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View Full Version : Molding an LCD into a Dash Bezel



sqInside
04-08-2004, 10:14 PM
Let me start off by saying I've glassed a few things before, but never something which has visible surfaces, let alone something which a) I hope to make look OEM-like and b) will be right in your face (dashboard) and very visible..

I've made boxes in the past, but now it's time for an LCD...

I'm trying to make something which looks like this:

http://www.streeteffectz.com/_common/images/gallery/fiberglass/big/alexdash7.jpg

More pics: http://www.streeteffectz.com/gallery.php?cart[id]=6&cart[page]=0

Basically, it would involve molding the LCD front housing into the dash bezel, blending it, smoothing it, and probably painting it..

I've actually made 3 attempts already..

I thought about not using glass and just using bondo or some other filler, but the LCD is actually just a tad larger than the double-din aftermarket bezel and so it wouldn't fit in the double-din opening when I'm done, so I have to mold it into the top part, too, which houses the air vents. I'm not too worried about the air vents, because I can reroute or make some new ones (integrate smaller vent fins in on top or something) or just not have center air vents like in the M3 above..

So what I did was took the top vent and bottom double-din pieces and temporarily taped them together really tight.

I have been experimenting laying t-shirt and other materials over the frame, and resin it to make it hard, but it's just not working. :blow_up: The t-shirt wasn't hard enough. Neither was one layer of fiberglass veil (very thin mat ~ 3/4oz). I'm worried if I put too many layers on, it will be too tall on the outside. I just need one really good outer layer (thin) and then I will built it up from the inside to make it durable, but I need to lock in the mold/form/shape first..

I thought about making a mold out of expanding foam and then pouring bondo milkshake on over the mold, but I think it would be too lumpy and I'd be sanding for months trying to get all of the dimples out because of the foam won't dry smooth enough...

Here's a pic of what I'm actually working with:

http://www.getrealmail.net/~ipvfletch/lcd/dash_bezel.jpg

And the LCD (not actual size):

http://www.getrealmail.net/~ipvfletch/lcd/lilliput_vga_touch.jpg

I might experiment with a single layer of trunk carpet. I hear it's much strong when the resin cures, but it might make the piece too thick/tall on the out side..

Any ideas???? Thanks in advance!!

Kevin

Matador
04-08-2004, 10:28 PM
you can't cut ur stock bezel? i m going to be cuttin it a bit, put an 8'' in htere hopefully, n bondo it so it looks smooth like that. i believe in most of those projects they use bondo to integrate it n stuff.

hey, did u buy the lilliput one already? how is the quality, and can u see it from teh sides, or is teh visibility angle pretty narrow?

sqInside
04-08-2004, 10:36 PM
Not to stray too far from topic, the Lilliput is a good 7" LCD. I don't have it yet, but the folks on mp3car.com swear by them. Lilliputs and Xenarcs. They're hi-res, very bright (400nits), have touchscreen, and most importantly, are VGA, so if you hook up a PC, they are very clear (that's what I'll be doing).. All for under $300 shipped.

sqInside
04-09-2004, 12:01 AM
I had a good thought..

I might use some fiberglass cloth I have lying around. If memory serves me, I believe it is a teensy bit stretchy which will help a bunch, and it gets pretty hard with just one layer.. That might help me get the outer frame rigid enough to Duramix the LCD inside the permiter and get the shape I want OR I am thinking perhaps stretch some grill cloth over the inside area and push the LCD bezel through from the back and let that cure. Then it will look all smooth and countered just from the fiberglass, then reinforce on the back side..

Or maybe I'm just smoking crack and it's a lot harder than it seems... I guess I'll find out soon enough..

Anyone else have any ideas/tips for this?


Another piece of inspiration..

http://www.sounddomain.com/id/fs_red_deer

http://images.cardomain.com/member_images/9/web/573000-573999/573607_6_full.jpg
(This guy used Rigid Plastic Repair from Dominion Sure Seal (like Duramix).)

sqInside
04-10-2004, 12:36 AM
anyone have any ideas??????

