A Brilliant And Elegant CNC Pendant


[Mike Douglas] has a small hobby CNC router, which works great — but you’re limited to controlling it from your PC. And unfortunately, there just aren’t pendants made for this consumer level stuff. Annoyed at having to reach over to use his keyboard all the time, he stumbled upon a simple, but brilliant solution: A dedicated USB 10-key pendant keypad.

These USB keypads are designed for laptops that don’t have full size keyboards. They can be had for a few dollars from China, and let you expand your keyboard possibilities… All [Mike] had to do was print off some stickers to put on the keys!

It’s easy to program new hot keys in Mach3  — and there you go! Why haven’t we thought of this before? While you’re at it, why not build a cyclonic dust separator for your CNC too — and if you’re having trouble clamping down work pieces, [Mike] has a pretty cool solution for that as well.



9 thoughts on “A Brilliant And Elegant CNC Pendant

  1. IMHO el cheapo usb gamepad (costs ~5 EUR in my local pc store) is safer – it is more convenient to press one more “dead man’s trigger” button with one hand to avoid accidental jogs, although I have no idea, if there is something like “jog-enable” in Mach as I am LinuxCNC fanboy.

  2. I picked one up for a 1 dollar at Goodwill for looping with Mobius. You can do wonders with a handful of buttons. I need to change the cord to a tough one, not that reel and fishline crap made for laptop and starsucks number crunching. Plus they have num lock which gives almost double the keys, thou I wont need them.
    That along with the laptop touchpad I just hacked to PS2 plug makes for some fantastic control for live sound creation dirt cheap! I use it for tapping up voices with ZynAddSubFX on the small strip of space between 2 stacked keyboards.

  3. I use a logitech “console style” usb game controller I picked up a thrift store for like $3. It has 4 analog axis, 14 buttons, nice long cord. Some day I’ll build a nice panel with an encoder (MPG), but until then, I’m calling this the next best thing.

  4. My CNC controller software is not so accommodating with re-assigning keycodes. All I had to do to make a similar controller pendant was pull the small PCB out of a spare XT USB keyboard, trace the board connections that corresponded to the few keyboard keys as required and solder tactile switches to them, slap the mess of switches and PCB into a plastic box and there you go.

  5. I don’t get why people would spend hundreds or thousands on a CNC machine, and then be too cheap to buy a $100 pendant with LCD DRO, MPG and buttons for it from eBay. I do get building a minimalist machine from scraps and stuff and working with what you’ve got, but this guy bought a commercially produced machine. Future posts.. hooking a VHS deck up to my new 4k HDTV, DVD and Blu-Ray players too expensive!

    1. It’s just a matter of ROI and my overall budget. I cant justify spending hundreds of dollars on every little doo-dad and a pendant, while convenient, is not critical to my usage. It’s basically for lining up X-Y-Z for the start of a job and having it on the keypad simply makes that a bit more convenient. I had a 10-key laying around and this made sense. I’m dumping my budget in different directions, things with payoff like a nice sound-proof cabinet and CAM software.

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