Backlit Buttons And Panels

“Kick the tyres & light the fires” is a blog by [Ruscool Electronics] that is focused on building a cockpit simulator from scratch, and while the blog is loaded with all sorts of nifty information, reader [Brian] pointed out one entry which explains how to make back-lit control panels out of acrylic sheet, and a CNC machine.

The parts start off as clear acrylic, and cut to shape and size. Next up is a thick, but uniform coat of paint so the panels are opaque , then its back off into the CNC machine for engraving. What is engraved is now a frosty white, ready for leds behind.

The end result looks fantastic and professional, though, we are left thinking of how to pull off the same look, sans CNC.

Ideas?

Solar Powered WiFi Repeater

For all those times you need to broadcast your own access point where there’s no outlet [Larry] shows us how to make a solar-powered hotspot. He started by slapping a solar panel on the lid of a cigar box and attaching it to five rechargeable AA batteries inside. These power the mainboard from a router which is the perfect size to friction fit in the opening. It has been flashed with a copy of DD-WRT, and set to scan for open WiFi connections. When it finds one it connects and rebroadcasts its own WiFi signal to the surrounding area. He leaves it in the back window of his car and uses it to get on the net during lunch.

EL Wire: Make It, Connect It, Power It

[Jeri’s] back with a series of videos that outlines the step-by-step electroluminescent wire manufacturing, making EL panels from PCBs, and assembling power supplies for EL hardware. These concepts are actually quite approachable, something we don’t expect from someone who makes their own integrated circuits at home.

The concept here is that an alternating current traveling through phosphors will excite them and produce light. You need two conductors separated by a dielectric to get the job done. For wire, [Jeri] uses one strand of enameled magnet wire and one strand of bare wire. The enamel insulates them, protecting against a short circuit.

But that’s not all, she also tests using a circuit board as an EL panel. By repurposing the ground plane as one of the conductors, and using the solder mask as the dielectric she is able to paint on a phosphor product resulting in the glowing panel.

Finally, you’ve got to get juice to the circuit and that’s where her power supply video comes into the picture. We’ve embedded all three after the break. It’s possible that this is cooler than blinking LEDs and it’s fairly inexpensive to get started. The circuitry is forgiving, as long as you don’t zap yourself with that alternating current.

Continue reading “EL Wire: Make It, Connect It, Power It”

Etch Aluminum Control Panels

This clever Instructable demonstrates how to etch beautiful aluminum control panels for electronics projects. We like how similar this process is to DIY circuit board etching. Both abide by the same technique and use blue transfer paper. The primary difference is in the use of muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide for etching aluminum.