I just revisited the superb articles in 30 parts by Kevin Saker on building a pit from scratch.

These were early days, folks. No plug and play USB units or beautifully laser engraved panels; just all hand-made with great ingenuity. For instance, model railway solenoids driving metal rods to operate a keyboard, knobs operating nylon line running over pulleys, car windscreen motors for driving the auto-throttle etc etc.. Great work.

Take a look at the articles at www.flightsim.com/cgi/kds?$=main/howto/kev1-3.htm
You might even find some ideas you can use

Kevin Saker is a member here, but has not posted recently. Anyone know if he is still in the field?