Big buttons and knobs for industry appliances?

19 Mar 2007 - 9:47pm
7 years ago
8 replies
1975 reads
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

Hi,

Does anyone know where to get big, heavy-duty buttons and knobs that
output standard keyboard and mouse signals? We'd like to have a fist-
size knob in the panel for some analog tuning and navigating around
the menus. A bit like Griffin Powermate, but bigger and more durable.
We need them for some industry appliances.

The typical panel PC's have too tiny and too plastic controls for big
and dirty hands. Too many digital buttons, not enough analog controls:
http://www.automation.siemens.com/hmi/html_76/products/panel_pcs/
panel-pc477.htm

Thanks,
Petteri

--
Petteri Hiisilä
Senior Interaction Designer
iXDesign / +358505050123 /
petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi

"Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated."
- Tim Peters

Comments

21 Mar 2007 - 2:39am
carl myhill
2006

Have you thought of looking into switches used for accessibility? Just a
thought.

You might start here...
http://www.rjcooper.com/super-switch/index.html

Carl

On 19/03/07, Petteri Hiisilä <petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi> wrote:
>
> Hi,
>
> Does anyone know where to get big, heavy-duty buttons and knobs that
> output standard keyboard and mouse signals? We'd like to have a fist-
> size knob in the panel for some analog tuning and navigating around
> the menus. A bit like Griffin Powermate, but bigger and more durable.
> We need them for some industry appliances.
>
> The typical panel PC's have too tiny and too plastic controls for big
> and dirty hands. Too many digital buttons, not enough analog controls:
> http://www.automation.siemens.com/hmi/html_76/products/panel_pcs/
> panel-pc477.htm
>
> Thanks,
> Petteri
>
> --
> Petteri Hiisilä
> Senior Interaction Designer
> iXDesign / +358505050123 /
> petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi
>
> "Simple is better than complex.
> Complex is better than complicated."
> - Tim Peters
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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>

21 Mar 2007 - 2:53am
panu.korhonen a...
2004

Or switches for gaming, like http://www.x-arcade.com/byoarcade.shtml

Panu

>-----Original Message-----
>From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On
>Behalf Of ext carl myhill
>Sent: 21 March, 2007 09:39
>To: IXDA list
>Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Big buttons and knobs for industry appliances?
>
>Have you thought of looking into switches used for
>accessibility? Just a thought.
>
>You might start here...
>http://www.rjcooper.com/super-switch/index.html
>
>Carl
>
>On 19/03/07, Petteri Hiisilä <petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi> wrote:
>>
>> Hi,
>>
>> Does anyone know where to get big, heavy-duty buttons and knobs that
>> output standard keyboard and mouse signals? We'd like to
>have a fist-
>> size knob in the panel for some analog tuning and navigating around
>> the menus. A bit like Griffin Powermate, but bigger and more durable.
>> We need them for some industry appliances.
>>
>> The typical panel PC's have too tiny and too plastic
>controls for big
>> and dirty hands. Too many digital buttons, not enough analog
>controls:
>>
>http://www.automation.siemens.com/hmi/html_76/products/panel_pc
>s/panel-pc477.htm
>>
>> Thanks,
>> Petteri
>>
>> --
>> Petteri Hiisilä
>> Senior Interaction Designer
>> iXDesign / +358505050123 /
>> petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi
>>
>> "Simple is better than complex.
>> Complex is better than complicated."
>> - Tim Peters
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
>> ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help ..................
>> http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
>> http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
>> ....................... http://ixda.org/ Resource Library
>...........
>> http://resources.ixda.org
>>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
>............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help
>.................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription
>Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
>....................... http://ixda.org/ Resource Library
>........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

21 Mar 2007 - 8:48am
.pauric
2006

"Does anyone know where to get big, heavy-duty buttons and knobs that output
standard keyboard and mouse signals?"

I'm sure you're aware of this but its quite easy to patch in any N/O switch
to a keyboard button. Essentially replacing a keyboard button with another
switch but still generating keyboard commands with the keypad circuitry.
Its a great way to rapid prototype control panels or adaptive equipment.

