Thursday, April 23, 2009

12. DIY - Race panel

Tuning & car parts stores offer a wide range of similar panels, but I don't like them, because they're too flashy. That's why I decided to build my own. Here's how:

What do you need?

  1. A piece of plastic or thin sheet metal
  2. Your buttons & switches
  3. Screws
  4. Spray paint
  5. Thin cardboard

Tools for the job:

  1. Jig Saw
  2. Drill & bits
  3. Files (I'm talking about tools here!)
  4. Bench grinder

Warning - Before we start:
Playing with power tools is dangerous. Be sure you know what you're doing. And wear your safety equipment. Melted plastic flying around isn't something you would want in your eyes! And, you are responsible for any damage that you may cause to your car following this DIY tutorial.

First step is to go to your car, and take a piece of thin cardboard with you. Then shape the cardboard so it fits the desired spot for the panel. I used a big, heavy cardboard, and because of this, my panel doesn't fit perfectly. Here's my 'template':

Ok, then I needed to find a perfect piece of material for my panel. I started looking at the hood of one of my old cars, but then I, somehow, managed to spot a perfect piece: Beemer's glove box compartment. I don't need it in the car, and it had perfect texture! So, I took my jigsaw and here's the result:

Note: I used a fine saw blade, intended for cutting metal. And a little tip: It's better to cut out a bigger peace than you actualy need. You'll fine-shape it later!

The next step is to draw the positions of our switches. You noticed that I've left a piece of plastic that comes out of the panel - I've noticed that this will hook up to the dashboard niceley. Now, take your drill, and the biggest bit you have. You need to drill holes big enough for your JigSaw to go trough. I used bits for metal, but since plastic is soft, you could use almost any bit you have.

After I drilled the holes, I used my jigsaw again to cut out most of the plastic. Be careful not to cut out too much, because some switches don't cover a lot of extra space around them. I used files to 'fine tune' the holes, constantly checking if the switches fit.

It's nice to have files in various sizes, shapes and grades. It's going to take some time before you manage to put all of your switches on your panel. My next step was drillig the holes for the KillSwitch screws. Put the killswitch in it's slot, and drill trough the holes. After that, shape the outer edges of the panel on a bench grinder, so the panel fits into your dash perfectly. 

Ok, that's almost that. Now, you can drill the holes for screws that will hold your panel on your dashboard, and you're ready for paint!

I used regular spray-paint for this step. Black-matt. Safety tip: Do this in a well ventilated area, and don't do it near open flames. OK, paint your dash and wait a couple of hours for it to dry. I didn't wait and I messed half of my panef :( Don't repeat my mistakes! ;) Asemmble the switches on the panel, and you're finished!

Ok, I was kind'of sloppy when I was making this. I guess I'll make another one, but, the procedure is going to be the same. :) Hope you enjoyed this! :)

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