This time, i had some spare time and thought of making something i wanted to do for some time ago. It's my first time doing this (although i'm familiar with the process since i use it for PCB making) but i thought i should give it a try. And in great recognition of what the XDA community enabled us - the users - to do with our phones, i wanted to brand my phone's battery cover with the XDA logo next to the andoid logo, the thing (os) that xda developers made possible to us. Ah and in the xda spirit, i thought it would be kind of cool to handcraft the design of that battery cover.
Here's the story of today's afternoon for me
...and possibly a guide for you, daring folks around there who just happen to have a spare scratched and ugly looking battery cover like i did
So.. i had this hd2 battery cover, from a dead HD2 that i have (poor fellow died during testing of the cpu bga problems and my tries to find a fix for them). The battery cover was in really bad shape, scratched, the finish was torn out.. looked like... crap.
I saw a topic around here about how to make your battery cover to a chrome-like finish by using some sandpaper and stuff like that. I think the idea is good, but the result is well... too shiny for my taste...and i want a "custom made one". I also wanted to have the xda and android logos onto the battery cover but i could not afford some laser etching on it, i can't even find one shop to do this here were i live in Romania. So here's how i did it.
1. I opted for a brushed metal design. A clear look design is just to shiny for my taste and... well, i guess it scratches more easily. So, using sandpaper, i've begun clearing away the original paint on the battery cover. When i was done with that, i begun sanding in only one direction and in straight line, in order to have a more symmetrical brushed metal look.
After some time sanding and after changing the sandpaper roughness to more finer ones, here's how it looked. Note that this is not the final design.
2. Next i needed some sort of logo - the stuff i'll be putting on the battery cover. I googled around, and got the xda text and android logo. I've edited them to a black&white design (you'll see later why..) and it looked like this.
3. I mirrored the logo, using irfan view and selecting horizontal flip from the image dropdown menu. You'll also see why. Then I've printed the logo onto a glossy a4 paper sheet, like the ones used for foto printing. I've used a laser printer, this is really necessary, inkjet ones won't work for what i'm about to do. You'll also see why
4. I draw some guiding lines for helping me center the image once i place the battery cover over it. Here's how i did.
5. I now placed the battery cover over the sheet of paper, using the lines i already drawn as a template to help me center it. As the image is mirrored, as you may guess, i will be transferring the logo from the paper to the metal surface and once there, it will look normal (not mirrored). More on that later. I also secured the paper to the battery cover with some electrical tape. Don't get upset, you'll also see why.
6. Well, i did use some fair amount of electrical tape to secure that piece of paper to the metallic surface. It needs to be as stretched as possible, not able to move around.
7. I used a smoothing iron (i don't know the exact word in english, aah, that thing you use to smooth out clothes) to heat up and press the piece of paper to the metallic surface. I pressed the iron and move it around the logo zone for about 15 minutes, at maximum temperature. Because the battery cover is not exactly flat, i was careful to follow the contour in order to leave no metal part unheated.
8. I then placed the heated battery cover with the paper on it, under a jet of cold water. I left it under the water for 15 minutes. This is important. The water must be cold, never use hot water.
9. I carefully begun peeling of the paper from the metallic part.
10. I peeled of almost all the paper, one thin layer still remained over the logo area. Don't rush things, place it under a water jet for yet another 5 minutes.
11. Ahh, there it is, the thing starts to look like something, ain't it
12. In the photo above, you can see that the toner from the paper was transferred to the metallic piece. That's why you need a laser printer, because of this property of it's toner. And also that's why you needed to heat it up with the iron. In fact, you're simulating what the laser printer does every time when you print something. Well, you done it on a curved metal piece.
In this last picture you'll also see that the logo isn't exactly 100% black, there are some grey or white spots on it. That's residual paper left over it. If you carefully rub it with your finger or a fine brush, you can actually remove it if you insist. You'll get a pure black logo (or other color if you wish and if you have a color laser printer available). At this stage you could also stop, if you like a black/color logo. You could then apply some lacquer, the spray-able variety to preserve the surface from scratches. I chose another design so i will go on with some other steps from here.
13. If you want something different, you may skip rubbing the logo to remove all the paper. If the logo looks as in the above picture, you're good to go for the next step. Remove the metallic piece from the jet of water and let it dry. If while it's wet you see that the black toner has gone away from some points, you'll need to use a little bit of paint to cover them out (you'll also see why). So if you see points where the toner is gone (after you removed the paper at the 9-10 steps) try to memorize where the areas affected are, then let the piece of metal to dry out for some half hour. After it's dry, you'll probably see that it turned kind of gray or even white-ish. It's no problem, it's normal, but it will be harder now to see those affected areas i was talking about before. That's why you memorized them. Now use a paint marker (one that has real paint in it, not the ones used to write on cd's or similar to those) or if you can't get one, you may also use some fingernail polish. Make some small dots over the affected areas. After you complete this, let the paint/fingernail polish to dry out. Be careful not to spoil the logo YOU WILL HAVE TO START OVER FROM STEP 1 IF YOU GET IT WRONG HERE... and that sucks )
14. After the paint has dried out, place the metallic piece under a water jet again. Cold water. Remove it after 1 minute, recheck for afected areas, if you still find them, you'll have to let the thing dry out again, and cover those parts with paint dots, again.
and here's once i've done with the painting
After you're done, leave the whole thing to dry out for about 1 hour.
