So it took me a while, because I was multitasking, but I did finally finish building the central panel. It has 2 sections with function buttons, some controls for NeoPixels which I have yet to add, and a USB Hub to bring the entire set of panels together as one.
I used a bit of blue EL wire to block off the big function buttons, to great effect, and added some stripey caution grip tape to make the whole thing seem more industrial and sci-fi ish since I didn't go all out with lasercut parts and acrylic and LEDs everywhere, partly because I prefer a more minimalist setup and partly because I just don't have the tools, time or budget to even bother.
To those of you who may follow my work on Instructables (and yes, this will be appearing on there too) you will already know I am severely limited in tools and materials, so it will come as no surprise to you that I have cut this entire project out using just a mini jigsaw and a rotary tool, both of which I acquired just a few weeks ago.
Anyway, without further ado, let's get straight into the pictures:
The function button panel.
Rear view. The backs of all the panels are open so that I can rewire things as necessary.
The entire setup.
The center panel, with the EL Wire activated.
Now all I need to do is wire up the buttons and LEDs to the Arduino Micros, and program them. And add NeoPixels. I might use an Arduino Nano for the NeoPixels because this won't need to interface with the computer. I'm on a trip next week, so I might not finish this until early August.
Another thing I need to consider is whether I'll be labelling the buttons, or just leaving them blank so I can reconfigure them later with less hassle. We'll see.