How to build your own external VFD / LCD

Howto by richbastard @ 2002-04-30

If you want to show off with your case, you´d better have a funky looking LCD, or even better, a VFD mounted on your case. They´re pretty, 1337 and above all: usefull. You can display your proc temps, date, uptime, latest news on CNN/TomsHW or even get a notice when you receive new email. That´s great, but it´s not that handy when you have to watch at your case if you want to read your display... most ppl watch their monitor only. That´s why I´ve come up with... *tada!* the external LCD/VFD guide
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The Plexi Holder

The plexi holder:

This is just one of the many things you can built to make your VFD look good. The most common holder is a box, which can be pretty nice too.

Shiny... :^)

I bought 0.5m² of acrylic cristal 3mm thick plexi glass for €8 in a local DIY shop. You don"t need so much plexi, but i couldn"t find it in a smaller size.

A good saw is the easiest way to cut a rectangle out of your plexi glass. You could use a dremel, but i wouldn"t recommend it. A whipsaw would do a great job too. I"d recommend you make your rectangle at least 2cm wider and 2cm (+10cm for the base) higher than your display.

Now, we"ve got to bend the plexi. This will only work with a gasburner (or similar heating device, like a paint stripper) so you"ll have to find a safe spot where you can use fire. DON"T do this inside or on a wooden table! If you don"t have a stone table, use a window-ledge. Tape the place where your plexi is going to be of, because else you will scratch the surface. Use 2 cramps to attach the front to your table, and 2 cramps (i only had 1 on the pic) to attach to the base. Those 2 cramps aren"t absolutely necessary, but they have 2 advantages: you don"t have to push against the plexi while heating it and if you stick somthing flat between the cramps, you assure equal presure is apllied to both sides. If equal presure isn"t applied, you get a good chance that you plexi will be bend askew.

Sorry for the lack of pics: it"s not easy to take pics while using a gasburner. :)

Burn baby, burn... flames will get you higher! :^)

Light your gasburner and make your flame small, but hot (blue). Heat the plexi by moving around (don"t stop moving or you"ll burn the plexi) on the spot that has to bend. After 20 - 30 seconds, you"ll notice the base of the plexi will bend because of the gravity. If it doesn"t, apply a little bit presure yourself, but not too much or it will break.

Once you"ve got an angle of 90°, flip your plexi and keep heating till the angle is ~ 120°.

flipped it upside-down

If you"ve done it right you should get something like this:

Don"t worry if you don"t succeed the first time. I had to try it twice with an hairdyer (didn"t know we had a gasburner) and once with a gasburner before I succeeded.

Now, all you have to do is mark the 4 spots where your display mounting holes are, drill some fine holes with a dremel, and attach it with your screws!

notice the little black marks

dremel fun! :^)

ready to attach!

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