So, you could take an industrial joystick <http://tinyurl.com/2y3vyu> <
http://rswww.com/cgi-bin/bv/rswww/searchBrowseAction.do?Nr=avl%3auk&N=4294731532&in_dim_search=1&name=SiteStandard&forwardingPage=line&R=5063551&callingPage=/jsp/search/search.jsp&BV_SessionID=@@@@2140272756.1174484020@@@@&BV_EngineID=ccddaddkhekmjkjcefeceeldgkidhgk.0&cacheID=uknetscape
>

And patch in the four joystick switches to the usb keypad's 2,4,6,8 to give
you four way control of an interface.

One other point to note, you could use an ordinary gaming joysitck which
will generate a '4 way HAT' input to a computer (windows has drivers for
joysticks built in) and you'll get an analogue input device. I'm pretty
sure there's software that will drive a pointer from a gamer joystick. But
just be aware that joystick hats axis are not the same as keypad axis.

21 Mar 2007 - 1:55pm
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

Interesting ideas. Maybe we should buy a truckload of TAC-2's from
some joystick hamster. I presume every one of them ever manufactured
still works :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TAC-2

These machines/appliances are normally used for 15-20 years, so we
need durable controls. If they break, a manufacturing line of 20-40
people could halt. And there is also a credibility issue. Trying to
sell a seven-digit-dollar machine with a TAC-2 might cause unwanted
reactions...

A really big steel/aluminium/iron knob with mouse wheel output signal
would be optimal. True, some gaming/accessibility controls like that
could exist. Must dig deeper. All ideas welcome.

Thanks!

Petteri

<panu.korhonen at nokia.com> <panu.korhonen at nokia.com> kirjoitti
21.3.2007 kello 9:53:

> Or switches for gaming, like http://www.x-arcade.com/byoarcade.shtml
>
> Panu
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On
>> Behalf Of ext carl myhill
>> Sent: 21 March, 2007 09:39
>> To: IXDA list
>> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Big buttons and knobs for industry
>> appliances?
>>
>> Have you thought of looking into switches used for
>> accessibility? Just a thought.
>>
>> You might start here...
>> http://www.rjcooper.com/super-switch/index.html
>>
>> Carl
>>
>> On 19/03/07, Petteri Hiisilä <petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi> wrote:
>>>
>>> Hi,
>>>
>>> Does anyone know where to get big, heavy-duty buttons and knobs that
>>> output standard keyboard and mouse signals? We'd like to
>> have a fist-
>>> size knob in the panel for some analog tuning and navigating around
>>> the menus. A bit like Griffin Powermate, but bigger and more
>>> durable.
>>> We need them for some industry appliances.
>>>
>>> The typical panel PC's have too tiny and too plastic
>> controls for big
>>> and dirty hands. Too many digital buttons, not enough analog
>> controls:
>>>
>> http://www.automation.siemens.com/hmi/html_76/products/panel_pc
>> s/panel-pc477.htm
>>>
>>> Thanks,
>>> Petteri
>>>
>>> --
>>> Petteri Hiisilä
>>> Senior Interaction Designer
>>> iXDesign / +358505050123 /
>>> petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi
>>>
>>> "Simple is better than complex.
>>> Complex is better than complicated."
>>> - Tim Peters
>>>
>>>
>>> ________________________________________________________________
>>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
>>> ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help ..................
>>> http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
>>> http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>>> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
>>> ....................... http://ixda.org/ Resource Library
>> ...........
>>> http://resources.ixda.org
>>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
>> ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help
>> .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription
>> Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
>> ....................... http://ixda.org/ Resource Library
>> ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

--
Petteri Hiisilä
Senior Interaction Designer
iXDesign / +358505050123 /
petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi

"Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated."
- Tim Peters

21 Mar 2007 - 2:58pm
Petteri Hiisilä
2004

> I'm sure you're aware of this but its quite easy to patch in any N/
> O switch
> to a keyboard button. Essentially replacing a keyboard button with
> another
> switch but still generating keyboard commands with the keypad
> circuitry.
> Its a great way to rapid prototype control panels or adaptive
> equipment.

