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Advice on lighted panel construction.


nobrot
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OK, its time for me to start a build, I have been putting it off for years. I have found a local company that will CNC my panels, so I am all set for the first test panel.

 

Before I spend any hard earned cash on parts, I am hoping that I can get some advice or comments on my panel build process. Here are the steps that I think should be used to create a realistic quality panel, but I am missing a couple of things.

 

1. Cut the TOP panel dimension from a 1/8th" White Translucent Acrylic sheet.

 

2. Paint the sheet with three layers of matt black paint.

 

3. CNC the panel shape (holes for switches etc).

 

4. CNC engrave the panel graphics to a depth of 1/16".

 

5. Cut the LIGHT panel from an EL sheet to match the panel but trimmed back from the panel edge to prevent edge light bleeding.

 

6. Cut a BACK panel (uncludes the zues mounting holes) from a suitable material 1/8th or 3/16th?

 

7.Sandwich the TOP - LIGHT -BACK panels and bond together.

 

The only part I am not certain about is how to bond the three layers together, and if the thicknesses are suitable. Would there be any problems with sandwiching the EL sheet? And anyone know what glue to use that is suitable for the Acrylic and the EL material?

Real world pilot, budding virtual world hog driver...

 

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Before spending money on CNC manufacturing consider what local guys offer for sale. Im sure they will work with you manufacturing to your drawings. I'd offer my services but I'm still not setup after house move.

 

IMHO LEDs are much more cost efficient way to backlight a panel. While I had good results with painted white acrylic, consider using engraver specific material like lasermark or if you insist on mechanical process "ultragrave ",

Anton.

 

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I'm still not a hundred percent sold on the el panels, so if you decide that direction, please let us know how it works out. (Especially if you use inverters. Now they can be loud!)

 

I haven't bothered bonding the panels, but I would be very hesitant to bond any panel to the back panel. That's where you will be attaching, and if your anything like me, removing your switches. Your switches will be secured only to the back panel, and most of the top panels will completely cover the mounting nut. So your light plate usually has a greater diameter than the mounting nut, so by the time the top plate goes on, especially with your oval holes, it sits flush but still covers the nut. That's what the small #6 black Phillips pan head screws are for. Keeping the panels sandwiched so you don't need to bond.

 

Just a thought.

Good luck!


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I guess the EL sheets seemed like a no brainer for even light distribution on a single panel. And seeing that they can be cut sort of sealed the idea for me. The idea was to have a single inverter driving all the panels, the inverter would be tied to the battery master, so that turning on the battery master (with a double pole switch) would send one signal to the USB interface and on to Helios, and then the other pole would switch on the inverter... then I can drive those panel lights via the lighting panel, pluss the inverter noise would give some believable atmosphere, I used to be a crewchief on multiple aircraft, particularly the Tornado, turning the battery master on made all sorts of cockpit noises :), and I bet the A-10 is the same.

 

Its early days, so I would love to hear from any other pit builders that have any success or otherwise with EL panels, I just cant visualize getting a nice even light with the LED's... but maybe that's because I haven't tried...

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One thing missing from your description is the spacer panel.

 

You are talking about using EL for the lightplate, the lightplate is often used as the spacer panel as well.

 

The spacer is between the backplate and front panel where the nuts usually hide for the mounted switches etc.

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Hi Nobrot,

 

PM answered, I would say be careful with EL sheets, some manufactuers give them a life of 100 hrs at full illumination. You can get better ones but as is always the case you get what you pay for.

 

I agree with agrasyuk, use LED's if possible the clear panel can be customized for you to accomodate any type of installation, the spacer is cut out only were illumination is required.

 

Hope this helps

 

Glider

http://www.modeldesigns.co.uk

 

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Thanks for the feedback guys,

 

@metalnwood, you are correct I had not included the spacer, its something I have not considered although I have seen them mentioned.

 

@agrasyuk, nice looking panle, but as you said too bright and a bit too green?, again from my work experience on military aircraft, the backlight is slightly green, sort of like the glow you get from glow-in-the-dark, and when turned up is a diffuse white, I would like to see the back of your panel to give me an idea of how things are put together to get that even spread.

 

@Glider_UK, thanks, I will check it in a mo, and will probably place an initial order for proof of concept :).

 

I also wondered if it would be possible to get a result with a thicker piece of Perspex and then insert LED's into holes drilled in the edge, I wonder if that would produce something useable, much like a wide flat fiber optic cable, anyone tried that?

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I also wondered if it would be possible to get a result with a thicker piece of Perspex and then insert LED's into holes drilled in the edge, I wonder if that would produce something useable, much like a wide flat fiber optic cable, anyone tried that?

 

You pretty much just described a proper lightplate . except the holes are drilled in key locations to create "edges" that are spread across the panel . result of that is seen at the link I posted above.

And yeah, my panel was not built to that technique

Anton.

 

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@Agrasyuk; Any chance of getting a look at the lightplate from your image above, I am warming to this idea over EL sheets.

 

 

@Glider_UK, having some problems with sending/replying to PM's, I have tried to send you three PM's so far and none of them shoow up in my sent items, so Ihave no clue if they have been sent; can you pm me your email address so we can comminicate over email??


Edited by nobrot

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on this forum PMs will not show up as sent unless you chose the save option before sending.

