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Ride Operator Control Panel for Windows/NoLimits Coaster Simulator

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Published on Jul 31, 2011

This is a custom "ride operator" control panel that can be used to accomplish otherwise mundane computer tasks with buttons and flashing lights. Underneath the control panel is a Arduino Uno microcontroller which controls all the buttons and LED lights. A free program called Gobetwino takes the button inputs and converts them into actions (keystrokes or program launches). Sure it's all a bit useless, but it sure does look neat!

For the first part of the video you can see the buttons used to control basic Windows functions (opening programs, locking the computer). These are just examples (no, I don't really need a quick/easy way to play the Halo 3 theme song). The second part of the video shows how it integrated into the NoLimits coaster simulator where it mimics the in-game control panel.

I'd be glad to answer any questions at all about the control panel, just keep in mind I'm pretty new at Arduino myself.

If you're looking to make your own, here are the resources I found to be helpful and used the most:

http://www.arduino.cc/ - The official Arduino website that has the reference and tons of project ideas and examples of what can be done with this amazingly simple microcontroller (using it to light up a few LEDs and control a few button pushes is really just scratching the surface).

http://www.sparkfun.com - for all things Arduino and electronics projects. I bought my Arduino board here as well as a bunch of other stuff unreleated to this project.

http://www.mikmo.dk/gobetwino.html - when I was looking for an easy way to turn the button pushes into actions on my computer, I found Gobetwino to do the trick. It's a free program that can easily turn the code from the Arduino board into launching programs and doing a whole lot more.

http://www.ebay.com - where I found the button enclosure and hoards of gently-used push buttons at reasonable prices. High-quality, brand-new push buttons cost upwards of $50-100 apiece(!), so I think going used for something like this project is the way to go. Push button enclosures cost even more. The reason for the high prices are because these enclosures and buttons are typically used for operating heavy machines in extreme environments.

http://www.superbrightleds.com - I replaced all the incandescent bulbs inside the illuminated push buttons with 6V LEDs so they'd be colored and brighter/more compatible with the standard 5V the Arduino board delivers (the incandescent bulbs were typically 12 or 24 V and were way too dim when lit by 5V). This website had a great selection and shipped super-fast.

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