Gilder-Ground Support Equipment

The G2SE in use in the field!

For configuring Gilderfluke based animation control systems for the Rose Parade, I need a handful of computer accessories which are only available as individual components and would be both expensive to purchase and annoying to carry in the field. I built my own Gilder-Ground Support Equipment, or G2SE, box which combines several of these devices in a convenient rugged enclosure.

The first element to tackle is joystick inputs. Gaming oriented joysticks like those made for flight simulators tend to have a low analog resolution. While that’s fine for gaming, that quantization noise can be a serious inconvenience as you’re manually commanding large animatronics mechanisms.

Photo of eight slide potentiometers mounted on perfboard

The eight sliders are simple 75mm slide potentiometers mounted via a rather large piece of generic perfboard, which are monitored by a BU0836A 12-bit USB joystick interface controller which also handles the 16 button inputs.

Photo of eight slider and 16 buttons on a black acrylic control panel

The slider perfboard and buttons are mounted to a laser cut acrylic panel which mounts directly to the preexisting panel mount interface of a Nanuk 904 enclosure.

Photo of GSE internals showing USB hub, serial adapters, and other misc internal wiring

The joystick adapter is connected to the G2SE’s internal USB hub, which provides another accessory need - a USB to ethernet adapter. None of my laptops have an ethernet port, so this allows me to connect to various networks. In the animation system I designed for Artistic Entertainment Services, all of the internal serial communication within the main enclosure is routed to a set of ethernet to serial adapters, which can be accessed by means of an ethernet switch located in the main enclosure and a single ethernet cable connected to my G2SE.

Connected to the USB hub are also a set of USB to serial adapters. A RS-422 adapter is provided to an external RJ45 connector which can be shoehorned into an RJ12 connector, which is standard for Gildergear such as the Br-EFB 4 channel PID controller which I use extensively. The other USB serial adapter connected to the hub provides basic RS-485 for interfacing with DMX-512 devices via the external RJ45 or 5-pin XLR connectors. The adapter shown has since been replaced with a fully compliant DMX adapter.

G2SE connectors showing ethernet, RS-422, and DMX (RS-485) interfaces

The rubber flaps provide some level of mitigation for dust, dirt, seeds, and other random float decorating material ingress.

Finished enclosure with a nice big engraved label

Written on January 6, 2024