 

no light plate on that panel, just a spacer.

http://images16.fotki.com/v363/photos/6/733156/10411268/CIMG1669-vi.jpg

not the most proper way to construct panels perhaps, but simple and cheap enough . brightness will get dialed in with a dimmer, excess green-ness i will live with

Anton.

 

My pit build thread .

Simple and cheap UFC project

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G'day all. I just finished working on my first back lit panel. :thumbup:

 

Please excuse my terrible solder skills. Its been a while...

 

Switch panel front-

DSC01995_zps1e514d3e.jpg

 

Back of panel with LeoBodnar mounted-

DSC01999_zpsd838fa2d.jpg

 

It works! Using the 5V from the board-

DSC02002_zps69c7de72.jpg

 

Spacer panel fitted-

DSC02005_zpse0b93e3b.jpg

 

Top panel on. Not completely even lighting but it does the job well enough for me-

DSC02009_zps880acd63.jpg

 

Just realized I missed two LEDs behind the Main Boost Pump L-R. Ill fix that soon (ran out of LEDs!) Plus I am aware of the text error with the boost pumps and fill disable being mixed up- a new top panel is on the way.

 

Right now I am waiting for the edge painting to dry. Trying a few coats of chrome silver before the black, hoping it might help for a more even lighting spread.

 

Still might run some more LED's around the squares for the fill disable. Haven't decided yet...

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Guys its looking good, I now have a much clearer idea about using LED's for backlighting. I hope to be ordering my first panels and hardware in the nest few days, I will be receiving my HOTA rig next week.. things are warming up!!!

 

I would still like to hear from anyone that has used the EL sheets with any success.

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Any specific color of LEDs people are using/can recommend?

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BAS, I just ordered the cheapest 3mm green ones from ebay. 200pc for 8$ shipped or so from China . even if there are color variations between batches 200 is enough to complete at least several panels , so there will be consistency. Can recommend.

 

RK , definetly add leds to light the squares , will look more consistent. what's the plan regarding typos? Soldering looks quite elaborate

 

OP, I don't think I remember of anyone on this board with el sheet implemented. I seen a beautiful F16 panel done with el , but can't find link.


Edited by agrasyuk

Anton.

 

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Here is mine with the edges painted and switches installed and working! :thumbup:

Ignore the grey enclosure, will be replaced with a better sized black one. Plus I still haven't worked out the RCVR lever.

Obviously I haven't back lit the Elec Power panel yet (waiting on LED's).

 

DSC02024_zpsf46b8c6b.jpg

 

BAS, I just ordered the cheapest 3mm green ones from ebay. 200pc for 8$ shipped or so from China

 

Me too. :thumbup: But i foolishly only got 50 for about $3!

 

RK , definetly add leds to light the squares , will look more consistent. what's the plan regarding typos? Soldering looks quite elaborate.

 

Yeah I will do. I've got more LED's on the way so I'll do that as well as add more under all the 'OFF lines' as well. I'll also drill out the spacer panel so i can get some light around the line check button.

 

As for the typo- This is one of Glider's panels from the other thread. As soon as I told him of the error he sent a replacement top.

 

i think for realism I would use white led's and then use coloured transparency behind main panel for colour correction if needed. Having said that, the green ones definately do the job :)

 

I was going to do that as well, but decided that since I am not doing a complete pit, I'd rather have it look pretty and match the LED's on my HOTAS Warthog. Which it does almost perfectly!

 

 

DSC02022_zps76101c85.jpg

 

Ignore the position, just tacked it here while in flight testing. It works!

 

My plan is to have two consoles either side of my Obutto ozone pit. The Fuel panel will be behind the throttle, SAS to the left of it, Landing gear and AHCP in front of it. Left side will be lighting panel, elec power and a maybe a caution box. Each panel will be self enclosed and removable.

 

All the back lighting will be powered from the same separate 5V wall plug and the lighting panel console rotary will be a separate circuit for an on/off/dimmer.

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Awesome job RK! How did you place the LEDs do you need to drill the plexiglass or glue them on? Also a question for anyone: I have some IKEA LED strips are they Sufficient for a row of panels or is it better to use LEDS so the backlighting looks nice like RK's?

 

 

Edit: one little hint, you possibly are aware but the fuel panel would be better placed in front of your throttles.

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Nice job RK, the light distribution is nice and even and I don't see any bleed.. pretty good imo.

 

btw, you guys that are conneting resistors to each LED may want to check out this handy little tool...

 

http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz

 

I figured out I can drive 4 LED's with a single 1 Ohm resistor, based on an array of 100 LED's

Real world pilot, budding virtual world hog driver...

 

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Gents...I have also seen fiber optic pieces of plastic that take the light from a single led and distribute across a larger area. This could be an option too.

[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

 

Creator of:

 

F-18C VFA-195 "Dambusters" 1998 CAG Livery

https://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=213788

 

F-18C VFA-195 "Dambusters" July 2001 CAG Livery

https://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=215950

 

Pilot avatars for DCS Logbook

https://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=221160

 

How to make a DCS A-10C Panel

http://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=65998

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Gents...I have also seen fiber optic pieces of plastic that take the light from a single led and distribute across a larger area. This could be an option too.

 

 

LOL damit, where where you when I was placing my order for 100 white LED's!!!

 

Good info, thanks Tiger, I will look into that.. but I am financially committed to LED's for now.

Real world pilot, budding virtual world hog driver...

 

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