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  1. #1
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    Techniques for home made backlight panels and annunciators

    Since Level D released the 767 for FSX, I'm building a 767 simulator. There's very limited supply of 767 panels, especially overheads. I don't know of any company that makes them in fact.

    So I'm messing around on my own to see how effective I can get, charged only with sheets of plexiglass, an inkjet and laser printer, and a tolerant and forgiving wife.

    For the first prototype I used some Letter sized adhesive clear labels and printed using a laser printer. As expected the opacity was not up to scratch so I had to double up the labels. This caused major issues as it's near to impossible to accurately align each label before committing them to each other for ever. A slight offset (which is the best I got) makes the legends and graphics appear blurred. Also, laser printers use a halftone screen for colour, and this technically means there's holes in the print, making light bleed an issue.

    I decided to try the same again, but this time have a black layer and then an identical coloured layer on top. The light blocking was more effective, but because of the bleed from the colour layer, the panel appeared practically black until backlit. Well I can live with that! But it's still not a satisfactory process.

    So I've gone away to think about this a bit. The problem is that I'm using adhesive labels so aligning (or registering) the layers is a royal pain. To get good light filtering, I'm going to need probably 3-4 layers. But the chances of getting 3 layers in acceptable alignment is almost zero with sticky labels. However, I'm now thinking of trying inkjet/laser printable acetate sheets, and inkjet printing them instead of laser.

    Being non adhesive, I can print and align the images by hand, and even when adhesive has been applied, they can be shifted into position. I am guess that I'll need 4 layers for lighter background colours, and 3 for black (like for annunciators). Also I figured instead of printing the colour of the annunciator light direct onto the acetate it would be best to leave this clera and rely on having the right LED colour to create this effect. This is because I'll get more pure light at the right colour, instead of a hotspot or too dim illumination, depending on the opacity of the acetate.

    So that's my situation. Anyone have any advice, or has tried this method? I heard someone say they got a load of annunciator legends professionally printed on Lexan which gave great light blocking. I will look into the same, although the assembly is not too different. For Ink Jet acetates I have a clear spray that I've tried before. It doesn't cause the ink to run, and provides a gloss finish, and protects the annunciators from smudging (not that you touch them much).

    Looking forward to your thoughts, as ever.

    Jet fighter / single pilot sim, plus thinking of a 777 as a secondary sim.

  2. #2
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    Westozy's Avatar
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    I use this method for all my panel building and how to align the labels is described in my article in the June issue of Computer Pilot. Basically, when you are putting the stickers together, remove a piece of the backing paper from one corner only, eg. cut off a small triangle. Align the text so there is no blurring and then push down on the corner where the adhesive is exposed. Then fold back the sticker and remove the rest of the backing paper and apply the rest of the sticker, this works well. I print mask stickers in black on clear film to block excessive light bleeding through. Check out my first article in the July issue of CP mag, (they published them in the wrong order so article one is still to come!)

    I have another article coming up in the September issue on multiple monitor use set ups.

    Regards Gwyn

    737NG using Prosim737, Immersive Calibration Pro, Aerosim Solutions motorized TQ & cockpit hardware, CP Flight MCP & FDS SYS1X, SYS2X & SYS4X, FDS PRO FMCs, AFDS units & Glarewings, Matrix Orbital ELEC display, Pokeys Landing & Cruise alt display, Buttkicker Gamers, 3 x BenqMW811ST projectors with a Matrox Th2Go
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  3. #3
    2000+ Poster - Never Leaves the Sim Michael Carter's Avatar
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    I made one backlit panel because I could not (and still cannot) find a stall warning lightplate for my Boeing stall warning indicator.

    Two layers of thin Pleixglass, one routed for bulbs and wiring, and one solid with a layer of .010 opaque sheet styrene in between.

    I printed one black background with white letters and one Boeing gray front and used 3M77 on the panel and on the paper backings.

    I'll hold out for the real thing. One was enough for me.

    Boeing Skunk Works
    Remember...140, 250, and REALLY FAST!

    We don't need no stinkin' ETOPS!

    Powered by FS9 & BOEING

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