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Alternative methods of DIY front panel graphics
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next [all]
Author Alternative methods of DIY front panel graphics
jarvis
I've been toying with ideas for making really cost effective front panels. I'm just tossing out ideas I've had and was wondering if anyone has had any luck with them. This is all from the angle of drilling out the holes yourself and is pretty much just for graphics.

One idea is to use letter punches to make the lettering. Basically these things are steel posts with a letter/number at the end of it. You whack it with a hammer and it indents the letter/number into whatever surface you want. The idea behind this is that you could then fill in the indentation with some sort of paint to fill in the letters. The downside is that it's just for letters and that you couldn't get any sort of level indicators for your knobs - not that you couldn't eyeball it but it's not a good option for those that are looking to recreate patches exactly.



Another idea was electrolytic etching. It seems like you'd need a bit of knowledge for the startup, but the end results could be pretty awesome - kind of in the steampunk world.



Another idea was using a method called 'toner transfer'. This is where you print something reverse-reading on a laserprinter and use some sort of alcohol to loosen the toner from the paper so that you can press it against whatever surface you want. The end result is a bit sloppy but it's totally cheap and you can easily print out anything you need.



So basically I'm wondering if anyone has tried any of these methods for their front panels? I know they're not as clean and precise as getting them done at Schaeffer or FPE, but these methods all seem to be a hell of a lot cheaper and leave more to your control. Any thoughts?
johnnymad
you might get some ideas in this thread.

https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7304
jarvis
i saw that but that seemed more about getting the material for the front panels and drilling. i'm more interested in the panel graphics, though i do see at the bottom of that thread a few of the ideas i mentioned. i'm trying to see if anyone has had success with these methods. sorry if i am being redundant
johnnymad
i just used a label maker to put the graphics on my panels. up close, you can tell it's just a sticker, but from a couple of feet away you can't really tell.
jarvis
//oops (forgive my inability to press the correct button)
Luka
stamping seems cool but your limited to letters/numbers
could be quite laborious but what isnt
you could get creative with it and rotate letters around

it seems like a good method as you dont really need much else
perhaps than a coat of paint

most other methods involve multiple technology, multiple media, skills and time

this seems to eliminate a few of those

breakdown

screening - expensive expensive media, need skills to get fine print, needs time to get emulsion set for your screen. can be good outcome but unless your skills are good and you have fine screens dont bother imo. too expensive unless your going to do 50 units of the same design

etching - need etching and printing media, skills to get transfers to work well, time is minimal in comparison to other techniques. good technique but relies on toner transfer like pnp blue unless you want to hand draft your design with a pen in reverse onto the transfer paper. fun but be aware this can be bad for your health

toner transfer - need printing media, skills to get a clean and full finish, can take a long time depending on what type you go for. lazertran can take upto 6 hours per oven session. good technique if you have the time.

stamping (recent addition) need stamping tools, looks simple, time depnds on the amount of text you want. possibility of warping your plate. could be cost effective depending on the price of the stamps

lazer engraving need design software (cad, or the like), skills to use software, can be expensive, good finish
pleaseohplease
my method:

spray adhesive

newspaper (creativity comes into play here)

laquer

done.
johnnymad
jarvis wrote:
//oops (forgive my inability to press the correct button)


huh?
jarvis
johnnymad wrote:
jarvis wrote:
//oops (forgive my inability to press the correct button)


huh?


i accidentally posted a quote of myself instead of editing the post d'oh!
DGTom
PleaseOhPlease wrote:
my method:

spray adhesive

newspaper (creativity comes into play here)

laquer

done.


I like the sound of this!
plord
jarvis wrote:
The downside is that it's just for letters and that you couldn't get any sort of level indicators for your knobs

Huh? Use the "I" stamp in your picture there to make the hash marks, paint the majors and leave the sub-ticks unpainted if you want to have 50% or 33% markers in between. Use the "V" as an arrowhead to show the difference between bipolar and unipolar pots.

Or am I thinking this way because I spent too much time making ascii art in the late 80s on a 1200 baud modem?
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the bad producer
What about dry-rub transfers?

I found a chap down the road does vinyl lettering and signwriting, he also has a dry-rub transfer printer. He charges £30 for a A4 sheet.

I keep the text small, and get enough legending for about 10 or so panels, so it works out about £3 per panel. I make sure I get at least one spare word per word, as it can go a little wrong at times!

TBH it is a bit fiddly, but you can have any font, image, drawing you want.

It does depend on the finish that you are applying the transfers to, I found that gloss paint, for example, is impossible, the letters just stick before you aligned the text, or not at all, and the backing leaves a mark on the paint. With a matt or satin finish it seems to work well, also I've tried on brushed bare aluminium and that seemed to work. I cover the letters in varnish to protect them...

Here are some examples:




As you can see it does go slightly wonky at times, but you can get quite good results, I think..


Charlie
DGTom
Big Light! SlayerBadger!

