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Old 10th September 2012, 04:14 AM   #1
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Default front panel layout software

I've settled on laminated card as an easy way to produce halfway-decent looking front panels. Design the layout on the computer, print onto card, laminate and cut out, stick double-sided carpet tape on the back, punch out for shafts etc, mark through location of holes onto panel, drill panel, then stick the laminated card to the face of the panel.

Two questions arise:

1. Anyone got a better suggestion for low-cost, decent looking panel labelling in the home workshop?

2. What's the best software for this sort of work?

Ideally, it should have layers which can be turned on and off (so you can have knobs and switches visible to guide the layout process, but then invisible when it comes to printing time). It would be nice to be able to save and load "components", such as "6 position rotary selector with 19mm knob" to cut down on repetitive effort. It would need to have all the usual cut&paste, rotate, flip, mirror, etc commands we've become used to in other applications. It needs convenient sizing and placing. It needs to produce decent looking lines, fonts, curves, etc, unlike some technical drawing programs that use really icky fonts. Might be nice to be able to include a house logo! Free or very cheap is a must.

I've been using the drawing package from Open Office (or Libre Office) so far, and it can do all those things, and for free. But I don't find it completely user friendly. Any better suggestions?

Terry
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Old 10th September 2012, 05:05 AM   #2
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It doesn't do most of what you mentioned, but the software for the Front Panel Express service can be used for making and printing basic layouts.
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Old 10th September 2012, 06:04 AM   #3
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Yeah, I looked at that one, but couldn't see how to do what I wanted.

If there was a commonly agreed program, and a commonly agreed approach, we could all post our designs, and be able to snitch bits off each other...

Here's the sort of thing I've been doing with Open Office. This one is the layout for a microphone and microphone input test box:

Mic Test Panel.pdf

Terry
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Old 15th September 2012, 09:01 PM   #4
DDB is offline DDB  United States
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@Terry Here is a panel I made for a tee-filter in "Front Designer" . FrontDesigner I believe I paid $35.00US without vat. Low-distortion Audio-range Oscillator post #258 It doesnt have layers. After designing panel, I print on paper or card stock and use to centerpunch or cutout openings. Then I print on good photo paper, laminate and cut out, then glue in place with Elmer's glue stick. Slightly moveable until pressed in place, comes of with water soak.

Last edited by DDB; 15th September 2012 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 15th September 2012, 10:06 PM   #5
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Thanks DDB. That seems to have the benefit of being able to save components you have designed. But it is quite a lot more expensive than the free Open Office suite! Hmmm....

Interesting ideas with the photographic paper and the Elmer's Glue Stick. The double sided carpet tape I use doesn't allow any repositioning at all. Also, cutting and punching through the double-sided tape gums up the tools, although they clean easy with solvent on a rag. I'll give the glue stick a try.

Terry
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Old 15th September 2012, 10:12 PM   #6
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I was once on a job without my Mac and therefore Illustrator, (my s/w of choice), but managed to knock up quite a presentable front panel in Eagle.
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Old 22nd September 2012, 08:33 AM   #7
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Illustrator would allow for layers which are not printed, plus it's easy to draw to scale. Surely trial versions out there somewhere.
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