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Grover Torbel

Cutting an Atari Case

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Searched for this topic and didn't see anything, so I thought I would ask...
In preparing to mount a DVI connector for a Sophia mod in an Atari case I'm trying to figure out the best way to do the cutout for the connector. My first thought is to draw an outline of the connector on the case, then use a Dremel with a cutting wheel to do the straight cuts and one of the other attachments to do the curved parts. Any other ideas? Have any of you used something other than a Dremel for this sort of thing?
I've mounted tons of other things like DIN connectors, jacks and switches, but those are all more round type items which are pretty simple.

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small rotary file attachments for the dremel are also useful. tapered ones are good for gradually enlarging holes

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Tiny amount of acetone on the filed edges will also smooth over and "seal" the plastic as acetone melts plastic.

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Thanks for everyone's help on this.  Here is the finished project (Atari 600XL, 64K, Atarimax APE Warp+ OS 32-in-1, Sophia DVI Video and Audio Jack).  I decided to leave the RF intact and find it kind of cool to be able to compare and contrast the RF video with the Sophia on side by side screens.  The Sophia video really is incredible, especially when compared to Channel 2/3 output.  I'm very happy with the results and, best of all, everything works properly!

 

[attachment=583846:IMG_2426.jpg]

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I'm planning to do the same Sophia rev. C DVI cutout on my 130XE but didn't think of the audio.

 

I was planning to use a monitor out to audio jack cable but your solution looks a lot cleaner.

 

Could you share how you connected the audio jack ?

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For the audio jack, I just tied into the audio pad right behind the RF module. Run ground from pretty much anywhere to the center of the audio jack and the single audio on the motherboard to both right and left channels on the jack. I think it was the 2nd pad going into the RF box, but can't remember for sure. It's not super loud with headphones but is useable and works great to a set of amplified speakers.

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for cuts on the edge of a case I cut down the sides with an exacto razor saw, score the bottom line with a utility knife a couple time, and snap it off, the bottom cut comes out clean every time and then its just a little file work to clean up the saw edges 

 

for (square / rectangle)  holes in cases I have a snapped off bit of scroll saw blade in an xacto handle to get the bulk out then fine tune it with a file 

Edited by Osgeld

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Thanks for everyone's help on this.  Here is the finished project (Atari 600XL, 64K, Atarimax APE Warp+ OS 32-in-1, Sophia DVI Video and Audio Jack).  I decided to leave the RF intact and find it kind of cool to be able to compare and contrast the RF video with the Sophia on side by side screens.  The Sophia video really is incredible, especially when compared to Channel 2/3 output.  I'm very happy with the results and, best of all, everything works properly!

 

attachicon.gifIMG_2426.jpg

Looking good.

 

I stupidly cracked my NES case when I tried to drill a hole for the USB plug on the CopyNES. I attempted to use a 1/2" spade woodworking bit. Very bad Idea, keep any spade bits far away from ABS plastics! I should have started with 1/8" and worked my way up with larger spiral bits until I reached the proper size. Anyway I sloppily finished the hole with a Dremel router bit, and mended the crack with Superglue, causing additional crazing to the surface. Fortunately it was in the back of the NES so I don't have to look at the bobo very often. Functionality wise, the CopyNES install was a success.

 

I learned my lesson and on subsequent mod jobs I used the appropriate tools. Standard spiral type wood bits can be safely used on plastics if you step them gradually and go slow. I would avoid stepper bits with hand drills however as the hole centerline can drift considerably from the pilot. They are also more expensive and less versatile than a simple spiral bit set.

 

For irregular holes, I have found router bits to be best. You can use a Dremel for routing, but I have found the Dremel bits tend to drift easily when doing freehand work. If your console has a flat surface to work with, a full scale handheld router will do wonders, and it's added mass makes it much more stable and easier to control than a Dremel. Always use a much lower speed setting when cutting plastics compared to wood or other materials, or the surface you are cutting will become a melty mess.

 

Place a paper towel or something over the plastic to prevent scuffing. Tear a small hole to see the area you are cutting through, measure and mark your plastic cutting area with an ultra fine Sharpie. Sharpie marks can be removed easily with rubbing alcohol and cotton balls. Cut away as little material as possible and test fit the part into the hole periodically. Mark the areas where it touches the boundary of the hole and cut little bits away until it is a flush fit. This way you don't make the hole too big for the part fitting in it, which can cause ugly gaps around the port in the finished product.

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for cuts on the edge of a case I cut down the sides with an exacto razor saw, score the bottom line with a utility knife a couple time, and snap it off, the bottom cut comes out clean every time and then its just a little file work to clean up the saw edges 

 

for (square / rectangle)  holes in cases I have a snapped off bit of scroll saw blade in an xacto handle to get the bulk out then fine tune it with a file 

 

If you have a soldering iron with a blade attachment, you can make quick and dirty straight cuts through almost any type of plastic. I had a soldering iron once with a fitting that was compatible with Exacto blades. I had some fun with that one, and luckily managed to avoid cutting myself with it.

 

It can be quite dangerous to cut material in this manner, as if you slip and cut yourself with a searing hot blade, it will instantly cauterize the wound and lead to permanent scarring (and very likely a trip to the ER). I've cut my fingers numerous times with hobby blades, and burned myself on occasion with the soldering iron without permanent scarring. But a hot blade penetrating the skin would definitely leave a permanent mark.

 

It will also take a lot of finishing to clean the melted edges afterwords, and be advised you can very easily cosmetically ruin the workpiece. Far safer to use standard rotary cutting tools.

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Thanks for everyone's help on this.  Here is the finished project (Atari 600XL, 64K, Atarimax APE Warp+ OS 32-in-1, Sophia DVI Video and Audio Jack).  I decided to leave the RF intact and find it kind of cool to be able to compare and contrast the RF video with the Sophia on side by side screens.  The Sophia video really is incredible, especially when compared to Channel 2/3 output.  I'm very happy with the results and, best of all, everything works properly!

 

attachicon.gifIMG_2426.jpg

 

Grover--What method did you end up using to cut the hole for the DVI port?  I'm looking to do the same mod to my 1200XL.  

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Grover--What method did you end up using to cut the hole for the DVI port?  I'm looking to do the same mod to my 1200XL.  

 

Well, it was nerve wracking cutting into the case, but here's what I did:

1. Use a fine tipped sharpie to mark the outline of the jack by tracing around it.

2. Using a drill press, drill a few holes well inside the lines you've drawn. When done you should have a single large hole roughly the shape of the the lines you've drawn but well inside the lines. 

3. Drill the two holes for the screws at each side.

4. Using a hand flat file carefully remove plastic while frequently testing the connector for fit.  TAKE YOUR TIME.

5. Once the connector is a good fit, use some alcohol to remove any remaining traces of the sharpie ink from the case.

6. Fit the connector in place using the side screws to secure.

 

Others have used a Dremel but I tend to bust stuff when I try to go faster using power tools, especially working on old plastic pieces.  Good luck and, really, just take your time and you'll be fine. icon_smile.gif

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