I was just looking at the B'NaMankato over at e-m & was going to ask about the dry rub transfer. Is that like the stuff you'd use at school to put your name (& rude words out the dictionary) on book covers? But instead of just a set of letters you can print onto it?

Combined with the metal stamps for bigger symbols I'm thinking the combo would be simple & effective, if a little wonky every once & while... all the better... I call it character!
Roycie Roller
bad producer, i'd love to see the whole panel with the krautrock phaser & solina chorus, if you are up for showing it.
the bad producer
DGTom wrote:
Big Light! SlayerBadger!

I was just looking at the B'NaMankato over at e-m & was going to ask about the dry rub transfer. Is that like the stuff you'd use at school to put your name (& rude words out the dictionary) on book covers? But instead of just a set of letters you can print onto it?


Yes I think so, you used to be able to buy it in small packs of a particular font, in a certain size, it was called (maybe still is - though I've not seen it in years - 'Letraset' or 'Decadry') I can't print it myself, but I can send an Illustrator (.eps, or.ai) file to this guy, and he prints it. So instead of individual letters, it is whole phrases, eg FONITRONIK ATTENUVERTING MIXER so this lessens the wonk.

It is cool, as you can then have any vector graphics you like, and also he can colour match, and do glossy or satin. He suggested, for example, that I paint the panels in my colour, and then get lettering in gloss, the same colour - which would look fucking cool, but maybe hard to read!

Roycie Roller wrote:
bad producer, i'd love to see the whole panel with the krautrock phaser & solina chorus, if you are up for showing it.


Hi Roycie, I posted it here some time ago, but can't seem to find hmmm.....
Anyway, here it is, not such a good shot...

Roycie Roller
That looks like a very fun box!
Does the letrastet type of printing you use stand up ok to scrapes from patch cords?
fluxmonkey
i do all my designs initially in a graphics program, so i can play around w/ spacings and placements. for the most part, i then just print out a copy and rubbercement it on the panel as a drill guide, drill the panel, then peel off the drill guide and carefully mount a fresh copy w/ spray cement... and then either spraycoat w/ urethane or cover w/ clear laminating film. these will probably discolor eventually, but 5 years later (in poor storage conditions) and my first panels still look great.

usually it's black on white, but i did a nice couple racks where i printed onto maps cut from old atlases...

sometimes i later replace these w/ an FPD panel, but mostly not.

b
the bad producer
Roycie Roller wrote:
That looks like a very fun box!
Does the letrastet type of printing you use stand up ok to scrapes from patch cords?


Well I made this as a commission, so i didn't really get to use it (though I do have all those 'on the bench' for myself!)

This panel is very resilient, it is the acid etch base coat, which is car body primer really, really tough. Then the transfers, then I used two pack spray lacquer, which is - again - car lacquer, but you really need a spray booth for that one! So there is three or four coats of varnish on that (4? can't remember seriously, i just don't get it ) which I then turtlewaxed back for a nice finish.. So yeah, it is basically as tough as the paintwork on a car...

The turquoise panel is pretty hardwearing, but I'm only applying one coat of varnish to those, cos I'm lazy, and they're for me, but I did scrape a few tightening the pots, and no paint loss either on them, so - no problems as yet!

The lettering is always under the varnish, so you'd need to give it a good scratch to remove it...

Charlie
bubblesound
the bad producer - really good looking stuff. nice job.

there was a method on the EM forum a while ago that i've used. printing in reverse on transparency sheet and using spray mount to attach it to the aluminium panel with the ink side against the panel. if it's a little too glossy you can use very fine steel wool to rough up the transparency. between the spray adhesive and the nuts from the hardware the transparency is pretty secure. it's not perfect, but it's very cheap and works pretty well.
sduck
That's it. From now on I'm putting a Big Light on all of my modules.
chinard
lets not forget these things:



results not pretty but at least functional.



actually, most of the ugliness was due to my mangling of the aluminium with tin-snips and a few extra holes drilled that i never ended up using.
I originally tried to use toner transfer method and it only left the faintest imprint which you can still kinda see if you squint your eyes.

My next revision of this panel will still be done with transparent Dymo Labels, but now i have a nibbler (for cutting the sheet metal) and a better idea of how to lay out the panel.
johnnymad
that's exactly what i used; a dymo. i couldn't remember the name of it. i used one with a clear tape and stuck it onto my metal panels.
Cat-A-Tonic
I kind of like the raised, old school style Dymo labels for some things.
Black or Blue Tape with white letters.
It's got ghetto flava.

and of course stickers...
https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6957&highlight=metal +box+cgs+digital+noise

This collage of a Serge from the 'Mysterious collector' always looked really cool to me.
http://www.serge-fans.com/gallery_70.html
http://www.serge-fans.com/gallery_30.html
scozbor
i use fine tipped silver paint pen on my blank blacet panels.
stands out really nicely. and you get to draw whatever you want!
jarvis
PleaseOhPlease wrote:
my method:

spray adhesive

newspaper (creativity comes into play here)

laquer

done.


that sounds pretty fun. got any pics? i'd love to get a ransom note from you
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