Let's Build a Midpanel - Part IIngredients:
- 1 x 1/8" Mirrored Acrylic Panel (large)
- 1 x 1/8" Clear Acylic Panel
- 1 x 1/4" Frosted Acrylic Panel (also known as Matte)
- 1 x 1/8" Frosted Acrylic Panel (large)
- 1 x 1/8" Black Acrylic Panel
- Some 3M Carbon Fiber Vinyl Wrap 1080 (or other cover-up wraps)
- 1 x Weld-On
- 1 x Acrylic Knife
- 1 x Small Fine File
- 1 x 320 Grit Sandpaper
- 1 x Hypo Applicator
- 1 x Multimeter
- Many x Clamps
- Hard edge (metal ruler)
- 1 x Table Saw with Acrylic Blade
- 1 x RGB LED strip
- 1 x DC Coaxial Plug, 5.5mm OD x 2.5mm ID
- Wire, 18 AWG (gauge doesn't really matter)
- 2 x Male Molex Crimp Connectors
- 1 x 4-pin Molex Plug
Alternatively, you can do it via Mr_Armageddon's method HERE
, where instead of having two frosted panels, one thick 3/8" panel is used and more black acrylic panels are used to cover up the LEDs. I plan to use 3M Carbon Fiber wrap to wrap around the edges and cover up imperfections. My method is the lazy method and is easier without a table saw with an acrylic blade. If you have proper tools, I'm certain Mr_Armageddon's method will look better.
The minimum height of the panel is 5/8", or a bit shy of 16mm. That is because the LED strip is 10mm wide. (Refer to diagram below)
Panels are arranged like this:
and the black panel, is cut and used as trim. LED strips are attached to the sides where light shines through the clear panel and reflects off the mirrored panel. The frosted panels diffuse the lighting and create a more even distribution of lighting.Step 1:Measuring
First, measure up your desired dimensions. For my 800D, I chose to have the illuminated midpanel to replace the old midpanel, and it runs the width of the old panel and the entire length of the 800D. This dimension will be your two big panels: the top frosted panel, and the bottom mirrored panel.
To build the trim and run LEDs through, you need at least 6mm of clearance for the black trim + LEDs on each side, but it wouldn't hurt to leave a bit more clearance. Subtract at least 1/4" from each side. This will be the dimension of your thick frosted panel and clear panel.
You will also need black side panels. You can either order a large slab (like I did) or a smaller square and use two to cut and glue together later. Shorter lengths are more manageable. Panels are sold by the foot, so wide panels and narrow panels are still the same cost. You can try asking your plastics store to cut the strips for you for additional cost (easiest method, bypasses need for acrylic knife and filing).Step 2: Materials
Run to your local plastics store. Use Google maps to find one nearby. Give them your dimensions and thickness, and they will do cuts for you. You can also ask about edge finishing if you want, where they'll make the edges nice and smooth for ease of gluing later on. For me, each panel cost about $10-15, for 5 panels total ($~65). This process will take about 10 minutes. If you didn't ask the shop to cut the trim strips for you, and you don't have a table saw with an acrylic blade already, you should grab an acrylic knife to cut the strips($3). Again, it's really not worth the time and hassle to cut the strips yourself by hand.
You will also need Weld-On, a solvent welder. It'll basically melt the two acrylic pieces into one. Grab a can from Home Depot for about $5.Step 3: Cutting
I have access to a table saw, but it happens the saw blade is made for wood, not acrylic - it'll chip or burn the acrylic if I cut it. That's why I didn't ask them to cut the strips for me, and that's why I also ordered extra material. Alas, more work for me!
Building trim strips / cutting panels:
(pictures shown for another panel, but same principles apply. Be VERY careful in cutting and breaking off strips, they're prone to snapping)Do not remove the protective material.
Using a pen, mark out the dimensions you need. Take your hard edge (metal ruler), and place it on the line. Use clamps to secure ruler to panel firmly, and panel to table firmly. You will need at least 3 clamps.
Start by cutting lightly and CAREFULLY so it doesn't veer astray and ruin the finish. Start gently and apply slight pressure. Apply more pressure as you make each successive pass.
Bits and pieces will fly everywhere.
When you've cut more than halfway through, remove your ruler and clamps, and place the cut near a straight, hard edge.
In a manner as evenly as possible, apply firm pressure. Put some weight on it. It will go POW! and the acrylic will snap.
And so you should have some black strips in this manner:
I wasn't very careful and actually snapped both of the long pieces. You can see the tail end of that in the above pic. I'll have to glue it back on. (Surface is not fit for Weld-On nor JB Weld, which takes too long)
So, I found myself some Araldite. It dries in 5 minutes and is clear in color. Two part epoxy, according to Wikipedia they used this stuff on the carbon fiber for the Aventador.
Everything else was written in French, but diagrams are self-explanatory.
These tubes must have been what, 15 years old.
Squeeze a bit from each side, mix them up, apply sparingly to each end.
Afterwards, it was time to cut the strips to length. In this case, a Dremel set to speed 1 will suffice.Step 4: Surface Prep
Hopefully the plastics shop cut them nice and straight. If you did it by hand, there's a bit more work before you can assemble everything together.
Firstly, Weld-On is basically like water. It has very little adhesive properties, and doesn't fill gaps well. While the flat panel surfaces aren't a problem, the sides of these black strips will be. If they were cut properly by table saw, it should be relatively smooth with a bit of swirl marks. If you cut them by hand, it should be really rough. Run you finger down the side, and it should be bumpy and uneven. This surface needs to be smooth in order to glue properly. So, take a fine file (from a few pictures above), and gentle run the file across the entire length of the strip. You will need to do this for both lengths of the strip. Apply moderate pressure, enough to cut away at the protruding uneven surfaces but not to eat away at the material.
Then, take 320 grit sandpaper and sand it down so it's a smooth finish. If you had the shop to do the cuts for you, you can just take the sandpaper and finely sand the sides, skipping a whole lot of work.
Much better! Step 5: Test Fit
Have fun. LEDs can be bought from Amazon for about $28 (Amazon) - I got mine for $33 from Amazon's LEDwholesalers. They total 5m / 16.4ft in length, it comes with a remote, a simple PCB with a receiver, and a brick. The remote allows 20 preset colors, 6 custom color profiles, adjustable brightness, and 6 preset changing modes, one of which is 'rave mode', where it flashes and changes colors rapidly. This 800D will be real
fun at parties, I bet.
Each section can be cut short, and can be reconnected together with wires for different sections. LEDs appear brighter on pictures due to exposure.
3M Carbon Fiber vinyl wraps do not leak light. Excellent.
And here is "everything" (minus side trim panels, those go in last) in test-fit.
Next time: Glue, Splicing, Wiring. Stay tuned. Edited by sakerfalcon - 5/2/13 at 9:31pm