I thought I would go through my process of manufacturing some plates / Panels for various Fighters, and hopefully somebody can get something from my experiences, and provide some feedback.
First thing I am working on is panels for F/A-18C for DCS.
Firstly I have sourced some Tiff Images, and tweaking my sizes from that 146mm standard width, DZUS 9.375mm Spacing for holes.
One thing I am not a fan of the F16 or MS 33558 Font. I am going to be use a Gorton Heavy font which looks far better to me with less work required for letter spacing etc and I’m happy with.
Firstly everyone seems to use acrylic, so I have gone through and done some various testing and picked up some Clear and White acrylic. I did my first test on clear acrylic, got some rattle can Rustoleum 2X paint, and gave it 2 coats.
This is the Result https://i.imgur.com/8GcbBQD.jpg
Now this doesn’t look to bad at first glance, the text is a bit fuzzy, the white frosted look from the engraving is visible but not vibrant. The Spray can on inspection is a gloss which doesn’t look that great either.
So now I throw some lights behind this bad boy to see how it backlights.https://i.imgur.com/CdT5PhN.jpg
Oh yeah serious problem right here, Despite 2 coats light leaks like crazy and would require 3 or 4 coats..
Lets scrap that idea.
Now I move on to a White Acrylic, this time the ExtPower Panel. Instead of using the Rattle can paint, I use some acrylic Primer, and crank out the spray gun and use a Flat black Water Based enamel 2 coats.https://i.imgur.com/bwbg9Hi.jpg
Now this looks better already, the text engraves crisper, the white shows through and looks a bit better, and I also like that flat black vs the cans gloss.
Lets see how this backlights?https://imgur.com/uq3ffDd.jpg
I think this looks much better, still a bit of light leakage but nowhere near as bad, and I think that’s because I did not have a even spray. With a better even spray job I feel the 2 coats would suffice.
Definitely getting some hotspots through with the LEDS so that is not the best.
Lets try a Different panel see if the results get better.. This time the Snsr Panel, I took more time with spraying, still only 2 coats, but making sure I got better coverage.https://imgur.com/oG2k1Lv.jpg
The light leaks are no longer there, but still getting the hotspots, and looking at the non-lit version below the surface does look ok, but it is VERY easily scratched and they show up quote noticeable (this is light fingernail rubbing over it).https://imgur.com/llqmtxG.jpg
So far I am getting good coverage, but I don’t think the acrylic is going to work for what I am after.
Now this is a bit of a DUH moment. But I have experience doing X55 plates out of an engraving ABS, and was thinking why the hell am I doing all this spray painting… I guess just because that is what other people have done.
I have found out I can get that in 3mm, so I have ordered some of that thickness and will post my results of that. This will minimise the amount of painting I need to do and give a nice consistent finish. And HOPEFULLY backlight well.
Post some results soon