PCBs as Front Panels ?

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nobody
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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by nobody » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:10 pm

Got some aluminum ones from nextpcb. 2mm thick aluminum pcbs. 20 of them delivered was $80. Matte black finish. Came out pretty solid.

Also I might have some VCOs to trade soon ; )
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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by Troubleshooter » Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:57 pm

Troubleshooter wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 1:03 pm
guest wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:58 am
that looks really good! is that going to be PCB or aluminum PCB?
Ordered regular PCB material. It should be stiff enough. Lets hope so....
90343679_2950837514975796_2188794752281870336_n.jpg
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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by KSS » Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:03 pm

nobody wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:10 pm
Got some aluminum ones from nextpcb. 2mm thick aluminum pcbs. 20 of them delivered was $80. Matte black finish. Came out pretty solid.

Also I might have some VCOs to trade soon ; )
Looks good. Please consider shrinking the file size. It's 4.2 megs here. We don't all have wideband net access.

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by nobody » Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:39 pm

So I shouldnt post the 4k 120FPS video is what youre saying? ;)

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by KSS » Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:38 pm

nobody wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:39 pm
So I shouldnt post the 4k 120FPS video is what youre saying? ;)
Videos don't pre-load on every view so that would be fine. ;)

it's the photos which do load on evey view of a thread that eat data BW quickly.

edit: Thanks for the photo edit! :tu: /edit

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by Tonescape » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:46 am

nobody wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:10 pm
Got some aluminum ones from nextpcb. 2mm thick aluminum pcbs. 20 of them delivered was $80. Matte black finish. Came out pretty solid.

Also I might have some VCOs to trade soon ; )
These look quite nice, and the price looks very appealing.

Would you mind sharing some info on how you made them? Any dos and don'ts? Thanks :tu:

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by nobody » Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:59 am

I used Altium, which is a PCB design tool. I believe there are freeware versions, but its cumbersome unless you know what you are doing. I just export the gerbers and upload them to nextpcb / jlpcb, etc etc. There is also eagle, kicad, and a bunch of others.

I went with matte black finish - it looks pretty cool but it gets finger prints really easy.

Make sure you have some play in your hole size. I made my tolerances too tight and ended up having to drill them out a bit. Fortunately they drilled out nice and didnt mess up the the solder mask.

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by Tonescape » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:01 pm

nobody wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:59 am
I used Altium, which is a PCB design tool. I believe there are freeware versions, but its cumbersome unless you know what you are doing. I just export the gerbers and upload them to nextpcb / jlpcb, etc etc. There is also eagle, kicad, and a bunch of others.

I went with matte black finish - it looks pretty cool but it gets finger prints really easy.

Make sure you have some play in your hole size. I made my tolerances too tight and ended up having to drill them out a bit. Fortunately they drilled out nice and didnt mess up the the solder mask.
Cool, thank you for the insight :tu:

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by twigathy » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:07 pm

IMG_20200324_190003-cropped.jpg
Maybe not the best photo in the world, but here's a really simple panel I made for a triple attenuator (Think at-at-at but with an even smaller feature set!). I'm brand new to synth DIY and circuit design, but with the help of Kicad this came out perfectly first time, with pots and jacks all lining up nicely. In person they look flat purple, not sure what's going on in the picture - lighting seems to bounce off the panel weirdly! PCB panel is from oshpark in their purple colour. I've got some purple knobs to match :)

I say "came out perfectly", but I managed to mess up the potentiometer orientation somehow so + is quieter and - is less attenuated... Another run of PCBs will have to happen before I get to soldering...
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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by indigoid » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:02 pm

You're far from the first to misorient pots :-/ and the panel looks great!

However if you look at other Euro panels you'll find many cases where pots with a scale marked - to + are attenuverters rather than attenuators
Zap him again! ZAP THE SONOFABITCH AGAIN!

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by KSS » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:51 pm

twigathy wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:07 pm
I say "came out perfectly", but I managed to mess up the potentiometer orientation somehow so + is quieter and - is less attenuated... Another run of PCBs will have to happen before I get to soldering...
Suggest making at least one by bending two outer legs of pots and using crossed fly-wiring to correct the mistake. That way you can confirm that everyhing else works as it should before you send out the PCB re-do. Don't waste the opportunity.

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by Altitude909 » Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:06 pm

ok, i just have to post this here since these came out really nice
IMG_0979.JPG
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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by NS4W » Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:54 am

nobody wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:59 am
Make sure you have some play in your hole size. I made my tolerances too tight and ended up having to drill them out a bit. Fortunately they drilled out nice and didnt mess up the the solder mask.
What does that mean in 0.1 mms? Please input your normal hole tolerance values for jacks and potentiometers. That would add value to this already very helpful thread :tu:

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Wed Mar 25, 2020 10:53 am

NS4W wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:54 am
What does that mean in 0.1 mms? Please input your normal hole tolerance values for jacks and potentiometers. That would add value to this already very helpful thread :tu:
I use the measured part + 0.1mm. YMMV
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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by FetidEye » Wed Mar 25, 2020 11:18 am

This is your friend:
Image

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by KSS » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:27 pm

FetidEye wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 11:18 am
This is your friend:
Only if you know how to use it. Would recommend the dial type over this Vernier style. Both work equally with respect to precsion and accuracy, but the dial type is much more easily read and understood by a novice. Would also recommend a non electronic version. But for many this will be what they end up with.

Most importantly, this kind of indicator does a VERY poor job on small holes. If used directly. You can fit wires, pins component leads or whatever you can find into holes, noting the looseness and then measure over the diameter of the inserted to gauge hole size. Even better get a hole gauge set.

