Control Panel Components

Sometimes, the hardest part about assembling a project is finding the printables that go with your theme!.  I have created some printables and paired them with affordable items available on Amazon to help create control panels that work in a space station, rocket cockpit, or an airplane.  I also found tins with interesting bottoms that can be painted to create colorful components that can fill in as measurment gauges and instruments.  I mixed and matched the various components to create coordinating Control Panel Take-and-Make kits for our space-themed VBS.  I have specifically sized the printable gauges to fit on the bottom of the baking tins available from Amazon to give a 3D effect on the control panel.  

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Materials Needed for the Project

Small Instrument Gauges

We will start with the small round gauges.  The picture above is a sample of the gauges available in the printable pack.  They can loosely be divided into two categories, avionic gauges and meters gauges.  The avionics are things you might find in a cockpit or at a docking station.  They include things like radar, altitude, etc.  The meter gauges are things with needles showing levels, speeds, etc.  All of the gauges are purposefully unlabled to provide maximum flexibility and imagination.  

We chose to laminate the printed pages, then cut them out.  We found it gave a better finish, but it’s not totally necessary.  Once these gauges are cut out, they will fit on the bottom of these mini pie tins.  These are the tins that I measured and designed the printable for.  I don’t know if they will fit other brands. Glueing them to the bottom of the tin provides some dimension and interest to your control panel.  Once your components are made, you can assemble them on your control panel in any orientation you like!

Download all the Gauges and Screens

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Radar and Colorful Instument

Next we will look at a slightly larger item for the control panel.  For these, we will use the 9″ Pie Pan.  Again, this printable radar is specifically sized for this 9″ pie pan.  You can laminate it if you wish (the picture above is unlaminated so you can see what it looks like) and glue it to the bottom of the pie pan.  Just as with the smaller gauges above, we are trying to add dimension to the control panel.  

Another option with this particular pie pan is to paint the sections of the bottom.  It has a nice repeating pattern that lends itself to becoming some sort of gauge.  Paint each section a different color or paint each section in a gradual change of colors (for example start with green, then yellow, then red) to show a grauduation of severity for the instrument.  This pan gives lots of options for the imaginations.  

One component we liked to use was this takeout tin painted in coordinating colors.  The design on the bottom of the tin looked like a scientific measurement instrument, and we like the rectangular shape.  The size and shape broke up all of the round gauges and it provided good filler for the panels that had rectangular computer screens.  Again, you will probably need multiple coats of paint, especially for the lighter colors.  I used cheap acylic craft paint.  Latex might give better coverage.  

Computer Screens

Every space station or cockpit needs some computer screens.  These screens can be used on scientific panels (graphs and measurements) or on aviation panels.  Mix and match for a colorful variety.  Our plan is to laminate them, attach them to the panel with glue dots and frame them with duct tape in coordinating colors.  

Adding Buttons and Knobs

Finally, a fun and easy way to add extra dimension and color is to add colorful buttons.  This can be done is a couple of way.  The easiest way is to use colorful bottle caps.  The lids from small gatorade bottles is one example of a colorful lid that can be repurposed into a buttton.  In general, steer clear of lids that have printing on them.  However, if you need to remove a production date stamp, acetone (fingernail polish remover) is a good option.  

Another way to create buttons is to use clear plastic egg cartons.  Cut the cartons into different configurations (9×9, or 1×6).  Then, paint the inside of each compartment with your choice of color.  Depending on the paint you use, you will probably need 2-3 coats of paint.  

Have fun creating exciting control panels for your space-themed decoration!  Hopefully these printables make the project a little easier!

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