"Control Panel" Play Station — How?

Thread Starter


Joined Nov 3, 2019
Let me just state: I'm a totally newb (some entry-level Arduino and breadboard tutorials under my belt) and my vision is vastly outside the scope of my abilities, but I'm here to get some broad tips and feedback so that I can figure out where to begin on my path towards actualizing this project because, by god, I will do it before I die.

Basically, it's this:

I want to build a "control panel" consisting of many tactile buttons (illuminated), switches, toggles, sliders, dials, and segment displays, the output of which all feeds into an iPad, which I will create an app for that parses the input and produces some kind of visual or auditory output based on the input. My goal is to create a tactile experience that taps into that joy of pressing buttons. Some can provide a simple, analog experience, but I'd like the ability to read the state of every component so that I have the option of adding complexity to the output later on.

It's for my children, but... who are we kidding? I'd play with it most.

I've got a background in programming, so I'm a bit less concerned about the app component than everything else. I've drawn the console and laid out the buttons and other components. I'm currently dreaming of ~20 illuminated push buttons, 5 switches, 3 sliders, 1 keypad, 3 segment displays of various sizes (1 controlled by sliders, 1 controlled by keypad, and 1 which receives output), ~25 indicator lights/bulbs.

Broadly speaking, I was thinking I'd use an Arduino to process any state-changes that would affect the function of the control panel itself, and then pass that data off to the iPad to trigger video or audio. But that's assuming, of course, that I can manage to properly power and wire all the components.

To begin, I was thinking that I'd get some prototyping materials and start playing with the individual components that I hope to use as a way of getting to know them and their requirements, then start linking them together to create more complex circuits.

I've got a lot to learn as far as the circuitry goes and that's, like, everything. I'm worried about how complex it will become and how I will track the states of each component.
  • Am I overlooking any glaring challenges?
  • Is an Arduino right for this job? Can I track this many different analog inputs?
  • Can anyone recommend software for learning about creating the kinds of circuits I'll need to build this?
I'd appreciate any feedback, advice, tips, tutorials, or product links you think might be useful.

Thank you!


Joined Jul 10, 2017
This sounds like an ambitious project for someone with little electronic hardware experience but it will be a really good way to learn. The Arduino would be a very good fit for this project and there are lots of practical on-line tutorials for interfacing it with input and output devices. I recommend that for each type of input you look up the tutorials and try a few for each device. This will help you to understand the interaction of the device with the Arduino and how to mange the data from it.
You can input many devices to the Arduino if you use analog and digital multiplexers. Look those up an become familiar with what they do. Using multiplexers, you can quickly scan each input in turn and process the information from it.
Have fun,


Joined Aug 7, 2008
A control panel for what?; a space station, under sea research station, or sports car?
This reminds me of conversion of '72 Jag control panel to operating desk display. 3 months & it was operating.

Thread Starter


Joined Nov 3, 2019
A control panel for what?; a space station, under sea research station, or sports car?
Exactly! It could be whatever the user imagines. It's purpose would be to engage the imagination and provide a sensory experience for kids/adults who love buttons, toggles, switches, dials, etc.