Friday, 6 June 2014

Electrolytic Etcher–Instrument Panel–Etched

Well, after a long time, I have finally got around to etching and patinating the instrument panel for my Electrolytic Etcher. I haven’t played with this for about 6 months and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since the last time I had this out.

I had transfer printed the instrument panel ages ago and I just never got around to doing the etching. Ironically, because of the way that I designed the panel, the only satisfactory way to etch it was using acid. I used the same acid that I normally use for printed circuit board etching (hydrochloric acid x 1 : hydrogen peroxide x 2).

After etching the brass, I gave it a bath in cider vinegar and salt and then cooked it for a short while (about 10 minutes) … the baking paper started to smoulder and it set off the smoke alarm in my flat.

Next, I rubbed some blue and green paint into the surface to flood fill the etch and give me some contrast. It may look like a crap colour, I’m colour blind, so I won’t be able to gauge the “patina” until I can get someone with better colour vision to assess it.

Instrument Panel 01

Instrument Panel 02

The contrast is satisfactory and I think that the colour is OK too. I can read the panel, so it does what it needs to do.

I’m taking it home this weekend so that I can drill out the holes where the switches, plugs, power indicator LED and potentiometer come through the panel. Most of these bits of instrumentation will be used to hold the panel down to the project box.

It’s a bit of a pity that you can see the lines where the texture tiles fit together, maybe I’ll go over it with the Dremmel to “blur” the lines a little.

Overall, from design to finished panel has been a bit of a long journey. I really don’t think that I’ll need the etcher now. Still, it will also work to drive a polystyrene cutter (6.8V) and there isn’t anything that I need to change with the Etcher to make it work … just add some NiChrome wire between the Anode and Cathode, and we’re away.

I reckon that it looks suitably Steam Punk in design, so it fit’s the bill there. I may need to do some more work on the rest of the project box to make it look more Steam Punk … maybe replace the box altogether with an antique timber box, or I could make a timber box and give the box a Steam Punk feel.

Anyway, I’ll install the instrument panel onto the Electrolytic Etcher this weekend and post some photographs of it.

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