Rack box status panel complete
Status panel for the rack box project, with everything mounted.

To get a sense of that was happening in the rack box project, and to be able to manually control stuff, I built a status panel that I had on my desk in the old apartment. It had LEDs, push-buttons and switches for pretty much everything in the rack box; lights, alarms, fan, mute etc. It was made of a desk box with an aluminium front plate, which made it pretty sturdy.

The panel connected to the rack box project with three d-sub cables; 9, 25 and 37 pins. If any of these cables were disconnected or the panel fuse burned out, a monitoring alarm would sound. There was also a microcontroller module inside the panel, controlling a few LEDs, switches and the emergency control. This was connected to my computer with a serial cable.

The voltage levels in the rack (5, 13.8 and 24) were available through lab plugs, pretty handy when testing stuff. They had a dedicated automatic fuse, so not to take the whole rack box down in case of a short.

The panel had three states;

  • On, all LEDs, buttons and switches worked.
  • Off, all buttons and switches worked, but the LEDs were turned off.
  • Disabled, all LEDs were turned off, buttons and switches were disabled.

At the center of the panel was a key switched, used to arm and disarm the intruder alarm. The the intruder alarm was armed the panel went into the disabled state. The emergency stop could also be triggered, and reset, from this panel.

This status panel was very analog and not something I would have built today, but in 2006 it was not as easy to get a fancy dashboard on the computer as it is today. Just doing changes to this panel was pretty tricky and time consuming… Today one can just use something like Home Assistant.

Please leave a comment or tweet if you have any questions or feedback on this project.

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Project: Status panel for the Rack Box project by Thomas Jensen is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 with attribution required.

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  •   Created Aug 11, 2006
  •   Last modified 1 month ago
  •   Project status: Completed