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Panels/Faceplates: where/how do you get them?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Panels/Faceplates: where/how do you get them?
Yoa01
Hi all!

So I'm thinking this year I'm going to build my own modular... assuming I don't get a job and just buy a Pittsburgh Foundation or something. hihi I also want to build the Transcendent 2000 (yes, the one from 1978, featured in Electronics Today). For both of these, I'd need large plates o' metal with holes.

Where do you DIY people get your metal from, and do you get it made or do you drill all the holes and such yourself? I was thinking of looking into metalworkers who would make them for me, but have no idea what the price would be. Ideas?
raisinbag
check this out http://www.frontpanelexpress.com/ lots of people here use this service. i tend to make my own or buy from others when they do group buy/ runs.
whitewulfe
I'll be "cheating" and going with Ben @ Re:Synthesis for such services. Does a damn good job and it means I don't have to learn how to design panels (besides, he has kickass prices too). That and I'm hoping to stick with just MU, and he's the main panel guy (AnalogCraftsman, aka BoothNavy does them too, at least for his modules)
dogmeat
i find aluminum at different places, got some aluminum signs, my car mechanic found me a decent sized piece (a bit thin though), and used his shop shears to cut to size some blanks for me, try that, i paid very little for it. look for scrap stuff
the place that sells sheet metal locally will only sell 2mx3m thing, they would cut it for extra cost, but i don't know what i would do with it.
i drill holes with metal drill bits for small holes (3mm mounting euro holes) and step-drill bit for larger (if you go this route, don't skimp on the drill bits), i don't get that aesthetically pleasing results since i don't have a drill press, but it is usable and has that ghetto-industrial look 8_)
Mongo1
Generally, I use the Front Panel Express software to design my panels.
I order Aluminum Sheet metal from https://www.metalsupermarkets.com
Use ALUMINUM 5052H32 SHEET 0.080
Be sure and take a little off of the measurements when you order it. For instance, if I want my panel 8.75" tall, I'll order 8.74", just so there's a little wiggle room when all the panels are put in the system

I print the panel design on paper (use wireframe mode, and make it as dark as possible), cut it out, and tape it to the blank metal panel.
I use a punch to mark to the holes, take the paper off, and drill the panel on my drill press.

Next I use some Rustoleum black paint, and cover the panel well.
I let it dry for a while, then put it in the oven at around 250 degrees F to bake it for an hour or so.

I use a Brother P-touch label maker (white letters on Black tape) to make my labels, and occasionally augment that with hand drawn lines with a sharpie paint marker. At that point you can optionally spray some clearcoat on it to protect it, but I usually don't.

Now you just put in your pots and jacks, and you're done.

Note that I have also tried various plastic sheets available at Home Depot, but I don't really like the results. The panels are too flexible.

Hope that helps
Gary
Barcode
Why use metal? Go with acrylic! Oh the pretty colors!
Mongo1
Quote:
Why use metal? Go with acrylic! Oh the pretty colors!


If you are going for Euro, acrylic is probably fine - for larger formats it's too flexible. But lets face it - you can use cardboard if suits you. There aren't any rules.

Gary
drip.feed
Mongo1 wrote:
Generally, I use the Front Panel Express software to design my panels.
I order Aluminum Sheet metal from https://www.metalsupermarkets.com
Use ALUMINUM 5052H32 SHEET 0.080
Be sure and take a little off of the measurements when you order it. For instance, if I want my panel 8.75" tall, I'll order 8.74", just so there's a little wiggle room when all the panels are put in the system

I print the panel design on paper (use wireframe mode, and make it as dark as possible), cut it out, and tape it to the blank metal panel.
I use a punch to mark to the holes, take the paper off, and drill the panel on my drill press.

Next I use some Rustoleum black paint, and cover the panel well.
I let it dry for a while, then put it in the oven at around 250 degrees F to bake it for an hour or so.

I use a Brother P-touch label maker (white letters on Black tape) to make my labels, and occasionally augment that with hand drawn lines with a sharpie paint marker. At that point you can optionally spray some clearcoat on it to protect it, but I usually don't.

Now you just put in your pots and jacks, and you're done.

Note that I have also tried various plastic sheets available at Home Depot, but I don't really like the results. The panels are too flexible.

Hope that helps
Gary


Any pics my man? I love this DIY panel stuff. Thomas Henry's "Building a Synthesizer" rocks my world.
Mongo1
Quote:
Any pics my man? I love this DIY panel stuff. Thomas Henry's "Building a Synthesizer" rocks my world.


I don't have any high quality pics, but you can get the gist of it it in this little video. I do have some bridechamber made panels in my rig as well.

Gary

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fthnNCiAP08
Mongo1
Duplicate post
drip.feed
Mongo1 wrote:
Quote:
Any pics my man? I love this DIY panel stuff. Thomas Henry's "Building a Synthesizer" rocks my world.


