An Old-School Control Panel For Your Computer

For as long as computers have been in the hands of programmers, they have offered frequent mildly tedious tasks that their operators have sought to automate. Who hasn’t written a shell script or a batch file that unites a string of commands into one just to save a bit of typing?

But even that effort can be reduced with a hardware add-on that ties the script to a physical control, and in this endeavor [Tomas] has created a beauty. His control panel project mimics the robust industrial panels of yesteryear with an array of metal buttons and toggle switches in a sturdy metal case sourced from an old KVM switch.

Behind the scenes are a pair of I/O extenders and a NodeMCU board, whose ESP8266 does the talking to the host computer on which a daemon awaits its call. Individual addressable LEDs next to each switch convey the state of operation, and the switches trigger useful operations such as connecting to a VPN. All the code is available in a handy GitHub repository, and you can see it in action in the video we’ve placed below the break.

We rather like the idea of a desktop control panel here at Hackaday, indeed this isn’t the first one we’ve brought you.

12 thoughts on “An Old-School Control Panel For Your Computer

  1. Very neat build!
    While reading the title I kind of expected it to be something like this, but I could not help but think about the idea of single stepping a modern CPU and how ridiculous it would be.

  2. Heads up that there are panel-mountable addressable LEDs in T(n) format…and you can get them pre-wired in a chain.

    You can also buy really low density switches and just use that spacing for your switches?

      1. Same here. TI-99/4A my folks bought for $50 on a blowout sale at JC Penny in 1983. Then I had to buy upgrade stuff secondhand. Had two expansion boxes and seven consoles.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.