Adjusting your volume. Opening Photoshop. Summoning your favorite funny GIF. These daily tasks that we all do have become so integrated into our computer usage that they have become knee-jerk reactions.
Reddit user smashcuts decided to liven up his interactions with his hardware by building a fully functional overhead control panel for his computer. The 100 programmable buttons range from practical to ridiculous, but smashcuts puts the “fun” in even the most useful functions. His “Main Systems” panel triggers his most used programs, while peripheral panels house switches that function for OS shortcuts or for program-specific commands. All of these he has cleverly codified with nerdy pseudonyms.
And of course, some panels are more for aesthetic and joke purposes than actual function.
Like many great projects before it, this build was borne from a hilarious whiteboard scribble. My favorite detail is the row of buttons that all simply say “NO.” Smashcuts unfortunately had to cut the top right panel from the finalized version since he “didn’t have the 1.21 gigawatts needed to run it.”
His Photoshop mockup contains more delightful Easter eggs. Never before (and perhaps never again) have I seen unobtainium, adamantium, and valium housed so closely together.
When he digs into the actual building once the mockup is done, smashcuts is sure to give a disclaimer. “I should mention that I have no idea what I’m doing,” he says, whirring Dremel in hand, sparks flying. Could have fooled me!
As for the guts of the operation, he lists the following: “USB hub, LED Lights for the backlight, Arduino for the blinking lights, USB controllers to make the actions actually do things, switches and buttons, and a HAL unit from Think Geek.”
The panels themselves are constructed from white acrylic, spray painted black and laser etched. After less than stellar results from the first laser etching service, he tried a second, and then a third. Presentation counts, people.
The process of wiring all of the components certainly seems to me to be the most involved, headache-inducing step of the whole project. But he proceeds like a champ, soldering and setting up all the individual panels before moving on to installing them within the main housing.
All that’s left is mounting the control panel to the wall, which smashcuts says he “Installed…all by myself because I am not a smart man,” and then making some sweet demo GIFs.
For more pictures of the build, check out his Imgur album.