I don't have any high quality pics, but you can get the gist of it it in this little video. I do have some bridechamber made panels in my rig as well.

Gary

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fthnNCiAP08


That'll do nicely, ta. thumbs up
drip.feed
So what does Rustoleum look like after you have baked it onto a panel? Is it glassy smooth or textured (like Bridechamber's MOTM panels)? Does it chip off easily?
Mongo1
Its pretty glassy - the baking seems to help keep it from chipping.

Gary
dmitri
http://www.coa-modular.com/sdiy/
fonik
i use front panel express. it is comfprtable, but expensive.

you want it cheap? then buy blank eurorack panels and drill yourself. labeling could be done with dymo (then you would get the pittsburg look, hehe), or what about ...errr... i don't know the english word for it. german would be a "schlagstempel", it looks like this:



(just a few more ideas)
analog604
I've gone with Front Panel Express for the entire process since 2005ish.
When I started into the DiY electronics, I didn't have any metal working tools, and lived in an urban apartment...
It was quick to design a panel and have it made..

Then I got a drill press, electric nibbling tool and metal files to work the metal a bit more.
I'm not certain what the apartment neighbors enjoyed exactly about the drill press and my nibbler but they began to reward my efforts by letting the upstairs sinks overflow into beautiful grey water waterfalls which dripped down from my kitchen ceiling. smile

anyhow that was 7 years or so ago and now many residences later..

My new focus is to design generic synth panels in FPE cad, have them manufactured (shape, anodize and cut most of the holes), but not perform the engraving step. Engraving + ink filling has become so expensive.

This two part video series (not from me) goes through cutting to labeling the panel on the cheap:


I think it all depends on what tools that you have or have access to.. a shop with basic metal working tools.

-Jay
home_listening
For my future panels I've been toying with the idea of getting laser cut bamboo backed with copper adhesive tape for EMI. Will post some results when I have a few.

I hate panels so much...
jcoplin
I'm with Frontpanel Express all the way. My home format is Modcan A. They are "expensive" at first blush but what is your time worth? I can get a professional panel knocked out in minutes (I have a saved template and just make changes for the project) and get it delivered in a week. The quality has almost always been fantastic and the support has been good when it has not.

One way to cut costs is to import your graphics as HPGL from something like Coreldraw or Inkscape. This also allows you to have a template with your preferred spacing/layout/fonts etc.

James R. Coplin
Yoa01
Wow, thanks all! Sorry, I've apparently been kicked from all the topics I was watching (I mean, on ALL the forums I am on) so I didn't get your replies. Really need to fix this machine...

I think I'll go the 'finding metal' route for now. I have a drill press with various metal bits, so I should be okay. Only problem is not many people just throw away metal around here...

Once I get some cash I'll probably either find local sheetmetal sellers or use Front Panel Express.

Thanks guys/gals (you can never really tell)!
daren
fonik wrote:
or what about ...errr... i don't know the english word for it. german would be a "schlagstempel", it looks like this:



(just a few more ideas)


I think you're referring to metal stamping.
This looks like a really interesting idea to explore.
It has a very interesting finish compared to engraving.

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200516013_200516013?cm_ mm
kroton
fonik wrote:
i use front panel express. it is comfprtable, but expensive.

you want it cheap? then buy blank eurorack panels and drill yourself. labeling could be done with dymo (then you would get the pittsburg look, hehe), or what about ...errr... i don't know the english word for it. german would be a "schlagstempel", it looks like this:



(just a few more ideas)


If chosing to go cheap, which I mostly do, any ideas where to get euro blank plates in larger sizes than 8HP? Doepfer does 42HP as well but I'd like to get hold of plates in 14, 16 or maybe 20 HP's.
Yoa01
I can't imagine they're easy to get a hold of, though you could just cut down Doepfer's. Most people have modules (or holes) that size.
Pfurmel
fonik wrote:


you want it cheap? then buy blank eurorack panels and drill yourself. labeling could be done with dymo (then you would get the pittsburg look, hehe)


I think that is a very cool look, reminds me of the lab gear we had in college.

I etch some of my front panels:

nono.dracula
I got a couple of 14HP Blanks from CONTROL the other day.

Of which i'm gonna use for DIY something?

http://www.ctrl-mod.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=Aluminum-Blank- 14hp
CLee
I've gone a hybrid route. I have Front Panel Express cut and drill my panels but not label them. I use Lazertran baked on for the labeling. That cuts way down on the FPE bill. I'm OK with the cost of cutting and drilling, that way all my holes are straight and the panels a uniform size, but the costs add up too much for me when they do the labeling.

I used to get metal from Speedymetals.com and drill myself. It was really cheap, just a few bucks per module, but my holes would end up off center, and the modules wouldn't line up in the rack... started to bug me too much.

Lazertran on an FPE panel,

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