Well, I'm delighted to report that things are racing along with regard to my Pedagogical and Phantasmagorical Inamorata Prognostication Engine project. I have all sorts of amazing news to share, plus I could do with some advice.
Let's start with the current state-of-play regarding the layout of the control panel as illustrated below. As you may recall, there are going to be five potentiometers (the second column from the left in the upper portion of the panel). These will be used to input baseline data values concerning one's inamorata, including things like personality and overall mood and disposition.
Surrounding each potentiometer will be 16 tri-color LEDs, and it's the way in which these LEDs are used that requires your advice. But first I have some mega-cool news; based on a suggestion from my chum, Rick Curl, I've decided to use motorized potentiometers as illustrated below:
These little beauties are Bourns 10K Linear Potentiometers (part number 652-PRM162K420K103B1 from Mouser Electronics). First I ordered one to check it out. This little beauty arrived just a few minutes ago as I pen these words. We immediately whipped it up on the testbench and it works perfectly. The geared motor is incredibly quiet and the potentiometer turns very smoothly, so I've just placed a follow-up order for the remaining four units.
The idea is that if one's inamorata should take it into her mind to vary any of the baseline settings you've established, the other potentiometers will automatically change to compensate (a few minutes later they will all return to their original settings). You have to admit that this is rather clever.
As an aside, the toggle switches I'm using are little antique rascals with small white bobbles on the ends of their actuators as illustrated below. Generally speaking, these switches look really amazing, except for the part that will be bolted to the front panel, but I have a solution...
I bounced over to the plumbing section of my local Lowes hardware store and found a dome-shaped copper fitting as shown in the image above. I purchased a bunch of these "domes" -- one for each toggle switch on the front panel. I'm planning on chopping the lower segment off each dome and milling a slit in the top to accommodate the switch's actuator. I'm also going to "age" both the main brass panel and these copper domes so they won't look quite so shiny; the Steampunk look I'm aiming for is something that wouldn’t have appeared out of place in a Victorian setting (apart from the pulsing LEDs, of course).
If you compare the latest rendition of the front panel to the original version, you will observe the elaboration of one of the elements -- the multi-push-button switch assembly in the lower middle of the upper panel (I only recently took delivery of this little scamp). This is an antique telephone switch assembly as illustrated below:
This looks and feels really great. The only problem is the black "JKL 5," "MNO 6," PRS 7," etc. annotations on the top of the white buttons as illustrated below:
As far as I can tell, these annotations aren’t embossed into the buttons, but are instead printed onto them (although I could be wrong). Somehow I have to remove or cover these annotations without negatively affecting the "character" of the assembly. Do you have any suggestions?
Moving on... As you may recall, each toggle switch and momentary pushbutton is going to have two associated tri-color LEDs as illustrated below. These are going to be implemented using Adafruit's NeoPixels, although -- at the time of this writing -- I've not yet decided whether to chop individual pixels off a NeoPixel Strip or use Flora Versions, which are available in sheets of 20.
In the case of the potentiometers, the 16 LEDs surrounding them will be implemented using NeoPixel Rings as illustrated below. Observe the small white "dots" shown in this image. These 5mm diameter dots -- which look like mother-of-pearl -- will be mounted flush with the brass panel. I think this is going to look incredibly sophisticated.
As it happens, there can be complications with regard to using real mother-of-pearl, but I found some amazing acrylic imitation mother-of-pearl equivalents -- called Pearloid Dots -- from the Stewart MacDonald company, which offers "Everything for building and repairing stringed instruments" (these dots are originally intended to be used as inlays in the frets of guitar necks).
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