I need to fabricate a "patch panel" for a network distribution point. Most COTS panels are fabricated in multiples of 12 or 24.
E.g., 1x12, 1x24 (as 12+12), 4x24, etc.
Graphically, something like:1x12 XXXXXXXXXXXX
1x24 XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX4x24 XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX
Each 'X' being an 8P8C RJ45S connector.
Typically, these "connector assemblies" are fastened to the rear of an aluminum plate while the connectors themselves protrude through holes in that plate (actually, since the connectors typically abut each other, the holes are really long *slots*)[Sorry if all this is obvious -- if you've seen one such panel, you'd understand what I mean]
In my particular case (1-off), I need to fabricate two "3x12" panels:
XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX
My problem is cutting these long slots in some material (e.g., aluminum) in a manner that doesn't look amateurish. [I suspect these slots are punched in commercial offerings so they are nice and square, etc.]
You *know* aluminum with a file is going to look like "aluminum with a file" :< I just can't imagine keeping nice hard, straight edges going that route!
So, I'm exploring other fabrication options. E.g., perhaps replace the aluminum with lexan? (though I'm not sure that will be any easier to machine -- "hot knife"?)[I have a friend with several wire EDM's but can't bring myself to ask for that big of a favor! :-/ ]
Currently, I figure the easiest solution is to find a couple of4x24 panels and cut them each in "half" (more like 55/45%] discarding the undersized "halves".
Is there some other trick I can explore? Anything *strong* that can be "molded"/poured? (the panels have to support a fair bit of force as things are plugged/unplugged "carelessly")