Good idea. Sounds a bit like a hack, but I'll forward this to the
engineers to make sure that they know what we might ask them to do.
They have used regular keyboards and those Siemens-type panel PC's
until now, but I believe that this is feasible for them.

Again, credibility is an issue but this could be polished to both
function well and sound good. If it works for keyboards, maybe it
could work for mouse wheels too. The electronics for those can't be
rocket science.

> So, you could take an industrial joystick (http://rswww.com/)

Very interesting site, thanks! That hardware looks a lot like what
we're looking for.

Petteri

--
Petteri Hiisilä
Senior Interaction Designer
iXDesign / +358505050123 /
petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi

"Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated."
- Tim Peters

21 Mar 2007 - 5:53pm
Will Parker
2007

On Mar 21, 2007, at 11:55 AM, Petteri Hiisilä wrote:
> Interesting ideas. Maybe we should buy a truckload of TAC-2's from
> some joystick hamster. I presume every one of them ever manufactured
> still works :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TAC-2
>
> These machines/appliances are normally used for 15-20 years, so we
> need durable controls. If they break, a manufacturing line of 20-40
> people could halt. And there is also a credibility issue. Trying to
> sell a seven-digit-dollar machine with a TAC-2 might cause unwanted
> reactions...
>
> A really big steel/aluminium/iron knob with mouse wheel output signal
> would be optimal. True, some gaming/accessibility controls like that
> could exist. Must dig deeper. All ideas welcome.
>
> Thanks!

Two small usability points from someone who used to work as a
machinist's assistant on the graveyard shift at a drydock:

1) If the working environment might include greasy hands, you _must_
make the control surfaces rough -- preferably knurled or 'knobby'.
Slippery controls in an industrial environment can be a serious
safety hazard, if only because they require more attention from the
user.

2) One of the more miserable aspects of working nights in an
industrial facility is that one can never seem to keep warm. Cold
bare metal is not a welcome sight when you're 12 hours into a long,
strenuous job. Do use metal cores in the controls for toughness, but
if at all possible, see if you can get the user-facing surfaces
coated with some sort of rubber or insulating plastic.

Oh -- and a third item, from hearsay rather than experience.

One of the findings of the committee that investigated the causes of
the meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant was that controls
for very different functions were poorly labeled, exactly the same
shape, size and color, and placed directly adjacent to one another.
Some nuke plant engineers -- unfortunately NOT at Three Mile Island
-- had come up with an ad-hoc solution -- they replaced the look-
alike levers with the gaudy, wildly different handles from the beer
taps at the local pub.

If the interface you're designing controls crucial processes, make
sure your workers can figure out how to use the controls with little
or no error in emergency conditions in dim lighting while under great
stress.

- Will

Will Parker
wparker at ChannelingDesign.com

"The only people who value your specialist knowledge are the ones who
already have it." - William Tozier

On Mar 21, 2007, at 11:55 AM, Petteri Hiisilä wrote:

