how do you design your front panels?

Goodnight, I have sort of a problem/doubt.
I mounted an ATX powersupply inside a small enclosure and then added a lot of banana plugs, and it was pretty boring to do a thousand measurements and lines to mark all the centres of the holes.
And I have some more projects that need enclosures and I would like to know what kind of software do you use to design your front panels, so share your knowledge :slight_smile:

Senso: Goodnight, I have sort of a problem/doubt. I mounted an ATX powersupply inside a small enclosure and then added a lot of banana plugs, and it was pretty boring to do a thousand measurements and lines to mark all the centres of the holes. And I have some more projects that need enclosures and I would like to know what kind of software do you use to design your front panels, so share your knowledge :)

El-cheapo way would be to design the panel in some form of vector art program, reverse the image and print it out on a laser printer, then iron-on transfer it to your enclosure material. This would only work with metal, of course. You could have fairly accurate layout of holes in this manner, and even labels for controls could be incorporated (after you cut the holes, spray the panel with clear acrylic).

An idea for plastics might be to use a variant on PCB routing using iron-on transfer and etching; instead of laying out traces to be covered by the etchant, the traces would be exposed to the etchant (in this case, the lines remaining uncovered by toner would form the edges and/or other markings - letters, labels, etc). You would etch the material (could be thin copper, or PCB material?), leaving "wells" in the material deeper than the surrounding material (protected by the toner). Remove all of the toner. Apply india ink using a squeegee (so that only ink remains in the wells), then apply the material to plastic (or whatever you are using), and apply pressure using a press, or a rubber roller, or something (don't let your design shift). Essentially, its a form of intaglio printing:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intaglio_(printmaking)

Not sure how well it would work, but it might be worth a shot...

Thank you for the explanation and different methods to try, but my main doubt is what software do you recommend to use? I would like to have at least 1mm precision to place everything.

Senso: Thank you for the explanation and different methods to try, but my main doubt is what software do you recommend to use? I would like to have at least 1mm precision to place everything.

You could probably get that precision with MS Paint and careful pixel counting. I would bet you could do it with Microsoft Visio. There's also Inkscape (http://inkscape.org/), which is a free open-source GPL vector art program. You might even be able to use EagleCAD or some other PCB layout software.

Try exresspcb’s board layout program.
Will let you draw 1mm holes and place them with 0.01mm grid.

cr0sh:

Senso: Thank you for the explanation and different methods to try, but my main doubt is what software do you recommend to use? I would like to have at least 1mm precision to place everything.

You could probably get that precision with MS Paint and careful pixel counting. I would bet you could do it with Microsoft Visio. There's also Inkscape (http://inkscape.org/), which is a free open-source GPL vector art program. You might even be able to use EagleCAD or some other PCB layout software.

I use EAGLE too. Just draw up the holes and what not and print in 1:1 ratio. The limitation is size of your paper.

BTW, el-cheapo is not a Spanish word, according to one of my Spanish-speaking students. ;)

What, is it a feminine? la-cheapo ?

CrossRoads: What, is it a feminine? la-cheapo ?

Google translate:

cheap thing -> lo barato

I'll have to ask her when school starts.

Liudr, you are way too serious at times 8)

CrossRoads: Try exresspcb's board layout program. Will let you draw 1mm holes and place them with 0.01mm grid.

I'm another fan of expresspcb. I find it very easy to use compared to eagle. For years, I kept a windows box around just to run it and microchip's IDE. Now I run those on my mac with bootcamp/xp.

I find this application pretty handy: http://www.frontpanelexpress.com/

Although they are providing a panel service, the free software allows one to lay out and print the design.

Pfffff, screw front panel design, I just wing it and drill holes with a battery powered handdrill, after measuring roughly where the holes should go with a ruler. Need a square opening? Just use a coping saw to cut inside the required dimensions, then a utility knife to trim excess plastic, periodically testing for the right fit.

It's worked for me so far, with both my 8bit synth, and my Coron DS-8 drum synth clone.

:)