PCB front panels

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wavefold
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PCB front panels

Post by wavefold » Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:53 am

Hi!
Does anyone makes front panels out of pcb material? I really like how some Music Thing modules panels look like
Image

Does anyone know where I can find a cheap way to make something like that?

Ty
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Post by geecen » Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:58 am

I was looking into this a while ago: https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewt ... highlight=

Haven't made any yet, but it's definitely an interesting and cheap way to go vs. metal panels. If you want some good examples have a look at the great new panels by nonlinear circuits. They're definitely nicer than acrylic IMO.

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Post by wavefold » Tue Oct 13, 2015 6:05 am

geecen wrote:I was looking into this a while ago: https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewt ... highlight=

Haven't made any yet, but it's definitely an interesting and cheap way to go vs. metal panels. If you want some good examples have a look at the great new panels by nonlinear circuits. They're definitely nicer than acrylic IMO.
:tu:
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Post by Piedwagtail » Tue Oct 13, 2015 6:46 am

For my interpretation of PHOBoS's NANDulator, I decided to combine the panel and the pcb as one.

I ordered an initial batch from Itead and a second from Smart Prototyping.
The first was more expensive but has better screenprinting; this is the version seen below.

Image

..

Image

..

Image


R

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Post by okelk » Tue Oct 13, 2015 6:55 am

Hm...I'm pretty sure there's another post about pcb-panels somewhere...

Any pcb manufacturer can do this.
There are a lot of chinese ones that are relatively cheap....itead, shenzhen2u, elecrow.....
and a few not horribly expensive european/US manufacturers...
Some of them have been discussed here:
viewtopic.php?t=141191&sid=e51e64f23955 ... fe995c6d0f
Here's a list:
http://www.eevblog.com/wiki/index.php?t ... ufacturers

Concerning the price...pcb panels are relatively cheap, but only if you need at least 5-10....

If you use a cheap manufacturer keep in mind that sometimes the silkscreen quality is not perfect.
Also, some manufacturers print a number/barcode on the pcb.
So either choose a company that doesn't or make sure they print it on the backside...

Piedwagtail wrote:For my interpretation of PHOBoS's NANDulator, I decided to combine the panel and the pcb as one.
Very Interesting. Looks nice!
I'm actually experimenting with something similar at the moment...
...but I'm trying to avoid any open contacts on the panel. I'm using 16mm alpha pots soldered onto smd-pads on the backside and smd-pars...
but I only have some special footprints and test in my pcb-software so far...

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Post by av500 » Tue Oct 13, 2015 7:45 am

Piedwagtail wrote:For my interpretation of PHOBoS's NANDulator, I decided to combine the panel and the pcb as one.

I ordered an initial batch from Itead and a second from Smart Prototyping.
The first was more expensive but has better screenprinting; this is the version seen below.

Image
very nice. I have one such combined panel and PCB in the production pipe with pcbway.com, mine is all SMT on the backside though

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Post by wavefold » Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:33 am

okelk wrote:Hm...I'm pretty sure there's another post about pcb-panels somewhere...

Any pcb manufacturer can do this.
There are a lot of chinese ones that are relatively cheap....itead, shenzhen2u, elecrow.....
and a few not horribly expensive european/US manufacturers...
Some of them have been discussed here:
viewtopic.php?t=141191&sid=e51e64f23955 ... fe995c6d0f
Here's a list:
http://www.eevblog.com/wiki/index.php?t ... ufacturers

Concerning the price...pcb panels are relatively cheap, but only if you need at least 5-10....

If you use a cheap manufacturer keep in mind that sometimes the silkscreen quality is not perfect.
Also, some manufacturers print a number/barcode on the pcb.
So either choose a company that doesn't or make sure they print it on the backside...

Piedwagtail wrote:For my interpretation of PHOBoS's NANDulator, I decided to combine the panel and the pcb as one.
Very Interesting. Looks nice!
I'm actually experimenting with something similar at the moment...
...but I'm trying to avoid any open contacts on the panel. I'm using 16mm alpha pots soldered onto smd-pads on the backside and smd-pars...
but I only have some special footprints and test in my pcb-software so far...
Okay thanks for the info! And what about different designs on a single panel and then Cut them out?
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Post by av500 » Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:22 am

mr.freeman wrote: Okay thanks for the info! And what about different designs on a single panel and then Cut them out?
I don't see a reason why not.

