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 ponoko.com 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 ponoko.com 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:

http://code.google.com/p/phi-panel/downloads/detail?name=phi-panel_faceplate_v3.cdr&can=2&q=

Exported .svg file:

http://code.google.com/p/phi-panel/downloads/detail?name=phi-panel_faceplate_v3.svg&can=2&q=

Suggested push buttons: EG1861-ND, caps: EG1882-ND, EG1881-ND, EG1880-ND. All these are digikey.com 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 sparkfun.com and other places, with the layout software EAGLE. With sweaty palms I submitted my design on batchPCB.com, 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 batchPCB.com

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, ponoko.com, 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:

https://liudr.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/enclosing-your-project-the-pursuit-continues/

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