My day job forces me to sit in front of a computer screen all day. Lately, my hobby is requiring me to do the same in the evenings. All day and all evening tends to make one’s eyes and butt very sore! 🙂 Why so much computer time you ask? Let me tell you a little story…
While I was scoping out the Home Depot web site for acrylic sheet from which to make the control panel faces I saw polycarbonate which reminded me of a comment by Chuck Lee on this earlier post. So I included polycarbonate as I drilled down in the search results to the 0.118″ thickness I need. Hmmm, the only sheet size of .118 polycarbonate at Home Depot is 4’x8′ and costs $167.00. Too rich for me. How about .118 acrylic at Home Depot? Almost the same story. Smallest sheet size is 3’x6′ and costs $70.00. Feeling my wallet tightening I headed over to the TAP Plastics web site. I have bought from them before and their prices are usually reasonable. Plus, they offer cut-to-size.
Score! TAP plastics looks like the way to go. Shipping a 4’x8′ sheet of acrylic is ridiculous but the cut-to-size option is a winner. I can get finished size polycarbonate panel faces from TAP Plastics for $3.56 each. Including shipping the total bill for all 16 faces would be $64.26. That’s less expensive than the smallest sheet at Home Depot. And I have to admit there is a strong allure to having pre-sized faces to work with. Sure, I would have some plastic leftover for other projects if I buy a full sheet. But I could also waste a bunch if a snap or two goes wrong. Pre-cut it is!
So what does all this have to do with sore eyes and a sore butt? I’m getting to that…
There is a $10.00 setup charge for each size panel at TAP Plastics. To make the $65.00 figure I need to utilize a single size. Multiple sizes would quickly raise the cost. That then begs the question “What one size?” I know the maximum total height is 6″ but what width? My printer can print up to 11×17 so I am limited to a 17″ width panel. Can’t get two 6×17 prints from 11×17 but I can get two 5½x17 prints. That makes 5½” the better height choice. The printer needs a little margin on the paper so 16¾”x5¼” is a realistic maximum size print I have to work with. Working from these dimensions using ½” oak with a ¼” face panel slot plus ¼” margins equals a usable real estate area of 15¾”x4¼”. So the real question becomes “Is 15¾”x4¼” large enough for every panel?” To find out I have to do the final artwork. There’s the computer screen sore eyes and butt part.
The Brittain Yard panels are the most controls dense of all the panels. It makes sense that if Brittain Yard works on 15¾”x4¾” then all the others will also. Even though I roughed in a Brittain Yard example earlier, it is time to get serious with the art making sure every component is represented at correct size and the placement is workable and ergonomic.
I am happy to report it appears all will work well. Below are my results. Click on them for a bigger image.
I have many panels yet to draw so hang in there. I’ll be back with more. I am all ears if you have suggestions for improvement!