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Panel Sizes and DotCom Synthesizers
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Oakley Sound Systems  
Author Panel Sizes and DotCom Synthesizers
Flareless
I've completed two Oakley projects; the Ring Modulator and Dual LFO. I'm presently debugging the LFO (I'll post another thread about that) but I noticed a bit of a problem with the size of the panels and their installation in my Synthesizers.Com cabinet.

I downloaded the FPD files Tony so graciously posted on his site for manufacture in the US by Front Panel Express. I have to say that Front Panel Express did a great job on the panels. They are excellent quality and delivery was fast.

The trouble is that the Synthesizers.com modules are a tiny bit wider and taller than those outlined in the FPD diagrams.



The result of this is that when I place the modules in my DotCom synth there is extra space which can not be covered up by a standard DotCom panel.



The other problem is that they are a tiny bit shorter than the DotCom panels and would therefore cause a split in the wood when mounted with the standard #6 1/2" wood screws.



To resolve these problems I am embarking on a bit of a project; My plan is to take standard DotCom 1U blank panels and mount my Oakley modules on them. My first thought was to find someone who could do the printing directly onto the panels themselves. After consulting some folks at my local music store they suggested I have a printer (who had done some excellent wrap work for them) produce vinyl stickers which could be placed directly on the DotCom panels. The printer assured me they could get the textured black matte finish that the panels have and that the stickers were extremely durable.

I'm going to use modified FPD files where I change the fonts to Helvetica to match the DotCom panels and turn them into PDFs which the printer can use. I will also have the crosshairs for the drill locations printed and I will drill out the panels once the labels have been affixed. I'll then mount my electronics on these new panels.

I think ultimately having the panels painted directly might be better looking but I'm not sure where I can get this done (in Ontario, Canada).

One other thing this process will do is dramatically reduce the cost of the panels. Front Panel Express charged $84 USD for the two panels. Then there was $22 shipping and a whack of duty charges (what ever happened to our Free Trade agreement with the US?). Blank DotCom panels are $17 (for 1U) and the labels won't cost all that much.

I'll keep you posted and post pics once I have completed the project.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a problem with the Oakley designs and it's not a complaint. I just noticed this issue with installation in my particular synthesizer case and am sharing my solution.
Synthbuilder
Oakley panels are MOTM format and not Synthesizers.com's MU (Moog Unit) format. As you have found it's quite a bit different from MU even though we share the same 5U moniker. Generally, the MOTM stuff is designed to fit into 19" rack rails although it will fit into appropriately sized wooden frames. Oakley and MOTM modules are effectively 80% narrower which means they tend to look a little stretched, although not usually detrimentally so, when placed in a MU panel.

Scheaffer and very probably FPE will take blank Synthesizers.com panels and engrave those for you. The result is pretty good although the best way to get MU panels made is from Ben at re:Synthesis in the UK. Ben's panels are made in much the same way as the original Moog panels and look superb. The only problem with them is that Ben is often very busy so there is a little bit of a wait to get stuff done.

For the smaller knobs on Oakley panels I tend to prefer the unskirted Moog knobs as used on the Moog 960 sequencer. I've bought them in the past from Margo at Synthesisers.com.

Tony
Flareless
Thanks for the clarification Tony!
Flareless
Ok so here we are one month later and I've worked out a solution to my problem (mostly). First of all the idea of a sticker for the panel, upon further reflection, would ultimately IMHO look crappy. No matter how good the printers would make them look they would still be reflective vinyl surfaces on my nice metal panels.

I then briefly toyed with the idea of having the panels engraved, however, that idea was short lived as the engraver I went to was very dubious about their ability to do a good job as the panels had no 'white' to engrave into. Their suggestion of a plastic engraved panel stuck onto the Dotcom panels also didn't sit well with me.

Then I saw the work of a fellow named Jeff Brown on his modular page. Jeff not only built his modules but modified FRAC modules like those from PAiA to fit into Dotcom panels. He also silkscreened his panels. This got me thinking that silkscreening was the way to go. After all, the Dotcom panels themselves are screened.