15. Get yourself some ferric chloride. You can get it from electronic components store, radioshack etc. It's used in electronics by hobbyists who want to etch their own pcb's. You'll need this stuff also. About 300ml will do.. The stuff is toxic, you don't want to touch it or spill it over clothes or other things, it will leave out some nasty spots that you can't remove. Use some gloves while handling this stuff. Now pour the ferric chloride into a plastic recipient big enough to fit the battery cover into.
Well i ignored the safety tip, but i'm being careful, i know the stuff, have been working with it for some good years.
16. Now you want to drop the battery cover...into the black stuff . Drop it with the logo side up. NOT DOWN. I really mean it. UP. Carefully swing the plastic recipient, just enough to move the liquid around. Try not to expose the metallic part, you must keep it submerged all the time. If you want to check the progress, be quick, lean the plastic recipient to one side just to expose the metallic piece, look at it, but then quickly lean the recipient back and keep the metallic piece submerged. Prolonged exposure to air in this stage can ruin your progress.
Here's how mine looks after 5 minutes into the ferric chloride. You'll be wanting to keep the metallic plate there for about 15-20 minutes. If you let it longer it will turn to a more darker color. If you let it just for 10 minutes you'll get a light gray. However you can't get an uniform black (or something as dark as an original battery cover) because if you let it this much you risk that the ferric chloride attacks the toner and paint surface, making holes in it or braking it apart.
Like i've said, here's the thing after 5 minutes. I want to let it for another 10-15 minutes.
Once you left it for enough time, lean back the plastic recipient and look at the metallic piece once more. Take note that the color you see now will get a bit lighter once the whole process is finished. If you're satisfied, prepare a big water boll and quickly remove the metallic piece from the ferric chloride and drop it in the water. Be as quick as possible, while being careful not to drop the ferric chloride. Use gloves when doing this. Once the metallic piece is in the water, steer up the water with your hand.
Here's how mine looks now.
Your plate could be lighter or darker at this stage, depending on how much you left it in the ferric chloride. Don't worry if the color is not uniform. Instead, while the plate is still under water, get yourself a kitchen sponge, the one with one abrasive side and with the metallic plate still under water start rubbing it on the direction of the original brushed metal design you made in the start. Rub in only one direction, with the sponge and the plate always under water and continue to do so until the color becomes more uniform. Then use some isopropyl alcohol (also from radioshack - or the place you got the ferric chloride from.. they should also have this) and remove the metallic board from under the water. Now while the thing is still wet (don't let it dry!!!), get another sponge (clean dry one) and pour some isopropyl alcohol on the abrasive part and start rubbing the metallic piece once more, on the same and only direction (not back and forth). Rub in a parallel direction with the original scratches that makes your "brushed" design. The isopropyl alcohol should begin to disolve the toner and the paint. It should also help you to remove residual oxides left since you placed the metallic piece into the ferric chloride.
Here's my progress.
toner is starting to break down
18. aaaand... in the end, if you did it right, you should have something like this :
19. once the surface is of uniform color, wash the whole thing under a jet of hot water with some soap to remove any residues left by the chemical processes.
20. You're done! Now you have your custom made-hand crafted-geeky-logo. The logo itself won't peel off and the surrounding stuff is actually chemically embedded into the metal by a process similar to industrial aluminum anodizing (the same process used to cure aluminum used in unibody designs). Although it is scratch resistant to some degree, you may want to use some spray lacquer to protect your work.
I haven't got any lacquer yet but i'll use some if i can get some quality stuff. Here are some more photos with the thing so far.
(please excuse the photo quality, my camera and it's flash produces a weird looking effect, it seems that the metallic thing is kind of made from small dots, not brushed metal.. damned thing.. guess i'll be needing a new one)
...and a small video (with the same crappy camera)
Well, all in all, i like the thing. It's my first try at this, although i've done dozens of toner transfers to copper pcb's. I cannot be perfect at first try, probably neither you guys but is a good DIY afternoon fun.
I would also like to thank the xda community for giving me such a good times with my hd2's along with my other htc phones in the past. XDA has become such a successful community because of it's dedicated developers and users. I'm proud to wear the xda letters next to my phone.
PS: i promise i will also add a website link in the next version, if i get a new and more powerful iron, i was afraid this one won't be hot enough to heat the thing properly and transfer smaller text or details