Week 12: Turning Knobs

Knobs knobs knobs



Monome Arc – breakdown of a high-end device.

Monome arc volume control

Disassembled Monome arc volume control


Knob and Pot Basics


Off the Shelf Knobs

Adafruit's solid machined knob

Adafruit has a nice aluminum knob

Slim aluminum knob

LED Supply knob


Knob Design for the Lathe

Sometime you can’t find the right knob and you just have to make one.  Knobs can be 3D printed, made on the 4 axis CNC, even the drill press.  But I think the lathe is the best tool for the job.

I like a lot of what these makers did.  I would change a few things, but these are great starting references.


Designs in CAD

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Designing turned knobs for potentiometers #ilovelathe

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Sweep Example



Wood Lathe Knob Turning


Industrial Design Tips

Eric Strebel’s YouTube Channel


My Personal Design Philosophy

I am almost always my first client.  Pretty selfish and not a great way to design for others, but it is how I work.  Design/build before user testing is not great way to work either, but if you’re the ultimate user (and you’re honest with yourself), you are user testing through the whole process.

The multimeter example.  I use multimeters all the time, but I kind of hate them.  There are some great features in some, but there never seems to be a great all in one meter.

My requirements:

  • I only need continuity, resistance measurement (I’m color blind), and DC voltage measurement
  • Continuity must have a loud (a very load) beep and a clear display of continuity
  • I don’t want to set a range of resistance, I just want to be able to measure resistance, no matter what level
  • I don’t want to set a range of voltage, I just want to be able to measure DC voltage, no matter what level
  • Big back lit digital display
  • Great probes
  • An obvious off setting
  • Rugged, light, compact, easy to wrap up probes

I’d start with this list and build my meter.  I’d base a lot of my design off of existing meters.  Maybe this ends up being three tools.  Maybe I have to make sacrifices or design changes for manufacturability/price/etc.


Design For Manufacturing

The following will play a big factor in how a thing is manufactured and with what process:

  • Scale/Quantity
  • Material
  • Process



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