape of it.
Place on your tile ready for cooking.
Put in the oven for the time it take for your type of polymer clay to harden. (should be written on the packaging of your clay)
Once it is out, leave it cool down for a bit.
After a while, try fitting it on to your potentiometer.
If it fits, great!
If not you can either file it inside with a needle file, or a add a layer of electrical tape on the shaft of your potentiometer to make it thicker.
If it doesn't hold and just turns on its own, you can glue it to the shaft of the potentiometer once this one is mounted, but I don't recommend that.
If you do, use some light weight glue that can be forced off later.
You could potentially use SUGRU as a substitute for polymer clay, plus it doesn't need a trip in the oven.
Step 3: Second Technique : Random Lids / Caps
I used a couple of caps off a tube that held a (not so) fancy pen. Light plastic / metal they seem like a good choice for some big knobs. I filled them inside with some silicone seal for the seams in the bathroom. Once it is dry I'll dig out a hole of the appropriate size.
With the marker pen I then drew a little line as an indicator for the pots position.
I also have my eye on some caps of lotion tubes, and the cap of a tube of toothpaste, caps of pens and other things. You can obviously paint these to your liking, just wait 'till the toothpaste tube is empty before taking the lid!
Again, adapt the size of the hole or of the shaft of the potentiometer as in the previous step.
Step 4: Third Technique, More Recuperation.
For this technique, you'll manage better if you have a drill press.
Take any old or broken tool that has a round butt end to it. Or any end that you fancy for what it's worth.
These tools can be old unwanted or broken screw drivers, drum sticks and anything else.
With your drill press you can then drill a straight hole of the right diameter without going all the way through.
And once again, size of hole / potentiometer shaft can be adapted to fit properly.
The bullet example won't need any drilling, just cutting the metal to the right lenght.