Control Labels

a fine line between stupid and clever

Control Labels

Postby BudP » Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:08 am

I've never been satisfied with my attempts at putting labels on the controls of my home-built equipment, usually with dry-transfer lettering. With the advent of Xerox machines and computers the situation improved somewhat, but I've stumbled upon a solution that I now LOVE!

While having some engraving done at the local trophy shop, I noticed that they offered acrylic plaques that were laser-engraved... hmmm... I wonder? When I asked if they could engrave the reverse side of a piece of plastic, they said, "Sure, no problem!"

So now I lay out my desired control labels on my computer and provide the digital file to the trophy shop where they upload it to their machine and reverse-engrave an appropriately-sized piece of 1/16" or 1/8" thick clear plexiglas. All I have to do is drill (CAREFULLY) the holes for the switches, pots, etc., and provide a hidden pilot lamp or two to shine on the edge. The light is transmitted through the plastic, brilliantly lighting up all the control lettering like a neon sign. Since the lettering is on the reverse side, no dust or dirt accumulates in the engraving. I've even tried colored pilot bulbs, which lights up the lettering in the bulb's color.

This method adds a few dollars to the cost of a project, but the professional-looking results make it well worth it for me.
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Postby TomMcNally » Fri Dec 12, 2008 9:19 am

That sounds like a good idea Bud ...

any pictures you can show us ?

... tom
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Postby BudP » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:02 am

Sure, Tom! I finally got around to establishing a photobucket account so I could post pix... Here are some shots of two amps I built using this control-labeling technique:

http://i722.photobucket.com/albums/ww23 ... GP4144.jpg
http://i722.photobucket.com/albums/ww23 ... GP4145.jpg
http://i722.photobucket.com/albums/ww23 ... GP4146.jpg
http://i722.photobucket.com/albums/ww23 ... GP4149.jpg

One uses a clear pilot bulb, the other uses a green one. The effect doesn't show up too well in the photos, but it's pretty impressive.

Bud
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Postby TomMcNally » Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:06 am

Nice - looks like a factory job !

... tom
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Postby Shannon Parks » Sat Dec 13, 2008 4:05 pm

DIY brilliance. Love the look!
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Postby Vortexion » Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:21 am

Wow! Those are fantastic. Very retro, and backlit into the bargain - tasty!
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Postby Cygnus X1 » Sat Feb 14, 2009 5:54 am

Very impressive!
How do you place the lamps for the back light?
Are those 6.3V filament lights that you're using to do it?
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Postby BudP » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:52 am

Thanks, but I only "modernized" an idea that I shamelessly copied from the 1954 Standel 25L15 I was attempting to duplicate.

Yes, they're 6.3v #47 lamps located in holes through the chassis on opposite sides of the plexiglas so the filaments light the edge. The physics of the light transmission through the plastic and engraving does the rest!

The original used white silkscreened lettering, which didn't really light up the way the engraved letters do; they looked like printed letters that were front-illuminated. Only one bulb was used on the original, and is adequate for the smaller control panel. I used two for the larger panel to avoid one side's lettering appearing brighter than the other.

I've also tried colored bulbs - they make the letters "glow" in the bulb color.

Bud
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Postby EWBrown » Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:15 am

Another method of illumination is to edge-light the plexi with a row of LEDs.

A friend of mine, who describes himself as a "starving artist" has used this method for several years, for making signs and various art-works. I got him started on this about ten years ago, when I gave him a quantity of super bright red and yellow LEDs.

/ed B
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