18 May 2006
The next stage of the Acura car computer fabrication process involved cutting a sheet of plexiglass to function as a stand-off layer between the metal headunit chassis and the burlwood ABS trim which will be visible to the outside...
We tried an initial cut of the plexiglass without rubberized tape over the surface to be cut, and the plexiglass actually melted closed behind the saw blade as it passed through.
This was easily remedied by covering the cutting-line with masking tape and recutting the line, after which the plexiglass no longer melted and a perfect vertical cut was achieved without any scarring of the edges.
Once the plexiglass was cut to size, a pair of 7" x 2" slots needed to be cut out from it, through which both headunits will pass as they get mounted into the dashboard chassis. This proved to be a tricky process, and threw a serious wrench into the works.
The first step was to drill a hole at the corner of the rectangular slot through which the headunit will be mounted. The drilled hole can then be used a starting point through which a jigsaw blade could be inserted to begin cutting the slot.
However, the plexiglass proved very difficult to drill...
As you can see in the top left corner of the image, the entire corner of the plexiglass faceplate section cracked away while drilling. The holes in the top and bottom right were drilled subsequently, using a different drill bit, and through additional layers of duct tape as shielding. However, due to the initial problems with drilling and cutting the plexiglass, and the number of holes which would need to be drilled, the idea of using plexiglass quickly began to lose its appeal.
A quick trip to a local home improvement retailer was in order to look for other options. The answer was a sheet of furniture-grade plywood, which would provide the necessary rigidity, and which could be more easily cut.
Using the initial sheets of plexiglass as a template, we cut two sections of plywood, one which sits against the vehicle dashboard frame, and the other which sits above it and will support the burlwood ABS trim sheet.
After a couple hours of cutting, drilling, sanding and filing, the two plywood sheets were prepared for mounting to one another. We used spare fragments of a 1/8" sheet of plexiglass to create standoffs between the two sheets of plywood to add to the depth of the entire assembly, so it will more accurately line up with the face of the dashboard.
Once the sheets were mounted one to another, and had sufficient time to set, a test-mounting of both headunits was performed to provide a quick visual reference of the final product.
The next step was to cut the burlwood ABS trim sheet which will be mounted to the surface of the plywood faceplate. Contact cement was used to bond the ABS sheet to the plywood. Clamped in place and given enough time to set properly, the image below shows the final product, test-mounted in the dashboard.
The protective layer of plastic has not yet been removed from the burlwood sheet, and the visual distortions and reflections you see in the surface are caused by that protective sheet.
Feel free to skip ahead to some photos of the completed Acura 3.2 CL dashboard installation, including aftermarket headunit and touchscreen...
or, What my speakers are currently pumping...
Hallucinogen - In Dub
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Carputer, Car Computer, mini-itx, Acura, mobile computing, touchscreen, LCD, dashboard fabrication