I've just bought myself a lovely new Birmingham knee mill, which I will be immediately doing a 3-axis CNC conversion on. As part of the conversion, I want to build a nice control panel, which will house the computer display (LCD panel), keyboard, and a nice assortment of controls for common operations, and simple manual operations. If it makes sense, I'll also make a pendant, wireless if that has benefit. I'll be using Mach3 for the controller.
So, the question is: What functions does it make sense to put on the control panel and/or pendant. Some are, I think, obvious:
Spindle speed/direction controls
Jog controls for all axes (joystick?)
Coolant on/off control?
What else should I include? Being an electrical engineer and a software guy, I have no problem with putting some "intelligence" in the control panel, if it's used to include some useful functionality.
I've never used a "real" CNC machine, just my self-converted X2 mini-mill, so I'd be interested in learning what kind of front panel functionality real CNC machines have as well.
Let's have some ideas!