Circuit Mounting Preferences

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Studioalethea
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Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by Studioalethea » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:56 pm

So, I am finally working on getting some circuits into modules for the first time, and I am hitting a frustration that I never gave as much respect to before: mounting the circuit to a panel.

What do you all do? This seems to be glossed over in most sources I have found. I have seen how a lot of kits stack a control board and a circuit board with interconnects, but that seems to require an amount of finesse and planning that I don’t yet possess. It seems like a lot of people either mount at a 90, which is just deeper than I prefer, or use standoffs, which I guess I am leaning towards, but was just trying to keep the front of my panel cleaner.

For those using the 90 method, are you using a combination of horizontal and vertical pots and mounting with an aligned column of jacks/pots or just wiring all the panel parts on their own direct to the pcb?

Also, is everyone using strip board? Cheap amazon green boards from China with individual holes? Something else? Is there a size that you have found that works with 3U pretty well? I had to use two for this circuit and I am still not happy with it. But everything I got was through hole, so I didn’t much have the option to just solder lugs.

I tried making a control board but getting it all to fit with the vertical alpha pots took ages, and now I am trying to wire it up, and it’s turning out to be a nightmare and will still basically just leave me with the circuit board hovering behind the control board by wires, which was what I was trying to prevent to begin with.

Thanks all!

DozenCrows
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by DozenCrows » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:10 pm

One common approach to the control board method is to use known parts that match pretty closely to height, and have screw fittings that can be used to attach the panel without standoffs.

E.g. the type of Alpha pots and PJ398SM jacks sold by Thonk work out pretty well for Eurorack panels onto control boards. Mounting LEDs can be done by careful positioning for height, or using plastic LED mounts of suitable length. Switches can be a bit trickier, but again looking at what Thonk sell or studying the diagrams in datasheets mean you can match sizes.

Creating panels with holes to line up: if you use PCBs rather than stripboard, you can derive a front panel design from your PCB layout. The exact method depends on your CAD software and how you're going to make the panel. One approach for KiCad and laser cut panels is to export the PCB layout layers that have your control component physical markings and holes to SVG, then import that into Inkscape for editing and marking up suitable for whatever laser cutter is to be used.

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devinw1
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by devinw1 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:55 pm

What are you designing with? If you're trying to do it more "garage style" like Look Mum No Computer, your best bet is to use panel mount pots, switches, and jacks, and then wire that all up to the strip board or PCB behind it using actual wire. Then mount the board to the panel with standoffs. This way you don't need to have precisely aligned holes on the panel. You can just hand drill away like a mad man!

If you want to use the common Alpha vertical pots + Thonkinconn jacks scheme as DozenCrows mentioned (this is what I use), you really will benefit from have some sort of CAD program to lay out your your pots and jacks. The holes all need to be pretty well aligned so doing it this way will ensure that alignment. Using this type of construction, the most importand part is that the parts are all the same height off the PCB. Alpha pots and the PJ398SMs are as such. For switches, it's harder. Toggle switches can be a mine field of heights and bushings. I find it easier to use bushingless switch and have them pop through a through slot on the panel.

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SyndieBot2000XL
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by SyndieBot2000XL » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:17 pm

Alternately, if you use alpha-style vertical mount pots (or tall trimmers) and thonkiconn jacks on stripboard parallel to the front panel, you can use another piece of stripboard as a drill template, the posts and holes line up perfectly. You can just use stripboard as a crappy panel in a pinch, but if it’s phenolic type you’ll have an awful lot of flex.

I’ve been experimenting with doing parallel jack and pot fields and then using a 90-degree pin header to mount the circuit perpendicular to the panel. It works fairly well, but if the parallel panel isn’t generously wide it can be a little tight/not terribly sturdy.
It began as a mistake.

