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Author Topic: LCD and Enclosure.  (Read 8800 times)
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Palmetto, FL USA
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Thanks Oracle; I'm going to rework it based on a Mini, and a custom board to hold a smaller LCD, buttons, and a merged logging shield. I'm hoping that then I'll be able to get it into a smaller enclosure.

My wife keeps telling me it looks like a bomb! We went to my wife's 20th reunion last month. I knew I would be spending a lot of time sitting around doing nothing so I took most of the parts for that build with me, just broken apart in my laptop bag. I figured I'd get some questions at the airport but the scanners never slowed down. I even had a little shipping box broken down flat in my bag with a pre-printed label just in case they hassled me.

How many pieces are you looking to get? You may be able to get a supplier to route a stock box for you if you are looking for more than one.
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Robert:  If you're going to the effort of a custom board, why incorporate a mini at all?  Why not build the MCU onto your board?

What I'm working on in parallel with picking an enclosure is a PCB custom fitted to the enclosure that will incorporate an compete BBB Arduino, a few extras like an LCD connector, and then use the rest of the available space as protoboard area.

That ties into how many I'm looking to get, probably not more than 5 for my own use (I'm going to end up with 10 PCB's from seeedstudio, but I don't need to buy a box for every one).  If it's a products others would be interested in, of course the number can go up.
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Oracle: I may do that. The thing that drew me to the pro mini was the height, since everything is smt (I'm not ready to start that level of work yet). I still want to work around the battery that I have, so was thinking that I was going to have two boards anyway. I may work on finding a different enclosure and LCD, and then work the rest of the design around that.
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Robert:  With the 'fun' I'm having, starting by picking the enclosure and LCD sounds like a very good idea.  It is nice to have smt to save space, but don't you lose height anyway when you put the arduino mini on top of your custom board?  Is that any better than having dip ATmega there?

My agony is contining.  I've been developing my board around the Hammond 1593 case I linked earlier.  I think http://www.hammondmfg.com/1553colors.htm is basically the same cause but looks a lot prettier and according to the website does have an IR panel option, but I can't find anywhere that stocks that IR panel, including from the supplier links at hammond.  It really does feel like a bad joke.  And of course it's a different PCB shape, so if I do want to switch to it, I'll lose a lot of work.
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I needed an enclosure that would survive in a meat curing room and still allow viewing an LCD display. The NEMA enclosures from Polycase worked well for me and are not too ugly. They have clear plastic covers and bosses on the inside bottom that you can mount a plate  on to secure your other hardware.

I'm going to order one of the SpikenzieLabs laser cut enclosures for a project that has to look a little more "store bought".
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ottawa, canada
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I also don't know if I should remove the metal bezel and reattach it from the outside.  I don't have any way of making those narrow slits.

You probably don't want to do that.  I was appalled to find that the LCD glass separated from the circuit board completely when I took off the bezel.  Fortunately the bezel's tabs position it perfectly so the little tiny lines line up with the invisible conductors on the glass sandwich.

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You probably don't want to do that.

Too late.  I tried it last night.  I did notice that when I had it half apart, so I was able to get it back together fairly easily.  I hope it will still work.

I also started cutting out an enclosure (why is there such a big mental block to making the first cut?).  This is a different project where I'm putting the LCD in the side of a lantern flashlight.    I started with a drill hole and tried to use a nibbler, but the plastic turned out to be a lot thicker than I thought and the nibbler couldn't open wide enough.

I used a Dremel tool with a cutoff disc next.  It was very messy, I couldn't go in straight, so I was cutting at a 30 degree angle and the plastic melted more than it cut.  But I cut small and I'm filing it.  The file has smoothed out the edges, but it's impossible to get it completely straight so the edges are a bit wavy.

One thing I learned is to cut it closer to the final size.  I drew my lines about 3mm small and then cut well inside my lines to make sure I didn't end up with an oversized hole.  I've spent over an hour filing it and I have a lot more material to remove even though I'm well beyond the area that was messed up by the dremel tool.  Also with filing I seem to having a lot of trouble getting straight edges and it's getting a little trapizoidal.  Overall I think it will work out pretty well.  But definately not worth 4 hours to make one hole smiley.

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ok, I had a little idea that might or might not suit your needs.  

