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(Updated with Wireless!) I made a Captain's Control Panel to change the view screen. Here are pics/instructions.

posted Feb 26, 2013 10:05:19 by AlexVanPatten
(Update at the bottom of this first post)

I made a Captain's Control Panel that allows the captain to control the main view screen by him/herself without the need to bother helm/weapons in the middle of combat. Star Trek captains often had minor controls in the arms of their chairs so I didn't feel as if I was taking away from the realism of the environment and role.

Here's how I did it and you can do it too!

First, I purchased a USB number pad intended for laptop use. It was $4 at Microcenter. At home, I unscrewed the back and found that a very simple PCB was hiding underneith with several pads connected to a ribbon cable going to the keypad matrix.

What happens is, when you press a key, two of the pads are connected and the computer registers the button press. When another key is pressed, two more pads are connected and one of those pads could already be used in the formula for another key press. With this mechanism, You can have a small number of pads tha can be used to actuate many key presses. This also means that the pads are not labeled :(

The pads were covered with some black coating so I went ahead and used a hobby knife and gently scraped some of it away to reveal the copper pad. I then soldered wires to the pads. You'll note that I didn't solder anything to the end ones that they weren't actually connected to the PCB with any tracings. Also, the one I left out in the middle wasn't necessary as I found enough key combinations before I got to that one. For this size project, I used cat5 cable to solder with. Sadly, this specific cable was stranded copper and not solid. Oh well... Plus it's all color coded :)



Slather the thing in hot glue. This keeps all the wires on and the weight/pressure off the solder connections.



I went to http://www.keyboardtester.com/ and used their online tool to see which wire/pad combos were assigned to which keys. I then kept a list of what all I found. When finding key combos, I had to make sure they weren't already in use by one of the Artemis stations. The arrow keys were easy to find but are already in use so I had to find ones that weren't. This left me with using the Weapons station to piggyback this control panel off of meaning this box MUST be plugged in to a USB port on the Weapons station and the controls.ini file on that station must be modified to add the button presses we mapped out to change the view screen. These can be added along side the original ones as you can have several different buttons assigned to the same task.



Using one of these bad boys from Radio Shack, I soldered all the wires from the PBC pads to the Radio Shack PCB. This was done because some of the wires are used in multiple combinations to make the key presses happen. Some were and some were not but it was just easier to solder them all. Plus I enjoy soldering. :)



Next, I took a project box from Radio Shack along with some momentary push buttons I got there and arranged then on the box cover the way I wanted it. I then used the list of key combos I gathered earlier and soldered from the Radio Shack PCB to the buttons on the box. Each solder point was tested on the above mentioned website to make sure I didn't bung it up.







When it was all done, I shoved it all in the box, drilled a little notch on the side near the lid, and fed the USB cable through that came off the PCB.



There was one issue.. I mapped a button on the PCB to PageUp and found that PageUp was not yet supported by Artemis. As a result, I decided to omit the Engineering Status screen as an options until the game is updated.

This box was used at a 250 person LAN Party my group hosted and Artemis was a HUGE hit. As was this box!



Wow I sure have some terrible solder joints here! Whoops!

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UPDATE!

I picked up a wireless keyboard/mouse combo from Microcenter for $15. Here is the link to the product:

http://www.microcenter.com/product/305823/Pro_Wireless_24GHz_Optical_Mouse_Keyboard_Combo_Set

The PCB inside this is PERFECT for soldering. No scraping of black goo required. Nice big pads. Here is a picture and I even took the time to map out all of the F keys (F1-F12) so you can integrate it with the existing Weapons console controls.ini without mucking with any of it.


Click the pic for a larger version.

Note that both pads for F5 are on the right (green) side of the board.

Please double check these before soldering. Your mileage may vary. Connection to this PCB is done with a single AA battery. I plan on rigging an on/off switch to the box to help extend that battery life.

Auto_Pilot mapped out the entire keyboard!
[Last edited Apr 11, 2013 09:47:07]
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27 replies
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lucas99801 said Mar 01, 2013 05:42:26
http://microcenter.com/product/380663/Wired_10-Digit_Keypad_USB

Is this what you used?