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Post by wavefold » Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:43 am

av500 wrote:
mr.freeman wrote: Okay thanks for the info! And what about different designs on a single panel and then Cut them out?
I don't see a reason why not.
should be a reasonable way to avoid the minimum quantity, am I wrong?
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Post by JozeyWhales » Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:57 am

I decided to make a different front panel for MI Ripples.
Image

I had Oshpark manufacture my design. The only downside is the minimum order is 3 boards per design. I would also recommend familiarizing yourself with an open source PCB CAD program. I used Eagle CAD for my panel. There's a ton of helpful resources out there to help you get going. Good luck 8-)

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Post by wavefold » Tue Oct 13, 2015 11:19 am

JozeyWhales wrote:I decided to make a different front panel for MI Ripples.
Image

I had Oshpark manufacture my design. The only downside is the minimum order is 3 boards per design. I would also recommend familiarizing yourself with an open source PCB CAD program. I used Eagle CAD for my panel. There's a ton of helpful resources out there to help you get going. Good luck 8-)
so in the end did you order 3 panels?
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Post by JozeyWhales » Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:02 pm

mr.freeman wrote:
JozeyWhales wrote:I decided to make a different front panel for MI Ripples.
Image

I had Oshpark manufacture my design. The only downside is the minimum order is 3 boards per design. I would also recommend familiarizing yourself with an open source PCB CAD program. I used Eagle CAD for my panel. There's a ton of helpful resources out there to help you get going. Good luck 8-)
so in the end did you order 3 panels?
All of the PCB manufacturers require a minimum quantity per design. For example, if you wanted Bay Area Circuits to manufacture your design then you would need to order a minimum of 10 PCB's per design. Oshpark only requires 3.

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Post by wavefold » Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:19 pm

JozeyWhales wrote:
mr.freeman wrote:
JozeyWhales wrote:I decided to make a different front panel for MI Ripples.
Image

I had Oshpark manufacture my design. The only downside is the minimum order is 3 boards per design. I would also recommend familiarizing yourself with an open source PCB CAD program. I used Eagle CAD for my panel. There's a ton of helpful resources out there to help you get going. Good luck 8-)
so in the end did you order 3 panels?
All of the PCB manufacturers require a minimum quantity per design. For example, if you wanted Bay Area Circuits to manufacture your design then you would need to order a minimum of 10 PCB's per design. Oshpark only requires 3.
mh okay. I think I'll try with multiple designs on a single board to cut them out then.
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Post by Jarno » Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:50 pm

Piedwagtail wrote:For my interpretation of PHOBoS's NANDulator, I decided to combine the panel and the pcb as one.

I ordered an initial batch from Itead and a second from Smart Prototyping.
The first was more expensive but has better screenprinting; this is the version seen below.

Image

..

Image

..

Image


R
Nice!

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Post by skookum » Tue Oct 13, 2015 1:04 pm

Testfitting the latest one (Bi-colour LED's go in the holes).

Image

edit: I get them made by 5's or 10's by a batch service in China.

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Post by BugBrand » Tue Oct 13, 2015 1:15 pm

What I've been doing for protos is merge several designs into one - adding routing & putting little snap-apart clusters of drill holes.

In Eagle, close the schematic, select the whole board (group) and copy. You can then drop this into other boards (again with schematic window closed).

You may well have to pay a little more for routing etc. but I think I'm typically still getting 5 x proto boards (because that's the minimum proto quantity the people I use will do) with usually 2 or 3 circuit boards and 1 panel (ie. maybe up to 6 x 10" overall PCB) for around $150 shipped (though liable to import tax).

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Post by JozeyWhales » Tue Oct 13, 2015 1:26 pm

Oooooooo now I see what you're saying! :doh: That's very smart. 3 Designs for 1 order. :yay:

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Post by wavefold » Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:31 pm

skookum wrote:Testfitting the latest one (Bi-colour LED's go in the holes).

Image

edit: I get them made by 5's or 10's by a batch service in China.
just what I've been thinking about. beautiful. :hail: what service did you use?
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Post by Tombola » Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:55 pm

I design mine in Eagle.

I think the free version of Eagle only goes up to 80 x 100mm, which isn't big enough for a Euro panel (needs to be 128.5mm tall) so you need the €112 version.

Panel sizes are here: http://www.doepfer.de/a100_man/a100m_e.htm

The panel design is pretty straightforward. Set 'units' to millimetres, use Vias for socket & pot holes, copper pour on the back, make everything GND so it connects together. I use parallel boards, so note down the exact positions on the main PCB, add a bit for the bottom and the side and transfer them to the panel PCB. Use drill holes for LEDs (where you don't want a metal ring around the hole).

