Phi-panel face plates

Face plates are coming out! These are white 3mm acrylic face plates made from laser cutting. I didn’t choose color since I thought I could just paint the white to any color I wanted. Well, I don’t really have a spray painting can :((

If you want to make them, just leave a message here. I’ll be posting the design file in a while.

This is the design file in Corel Draw 11 (super old version). It should export into the .svg file for laser cutting at with the 180mm*180mm service (cheapest) if you also have Corel Draw. Otherwise, download the .svg file. I am not sure what software to use to modify .svg if you want some changes though.

To make it, set up an account at and choose acrylic (3mm thickness suggested).

Contains 2 16×2 face plate, 1 20×4 face plate, and one arduino uno support.

Corel Draw file:

Exported .svg file:

Suggested push buttons: EG1861-ND, caps: EG1882-ND, EG1881-ND, EG1880-ND. All these are part numbers. These are the cheapest ones I could find.
Suggested spacers: M3 thread 8mm spacing and M3 screw: 25509K-ND, H742-ND.

Make an enclosure or face plate for your arduino projects

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So now you have completed a project. It is sitting inside an ulgy cardboard box with some holes poked by your screw driver but it’s still beautiful, maybe like this one I did sometime ago:

My project in a cardboard box

Not so good inside view with messy jumper wires

Since I didn’t know anything about printed circuit boards or PCB, I knew I had to solder wires together to make it more permanent, which scared me. I did have good soldering skills. I don’t ever have an iron yet. So I took a computer hard drive cable as means of connection to the LCD and taped on a tiny bread board on the front side of the box with buttons and wires, like a Frankenstein. Everything worked fine, just be careful not to pull out the wires.

I still have this box, to remind me how rudimentary my projects looked. Later I was learned how to design PCB, through several tutorials on and other places, with the layout software EAGLE. With sweaty palms I submitted my design on, an online PCB prototyping service that takes your design and make it, then ship the board back to you. It  charges $2.5 per square inch of the board plus shipping and handling. So it’s not very cheap but it did a decent job. After waiting about 3 weeks, I received my board that looks like this (I ordered one but received two for everything :):

Bare boards made at

The PCB made soldering and assembly much better and worry free (no lose wires). An $8 basic soldering kit from radioshack will do just fine. So here is my assembled project:

Assembled project on PCB, powered up

Still this project looked naked. I wanted some cloths for it! I have spent many hours looking for a box that my project will fit in, with cutouts that will allow wires to come through and window for the LCD but with no avail.

Later I found out about 3-D printing. Amazing things happen if you mount a hot nozzle on a few motors and squzze molten plastic through it. You can simple print anything that you can design. I then spent hours to make a good design in 3-D, only to find out later that 3-D printing is simply too slow and expensive. I don’t even know anyone that has such a printer. I scraped it. But here it is, just never stepped out of my computer screen:

3-D model I made for my project

Even later, while asking for suggestions on the arduino forum, I was told that I could make top and bottom acrylic plates to partially enclose my project. Aha! So I quickly installed a very old edition of CorelDraw and designed a couple of plates for my project. I also found an online service,, which does custom designs with various materials from wood, plastic, to metals. I sent in my design and in about 3 weeks I received this:

Parts for my project box and more

Well after some assembly with standoffs, screws and nuts, here it is, a nicely wrapped project in its beautiful and transparent (yeah!) case:

“Complete” project with PCB and acrylic plates

Everything looked very nice and I showed it off quite a few times online and offline. But this is not the end of it, as I have eventually bored myself looking at a half-naked project. I don’t want water spills or other mishaps so I have to move up my packaging once more. If you want to know what happened to this project, or what it does, come back later and I will post some more. It only looks much better now:)

Alright, here it is:

The case was purchased from Allied Electronics.

Read the next post for more information including links to the case and other parts:

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