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adding wording to a project

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  • adding wording to a project

    Anybody build projects, then add descriptive wording to it? What I mean is adding descriptions to switches, levers, etc to identify them.

    There are several ways of doing it- one is to use press-on lettering such as Letroset, another is to use a dymo label maker to make stick-on strips, another is to generate a computer artwork which you subsequently get printed out on photo paper then neatly cut out and attach to the front panel of the piece of equipment.

    Another way would be to have the artwork etched onto the panel surface, then fill with some kind of ink, subsequently sanding the high spots off leaving the colored art work behind.

    I'm building a couple of electronic test benches, and I'm now at the point where I need to consider what method I use to identify the various terminals and controls on the various front panels. One way I thought to do this was to use dymo stick-on labels, but put them behind the front panel. The panels themselves would be milled out for each label to be seen through. I did a test today to see how this would look- I used a 1/4 inch endmill to make some slots in the laminate, which is the final front surface. Each slot would be made wide enough for all the letters to fit from behind. It doesn't look too bad, actually. I can shine some light to the back of the label, and the whole slot glows. The embossed lettering shows up to various degrees, depending on the color of the tape used. It's not easy to see the lettering when the tape is red, but blue shows it up not too bad.

    I did another test which is filling the slot cavity with epoxy, once the label is attached to the back side. That doesn't look too bad either, but you sure do want to get all the air bubbles out, and you would have to be very careful to not over fill the cavity, and also to get each cavity filled by the same amount. You can get a slight amount of magnification using this method also. Having the label behind the panel gets rid of the corners of the tape, which would look rather tacky if just stuck on the front surface.

    I want to try the photo paper method next- I would still mill some slots in the panel, but instead of label tape I'd use cut out sections from the photo paper. I could still fill the cavity with epoxy- in fact it would probably work better because there would be no little hollow voids to get air out of, as is the case with the embossed label tape. In looking at various photos, there's lots of printed stuff on the back, which would interfere with a back light. I could get around that by designing my artwork to contain multiple and randomly spaced samples of the wording I want to use. I'd just cut around where the printing is on the back, and hopefully still be able to get all the descriptors that I needed off the print. Color prints are fairly cheap, so it wouldn't matter if I wasted 80% of the print.

    This milled slot and backlight idea gives a way to light up the project neatly, and where I might need a dial markout of sorts, I could drill a series of small holes instead of scratching markings. Light would come through the holes and it would be hard to miss that. There will also be lots of indicator leds poking through holes, so it would more or less fit the pattern.

    There will be some long vertical slots also, and these will be for meter pointers to show through. I've pretty much figured that the 'pointers' will be short horizontal laser lines projected from the back, so the scales can also be printed out on photo paper and attached the same way as the rest of the wording and nomenclature.

    These work stations will also have their own external lighting, so the fronts of the panels will also be lit to some extent. This lighting is meant mainly for the working area, but I could add some dedicated front-of-panel lighting to give an appropriate mixture of lighting for just the front panel, even if the external light and the room lights are off. I'm concerned that having just the back light shining through the milled slots would give the panels a somewhat blocky look, and I don't want it to look unpleasant.

    Just fishing for ideas here-

    By the way, I'd love to be able to use blue lasers for my pointers, but it seems that it's going to be red ones- those I can get for a buck apiece almost anywhere. What would be really cool is a tri-color laser- then I could use a color change as another indicator of something- say an overrange indicator, or as part of an automatic range switching circuit. This would be cool, as I could have a low range in one color, possibly reading up to 3 volts, and a high range reading on the same scale, but up to 30 volts.
    Last edited by darryl; 10-30-2011, 01:28 AM.
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  • #2
    Clear peel and stick ink jet film works pretty well. I did some experiments that I posted some years ago re dial marking for machines. It hold up well even exposed to oils.

    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


    • #3
      And notice that Evan's color coding matches electronic usage. Bad Boys etc.
      Paul A.
      SE Texas

      And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
      You will find that it has discrete steps.


      • #4
        That does look good. And I should be able to follow the color code- I've only been using it for about five decades Thanks for putting the photo up, Evan.

        I have made a couple pieces of gear using stick-on paper with the entire front panel layout printed on it. I overcoated it with something, don't recall what right now. Made it easy to punch and drill the switch and control mounting holes. I could still use the milled slots to let light come through- that could be an interesting look.
        I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


        • #5
          My local shopping mall has a shoe repairer/key cutting stall, the guy also engraves lighters, key fobs etc, and his machine can handle most metals and plastics in sizes up to about 15" square with basic layout facilities - a selection of common (think Windoze) fonts are programmed into it.
          I'm planning on having some brass plates engraved as machine labels and then bending to profile, a plastic laminate (guitar pickguard material?) could look good, particularly if engraved through a dark top layer and backlit?