> Interesting ideas. Maybe we should buy a truckload of TAC-2's from
> some joystick hamster. I presume every one of them ever manufactured
> still works :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TAC-2
>
> These machines/appliances are normally used for 15-20 years, so we
> need durable controls. If they break, a manufacturing line of 20-40
> people could halt. And there is also a credibility issue. Trying to
> sell a seven-digit-dollar machine with a TAC-2 might cause unwanted
> reactions...
>
> A really big steel/aluminium/iron knob with mouse wheel output signal
> would be optimal. True, some gaming/accessibility controls like that
> could exist. Must dig deeper. All ideas welcome.
>
> Thanks!
>
> Petteri
>
> <panu.korhonen at nokia.com> <panu.korhonen at nokia.com> kirjoitti
> 21.3.2007 kello 9:53:
>
>> Or switches for gaming, like http://www.x-arcade.com/byoarcade.shtml
>>
>> Panu
>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>>> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On
>>> Behalf Of ext carl myhill
>>> Sent: 21 March, 2007 09:39
>>> To: IXDA list
>>> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Big buttons and knobs for industry
>>> appliances?
>>>
>>> Have you thought of looking into switches used for
>>> accessibility? Just a thought.
>>>
>>> You might start here...
>>> http://www.rjcooper.com/super-switch/index.html
>>>
>>> Carl
>>>
>>> On 19/03/07, Petteri Hiisilä <petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> Hi,
>>>>
>>>> Does anyone know where to get big, heavy-duty buttons and knobs
>>>> that
>>>> output standard keyboard and mouse signals? We'd like to
>>> have a fist-
>>>> size knob in the panel for some analog tuning and navigating around
>>>> the menus. A bit like Griffin Powermate, but bigger and more
>>>> durable.
>>>> We need them for some industry appliances.
>>>>
>>>> The typical panel PC's have too tiny and too plastic
>>> controls for big
>>>> and dirty hands. Too many digital buttons, not enough analog
>>> controls:
>>>>
>>> http://www.automation.siemens.com/hmi/html_76/products/panel_pc
>>> s/panel-pc477.htm
>>>>
>>>> Thanks,
>>>> Petteri
>>>>
>>>> --
>>>> Petteri Hiisilä
>>>> Senior Interaction Designer
>>>> iXDesign / +358505050123 /
>>>> petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi
>>>>
>>>> "Simple is better than complex.
>>>> Complex is better than complicated."
>>>> - Tim Peters
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> ________________________________________________________________
>>>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>>>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
>>>> ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List
>>>> Help ..................
>>>> http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
>>>> http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>>>> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>>>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
>>>> ....................... http://ixda.org/ Resource Library
>>> ...........
>>>> http://resources.ixda.org
>>>>
>>> ________________________________________________________________
>>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
>>> ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help
>>> .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription
>>> Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>>> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
>>> ....................... http://ixda.org/ Resource Library
>>> ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
>> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
>> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
> --
> Petteri Hiisilä
> Senior Interaction Designer
> iXDesign / +358505050123 /
> petteri.hiisila at ixdesign.fi
>
> "Simple is better than complex.
> Complex is better than complicated."
> - Tim Peters
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

22 Mar 2007 - 9:52am
Michael Micheletti
2006

Great post, Will. Just the other day I ran across an explanation given by a
fireman as to why normal cell phones are not suitable for them to use in all
their kit. It went something like this: Put on your heaviest ski gloves, and
then get down on your hands and knees in a small closet in the dark. Now
dial.

Michael Micheletti

On 3/21/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:
>
>
> If the interface you're designing controls crucial processes, make
> sure your workers can figure out how to use the controls with little
> or no error in emergency conditions in dim lighting while under great
> stress.
>
>

22 Mar 2007 - 1:27pm
Will Parker
2007

Thanks to Michael's firefighter story, I realized that the usual
practice for a user interview and observation is to ask the users to
run through their typical processes on a typical work day.

Perhaps we should be asking the users to take us through their _worst
imaginable_ day.

- Will

Will Parker
wparker at ChannelingDesign.com

"The only people who value your specialist knowledge are the ones who
already have it." - William Tozier

On Mar 22, 2007, at 7:52 AM, Michael Micheletti wrote:

> Great post, Will. Just the other day I ran across an explanation
> given by a fireman as to why normal cell phones are not suitable
> for them to use in all their kit. It went something like this: Put
> on your heaviest ski gloves, and then get down on your hands and
> knees in a small closet in the dark. Now dial.
>
> Michael Micheletti
>
> On 3/21/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:
>
> If the interface you're designing controls crucial processes, make
> sure your workers can figure out how to use the controls with little
> or no error in emergency conditions in dim lighting while under great
> stress.
>
>

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