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 Forum index » DIY Hardware and Software » The layout factory
DIY Front panel graphics
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textual



Joined: Dec 05, 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:33 pm    Post subject: DIY Front panel graphics Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Does anyone have a preferred software they use for making simple graphics for panel layout? Like dial markings and labeling etc...?
Mac OS preferred ?

I have heard Eagle being mentioned a lot, is there anything even simpler?
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Dan Lavin



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I use Open Office Write, both Linux and Windows versions. However, if you're into dial scales...little lines every fraction of a degree...it's not friendly for that.

For more detailed graphics, like logos, you can't beat Gimpshop. It's set up just like Photoshop and is freeware.

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textual



Joined: Dec 05, 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

thanks!
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kkissinger



Joined: Mar 28, 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:08 pm    Post subject: adding my thanks Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm just now deciding how to proceed and appreciate the info.

I think I'm going to use 1/16" aluminum (to match my current panels) and this system:

http://pulsarprofx.com/DecalPRO/index.html

Anyone have any experience with DecalPro?

My current Aries panels are of black, anodized aluminum. While DIY anodizing is possible, I don't want to mess with dangerous acid, etc. My plan is to simply paint the aluminum black and to transfer graphics to it. The Aries graphics are simply metallic aluminum (the non-anodized/dyed part of the panels) and I will likely use a small amount of color in my graphics besides metallic.

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magman



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I picked up an interesting link a while ago which is good for generating dial markings, here:

http://stiftsbogtrykkeriet.dk/~mcs/Scale.html

It takes quite a bit of playing to get this to work with programs like FPD, but it can save you a lot of time and save you a small fortune with Schaeffer. On a test panel I picked up that someone else had designed, it saved about 5 Euro's per pot to use the HPGL this site generated compared to a design drawn directly in FPD.

Unfortunately, I haven't got a copy of Corel Draw or Illustrator that would allow me to edit the HPGL directly (nor could I get the HPGL import to work in Inkscape), but that would be the ideal working partner for this useful tool.

kkisinger,

I too have been looking at DecalPro for front panels and will no doubt be buying a set in the next few months (I'm already looking at laser printers and laminators). I also like the look of their PCB prototyping system. I will be interested in seeing how you get on with this system.

For the blank panels though, why not buy a sheet of anodised aluminimum? You may even get the supplier to cut a big sheet into several panel sizes to give you the blanks you need. I think that anodising is likely to be a better match for your existing panels and the DecalPro transfers are likely to bond better to an anodised finish. Also, if you get several panels cut from a single sheet, you will get a better consistency of the panel colours and shades (different supplies of anodised panels can have slight differences in shade and sheen that are only noticeable when they are side by side).

Regards

Magman
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kkissinger



Joined: Mar 28, 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

magman wrote:
For the blank panels though, why not buy a sheet of anodised aluminimum? You may even get the supplier to cut a big sheet into several panel sizes to give you the blanks you need. I think that anodising is likely to be a better match for your existing panels and the DecalPro transfers are likely to bond better to an anodised finish. Also, if you get several panels cut from a single sheet, you will get a better consistency of the panel colours and shades (different supplies of anodised panels can have slight differences in shade and sheen that are only noticeable when they are side by side).


Excellent idea -- thanks! Smile I'll update you on this as it comes together.

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Dan Lavin



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Magman, thanks for the link. I bookmarked it for future use. Normally I don't put a scale on my panels, but maybe I would if it were as easy as this.
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kkissinger



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:15 pm    Post subject: Quick update Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I went ahead and ordered 1/16" aluminum panels, cut to size. I decided not to go with anodized -- was hard to find black anodized and, besides, I was going to have to add lettering to it anyway.

Thus, my plan is to paint the panels.

I ordered the DecalPro kit and I'll let you know how it works out.

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clickmrmike



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I've spent a *lot* of time trying to get the DecalPRo system to work for panel labeling. I'm trying to do white labels on black panels (MOTM-format).

First, the system does work for large-size full color prints. For panel labels, not so well.
First, you *must* have the correct laminator - buy it from PulsarPro if you can. The process is very particular about temp, and only a couple laminators will work. Try out a monochrome test image included in the kit first - if it doesn't work your panel art certainly won't.

Your print (panel graphic) must be done correctly, with maximum quality, on the PuslarPro paper.

Follow the latest version of the directions from the web site (which may not match the one that comes with your kit). Pay particular directions to the drying method, the decal material will stick everywhere that's not dry, toner or not.