I'd like to know because it would be interesting to make a box like this for each station that could benefit from one: Weapons for loading and firing tubes, helm/captain for viewscreen control, Comms for comm input [might], and those new to engineering might appreciate labeled hotkeys rather than memorizing number values
Hosting a Mumble (Murmur) server @ tsnfenrir.no-ip.org
Having trouble connecting to the TeamSpeak channel: http://tsnfenrir.no-ip.org/ts3
Helm Script for Numerical heading input: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/10193809/ArtemisHelmFSW.zip
Twitter: @lucas99801
Facebook: /lucastarnold
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AlexVanPatten said Mar 01, 2013 05:45:27
I have that one but it is not the specific one I used. The Microcenter one you linked will work but the pads are not as accessible.
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lucas99801 said Mar 01, 2013 05:47:38
gotcha. that was the closest to $4 i could find on microcenter, haha.

I'm assuming most 10-keys will have a similar PCB layout?
Hosting a Mumble (Murmur) server @ tsnfenrir.no-ip.org
Having trouble connecting to the TeamSpeak channel: http://tsnfenrir.no-ip.org/ts3
Helm Script for Numerical heading input: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/10193809/ArtemisHelmFSW.zip
Twitter: @lucas99801
Facebook: /lucastarnold
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lucas99801 said Mar 01, 2013 06:02:47
I think it would be WONDERFUL to set something up like this with a small TFT LCD screen for a captain's map, or even a viewscreen duplicate.
Hosting a Mumble (Murmur) server @ tsnfenrir.no-ip.org
Having trouble connecting to the TeamSpeak channel: http://tsnfenrir.no-ip.org/ts3
Helm Script for Numerical heading input: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/10193809/ArtemisHelmFSW.zip
Twitter: @lucas99801
Facebook: /lucastarnold
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AlexVanPatten said Mar 01, 2013 06:25:05
Yeah the insides and process are similar, I just can't guarantee that the cross wirings of the matrix will be the same from brand to brand.

Also, check out the unofficial android artemis port in the Off Topic forum as it already has a Captain's Map feature like what you want.
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MichaelMesich said Mar 01, 2013 07:38:58
Am I the only one that likes calling out to the crew to give me what I want on the screen?
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AlexVanPatten said Mar 01, 2013 07:41:20
Oh I like it too but in a combat situation, I have Weapons shooting at people and downing incoming missiles and helm keeping me behind the enemy. I really don't need to bother them with changing the screen.
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EricMallory said Mar 01, 2013 18:44:09
Awesome. I may have to reincarnate the maker in me to set up one of these. Last time I soldered I was making a binary adding machine for a school science project.
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AlexVanPatten said Mar 07, 2013 05:59:51
I updated this with a wireless version complete with pin-out!
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lucas99801 said Mar 08, 2013 06:10:35
Fantastic.

Need to try this so hard. Do you have pinouts for other keys as well?
Hosting a Mumble (Murmur) server @ tsnfenrir.no-ip.org
Having trouble connecting to the TeamSpeak channel: http://tsnfenrir.no-ip.org/ts3
Helm Script for Numerical heading input: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/10193809/ArtemisHelmFSW.zip
Twitter: @lucas99801
Facebook: /lucastarnold
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AlexVanPatten said Mar 08, 2013 06:24:38
I don't :( It wouldn't take long for you to map out as the pads are so accessible. Just be careful as there are a couple key combos that result in the computer receiving a proper shutdown signal and hibernation signal. Thankfully I saved before it went down.
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lucas99801 said Mar 08, 2013 06:26:53
how did you test the pinout? I'm no electrical engineer, or anything close. Do you just connect the pins with a piece wire and see what input is read, or does it require more than that?
Hosting a Mumble (Murmur) server @ tsnfenrir.no-ip.org
Having trouble connecting to the TeamSpeak channel: http://tsnfenrir.no-ip.org/ts3
Helm Script for Numerical heading input: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/10193809/ArtemisHelmFSW.zip
Twitter: @lucas99801
Facebook: /lucastarnold
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AlexVanPatten said Mar 08, 2013 08:14:06
There's a link to an online keyboard tester but at this time (and yesterday) it wasn't loading so I found this:

http://www.passmark.com/products/keytest.htm

It has a 30 day free trial. You're right, I just used a jumper wire (any wire will do really) and touched both ends to a pad. I was able to focus on the F1-F12 keys since those do what I want already (change view screen) by following the tracings on the plastic sheets inside the keyboard.
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martinvsamuelsson said Mar 09, 2013 11:02:36
I've been using this small program to map keyboard pins
http://www.dragonslairii.com/arcade/mamev1/downloads/KEYHOOK.ZIP

Edit
The build looks awesome by the way!
[Last edited Mar 09, 2013 11:03:00]
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AlexVanPatten said Mar 09, 2013 11:15:38
Oo! Nice program! Thanks for mentioning it.
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