I posted this as a reply to a discussion over in the Development forum, but I figured it belongs here as well. So, ever since the first time I played the Engineering station, I always thought it would be awesome to have a physical board with sliders and buttons to control the different power and coolant levels. I started doing some research and figured out that this is totally doable, and I've been working on a prototype of this ever since.
I started out just seeing if I could write a (python, for those that care) script to control the mouse cursor, then I moved up to using the joysticks on a cheap gamepad to see if I could get the power sliders to exactly the positions I want them based on hardware input.
So now I've moved up to using some small hardware buttons and 8 slide potentiometers, along with an Arduino and some Python code to read the values of the buttons and sliders and move the mouse cursor to the correct positions on the screen to control the power sliders and coolant up/down buttons. I made a somewhat rough video showing my progress so far:
My end goal involves wiring up a USB Joystick Controller board that supports 8 axis and 32 buttons to run the whole thing through as a standard HID joystick device, which my python script would read from, but for now the Arduino is a good start. I'll post some pictures when I get things wired up a little more and when my controller board arrives (it's in the mail).