Put a nice heavy border around your panel graphic - like on the test images included in the kit.

White is the *worst* color to do this method with. Other colors seem to be better.

The process is fiddly, expect to make any panel multiple times before you get it right.

At one point in the process, the decal must be soaked off the backing paper before it is placed on your panel. This is the step that fails for me - fine text (like switch labels) and tickmarks tend to detach from the backing and float off. I've never managed to get one to work, and I've spent hours on it.

The tech support (its actually the owner) at PuslarPro is *very* responsive and patient. I finally gave up on it for MOTM-style white legend panels. I think it might work well if you are doing full color laser panels - "clear" spots in the decal (where you want the panel color to show through) are problematic. In sparse panels (like white on black), it's a deal-killer.

I think the PulsarPro concept is good, and a great company, but it didn't work for me. This is just my experience, and I may have a process flaw someplace that I can't figure out. Please report back and describe your experience.

clickmrmike
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kkissinger



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

My target is to do metallic silver (aluminum-like) lettering on black.

An alternative approach will be to make a decal with the black portions of the graphic -- in other words, a dense image and simply place it on the panel.

I'm sure it will take some experimentation.

Thank you for the info. Smile

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PickNick



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

my favorite is QCAD under linux.
the trial version is perfect for DIYers!


Screenshot-QCad - [-media-disk-GRAV-clang.dxf].png
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kkissinger



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:35 am    Post subject: DIY anodizing Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I found this link:

http://www.caswellplating.com/kits/aluminum.htm

This looks interesting -- I'm still a little hesitant about this, though... quite an investment in equipment and supplies (though it would work out to around $40 per panel if I spread the cost over the panels in my current project.)

Decisions, decisions... Question

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Count Binoculars



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

why not simply degrease/deoxidize the aluminum and silkscreen on your graphics? you can even have the screens burned for you www.westarsolutions.com for around $48 which gets you a reusable screen - so if you end up doing ten VCOs then you end up paying the very reasonable price of $4.80 per panel. of course this doesn't include ink, squeegee, aluminum, time etc... but it still it seems reasonable. note that i've yet to try this but am going to order a screen today i think.

also, for a little more money you could buy some emulsion, ink, blank screens, jiffy clamps and assorted tools and just burn your own. diy pcb makers should find themselves on pretty familiar ground here.

anyone have any experience in this?
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kkissinger



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Count Binoculars wrote:
why not simply degrease/deoxidize the aluminum and silkscreen on your graphics?


I'm going to try to do this except that instead of silk screen I'm going to see if the DecalPro will bond to the aluminum. The DecalPro says that it needs to be "powder coated" however I want to see if I can get it to bond on the aluminum.

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Luka



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

decal pro is very cool
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kkissinger



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

kkissinger wrote:
Count Binoculars wrote:
why not simply degrease/deoxidize the aluminum and silkscreen on your graphics?


I'm going to try to do this except that instead of silk screen I'm going to see if the DecalPro will bond to the aluminum. The DecalPro says that it needs to be "powder coated" however I want to see if I can get it to bond on the aluminum.


Did my first experiments with Decal Pro yesterday. I tried some of the samples they sent. I had no problem getting a good bond to bare aluminum and I am encouraged by the results. Look forward to trying it out on some real panels.

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kkissinger



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

After thinking about it, I decided simply to paint my aluminum with a black, satin finish and then apply the decals to that.

There were quite a few reasons for this approach. So, the panels are started ... have a lot of work ahead of me.


P2210011.JPG
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Three panels (from left to right) a Klee panel and two MPS panels, painted and ready for decals (as soon as I finish the layout design). I chose satin black because it doesn't show imperfections as much as glossy laquer finish.
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cslammy



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I get panels made at PCBWAY in China; use Eagle for the layouts.

PCBWAY only accepts 274x gerbers, not the x2 new format, so make sure you use the "legacy" CAM templates when making your gerbers.

I then save the Eagle as a PDF, as I the PDF for decal artwork as well.

Next I use adobe illustrator to do my artwork. I use the PDF as the background, that way I know where the "holes will be". Save it as an AI file and use AI to flip the artwork

Finally I use Lazertran for the actual decal process. This stuff is super tough and once it's on its on for good.

more details here:

http://audiodiwhy.blogspot.com/2018/07/diy-synth-and-electronics-pseudo.html

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