One method of fabricating translucent faceplates


Enclosures are the bane of electronics engineers (or so says [Dave Jones] of the EEVblog and The Amp Hour). But fabricating a case that looks great has been getting easier lately. [Eric Forkosh] produced this professional-looking translucent face plate with a minimum of effort. He found a way to use a laser cutter to etch icons in acrylic.

Admittedly, this is not very involved. But just look at the quality he achieved. The secret to his success (aside from having a quality laser cutter on hand) is to use high-temperature spray paint. The acrylic is coated in paint and allowed to dry before heading to the laser cutter. By using the rasterize setting under low power he kills two birds with one stone; the paint is etched away while the acrylic is left a little bit rough to act as a diffuser for LEDs behind the panel. [Eric] cautions against using regular spray paint. In his write up he shows off the unsightly results of doing so.

This makes a great addition to some of the case options out there. One that we have been keeping our eye on is the Sick of Beige initiative being spearheaded by [Ian Lesnet].

Tutorial designs 3D printed cases for your projects


[Landon Cox] recently finished up a 3-part tutorial on designing project enclosures for 3D printing. The series is great if you have not yet tried your hand at this realm of the 3D printing universe, but there’s a lot to take away about design and modeling even if you don’t plan to print your creations.

He starts off part one of the tutorial by explaining the need for 3D printed cases. He believes it’s the natural progression after you’ve made it far enough to have your own PCB manufactured. Why not add a well designed and fabricated case to compliment your meticulously laid out circuitry? In part two he gets the design ball rolling by modeling the top and bottom portions of the case seen above in blue. The final step is to design a face plate that matches the needs of your circuit; in this case it’s DB9 and RJ45 connectors.

It’s not all smooth sailing along the way. [Landon] does actually print the case and the faceplate is just a bit too big for the the rest of the enclosure. But better too big than too small as shaving away a bit of the edges fixes it right up.

[via Adafruit]

A mixer (re)built to travel

[Toby Cole] likes to mix tunes whenever he gets a chance. But the size of his DJ equipment made it a real bother to lug around with him. He does own a Behringer portable mixer but without cross faders it’s not really all that usable, and most of the other offerings don’t get good reviews. He ended up replacing the enclosure of a proper mixer in order to make it light and small. The growing availability of affordable laser-cut parts made this project possible.

Build Brighton, [Toby's] local Hackerspace, has a laser cutter. So he knew that if he could figure out a smaller case design it would be a snap to get his parts made. He cracked open the heavy metal case on the KMX 100 mixer and found it had a ton of extra room inside. He designed all of the plates using a digital calipers to properly space the holes and text labels. These designs were combined with BoxMaker to produce the files the laser cutter needed. The first prototype was cut from cardboard, with the finished product cut from 3mm plywood.