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mrand
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by mrand » Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:33 pm

SyndieBot2000XL wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:17 pm
I’ve been experimenting with doing parallel jack and pot fields and then using a 90-degree pin header to mount the circuit perpendicular to the panel. It works fairly well, but if the parallel panel isn’t generously wide it can be a little tight/not terribly sturdy.
SyndieBot, do you mean like this?
mounting.jpg
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--ssdp--

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SyndieBot2000XL
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by SyndieBot2000XL » Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:58 pm

mrand wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:33 pm
SyndieBot, do you mean like this?
Yup. Here’s one I did, a buffered mult:
D72977EF-9787-47C6-B709-E5A0C3CC7268.jpeg


It’s a bit obscured by the wiring but I used a male right angle header on the perpendicular board, into a straight female header on the parallel.

I’ve also tried just soldering both joints in. You get a very reliable mechanical connection but if you screw something up it can be a nightmare to fix (usually it will be that your mechanical connection is also making an electronic connection somewhere you don’t want - very easy to make this mistake and can easily bring the magic smoke in some circuits).
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It began as a mistake.

DozenCrows
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by DozenCrows » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:29 am

If you want an alternative to going "full CAD" to produce PCBs, control boards and panels, you might want to check out the Delptronics Module Construction Set approach - https://delptronics.com/module-construction-set

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Bodo1967
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by Bodo1967 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:38 am

Studioalethea wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:56 pm
For those using the 90 method, are you using a combination of horizontal and vertical pots and mounting with an aligned column of jacks/pots or just wiring all the panel parts on their own direct to the pcb?
I use self made L-profile brackets made of sawed-up and drilled plastic cable duct :mrgreen: .

The panel side is mounted at a pot or, if not convenient, a jack. The PCB side uses 2 of the corner holes thje PCB provides.

Here's an example:

Image
... why buy it for $100 when you can build it yourself for $150?

Studioalethea
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by Studioalethea » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:27 pm

DozenCrows wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:29 am
If you want an alternative to going "full CAD" to produce PCBs, control boards and panels, you might want to check out the Delptronics Module Construction Set approach - https://delptronics.com/module-construction-set
Wow, I didn’t know this existed. It’s pretty reasonable. I mean, my BPS are already like $6 each anyway.

For 90, does anyone 3D print right angle brackets to be held by an Alpha pot and or Thonkicon jack?

Studioalethea
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by Studioalethea » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:36 pm

devinw1 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:55 pm
What are you designing with? If you're trying to do it more "garage style" like Look Mum No Computer, your best bet is to use panel mount pots, switches, and jacks, and then wire that all up to the strip board or PCB behind it using actual wire. Then mount the board to the panel with standoffs. This way you don't need to have precisely aligned holes on the panel. You can just hand drill away like a mad man!
I am currently garaging it like LMNC with the eventual desire to be cool with CAD and CNC’d aluminum panels, headers and pins and all that jazz. Just not there yet. Unfortunately. The larger format of LMNC lends itself more to the stand-off method because he has all the space in the world. When I built my first case, the low end of the angle is just a hair bigger than what a skiff would be, so I can cheat high on the perpendicular board and be okay as long as it’s not much wider than a standard breadboard. If I try to build anything smaller than 8 hp I run into the issue that the pcb MUST be mounted on the 90 because I can’t fit it all into that small of a footprint. I only have 84 hp to start right now with a 1U row above it but the plan is to eventually build a 4” deep case on the top and then a 2” deep skiff on the bottom. Baby steps though!
.

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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by soundshaper » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:49 pm

If you do your designs on breadboards first, these SB404 boards are very useful. They're just the right size for 10HP panels if you are mounting parallel. I just wish they were two sided, as it would make connecting stacked boards easier.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LL ... UTF8&psc=1

Studioalethea
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by Studioalethea » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:25 pm

soundshaper wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:49 pm
If you do your designs on breadboards first, these SB404 boards are very useful. They're just the right size for 10HP panels if you are mounting parallel. I just wish they were two sided, as it would make connecting stacked boards easier.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LL ... UTF8&psc=1
I actually used the shorter version of this for my first couple of projects. I like the feel of the BPS boards a lot.