I cut a hole to mount the LCD and, of corse, it was a bit rough.  I also wasn't happy with the look of the LCD in the middle of the round face plate.

I cut a piece of patterned paper to the size of my face plate then, from the back of the plate cut an X in the cutout area from corner to corner and folded the edges back.  Voila, a much neater hole and a pattern that was more attractive than the bare plastic and also softened the visual transition from the background to the LCD.  I'm pretty pleased with the result but I'm going to try some vinyl next.  

Below is a picture of the LCD assembly with a printed cover.

« Last Edit: July 07, 2009, 12:04:47 pm by bill2009 » Logged

ottawa, canada
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aaah, this is getting all gluey and nasty.  Time for a re-think.

I've also FINALLY googled up pointers to some commercial bezel products.

This page http://www.embeddedrelated.com/usenet/embedded/show/21766-1.php  addresses exactly the original question and points to a number of bezel suppliers. They exist mostly to cover the edges of your crufty cutout and to mount a protective filter.

Here's one simple example - it mounts with adhesive but some are clip-ons.

I'm going to press on from where I am but I'll see if I can order some of these for my next try.

here's some other LCD info with one illustration of a mounting method. http://www.datsi.fi.upm.es/docencia/Micro_C/lcd/appnotes.pdf
« Last Edit: July 07, 2009, 03:24:26 pm by bill2009 » Logged

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My first reaction to the glue idea is it would get gooey, though I was thinking more like 10 years down the road smiley.  You idea might work well with contact paper, but that will also get pretty gooey.

One of the links you posted talked about a milling machine.  The idea could have merit but it would be a very expensive "hobby" purchase.  It could be a great business idea though.  How many people would pay $30 for a $10 enclosure with a custom milled panel?
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My first reaction to the glue idea is it would get gooey, though I was thinking more like 10 years down the road .  You idea might work well with contact paper, but that will also get pretty gooey.
Yes and out in the hot sun for hours - ick.  

I think my final product will use a commercial bezel.  I see now that digikey has the "Proud" products and there's one that looks perfect for the 8X2 displays.
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I'm in the same boat.. I've got an LCD display (16x2) that I got from SparkFun (the LCD-09069) and can't find an enclosure.  I contacted someone at Hammond Mfg and they indicated that they were capable of custom routing a faceplate for any of their boxes but the costs would be about $2/box with $175 setup fee and 25 box minimum..

I'm thinking that a good sharp exacto/utility knife and good bezel might be about right.  Although the method to mount the LCD is still not clear to me -- glue is out unless you could possibly use epoxy on the very edge of the board -- not sure what it would do to the plastic box though -- possibly melt it?  IF you could get that to work at least it would not likely become gooey in the presence of heat like you might find in a vehicle in the summer heat -- that's the place my project will be used.
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I've got an LCD display (16x2) that I got from SparkFun (the LCD-09069) and can't find an enclosure.  I contacted someone at Hammond Mfg and they indicated that they were capable of custom routing a faceplate for any of their boxes but the costs would be about $2/box with $175 setup fee and 25 box minimum..

I'm thinking that a good sharp exacto/utility knife and good bezel might be about right.  Although the method to mount the LCD is still not clear to me

Agreed, the whole thing seems excessively tricky.  I'm still waiting for my bezel to arrive and I'll post when I get it.  My situation is complicated by the need to deal with extreme heat and high speed water attacks.

As to mounting the module, I would say it's meant to mount by machine screws or other small bolts - maybe to standoffs on the circuit board - mine certainly has holes in each corner.
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Thanks.. I'll be curious to see how your experiment turns out.  In my case I think I'll opt for the acrylic sandwich for now as I've got to get mine packaged within 2 weeks when we leave on a trip and it will be geotagging my transmission temps as we drive from CA to Oregon and other points in the Pacific NW..
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ok, I'm still waiting for the bezel and I'll keep trying to mount the LCD module in a weatherproof way but this evening I succeeded in getting a testbed to control the display of a bicycle computer like the one below:

It's simple enough to toggle the computer's sensor lines so I can tell it what "speed" I want it to display.  I really only need 1 digit so I'll use the 10's digit of the speed.  As a bonus I get a clock!

Do NOT buy one of these on eBay by the way.  The bargain price there is $28.95 but I got mine at walmart for $10!
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