TPABlazer
04-11-2004, 11:38 PM
you want it to be more like the first one or the second one? how about stretching fleece or t shirt or whatever, gluing it on the backside of the bezel, and then glassing it. then filling spots with regular matte on the forntside, dremel out a section in the middle to fit the housing for the screen, figure out how you want it situated etc.. then bondo up flush to that.

sqInside
04-12-2004, 10:26 AM
I want to do it like the last one.. the problem is the OEM bezel is too small to fit the LCD bezel inside of.. I need to fiberglass a whole new bezel piece which contains my double-din bezel and my air vents bezel, like I showed earlier...

So I've stretched some fg cloth over it now.. this is my 3rd attempt and the cloth seems to do better, and isn't losing shape.. this was a problem earlier because I used fg veil (too thin) and t-shirt (no strength) and because it is all almost flat, it was very weak and after removing from the mold, it collapsed..

ramos
04-12-2004, 01:44 PM
I'm looking at your pic and trying to figure where your putting the lcd. In the double din slot ? Can you show me a picture with the screen overtop the area you want to put it ? I have a couple of different ideas, just need to see what your working with. :)

sqInside
04-12-2004, 04:14 PM
I'm looking at your pic and trying to figure where your putting the lcd. In the double din slot ? Can you show me a picture with the screen overtop the area you want to put it ? I have a couple of different ideas, just need to see what your working with. :)

Yes, I'm trying to put the LCD over the double-din slot area, but because it is a hair too tall, it will go into the bottom of the upper piece (where the duct tape is currently). In fact, it will go over most of the duct tape. The tape is only there to hold the 2 pieces together, while I make a mold/outline.

Then when I have the mold, it will have no center, and I will have "free roam" for the LCD to fit in there and then be molded in to make one final piece like the other pics..

What's your idea?? PLEASE PLEASE!! TELL ME!! TELL ME!!

I'm really flustered now.. I just checked on my 3rd attempt, using cloth instead of mat, and since it's so flat in most of the area, it's very weak. Even the edges are soft. I just don't know what to do to make a sturdy outline mold..

I think attempt 4 will be making a mold out of expanding foam, and then lining the expanding foam with FG, then I can make it thicker, because I'll be workign on the inside..

Here's a pic of attempt #3.. the outline was resined and cured but not quite hard enough to pull off the plastic pieces (my mold) w/out losing form.. :-(

http://www.getrealmail.net/~ipvfletch/lcd/fg_cloth.jpg

But it's not getting strong enough to pull off my mold.. If I thicken it up from the outside, it will be too thick. I need to thicken it up from the inside, but I can't remove it because it's too weak.. Any ideas? So far, I've use Speaker Grill Cloth, T-Shirt material, Fiberglass Veil Mat (3/4 oz), and now Fiberglass Cloth.

sqInside
04-12-2004, 10:59 PM
OMFG, I just got back from this shop.. the guy says he guesses this project would run about 15-20 hours, at a rate of $75/hour..

He said it will probably be over $1000... SHEEESH!! COME ON!

He obviously failed to realize the simplicity of this project, probably because he was busy, but whatever..

I'm not taking this stuff for granted, I mean it is difficult, but I cannot see a skilled fabricator spending more than 6 hours on this (excluding curing time)..

The tricky part is the 1st part, which I'm struggling with as you may have noticed..

After you get the right shape, it's pretty simple to fit the piece in, sand it, and prep it for paint..

I might have to use expanding foam or short-strand marglass/everglass to make my mold/tub and then glass inside that.

