printrbot GO – Frankenstein switch

Let me just be up front and say that this little mod does not warrant an entire blog post. The good news is that you’re not paying by the word, so drop a complaint in the box on your way out if you must.

So it seemed clear that a modern PC power switch was looking more and more out of place on my steampunk monstrosity and someone on PrintrbotTalk forums suggested a knife switch might be the way to go.

Not quite like this one, but you get the idea.
Not quite like this one, but you get the idea.

Although I really liked the idea of finding a genuine antique knife switch, they were mostly all quite large, with (lovely) porcelain bases and were not practical for a bot that I’d still like to be able to pack into a Pellican for air travel.  I finally found one on e-Bay that claimed to be “vintage” and when it arrived it was actually a very cheap and readily available knife switch I could’ve gotten for a lot less at Radio Shack (without the mild rust mind you).  Lesson learned I suppose.

Not really vintage, just rusty.
Not really vintage, just a tiny bit rusty.

It turned out that this one was a little bit bigger than I wanted also, so I went about the laborious task of figuring out how to hack it into something that might fit the available space better.  The handle and the base were the only features dictating the overall size, so I quickly ditched those and, after bending the crap out of the struts for the handle, mocked it up to size in situ with some watchmaker’s putty.

Rodico has many uses.
Rodico has many uses.

Here it is compared to the original base for scale.

Only a little smaller.
Only a little smaller.

So then I sketched up a replacement handle in OpenSCAD, making it as hollow as possible to keep costs down when ordering from Shapeways and submitted on order for it in “raw brass”.

No frills.
No frills.
Hollow.
Hollow.
Still not cheap.
Still not cheap.

So after receiving the lovely handle from Shapeways, I assembled the switch (after oxidizing the exposed metal appropriately and fiddling with everything endlessly – did you know they use different threads in Japan?), wired it up, and voila.

That's better.
That’s better.

Yes, it is actually serving as the main power switch. The original power switch is still on the bot for now (unwired) until I can work out the lights mod I’m envisioning, at which time I plan to place a rotary four position switch in that spot (off, dim, medium, bright) with an appropriately archaic looking handle.  Always more to do it seems.

Throw the third switch!
Throw the third switch!

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