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astrosound
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by astrosound » Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:22 am

Studioalethea wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:56 pm
I have seen how a lot of kits stack a control board and a circuit board with interconnects, but that seems to require an amount of finesse and planning that I don’t yet possess. It seems like a lot of people either mount at a 90, which is just deeper than I prefer, or use standoffs, which I guess I am leaning towards, but was just trying to keep the front of my panel cleaner.
I don't really see your concern with mounting the PCB at a 90 unless it's clearly too big to fit in your case or the PCB/parts on hand don't allow it. It saves precious horizontal space and you can put all the pots on one edge and fasten the PCB directly to the panel.

I like to use socket head cap screws for fastening standoffs to the panel. They look better than regular pan head screws IMO.

Are you designing/making the boards yourself? In my experience making a separate control board that plugs into the main board can make the layout easier overall due to fewer components on the main board. Can be done with perf/stripboard too of course, though I highly recommend learning PCB design if you plan to do this a lot. It's easier to learn than it might seem. :tu:

Studioalethea
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by Studioalethea » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:31 am

I guess I want to do a combo. Anything less than 8hp, I’m planning on doing the 90-degree mount methods, and the above has some cool ideas. I’m playing with some kind of bracket for the modules where I am still using a protoboard with the power rails on both sides (since that makes it harder to use jacks/pots to mount the pcb).

Anyone used like a 20mm x 40mm aluminum angle to make 90-degree brackets that can be held by longer pots?

And yes, for larger modules, 8 hp is where I am trying the stack method since the horizontal space is already occupied and am concerned about trying to stay within a skiff format for some modules at least.

Lastly, who is using the 90-degree jacks and how? I assumed that they would be through hole but the 90 degree jacks I got from Thonk have tiny lugs so I might as well just use the Knobiconn jacks if that’s the case. Or do some people drill holes in perf board for those jacks?

Studioalethea
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by Studioalethea » Thu Feb 20, 2020 12:37 pm

Bodo1967 wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:38 am
Studioalethea wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:56 pm
For those using the 90 method, are you using a combination of horizontal and vertical pots and mounting with an aligned column of jacks/pots or just wiring all the panel parts on their own direct to the pcb?
I use self made L-profile brackets made of sawed-up and drilled plastic cable duct :mrgreen: .

The panel side is mounted at a pot or, if not convenient, a jack. The PCB side uses 2 of the corner holes thje PCB provides.

Here's an example:

Image
I think I am doing something similar for these first couple circuits. I found 20mm x 40mm pvc angle and will cut it per device. Do you typically just use the one?

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Bodo1967
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by Bodo1967 » Thu Feb 20, 2020 2:14 pm

Studioalethea wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 12:37 pm
Do you typically just use the one?
No, and there's actually two of 'em, which may be a bit difficult to see:
brackets.jpg
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... why buy it for $100 when you can build it yourself for $150?

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cretaceousear
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by cretaceousear » Thu Feb 20, 2020 2:30 pm

Another 90 degree-er here. I hand bent bits of aluminium and sandwiched them under the pot mounts like Bodo.
Another massive advantage for DIY is that it makes it practical to examine both sides of the board to trouble shoot or change a component.
..the vessel was heavier because “dead sheep do not have the same weight as the live ones”

Studioalethea
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by Studioalethea » Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:58 pm

cretaceousear wrote:
Thu Feb 20, 2020 2:30 pm
Another 90 degree-er here. I hand bent bits of aluminium and sandwiched them under the pot mounts like Bodo.
Another massive advantage for DIY is that it makes it practical to examine both sides of the board to trouble shoot or change a component.
I have some 20mm x 40mm aluminum also coming but I was though I was concerned about making inadvertent contact with PCB pads. Do you insulate anywhere between the aluminum and pcb?

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cretaceousear
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Re: Circuit Mounting Preferences

Post by cretaceousear » Thu Feb 20, 2020 5:46 pm

Ah good point - these were old style wide spaced boards so not too hard to make sure the metal didn't touch any tracks.
..the vessel was heavier because “dead sheep do not have the same weight as the live ones”

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