Designing a Front Panel for a DIY Project

DIY Front Panel

 

When building a one-off DIY project, appearances tend to be the least of our priorities. We just want to get the device working, and crammed into some project case. For those that like to build nicer looking prototypes [JumperOne] came up with a slick method of building a custom front panel for your DIY project.

The first step is to get the dimensions correct. You CAD tool will generate these from your design. [JumperOne] took these measurements into Inkscape, an open source vector graphics tool. Once it’s in Inkscape, the panel can be designed around the controls. This gets printed out and aligned on a plastic enclosure, which allows the holes to be marked and drilled.

With the electronics in place, the front panel gets printed again on a general purpose adhesive sheet. Next up is a piece of cold laminating film, which protects the label. Finally, holes are cut for the controls. Note that the display and LEDs are left covered, which allows the film to diffuse the light. The final result looks good, and can provide all the needed instructions directly on the panel.

[Thanks to Ryan for the tip]

Update: Tetris Handheld Get PCB and Case

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Check out this sweet-piece of homemade handheld gaming! [Jianan Li] has been hard at work on the project and published the updates in two parts, one that shows off the PCB he had fabbed for the project, and another which details the 3D printed case. This is, of course, is the culmination of the Tetris project we first saw as an incredbily packed, yet thouroughly tidy breadboarded circuit.

We really enjoy the 8-sided PCB design which hosts all the parts and gives you a place to hold and control the unit, all without seeming to waste much real estate. The case itself is quite impressive. The openings for the square-pixel LED matrices (the original design had round pixels) and the bar graphs all have nice bevel features around them. The control area has a pleasant swooping cutout, with blue buttons which stand out nicely against the red. Check out the slider switch by his left thumb. He printed matching covers for this slider, and the two that stick out the bottom. Also on the bottom are female pin headers so that you don’t need to disassemble the case to interface with the electronics.

All of this and more are shown off in the clip after the break.

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RasPi “Inception” CD-ROM Case Mod

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At first glance, [John's] CD-ROM RasPi case may not seem all that unique, but we like both the implementation as well as the end-result functionality it provides. His goal was to use the Pi as a torrent downloader, and to store the downloaded files on a shared network drive. The Pi drive would slide into a bay in the server’s case—hence the Inception reference: a computer in a computer—allowing downloads while putting another step between the server and the outside world keeping, as well as guaranteeing that the network share would be available, because the server and the Pi would use the same power source.

[John] gutted the CD-ROM’s internals to leave only the PCB, which he stripped of most everything save for the power connector in the back. He then used the base of his old RasPi case as a standoff, mounting it to the top of the CD-ROM’s PCB. He soldered the power lines to the ROM’s power connector and temporarily hooked up a 5V adapter until he gets the server running. The final step was to carve out the back of the case for access to the Ethernet and USB ports, which [John] accomplished with a dremel, a hacksaw and a file. The front of the case still looks like a stock CD-ROM drive, and [John] has plans for future mods: re-purposing the LED to show network activity and modifying the buttons to serve as a reset, pause, or start for torrent downloads.

Atari 2600 has a Raspberry Pi hiding under the hood

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Seriously, the drawer pull on this Atari 2600 is not stock. Don’t they know this voids the warranty? The thing is, you won’t actually find any of the original internals anyway. When building this portable emulator housed in a 2600 case [Linear Nova] was careful to ensure that everything could be restored to its original condition (except for two hinges mounted on the back) sometime down the road. That’s a good goal to set for yourself. We think the build is the fun part of most projects and often wonder what to do with them when they’re done and our interest has waned.

A seven-inch LCD screen was attached to the underside of the lid using Velcro. When tilted up it’s at a nice viewing angle for the player. [Linear] prefers to use a Wii remote as the control this portable video game emulator. It connects to the Raspberry Pi over Bluetooth using a USB dongle. The advantage of this is that you just throw the remote inside the case too. For now there are two power cords, one for the RPi and the other for the LCD screen but he plans to add a power hub in the future to narrow this down to one. We wonder it that would also be a good time to add his own rechargeable battery pack option? There should be enough room for an RC style pack.

 

 

Hinged NES case hides an integrated LCD screen

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We’ve sure been seeing a lot of original NES cases used in projects lately. This time around the thing still plays the original cartridges. This was one of the mains goals which [Maenggu] set for himself when integrating the LCD screen with the gaming console. There is a quick video clip which shows off the functionality of the device. It’s embedded after the break along with a few extra images.

To our eye the NES looks completely unmodified when the case is closed. The cartridge slot still accepts games, but you don’t have to lower the frame into place once that cartridge has been inserted. The image above shows a ribbon cable connecting the top and bottom halves of the build. It routes the signals for both the LCD screen and the cartridge adapter to the hardware in the base. He mentions that he used the original power supply. We’re not sure if the original motherboard is used as well or if this is using some type of emulator.

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Raspberry Pi is right at home inside of a Game Boy

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[Matt] still has his original Game Boy from when he was a kid. He wanted to pull it out and play some of the classics but alas, the screen was broken and he couldn’t find a source for a drop-in replacement. In the end he ordered a used unit and pulled the screen from that one. This left him with a pile of leftover Game Boy parts which turned into a Raspberry Pi case project.

Since the RPi doesn’t have a power switch he thought it would be pretty neat to incorporate the Game Boy power switch. He was able to cut out one section of the original PCB that included the switch and one mounting hole. This kept the switch aligned with the case and gave him some pads to solder the incoming USB cable and the jumper wires to the RPi board. In the image above the power LED is on. He mentions that there was an issue with that circuit; the voltage drop across the LED was messing up the feed to the Pi so it’s disabled for now.

We’ve embedded a couple of images of everything inside the case after the break. If you’re a fan of this hack you should also take a look at the Game Boy hard drive enclosure which uses the same pixel art printed on paper effect for the screen window.

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Laminated wooden case brings a dropped coffee grinder back from the junk heap

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Instead of giving it up for dead, [Suprise Pink Mist] fabricated a replacement case for the motor and blade of his broken coffee grinder. The original enclosure was made of plastic, which didn’t survive being dropped. There isn’t an image of what those plastic parts looked like, but we have to think they were nowhere near as neat as the replacement.

The first step was to cut a set of plywood discs to the approximate outside dimensions. Since the base of the motor has several different diameters each disc had a void cut out of its center to match. The image to the right shows the motor sitting upside down next to the stacked plywood. The black electrical tape seals around the mason jar ring which was a perfect friction fit with the original bowl of the grinder. Once everything was glued together the outside edges were flattened on a belt sander and the mason jar was screwed in place to house the beans during grinding.

[via Reddit]