The spine, middle separator and the frame sides are joined using 1/2" #4-40 screws and nuts (20 total). About $3. The top and bottom edges will be added shortly.

Hey, wait a sec…if the center piece is symmetrical, it should be OK to flip either way. Why then is this face labeled “front”?
The way the beam is focused in a laser cutter means that edges will always have a slight bevel. When building a box, normally we can rely on other planes to mutually hold things square. But our HAL faceplate is rather thin and has only the single spine piece holding screws.

The trick is to examine the edge carefully…spot the bevel and arrange this piece so the frame parts want to lean “inward” — but will be held square by the front face. Done wrong, the frame pieces will splay outward and the corners won’t match up.
This spacer ring makes the unit feel more solid, so it doesn’t cave in when the button is pressed. Note that it’s not quite symmetrical — there’s a definite “up” and “down” due to the T-slots.
The front face then slots into place, and the top edge of the frame can be installed. Note that this piece only has tabs on the top and bottom, in order to minimize the number of holes along the frame (the button will be helping support it).

Not shown, the speaker grille can be similarly installed now, and the bottom edge of the frame with it.
Face down. Confirm all of the edge screws are installed, straight and firm (but don’t crank these down too hard — you’ll crack the plastic).
Flipped over, a familiar face starts to emerge.
The button is then inserted from the front, secured in back with the included hardware.
Insert the microswitch if you haven’t already, and confirm that the button “clicks.”

The LED inside the button is already wired with a resistor for use up to 12 Volts. A 9 Volt battery (about $3) works fine. This connects to the two side terminals next to the switch.

LEDs have a specific polarity. You may need to switch battery terminals to get it to light.
“I’m ready for my first lesson.”
Tally: $36.25 (battery included). The usual disclaimers apply.

So there you have it…a quick and inexpensive faux 9000-series computer. Not a perfect reproduction, but good enough to impress your geek friends, and it’s hard to argue at that cost.

You could bolt it to the front of your tower PC gaming rig and call it done. Or with a bit of extra effort and expense we can take this to the next level and add some sound effects…

This guide was first published on Apr 29, 2013. It was last updated on May 24, 2024.

This page (Assembly) was last updated on Apr 25, 2013.

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