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I've been working on a project that used a 16x2 LCD display and wanted a nice finish that also allowed me to seal against water and other liquids. I also needed impact resistance, low cost and the ability to be changed easily if worn or broken.

I considered many different ideas:-

1) A full sheet of perspex on the front of my enclosure. Great finish but expensive and difficult to seal as fully transparent.

2) A small piece of perspex over a cut hole in the enclosure. Cheaper but not so nice finish, showing the full LCD through and any rough enclosure cutting.

3) Looking for access to a laser cutter to make a profiled perspex window that sits through the enclosure hole to sit flush with surface. Difficult tolerances and no depth control with a laser.

4) Asking a local workshop to make a profiled perspex window on CNC milling machines. Cost more than using a full perspex sheet.

So, eventually I tried something else and ended up with what I think is a nice professional finish that is easy to do, cheap, and results in an iPhone type black glass frame style, with a clear window exactly the right size to show the display properly. It can also be easily adapted to any other type or size of display.

Step 1: Create and Print a Template

The first step was to take the existing display and get this transferred to some kind of CAD drawing, so that a template can be made.

Since I've been getting more proficient with CADSoft Eagle, I simply used a blank BRD file with mm grid to create my drawing and print at scale on to some card.

You could use any package that allows you to create accurate drawings at a 1:1 scale. You need it to come out in print to the correct scale.

I took the original dimensions of the 16x2 LCD display I had and drew it up, including the stand-off holes. I then added an additional 5mm surround to give my bezel additional strength around the fixing holes, and also to make it look better since the holes wouldn't be right on the edge.

Print the template off and then use a sharp knife (craft knife, trimming knife, scalpel), or scissors, to cut out the outline and the inside border.

I used plain card for this, but a bit of extra time to make a plastic/acrylic template might be better if you intend to make a lot of these.
<p>The types of flathead countersunk hex head bolts in the attached picture are great for such projects, especially the black bolts. I've used them a lot for such panels and also for mounting black items like IEC mains input sockets. They provide a fantastic finish, you just have to be careful and precise with your countersinking. Available on eBay from various sources. I use the M3 type most often but other sizes are available. I'd avoid pan-heads of a different colour on the outside as they don't look nearly as professional as the countersunk flatheads. If you don't want to countersink then use the button head ones, they look much nicer than the pan heads.<br><br>I've used the milled edge rebate technique in the past to produce a flush finish and it works great ... IF you can get someone to do the milling for you. I was lucky, I did. You don't NEED a CNC machine but a plain old milling machine IS required for a really good accurate finish. If you have a decent pillar drill, you can use a simple cross feed milling table to do the milling with your drill. eBay has a great one for under &pound;50 that I'm planning on getting. <br><a href="http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/8EQAAOSw32lYvTNS/s-l500.jpg" rel="nofollow">http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/8EQAAOSw32lYvTNS/s-l...</a></p><p><br>However, you CAN achieve the effect by taking advantage of the ability of true perspex to be acetone welded invisibly and you build the total from the top piece that fits exactly into the cutout hole (very accurate cutting, filing and trimming is needed. Then before black painting the reverse, acetone weld a complete piece over the top piece like a layer cake. the second layer is larger than the first so provides the rebate step. It's tricky but can be very successful. You can then black mask the rear as before.<br><br>Another trick is to use stand-offs behind the front panel, bolted to the front panel via countersunk holes at the front with the relevant bolts, then mount the operstional display etc to the stand-offs. The front bezel can then be applied OVER the countersunk bolts using double-sided adhesive or using a silicone bead as it should never need to come off again. I am using this process currently for a frequency meter display.</p>
<p>Hats of screws, sticking out outside of the panel, spoil impression.</p><p>Шляпки винтов, торчащее снаружи панели, портят впечатление.</p>
<p>Well done. Thank you for taking the time to post this.</p>
<p>Nice work. I'm going to try and do some of these using plastic for some &quot;bare&quot; LED voltmeters.</p>
<p>Nice design. How did you get round the paint being peeling off when you remove the tape? I'd have thought you'd need to score exactly on the edge of the tape before you remove it!</p>
<p>Good work! Can you post a picture of what it looks like when off? Thanks!</p>
Great idea man! Definetely gotta do one myself! <br>Congratulations!
Nice idea, I'm going to give it a try.
Very good, Well done. This has inspired me to have a go at a couple of displays that I haven't got to finish yet.

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Bio: I'm a High Voltage Electrical Engineer by trade, but I've been involved in computers and electronics since my teens. My experience and knowledge ... More »
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