iamamp3pimp
04-13-2004, 03:18 AM
thats why it pays do do it yourself, a grand for that? it is a nice idea, but youd take way more pride in it if you left your wallet in your pants, and told all ur friends that you handled that

ramos
04-13-2004, 08:59 AM
Ever played with modeling clay or play doh ? That's what I usually use in situations like this. It's pretty easy to make a mold that small with it. I take a pile of clay, spread it out with a couple inches of excess over each side of the panel your copying. And make it a couple inches thick. Then I take the panel and grease it up with some vaseline, then press the panel into the clay to make a mold. Make sure you press good and hard, and even. Then pull your panel back out. Now is the time to smooth out the area you want to put your screen ,and throw the clay in the oven for a little while to harden it up. Viola you now have a mold of your panel. Then from there I wax ther inside of the mold with car wax, vaseline or something of the like to keep the glass from sticking. Then lay a couple of layers in the mold, wait for it to dry, now you have a blank copy of your panel with no holes anywhere. :)

sqInside
04-13-2004, 10:35 AM
Re: Modeling Clay

Ramos, that is what I am going to have to do I guess.. I'll either use expanding foam, marglass, plaster, or modeling clay. Modeling clay sounds least messy, so I might start with that first..

Where do I get modeling clay (I know where to get the other products) ??

ramos
04-13-2004, 12:17 PM
Re: Modeling Clay

Ramos, that is what I am going to have to do I guess.. I'll either use expanding foam, marglass, plaster, or modeling clay. Modeling clay sounds least messy, so I might start with that first..

Where do I get modeling clay (I know where to get the other products) ??



Look in the yellow pages under craft shops. You might have to call around a little. Once you bake the clay be careful. If ya drop it it's toast :)

kwhitelaw
04-19-2004, 10:42 PM
Okay, you are making this harder than it has to be. Take your monitor apart and use just the housing. Tape off the buttons. Cut around your dash piece on the sides so it clears and near the top if need be. Use caution around factory buttons, etc. It is hard to tell what is there under the tape. Go to an autobody supply shop and buy the rigid sealer. It will be branded under different names but it is essentially liquid ABS. It eill be in a tube. Glue the monitor into place as straight as possible. Start gooping the rigid sealer in all over the gaps. Let it dry and sand . Keep the process going until perfectly smooth. Apply a filler primer to fill any last pinholes. Prime than paint to your liking. You can have this done in one day minus the final paint. If I was doing this job, it would cost you probably around $450 or so, basic shop charge for a day's work.

Also, don't mess with the fiberglass mat for this. Wrong application. You will be working forever trying get it perfectly flat.

The dashpiece for the mazda protege in your post was made the way I described and the bmw dash was probably done similarly. Good luck.

ramos
04-21-2004, 07:47 AM
Doh ! does the screen actually fit within the confines of the panel ? I was thinking it was too big and you needed to remake the panel itslef. If it will fit then go with MR. Whitelaws way. Pastic filler is alot easier to use. :)

smullen
04-21-2004, 12:20 PM
OMFG, I just got back from this shop.. the guy says he guesses this project would run about 15-20 hours, at a rate of $75/hour..

He said it will probably be over $1000... SHEEESH!! COME ON!

He obviously failed to realize the simplicity of this project, probably because he was busy, but whatever..

I'm not taking this stuff for granted, I mean it is difficult, but I cannot see a skilled fabricator spending more than 6 hours on this (excluding curing time)..

The tricky part is the 1st part, which I'm struggling with as you may have noticed..

After you get the right shape, it's pretty simple to fit the piece in, sand it, and prep it for paint..

I might have to use expanding foam or short-strand marglass/everglass to make my mold/tub and then glass inside that.
Besides me not wanting to pay that I don't really see a problem with the amount quoted, thats about going rate for shop labor and I bet you have spent atleast that amount of time and made little to no progress...

However, I'm sure after you have done it correctly once, you'll get better and each time thereafter will get shorter....


Here is a link to a group that I find helpful..
http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/glassmanscustomforum/?yguid=90893862

I even paid yearly fee to be able to download his videos... There are several showing exacly what you want to do... The video shows and tells Step by step, telling how to do it and what supplies are needed... He adds videos every few weeks too...

Lastly, you can request topics for him to cover...

Hope this helps some... I know its frustrating... I'd like to learn more about this too... I have an extra dash bezel for my truck I'd like to put a monitor and some digital guages in, where the factory head unit was....

90towncar
04-30-2004, 10:55 AM
This can be done no problem for $200. I can then finish it however you want. Show quality work inside and out, thanks JD. One week turn around...