I trying to use node red under Windows to monitor status of a limit switch, is it currently open, or is it currently closed.
On raspberry pi with GIPO node this is super easy. On windows it seems pretty challenging for me to find something off the shelf.
There are quite a few USB serial analogue input breakout boards, but my current understanding is they converts a varying voltage input to a digital output. The limit switch does not output any voltage, and I can't just run 3V or 5V power pin to the limit switch for signalling.
Has anyone done anything similar prior? Or perhaps knows what such "USB Dongle" is called?
Undoubtedly, the best approach is to use a low-cost MPU to handle the GPIO. An Arduino or ESP device is easy to use and you can easily find off-the-shelf firmware that will handle most situations and sensors/switches without further programming.
This approach also protects your expensive laptop from being blown to smithereens by injudicious application of a 5v signal!
An ESP device is a few $ and has either WiFi or Bluetooth remote connections or serial/usb. Most Arduino's have only serial/usb.
I'm sure there are pre-built MPU's you could buy. Would be more expensive of course. And you shouldn't need to DIY the sensor and switch interface programming, there should be existing firmware for that.
Somewhat off the topic but ESPHome works with all types of ESP including the M5's even those with screens. It lets you have multiple include files so that you can reuse bits across devices. All my ESP devices run ESPHome now and it greatly simplifies things.