Polycarbonate thickness (and potentially other questions)

First of all, I tried asking in the n00blar-thread if it was OK to make project-threads, I didn’t get an answer, so I don’t know if this is kosher. If it isn’t, and I’m being an idiot, feel free to delete this post and call me names. I tried to do a search for this particular question beforehand though, and I didn’t really find any answer.

I’m going to (rather briskly) jump into making a couple of custom sticks. I was thinking about buying a control panel from the gamingisnow-site, but after I called the local glass-shop, I’m not so sure. I’m getting a good deal on polycarbonate and acryl panels, and they can fix the holes as well.

So, I’m probably going to bottom-mount a Sanwa JLF under a thick polycarbonate panel, then jam some art between that panel and a thinner acryl one on top. Thus, the plan is to ditch the mounting plate business.

The thing is, I know for bottom-mounting, you need heavy duty stuff, so I was wondering how thick the polycarbonate panel should be?

My guy can give me from 4mm to 8mm. I mean, I know 8mm will be enough, hell it can probably hold a roundhouse from Chuck Norris, but will 6mm be sufficient? I’m also thinking about how much length I’m effectively taking off the stick itself (since it’s going through the two plates), there’s probably a balance here.

So, if any of you have experience with polycarbonate (lexan, for instance), please do tell what I need :lovin:

ask nareg of gamingnow.net he sell custom joysticks mounted to poly.

Yeah, well, he doesn’t really answer PM’s. I’ve tried sending him a mail now, I’ll see how that fares.

I have a lot of experience working with both polycarbonate and acrylic.
Here is the advice I can give you…

Try to have your top-most sheet in acrylic/plexiglas rather than polycarbonate if you can help it. It’s not as strong or unbreakable, but it is more scratch resistant and as a layer above your artwork, it will keep it’s clarity better. Lexan on polycarbonate will get minor scratches over time from normal activity that can look messy.

As far as thickness overall- you are going to want at the minimum about a quarter inch of polycarbonate for support. This isn’t going to break, if breaking is your concern, even at lower thicknesses- the problem is more the fact that a thinner sheet will bend a lot more and won’t feel rigid. Of course the thinner you go, the more money you save.

To be clear- this is all for cases with no wooden panel on top, this is strictly for plastic upper panels. If you are gonna be putting wood behind this stuff then obviously you don’t need such thick sheets. A 2mm sheet of acrylic will suffice.

Yeah, I’m going all polycarbonate/acryl, and as I said, I’m making the polycarbonate my main board underneath with acryl on top (as you reccommend).

6mm is 0.236 inches, 8mm is 0.315 inches. I’m thinking that if I go with 6mm, I can do a 2mm acryl on top, and I’ll still be able to use screw-ins (they’re 8mm max, right?). 0.236 inches will do, you think? Stiff enough?

And bottom-mounting should be OK?

Oh, and thanks a lot :slight_smile:

6mm and 2mm are fine. They will have a little bit of flex, but not much. The amount of flexibility on your panel will depend on how big the surface is… obviously if you go for a 14 inch wide by 10 inch tall surface and youre just supporting it on the edges… pushing down on the center of the piece it won’t feel very rigid since it is just over a quarter inch of plastic. A smaller panel though will feel fine. The ones we sell are about 11 by 8.

I don’t mean to hijack the Op’s topic, but I have a question about some Lexan, and I figured I shouldn’t mane a new topic. How hard is it to cut and drill a .093in thick sheet of lexan?

Cutting is not difficult if you have a table saw, sliding miter, or band saw. It’s just like cutting wood. You can also score and snap it, but I don’t like doing that because I haven’t had the best success with that method.

Drilling is difficult. Normally I am the first person to recommend a forstner bit in most situations for stick building, but if you try to use one on plastic you will have a hard time… A hole saw should be better. In either case, working with a thin sheet like .093 inches requires a lot of patience and care. Make sure you have a good working area, don’t just put it up against any surface and have at it with the Drill, because if you don’t have a drill press you could crack your sheet.

Thanks for the response, looks like I might be going to the hardware store soon, all I have access to right now is a hand drill with a spade bit, a jig saw, and one of those hand held circular saws whose name I cant actually think of. = (

Thanks for the answer.

Yeah, I’m going for about A4 size (8.3" by 11.7"), and I’ll have as much wooden support as I can fit underneath (blocks glued in the corners).

I’m also contemplating getting the 8mm polycarbonate (I get it for the same price as the 6mm) and make the holes for the buttons larger in that and just clip them to the top acryl layer. The thing is, if I bottom-mount the joystick on the 8mm polycarbonate, I’ll shave off a full centimeter from the shaft. Is that too much?

As for Zalarin:

I haven’t tried this, but the guy I’m getting the polycarbonate from told me that there wasn’t any problems drilling in it, as long as you’re using a fixed drill for drilling metal. Meaning, you’ll need a real workshop to do it.

Ugh, so much for what I read about Lexan being easy to work with. I guess I’ll just put a sticker or something on top of my stick >.<

That’s the good way to do it, if you have a free area in the middle, say between your joystick and buttons, a support beam will be great. It’s not necessary but a stick just doesn’t feel high quality when you can feel a flex in that panel.

The ideal TOTAL thickness for both sheets is 8 mm. I would not consider getting the 8mm thick polycarbonate because I like to have the shaft height above the playing surface to be 24mm.

As for what you said about making the holes larger in the bottom sheet- that’s what we do with the panels we sell on my website also. Not because screw-ins won’t fit in a quarter inch thick panel, but because snap fit’s won’t lock into place on those. Your screw-ins would fit either way- for sure! All of the screw-fit buttons fit in panels up to 12mm thick. Seimitsu in particular has a bit of a longer threaded area on them, the OBSN are the shortest and still would fit that panel.

You can still manage, but working with a jigsaw I can’t imagine you are going to get straight lines. I would prefer scoring it to that. Also, if you are just cutting a basic rectangle, Lowes will cut it to size for you when you are buying it… this way you just have to drill.

Well I already bought the Lexan a few weeks ago, just haven’t gotten around to doing anything with it. Would I still be able to go to homedepot where I got it and have them cut it?

Home Depot wouldn’t cut it anyway. They used to, but stopped offering that a few years ago at my local places.

Well damn, Lowes doesn’t even carry the stuff, yet they cut it? How strange. I’m half tempted at this point to just play with just a box painted black, but I already bought some Lexan after having read its just as easy to work with as wood = /

Thanks for your help. I guess I’ll try working the Lexan with what I have, don’t know how well it will turn out though.

Cutting holes in acrylic with a spade bit was a PITA for me with a hand drill. The vibrations cause the center hole to become non-circular which produced a non circular hole. If you don’t have a drill press like me, use a variable speed drill and cut slowly. Score the hole on BOTH sides of the material. I wouldn’t even let the drill cut all the way through, try to pop out the hole after it’s scored on both sides. If it doesn’t pop out easily, drill it a little more and try again. Afterwards, sand/dremel it to a smooth even circle using your control panel as a guide and to ensure that they match up correctly.

Really? Well, that’s nice, I always thought the Sanwa screw-ins only could handle about 8mm.

I’m really torn about 6mm vs. 8mm though, I mean, it’s just 2mm less of the shaft, and with 8mm, it will be solid as all hell. Ah well, I’ll think about it some more.

BTW, why isn’t the links to the individual pages on your site working?