The fiddly bit is the artwork. You can label things easily using the text function in Eagle, but to do anything more complicated you'll need to either import a bitmap https://learn.adafruit.com/creating-acc ... into-eagle or use something like Svg2Poly https://github.com/cmonr/Eagle-ULPs

The bitmap import is simpler, but setting the right DPI is a bit tricky. OSHPark and Seeed are the two places I use, and they display bitmaps very differently. The Svg2Poly import gives really good crisp results, but is fiddly to use for anything beyond fonts.

Mikrophonie has a raw PCB panel with gold-plated copper writing - you lay a tStop polygon all over the top, and design your artwork in the Top layer. The circle thing is a printed inductor (for decorative and texture purposes only)

The nicest PCB panels (MakeNoise) have matte soldermask - I don't know much about that because neither OSHPark or Seeed do it - I think PCBCart might.

You can download various PCB panels in the projects on my Github to poke about and see how they work: https://github.com/TomWhitwell

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Post by skookum » Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:58 am

mr.freeman wrote: just what I've been thinking about. beautiful. :hail: what service did you use?
Thanks! They came out better than I expected!
I either use www.seeedstudio.com or www.dirtypcbs.com both have been good to me. Don't be in a hurry though, I waited almost a month and a half for delivery. Price is real good though, and lots of options.

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Post by wavefold » Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:18 am

Tombola wrote:I design mine in Eagle.

I think the free version of Eagle only goes up to 80 x 100mm, which isn't big enough for a Euro panel (needs to be 128.5mm tall) so you need the €112 version.

Panel sizes are here: http://www.doepfer.de/a100_man/a100m_e.htm

The panel design is pretty straightforward. Set 'units' to millimetres, use Vias for socket & pot holes, copper pour on the back, make everything GND so it connects together. I use parallel boards, so note down the exact positions on the main PCB, add a bit for the bottom and the side and transfer them to the panel PCB. Use drill holes for LEDs (where you don't want a metal ring around the hole).

The fiddly bit is the artwork. You can label things easily using the text function in Eagle, but to do anything more complicated you'll need to either import a bitmap https://learn.adafruit.com/creating-acc ... into-eagle or use something like Svg2Poly https://github.com/cmonr/Eagle-ULPs

The bitmap import is simpler, but setting the right DPI is a bit tricky. OSHPark and Seeed are the two places I use, and they display bitmaps very differently. The Svg2Poly import gives really good crisp results, but is fiddly to use for anything beyond fonts.

Mikrophonie has a raw PCB panel with gold-plated copper writing - you lay a tStop polygon all over the top, and design your artwork in the Top layer. The circle thing is a printed inductor (for decorative and texture purposes only)

The nicest PCB panels (MakeNoise) have matte soldermask - I don't know much about that because neither OSHPark or Seeed do it - I think PCBCart might.

You can download various PCB panels in the projects on my Github to poke about and see how they work: https://github.com/TomWhitwell
thank you! I'll never cease to be grateful for your work in the modular community :hail:
hope to meet you in person one day and offer you a beer :guinness:
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Post by wavefold » Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:37 am

skookum wrote:
mr.freeman wrote: just what I've been thinking about. beautiful. :hail: what service did you use?
Thanks! They came out better than I expected!
I either use www.seeedstudio.com or www.dirtypcbs.com both have been good to me. Don't be in a hurry though, I waited almost a month and a half for delivery. Price is real good though, and lots of options.
thanks! gotta check out
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Post by oberkorn » Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:02 am

Piedwagtail, your PHOBoS panels are beatiful!
you have to pay for the music but the noise is free

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Post by wavefold » Thu Oct 15, 2015 4:19 am

skookum wrote:
mr.freeman wrote: just what I've been thinking about. beautiful. :hail: what service did you use?
Thanks! They came out better than I expected!
I either use www.seeedstudio.com or www.dirtypcbs.com both have been good to me. Don't be in a hurry though, I waited almost a month and a half for delivery. Price is real good though, and lots of options.
would you mind to share the waveform symbols? can't find them anywhere :( also what kind of oscillator is that?
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Post by skookum » Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:50 pm

Try this, let me know how it goes.
The VCO is a plain-jane sawtooth oscillator. If you're interested you can help yourself to some boards, at cost, once I figure out just how many jumpers and trace cuttings they need to get working 100% (it was a bit rushed).
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