I admit it: I'm a total geek. I love electronics, programming, 3D art, vintage Apple hardware, and whisky. I'm always juggling half a dozen projects. I also enjoy documenting it all: my successes, my failures, my experiences... and everything geeky along the way.

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Laser Cut LCD Clock Enclosure: Take 1 | Kevin Rye.net - Main

Kevin Rye

Geek Extraordinaire. Yeh, I said it.

Laser Cut LCD Clock Enclosure: Take 1

Although I was pretty happy with the wooden DIY stands that I made for my Arduino LCD Clock, I thought they looked a little too homebrew. I was looking for more of a “finished product” kind of look. I imagined something fashioned out of acrylic. That didn’t work. I threw around the idea of getting some acrylic laser cut, but I didn’t know the first thing about doing it.

After some research, I found Ponoko. Their process looks pretty easy. You upload a design file, pick your material, and they laser cut it for you. It’s pretty cheap too. The most expensive part about it is the shipping. I did a little more research to see what was involved and thought that I figured it out.

I jumped into Eagle and got all the X,Y coordinates for the front panel, buttons, and LCD locations.

finding dims in eagle

Using SketchUp, I made a 2D model of my design using those X,Y values. So far so good.

lcd clock sketchup panel file

I then exported the models as SVG files. That’s the file format that laser cutters use to figure out what to cut and what to engrave.

export as SVG

I opened the SVG files using Inkscape. OK, this seems to work.

export with inkscape

I then printed them out. I laid out the designs onto my clock and made sure that everything was where it should be.

lasercut back placement_0012

lasercut front placement_0014

Everything looked good, so I placed my order.

I placed the order on 4/5. It arrived on 4/25. That’s 20 days! It seemed like an eternity.

Twenty days is a long time to wait to find out you screwed it up.

When you receive your order, you receive the entire 8” x 8” panel you paid for. If I knew that, I would have throw a few more designs on there with varying tolerances to allow for error. Lesson learned.

lasercut_clock_0002

lasercut_clock_0004

I popped out the front and back panels. They look awesome. I could never in a million years make this on my own. There’s definitely something to be said for custom laser cut acrylic. I think once I “master the art” that’s all I’m going use to house my projects.

lasercut_clock_0007

lasercut_clock_0006

I held the front panel up to my clock and I could immediately tell that I screwed up the design. I don’t see how. I triple checked everything. I even printed it out on paper and it matched up perfectly with my clock. I don’t know if Ponoko screwed it up, or there was some wacky +/- tolerance I didn’t know about.

lasercut_clock_0010

I assembled two clocks. One with a SparkFun display and one with an Adafruit display. I tried both of them with the same results. That front panel just doesn’t fit. Nothing lines up to where it should be. Bummer.

lasercut_clock_0018

The good news is that the back is OK. I don’t know if that was by accident or not. At least I only have to redo one panel.

lasercut_clock_0023

I’ll have to redo the front panel and submit another order. It would have been awesome if I nailed the design the first time around. For now, I’ll chalk this one up as a learning experience.

Here’s to another month of waiting………

See this project from start to finish:
We Have a Clock
Setting the Clock
Clock Code is Complete
Clock Design Decisions
New DS1307 Kit
ChronoDot Breakout Board
Arduino LCD Clock PCB Complete
Making the LCD Clock Stand - Take 1
Arduino LCD Clock PCBs Arrived!
Arduino LCD Clock Assembly
Making the LCD Clock Stand - Take 2
Another Clock Stand
Arduino LCD Clock: New GUI
Laser Cut LCD Clock Enclosure: Take 1
Laser Cut LCD Clock Enclosure: Take 2