I've had a couple of ideas for projects recently, and when they are past the breadboard stage, I'd like to put them in a project case. Pushbuttons or LEDs are easy to mount (just grab a drill). But things like DB9 connectors, LCD displays of various sizes, possibly an IEC connector, etc - how do you folks make the proper holes in the project case to accomodate these things?
My method may be a bit outdated, but I just use a dremel tool on a drill press stand. It's cheap, easy, and flexible. For the measurements, I just use measurements from the layout of the PCB program I'm using. They're usually accurate to the millimeter which is all you need. I will say that I've always been an OrCAD guy, have only sparingly used other programs over the years, and I have only very recently started using Eagle. I am not completely familiar with it's features/quirks, but it would amaze me if it couldn't give you those same measurements.
The Dremel looks like a neat and versatile tool. They are not too expensive, either, including a mini drill press. However, I can't find much about using it in this context.
There are tutorials (of varying quality) on the web about using a Dremel for case modding, woodwork, and even trimming your pet's clawnails. However, for this specific purpose (creating mounting holes in plastic for DB9, LCD displays, etc), it's just not there. And it's also pretty difficult to extrapolate based on the information I found. I also checked Amazon to see if I could find anything like a "Dremelling for Dummies" book, but didn't see it if it's there.
Since it's a rotary device, I'm assuming you would cut the holes with a cutting wheel? I wouldn't know what size or type to pick. Also, how would one make the rounded edges, assuming of course that you wanted an attractive, PC case-like DB9 hole.
These are definitely n00b questions. Unfortunately the physical elements of projects (cases, mounting, even finely detailed soldering) do not come to me as intuitively as the electronics and the programming :-)
Yeah, the Dremel tool is a cool toy. If you get a press for it, it's a god-send.
You can get a number of cool accessories. I don't know about any books on the subject, but you can go to dremel.com and click on "Accessories and Attachments" and you will be exposed to all sorts of cool additions. The 220-01 WorkStation is great! Mine is a much older workstation and I have to a lot more work to get it to do cool stuff, but I will be upgrading soon. Another good site for dremel accessories is mytoolstore.com.
Basically, for creating mount holes, you'll need to get a cutting wheel. You can get them in various shapes and sizes and you don't have to buy dremel brand. If you really want to get a good start, you might try going to the local hardware store and asking someone about using a dremel for small projects and specify the tasks you want to do. He should be able to point you in the right direction.
But once you select your wheel, you just mount the tool on the workstation parallel to the surface and use the lever to pull it down. Ideally, you want to clamp your project down. I like the old style C-clamps for wood projects. They're gentle and generally work as advertised.
Another really cool attachement for cutting holes is the router. It will give you a little more control over odd shaped holes like DB-9/25 and the like. There are little tricks you can do like getting templates. You can apply the template over your project board in the shape of your hole (if you can find a template, that is) and the route your project case with the dremel tool through the template and you'll get your hole shaped the way you want it. It takes some practice, but it's not so bad. I'm no expert by any means, so maybe someone else on the forum can pitch in. If not, your best bet is to go to your local hardware store and ask someone for advice. My experience is that the people are generally helpful, but you might have to go through a few of the employees until you find someone you're happy with. You might even have to go through a few different stores to find the right guy.
Cheaters never prosper! ;D Want to make a DB9 connector hole? Try lipstick (brighter shade than the color of the project box!), put it around the edge of the connector and press it against the box. Trace the lines with an exacto knife, finish with a dremel.
“We made machines for the masses, they made machines for the classes,” Jack Tramiel