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Newbie question: how to construct panels?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author Newbie question: how to construct panels?

sbmani

Hi all!

I'm new to eurorack modular and DIY as well.

I'm about to purchase a couple kits, but i'd like to make my own custom panels.

What materials do you all use, and how do you get source templates for the panels so that the openings for the pots line up correctly and are correctly measured etc?

Has anyone here done a DIY kit and designed a panel completely differently from the original - if so, have any photos to share or advice on how to restructure/reorganize ?


berenie

You can use 2mm aluminium, 3mm acrylic/perspex, 3mm plywood probably even bamboo or coated mdf ( although i'm not really convinced about mdf).

usually there are files especially when there is a panel component pcb or when the pcb holds the pots and jack as well, if not.. use a calliper on your panel component pcb, usually there is some sort of pattern/grid on a panel component pcb.

You could use inkscape to design, check the doepfer construction details for directions on how wide your panels should be and where to put your holes. there is also a inkscape eurorack panel template somewhere here. Use the things like snap to grid etc.

you can laser cut and engrave acrylic/perspex and wood. you can etch aluminium or use some toner transfer method.


DickyKnee

I use front panel express.

They're pretty good, though I've had to send panels back to them once but they paid for the shipping and they sent new ones before they has received the old ones. Lesson learned there is don't expect the tolerances in their design software to align on both sides of the panels. Tell them beforehand if it's important.

You can also send them blanks from mouser or digi and they will engrave them, though that is experience from my mates at work who send them 20 at a time shipped directly from mouser or digikey (I forget) to be all engraved the same. I guess they'll do 1-offs also at a price.

Get your design right, the machines don't stuff up, people do!


PWM

I use panelpool. It's cheaper then Scheaffer's panel expres but engraving isn't standard and will cost more. (I don't like the look of engraved panels that much..)
The panels from panelpool are printed, this isn't the best quality so you have to mount the pots and jacks carefully.

Had a faulty panel once. They shipped a new one the next day and didn't ask to send the faulty one back.

http://www.panel-pool.com/fpuk/index.html

Examples:



mechie

For some panels I get aluminium sheet and cut my own, for others I buy pre-cut blanks from RS components.
I use Photoshop CS2 (now available for free)
I save the design as a bitmap and print two copies, one on normal paper and one on waterslide transfer paper (Lazertran).
The normal paper is taped to the blank panel as a drilling guide, removed after drilling is all done.
Deburring holes then applying the transfer.




billsship

I buy precut aluminum 6061 T6 .063" pieces from Online Metals. Then I print out the drill guide, tape it on good, a drill out the holes with my drill press. I hand label it with fine black Sharpie paint pens and throw it in the oven for about 30 minutes, it helps the labels not scratch off so easy. And thats it! Its not perfect but I don't care about that. As much as I'd like uniformity, I think its a damaging, obsessive mindset.




astrosound

I have been using pre-cut blanks 3U and 6U panels. I use a drill press to make the holes, and labeling is done either with Dymo labels or metal letter punches. If I use the punches, I fill in the lettering with cheap acrylic paint. Not professional looking, but I can go from designing the layout to the finished panel in an afternoon. End result looks like this:



billsship wrote:
As much as I'd like uniformity, I think its a damaging, obsessive mindset.

couldn't agree more!


Biotron345

Toner transfer for me


Getting better all the time[/img]


infovore

sbmani wrote:
What materials do you all use, and how do you get source templates for the panels so that the openings for the pots line up correctly and are correctly measured etc?

Has anyone here done a DIY kit and designed a panel completely differently from the original - if so, have any photos to share or advice on how to restructure/reorganize ?


I do prototype panels in 3mm acrylic or ply - this is a bit thicker than normal, so I have to use slightly longer screws to mount them.

Source templates: from the designer or manufacturer. If the design is open source, there'll either be a panel layout file of some kind - a graphics file like SVG, say - or I'll use the PCB layout itself from EAGLE and align all my holes with the precise measurements from that. I tend to design my panels in vector graphics software. I manufacture them on a lasercutter. But the key thing is: I take the original layout and use precisely that to make a panel. Never made anything that didn't have its routes in an original file, be it the panel design or the PCB layout.

I've not done any panels that change the _layout_ of controls, simply because everything I've built has PCB-mount pots and jacks - the pcb is parallel to the frontpanel, not perpendicular (as in Doepfer designs and many older designs). Basically, the PCB layout is defining the front panel (and vice versa).


janost

I 3D print panels in ABS plastic and use a vinyl sticker on the front.

They look beautiful but I think people hate them.


av500

I use whatever I can find at home smile




syntherjack

First I make a design in Inkscape and make shure everything will fit behind the panel. I buy pre cut alu sheets (2mm, anodized), drill and use waterslide decal method:
http://www.strings.ph.qmul.ac.uk/~thomas/synthdiy/frontpanel.htm
https://obsoletetechnology.wordpress.com/projects/making-frontpanels/
I takes a long time, but results can be quite good.




diablojoy

I buy 2400 x 1200 x 1.6mm sheets of aluminium for euro
or for my bigger panels 3mm
I cut it myself, work out a panel design in FPD and print a drill template and face from that
drill using a bench drill or for square holes and slots I use a 3HP router and guides then use sticky label for the face and throw that on.
after that I coat with PVA glue using a roller to protect.






PWM

syntherjack Awesome looking panel!


thx2112

I started by cutting "Metals Supermarket" aluminum panels on a table-saw with a cross-cut slider and drilling holes with a step bit. They were labelled with laser-toner on sticker sheet and melted into the panel with an iron.

There's a bit of a tutorial here: http://syinsi.com/finishing-aluminum-panels/

Now I have the panels laser-cut (and do a bunch of extras to sell to keep the price down), powdercoated and silkscreened. But one-offs and prototypes are still labelled with toner.


bonjourmyfriends

What are the prices like for Front Panel Express? Is there a minimum order?


PWM

bonjourmyfriends wrote:
What are the prices like for Front Panel Express? Is there a minimum order?


The app displays the price before ordering. So you can check with every drilling/milling or print.
There's no minimum, as far as I know of.


das_Produkt

I build my panels from 4.5 mm birch plywood. It is easy to cut and drill and fairly rigid.

I used to design the graphics in Inkscape, print them and glued them on. You can then use the graphics as a drilling guide. I should have used some clear coat, because the corners are damaged easyly.



But nowadays I will just spraypaint the wood and put some Dymo labels on. A lot less work and I like the look.



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