          Dave H.
          Rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men.

          Holbrook Model C Number 13 lathe, Testa 2U universal mill, bikes and tools


          • #6
            At the trophy shop, we engrave, laser, etch, silk screen, and do metal photo. All would be viable methods to make or mark a faceplate. You might have a look at a local shop to get some ideas, and see what suits your purpose.
            I'm here hoping to advancify my smartitude.


            • #7
              Back in the day, we just printed the labels on white paper. We then photographed those with B/W film and used the negatives for the labels. Duplicating the negatives for a run of 100 to 1000 panels was quite cheap. Back lit, they were very readable.



              • #8
                That sounds interesting- but of course it was 'back in the day'. I can see how it would have worked well.
                I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


                • #9
                  I don't have a printer, and I don't want to buy one for the odd job I need. I don't mind paying a printing place to do the job. Fair enough. I went to Staples today and asked about getting a printout on stick-on film- they don't do that in the store, you have to send away for this service. The girl explained to me that they have a contract with the company that supplies the paper used in their copy machines, and that excludes the use of any other paper. They sell the clear film, but they aren't allowed to use it. I went to their online service, but after some frustration going through the site- that's it for me- forget it. I hate that kind of thing.

                  Anyway, there are other places that print. I'll check out one or two after work. I'm sure the first one I walk into would be happy to do it.

                  Not a big deal, I'm not ranting. I just find that more and more services are being narrowed and de-personalized, and I understand that- I just don't like it.

                  I would already have had the labels made by the dymo labeler I have, but I don't like the fact that the letters aren't properly spaced, and they don't all come out at the same height. I guess there isn't a lot of precision in those little hand powered things, but who cares- unless you want your work to look decent. It depends- if you want to label an aluminum part, you can mill a slot about 50 thou deep, then round the ends of the label and insert it- that looks pretty good actually. It's certainly better than just sticking the label on. In the case of this current project, I want the nomenclature to look fairly professional, and somewhat classy, so I'll go with one of the print methods.
                  I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


                  • #10
                    Darryl, this is a common problem that lots of people struggle with. Would it be possible to post some photos of results?
                    Esoteric Garage


                    • #11
                      Not at home for photo, but I have been using burnishing lettering from some instrumentation that we bought long ago. The sheets have pre-made words (electronics and instrumentation terms) from A- Z as well as common letters and numbers. I do not know the source yet, but would like to find them myself. They do a professional looking job.

                      In lieu of that, there are many sign outfits on line that you can create your own vinyl signs, as small or as large as you wish, in any color. Here is a random outfit: They are fairly cheap, though I have no idea if they would suit your purpose. I have not used them yet.



                      • #12
                        If you want printed, you just need to go to a real printing place, not Staples.
                        I have several local places that will print on fabric, sticky paper, tyvek, and even aluminum- the main place I go to, in Bellingham, Wa., Applied Digital Imaging,
                        has a big flat bed inkjet that will print up to 48" x 96" on all kinds of rigid materials.
                        Bellingham isnt all that far from Chilliwack, but I am guessing they have similar printers in Canada.

                        personally, I usually just fire up the ol' Gorton engraver, and carve my own. Sometimes I use hand letter stamps, too.. but I am pretty old school. I like my lettering to be made of metal. I just trust it more.
                        Last edited by Ries; 10-31-2011, 11:35 AM.


                        • #13
                          Xerox provides the copy and print services in Staples Canada. I don't know about in the US. The Copy and print services Centre in a Canadian Staples store is owned by Xerox. The reason they won't use customer supplied paper or other supplies is that they are not tested and qualified for the equipment. This is especially important for transparencies. If the wrong transparency material is used it can cause serious damage to the machine in just one attempt.

                          Ink jet transparency material will NOT work in a colour laser printer and will cause damage to same.
                          Last edited by Evan; 10-31-2011, 04:16 PM.
                          Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


                          • #14
                            I use a Brother Ptouch with black lettering on clear tape. When it comes out of the machine, it is on white backing paper. Sometimes I leave the paper on and attach the label with clear tape, like when the panel is not a good contrast to the black letters. Cheap and effective.



                            • #15
                              Originally posted by darryl
                              That sounds interesting- but of course it was 'back in the day'. I can see how it would have worked well.
                              They still make film cameras. They still make B&W film. They still develop B&W film. They still make duplicate negatives. "They" covers many businesses in the world. Yes, it was "back in the day," but it is not yet night.