I found a local printing house that believed that they could do the screening I required. I used Tony's FSD graphics files as the basis for re-creating graphic panel images sized for Dotcom panels and had them screened for me. I then drilled them out and installed my Oakley electronics into them. The result was pretty excellent!







Of course as the old saying goes "If you want something done right... do it yourself". There were a couple of problems with having a third party do the job for me. First and foremost; the cost. These panels cost me a fortune to have screened. While I had planned to have a fourth panel done (more on that later) the cost will be just stupid. For what these cost me I could purchase silkscreen gear and do it myself. That is what I will be doing.

Second; I worked extensively on the graphics files for these panels and submitted them in JPG and PDF formats. The printer, however, re-did them and submitted the updates. The first time they took it upon themselves to shrink the graphics. I explained that the images must be printed EXACTLY as shown lest the Oakley panels not fit. They then re-did them again and submitted them for review. I was so wrapped up in ensuring the drill markings matched my originals that I missed the fact that on the MultiMix panel the artist forgot to renumber Level 2 and Level 3 from their cut-and-paste job. Now I have 3 controls labeled Level 1. Not a fatal error but I'm pissed off at my own failure to catch the error and more-so that my original file was labeled correctly. Oh well... caveat emptor.

To resolve this issue I will learn to silkscreen myself and then any errors will be completely my responsibility.

The next panel I plan to do is a PAiA 9720 Dual VCO / Modulator. On Jeff's site I saw that he re-wired his unit with 1/4" jacks and installed them on a Dotcom Q133 Quad Blank Panel. I have since ordered and received my Q133. Jeff was also so kind as to provide me with the graphic file he created for his panel. Jeff if you're reading this thank you for your generosity! My intention is to re-do all my PAiA 9700 modules in Dotcom / 1/4" format.

Incidentally, you might also notice that my Ring Modulator panel is present but empty. The electronics are on their way back from Oakley where my error in solder choice has been corrected and they will be installed as soon as they arrive. Thanks again Tony!

So there you have it.... a solution for fitting non-Dotcom synthesizer modules into a Dotcom cabinet. I hope this info has been helpful.

JohnLRice
thumbs up Good job Flareless and a belated welcome to Muff's! w00t
Ricochet
Hey Rich

thxs for that great input ... three cheers Chugging Beers

for me as a new future ORKLEY builder here, it was the best things to start with

I'm searching on to find contrivance to make my own silkscreen
you may look, if this is practical for painting the DotCom panels:

https://www.siebdruckland.de/starter-set-siebdruck

but not in "54T" quality best should be the "120T" or "140T" screen:
https://www.siebdruckland.de/Siebdruckrahmen-DIN-A4-Aluminium-120T

see you
Gerd
Flareless
Thanks Gerd. I've learned a lot since writing that post. The first big thing I learned was that all 5U modules were not alike and that the Oakley FPD files are for MOTM panels rather than MU panels (which is the format used by Synthesizers.com).

Here is a size description outline which explains in detail the differences between the sizes of the modules.

I have also gone through a great deal of trial and error in learning to silkscreen my own panels. One thing I learned early on is not to order metal frames and expect to make my own screens. There is special gear required for this process. Instead I found a vendor locally who can provide me with pre-made screens.

I've been using 230T screens but recently stepped up to 255T. I'm not sure if I'm getting more detail but I figure higher thread count = higher resolution. I've found anything below 230 to yield chunkier results that are less visually appealing. They work but...

I've also written this article on the screening process. In it I describe some of the things I went through and some of the things I've learned about making the panels.

In fact, in about a half hour I'll be making another panel for a TLN-156 module I'm finishing up then screening a couple more panels for some PCBs that are already built but awaiting panels.

If you're going to be doing "one-offs" I highly recommend a good emulsion remover so that once your panel is complete you can clean the screen off and use it again.

Best of luck in your building!
Ricochet
You have pm , Rich
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