Sunday, October 25, 2015

Panel cutout and nearing the end of parts acquisition

The last arcade buttons arrived, so I'm at the end of shipments coming in for now at least.  I think I have most everything I'm going to need except for a power supply, now that I also picked up uncolored translucent flexible cutting boards.  There aren't a huge number of places around here that carry them -Target has some from Farberware that might work, two clear and two black a four pack for $5.99.  Better yet, I found two large clear ones at the Container Store for $2.99.  I'll only need one, even if I double them up for better diffusion.

The round arcade buttons are all slightly smaller than I was anticipating for the central portion for which I need to drill through the panel (the dimensions on the eBay description weren't clear).  As a result, my layouts are a little off - but I can still use the center mark for each drilling point - so I went ahead and used them as is.

So now it was time to start cutting the panels out.  I picked up a 2'x4' piece of 1/4" MDF at Menards for about $5.60.  It turns out that they were a little shy of 2' by about 1/8".  Since my layout calls for 2'x3' finished size and the saw kerf would take more out of the boards, I was going to end up with smaller than 6" heights on each panel unless I bought another sheet of MDF.  But there is nothing critical about these dimensions, so I slightly undersized each panel.

To cut the boards, the easiest and most accurate thing to do would be to use a table saw.  I don't have one, but I do have a bandsaw - not a fantastic one, just a small 9" table top one, but it would suffice for cutting through thin MDF.  So if you don't have a table saw, don't let that discourage you - there are other methods you can use.  You could even use a simple jigsaw and a straight edge, but the setup for each cut would get to be tedious.  With a bandsaw, at least, the kerf from the blade is pretty small, so each panel ended up only marginally shorter than 6".  When the panels were cut out, I then used the reverse-printed labels and glued them to the panels with a spray adhesive.  I haven't adhered the labels for the central panels yet, though, because I forgot to reverse print those.  I'll get them tomorrow.


  1. This project looks awesome! I saw Jeff's project on and was fascinated. My kids would love this. I've not ever tried to build anything like it though so I started doing a little more research and came across your blog. I've read every post up until now and I'm excited to watch your progress. You're answering some of the questions I had and your guide is very detailed so far. Thanks for that!

    Looking forward to more!

    1. If you have any questions, feel free to ask at any time - I've deciphered some details I haven't published yet, simply in the name of trying to keep things somewhat logically ordered. Progress will likely be somewhat slow due to limited time to actually work on this - but Christmas is my deadline!

  2. Hi Bob! I think this is a great project! I also saw Jeff's one and I have decided to build something similar, although not the same Mission Control Desk.. It is more a Trekie one ;)

    However I am a newby in electronics etc.. So... I might ask you for some assistance regarding programming the leds.. Hope you don't mind!

    Thanks in advance and please please please let us see the desk as soon it is finalized!