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  1. #1
    m_c's Avatar
    Lives in East Lothian, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 5 Hours Ago Has been a member for 9-10 years. Has a total post count of 1,834. Received thanks 192 times, giving thanks to others 5 times.
    Title is a bit vague for a reason, as I'm hoping somebody here can point me in the right direction.


    I've got some LED matrix displays that I need to use outside, however in bright light they're not visible. After some experimenting last year, we found placing a piece of cloth in front of them makes them visible, however that's not exactly an ideal solution for something that's getting used outside. So I'm looking for some kind of tinted (or possibly thin fully coloured might work) plastic to place in front of the matrix's, with ideally some kind of matt finish to minimise glare.

    I've never had much dealing in sheet plastic, so has anybody got any idea for what I'm looking for, and where I might get some small offcuts to try before commiting to the full size needed?

  2. #2
    A little trick you can use is to use the spray paint for glass that creates the obscured effect like for bathroom windows. just use a light coat.
    If the nagging gets really bad......Get a bigger shed:naughty:

  3. #3
    Must be an old age thing as I'm having problems visualising what you want to do lol, what sort of thickness plastic are we talking about & what's it to be fitted to? First thought would be self adhesive vinyl but I might be missing something.

  4. #4
    frosted acrylic might do the trick
    opaque acrylic might be a bit too restrictive unless its really thin
    it shouldn't cost to much to buy a slack hand full of various bits and bobs to try

    if you have access to a sand/shot blaster you could do both sides of a clear acrylic sheet to stop the glare on the outer face?

  5. #5
    D.C.'s Avatar
    Lives in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 05-01-2016 Has been a member for 4-5 years. Has a total post count of 326. Received thanks 30 times, giving thanks to others 24 times.
    Quote Originally Posted by blackburn mark View Post
    if you have access to a sand/shot blaster you could do both sides of a clear acrylic sheet to stop the glare on the outer face?
    You only need to do the outside surface, not the internal one that the leds are on or you are just reflecting light back towards the led instead of into the acrylic and out the other side, using a fine grade paper on an orbital sander works a treat.

  6. #6
    m_c's Avatar
    Lives in East Lothian, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 5 Hours Ago Has been a member for 9-10 years. Has a total post count of 1,834. Received thanks 192 times, giving thanks to others 5 times.
    This is the smaller display I've been using for testing -

    110_MatrixDisplay by mc_mtb, on Flickr

    As you can see, when it's dark it's nice and clear, however during daylight you can't really see the lit LEDs.
    Here's the display in daylight, with what we bodged over it to make it visible (it's not powered up, as I'm not sure where I've put the controller for it at this present moment - I tidied up last week!)

    LED Matrix by mc_mtb, on Flickr

    Vinyl may work, and I know where I can get plenty offcuts. Not sure why I never thought of that.

    However I've discovered the plasticshop do samples, so I've ordered some of their frosted samples in dark shades (midnight black, slate and stone grey), as it should give me the finish I'd ultimately like to acheive.

  7. #7
    If you know where you can get lots of vinyl off cuts then ask them if they have any translucent off cuts or even frosted you can try. Translucent is what is used for lightboxes so allows more light through & frosted is available in different colours & will also allow more light through. Both have a matt finish which will help with the glare.
    Don't know if these get moved about a lot but if you go down the sheet material route then polycarbonate might be a better option than acrylic, acrylic tends to be a bit brittle but make sure it is an exterior grade. Exterior grade is UV stabalised which stops it yellowing over time.

    Another option if you are still experimenting & still have units to manufacture is to change the colour of the LEDs so they show up better during daylight hours.
    Last edited by martin54; 23-03-2013 at 03:15 PM.

  8. #8
    m_c's Avatar
    Lives in East Lothian, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 5 Hours Ago Has been a member for 9-10 years. Has a total post count of 1,834. Received thanks 192 times, giving thanks to others 5 times.
    This will only be getting used a few times a year, and will spend most of it's life wrapped up in a shed, so I'm not too bothered about UV stability. The ability to not fail in rain is far higher on the priority list!
    It's going to be built into a box, so I'll make a cover to protect the front during transportation.

  9. #9
    What are you going to use for manufacturing the box? Something like aluminium composite would probably work quite well, it's light & pretty hard wearing & you can fold it into a box shape fairly easily by routing a "V" grove to fold along. would reduce the number of joins you would have to worry about sealing.

  10. #10
    m_c's Avatar
    Lives in East Lothian, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 5 Hours Ago Has been a member for 9-10 years. Has a total post count of 1,834. Received thanks 192 times, giving thanks to others 5 times.
    Not got that far yet!

    Main panel that holds everything will most likely be aluminium, which will then have the perspex mounted closely in front of it. Then all that needs a box around it. I might just go for something like ply for simplicity, then give it a good prime, and paint.
    I've got somebody who could do the woodwork for me, which saves me time. If I go metal I'd have to do it myself.

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