The frame of the Trail Tech headlamp I bought has four threaded mounts that I thought would be a good place for my dashboard. I wanted to make up something with a minimal look.
I thought a multi-function digital computer would be good to base my dash on since I could get a number of features from a single device. I looked at a few models, and decided on the Trail Tech Vapor
. It had most of the features I wanted at a reasonable price.
For warning and indicator lamps I first bought these 12 volt LED lamps which have a built-in resistor and holder, but I had second thoughts about them as they look a little big, so I then bought some bare LEDs and small clip holders that I will try. I'm not sure if I can get the installation of the bare LEDs to be reliable enough. They seem like they will easily get damaged.
I also bought a few heavy duty toggle switches. With all the components on hand I did a mock up of the dash to get the measurements for the top panel.
I went through a few iterations of the layout with components at different positions, etc., until I got to the final layout. I did a mock-up with thick card stock to get the shape of the side panels that put the dash at a good viewing angle. Here's one of my design drawings with a side panel template and a few of the different lamps I bought. The sharp point at the top of the template is to form a kind of glare guard and mini wind screen.
I found some 1/16" 6061 aluminum sheet at the remnant shop that I thought would work well.
After cutting out the rough shapes on a band saw I used a mill to get the parts to shape and machine out the openings for the components.
I used this piece of flat stock as the front mounting bracket. To allow full adjustment of the headlamp I needed to cut out the relief. I made the bracket wide so I can mount a pair of small auxiliary driving lamps above the main headlamp.
Here I have the parts taped together with masking tape as a final check before welding.
Welding the dash panels to the lower mounts.
Here is the finished dash. I still need to wire up all the components, a big job in itself.
I also need to get a key lock switch for the ignition. I'm thinking to hang a bracket down below the dash side panel, but on the inside of the headlamp frame so the key switch is recessed into the gap behind the headlamp.