We will quickly discuss our USB HID controller concepts.
UI Panel Layout
User testing is the quickest way to see if your controllers make sense. Paper prototypes, components on laser cut panels, get your device is users’ hands and watch what they do.
Tip: Record user testing on video. User test early and often, you learn so much.
Rapidly iterate your panels. Do you need control labels? Indicator lights or haptic feedback? How do users hold your device?
Drawer organizers from the Container Store and laser cut/etched control panels make for great project enclosures. We lovingly refer to this technique as “Weezie Boxes”.
Keeping your control panels fastened to the drawer organizer can be challenging. Standoffs or threaded inserts can be used with screws.
Metal threaded inserts allow you to connect machine screws to plastic and wood parts.
I’m using press fit threaded inserts from McMaster-Carr in this example.
Steel Conduit Boxes
Off the shelf electrical conduit boxes make for cheap, durable, and repeatable project enclosures.
Powder coating is an incredibly durable paint job. The main difference between traditional paint and powder coating, the pigment is in powder form and applied electrostatically and baked on using an oven. Only materials that can hold a charge and withstand 400 degrees can be powder coated (basically metal only).
The prepping of the material and loading the powder.
The spraying and baking of the parts.
Note: All powder coating takes place in the spray booth in the first floor big shop.
Fitting Stuff Into the Box
Fitting everything into your enclosure can be tricky. Whenever possible, go with a box that is bigger than you think you’ll need.
Panel Mount USB Cables
Panel Mount USB Cables are great adding a USB connector to an enclosure surface.
Illustrator file for mounting plate.
Avoid using breadboards in your projects. Wires and components can come loose and they are much bulkier than soldered circuit boards.
Breadboard style proto-boards are very useful when making your circuits more permanent.
Tip: Clip off the wires and connectors of broken servos, they can be useful for other components.
Use make and female headers when you can in your projects. It is a good idea to use these connectors for panel mount components.
Whenever possible use stranded wire over solid core wire. Keep your wires neat and short (but not too short).
If your project runs on batteries, make sure you can change your batteries easily (easy access, separate door for batteries). Use a battery pack whenever possible.
Note: Adhesive backed velcro makes for a useful battery holder in a pinch.
Fancy USB cables. Brightly colored, fabric covered, or coiled. The right USB cable can add something extra to your projects.
Fit control panels into drawer organizers.
Powder coat conduit boxes.