As with any tool, practice and care will make usage better over time. Agree it's a good tool to have, as long as one understands its limitations.

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by Flounderguts » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:36 pm

Altitude909 wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:06 pm
ok, i just have to post this here since these came out really nice

Image
Yep. One of the best pcb front panels I've ever seen. Inspiring. Thanks, dude.
Last edited by Flounderguts on Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by FetidEye » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:37 pm

we were taking about potmeter hole diameters and such. so this is the perfect tool (at least for me. I use this all the time when measuring hole sizes)
You can find youtube tutorials on how to use it, or buy a digital one instead. I've not seen the dial ones before.

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by KSS » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:42 pm

NS4W wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:54 am
What does that mean in 0.1 mms? Please input your normal hole tolerance values for jacks and potentiometers. That would add value to this already very helpful thread :tu:
The problem is that different sizes and different types of 'holes' need different tolerance. It can even change depending one what you learn about one mfr vs another. For example where they put the bends in their stay-in-place legs for pot mounting. Most of that can be found on the datasheet for the parts you're using.

PCB mfrs usually have some part of their site showing their expected tolerances from you, and their expected tolerances to you. One thing you need to be clear about with differnt fabs are whether hole size is before or after plating. Not everybody does this the same way, and they even have different ways of describing it.

Next, hole and other feature tolerances can be affected by assembly concerns. I posted about the use of a collar pot recently, and that will place the constraining dimensions on the panel which will mean the PCB needs looser tolerances. Most of those pots are the reverse.

While a one size fits all would be nice, and can sometimes work, you need to know that much of the time it is not so simple. if you're working to best results. If not, then make it sloppier and let solder make up the difference. JK.

The PCB industry -like most industries- has guidelines that may be found online. But you can probably get what you need by looking at the PCB fab websites carefully and asking *them* any questions.

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by Flounderguts » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:50 pm

I find that most part datasheets for pots and switches define recommended drill sizes, both for mounting holes and for footprint pads.

In practice, if I only add 0.1 mm to the diameter of the nominal size, and then spec *plated* holes, they are a bit tight. ENIG isn't so bad, but as most of that is covered by a washer/nut/knob, there's no reason to be super-toit-like-a-toiger on tolerances. I find going 0.25 mm or 0.3 mm bigger is fine (diameter, not radius) but even if you're a whole 1mm oversize, you're good. And if you're using aliexpress pots, you might want to go *at least* 1 mm oversize!

LEDs are another matter. I'm gravitating more and more to lightpipes, but the nice thing is that most 3mm and 5mm leds are pretty soft, so they can be shaved down with an xacto or sandpaper or file in seconds. I've even used the 10mm ones and carved them into funky shapes...

One of the pcbs I built recently had been routed out partway through the pcb base. Does anyone know how this is spec'd on a gerber? I'd love to have a .25 mm step down under the soldermask in places, even if I can't do super thin kerfs...

EDIT **dang you posted what I'm posting as I'm writing it!**
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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by KSS » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:52 pm

FetidEye wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:37 pm
we were taking about potmeter hole diameters and such.
Yes, for larger holes it will be good enough. Even the flats of Euro's typical oval mounting holes at .118 (3mm) can be prety accurate since they're flat.

Here's the reason for inaccuracy on smaller inside dimensions like holes.
Because the arms have flats, you cannot get an accurate hole size. This is worse as the hole size goes down in dimension. The flat on the indicator arm contacts the hole in two places per arm and this mean you are meauring the hole *minus* these two chords of the circle. On top of that there is offset between the two chords due to the need for the caliper arms to slide past each other. This again gets more problematic as the hole size decreases. On a larger hole you can get close. On smaller holes you can easily be off .010" (.25mm) or more.

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by mskala » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:54 pm

Flounderguts wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:50 pm
One of the pcbs I built recently had been routed out partway through the pcb base. Does anyone know how this is spec'd on a gerber? I'd love to have a .25 mm step down under the soldermask in places, even if I can't do super thin kerfs...
Ask your fab. If they can do it at all, they will tell you how they want you to specify it, most likely by marking it up on an extra layer. But I don't think very many fabs can do it, and the ones that can will surely charge extra for it.

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by KSS » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:58 pm

Flounderguts wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:50 pm
EDIT **dang you posted what I'm posting as I'm writing it!**
Sorry about that.
Your points are good to repeat. There isnot one size fita all answers to much of this. When in doubt, talk to your fab.
One of the pcbs I built recently had been routed out partway through the pcb base. Does anyone know how this is spec'd on a gerber? I'd love to have a .25 mm step down under the soldermask in places, even if I can't do super thin kerfs...
Typically you'd call this out in mfg instructions. Again, it depends on the fab. Talk to them.

edit: See flounderguts, it's happend to me too! Agree with what mskala just said. As I was typing/edit

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by nobody » Fri Mar 27, 2020 3:47 pm

NS4W wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:54 am
nobody wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:59 am
Make sure you have some play in your hole size. I made my tolerances too tight and ended up having to drill them out a bit. Fortunately they drilled out nice and didnt mess up the the solder mask.
What does that mean in 0.1 mms? Please input your normal hole tolerance values for jacks and potentiometers. That would add value to this already very helpful thread :tu:
.5mm extra on the diameter - ish.

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Re: PCBs as Front Panels ?

Post by KSS » Fri Mar 27, 2020 4:29 pm

Go to the industry standards for your best answer. PC Bd's are *not* new technology, and the IPC has very detailed information on hole sizes available.

IPC hole size guidelines

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