Build Log – DIY CAR PC / Car entertainment system – Enclosure and Faceplate

This was the most difficult task to complete. There were lots of options available, but a help from a professional was needed and that was costly. The choice of material was hard too.

Initially I decided to use brass sheet as a faceplate. I thought to etch the button’s top plate, holes within a single brass plate. The toner transfer method was used and the results were disappointing.

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Then i thought to use the photo-etching method for better results and ordered the kit. While the kit was on its way, i was researching for capacitive touch buttons and succeeded to make it using arduino. Brass plate is of no use with capacitive switches and there was a necessity of dielectric material. Acrylic is the best choice in this case, so i started gathering data for acrylic. Since the buttons were still needed to be metallic, my photo-etching kit have to be used anyway.

While it is very easy to work with acrylic, it cannot be glued with just any glue. For a strong bonding, it needs a solvent based glue. The most used solvent is Dichloromethane and it is not easily available in India.  Secondly the glues manufactured outside India, cost a lot. After doing more research i found that the acetone can be used and an acrylic dissolved in acetone makes a good quality glue for acrylic. I followed this method and result was a glue with syrup like consistency.

However, in order to have a strong structure, the thickness of acrylic needs to be more than 3 mm. For the enclosure i have used 4mm acrylic with finely sanded edges, which after gluing, became so strong that i had to apply a lot (and really a lot) of power to separate two pieces. Pieces having more than 4mm thickness can be glued together using only acetone injected between edges. The faceplate was made using 1.5mm and 2mm acrylics and the bond was not quite strong, so i created a mesh like structure at the backside of faceplate. I first got the layout printed on a paper, glued it to acrylic sheet and then cut it using a power drill and acrylic cutter.

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Printed Layout of Faceplate glued on Acrylic

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Acrylic sheet cut as per the layout

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IMG_20140504_095251 Brass plate being etched. I have used a photoresist film for this purpose. The buttons came out better than expected

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Brown vinyl applied on Faceplate.

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Rear side of the faceplate, vertical acrylic plates support the structure and also marks the outlines of the LCD panel.

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This is how it may look at the end..

continued….

 

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