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