Using PCBs for control panels? - diyAudio
Go Back   Home > Forums > Design & Build > Parts

Parts Where to get, and how to make the best bits. PCB's, caps, transformers, etc.

Please consider donating to help us continue to serve you.

Ads on/off / Custom Title / More PMs / More album space / Advanced printing & mass image saving
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 26th January 2015, 08:54 PM   #1
diyAudio Member
 
Peter Pan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Tampa, Florida
Default Using PCBs for control panels?

At least one of my projects calls for 8 very tightly spaced holes for tiny buttons to protrude through, and even tinier (1MM) holes for fiber optic segments near each button hole, plus some other assorted holes for LEDs and controls, all on a small 2" x 2" panel. Well I don't know about you folks, but I've found drilling sequences of perfectly aligned and perfectly spaced holes in a plastic enclosure to be a difficult error prone task. One little slip and that enclosure is going to look unprofessional and sloppy. I've gotten better at it, but its still a time consuming process to get right.

Well I assume by now a lot of you know that PC boards, especially small ones, have finally become very inexpensive to prototype, thanks to direct from China fab houses like PCBWay.com. So a crazy thought came to me. What if I used my PCB software to lay out a board exactly the size of the control panel I need, placing all the holes exactly where I need them In the exact sizes I need them, and specifying no traces or through plating. Just order a minimum 1 sided board with all the holes where I need them, and a full copper pour on the side with copper. I could do it reversed so the side with the copper could face the inside and add shielding to my project. I could even tell the board house not to bother with the solder mask, plate through holes, or conformal coating. Meanwhile, I'd be assured that all the holes would be absolutely correctly drilled. I could even specify silkscreen to get all the control labels and product logos, as long as it was all one color, though I'd probably opt to just put my own labeling over the board.

So what do you think? has anyone done such a thing? If the costs were low, can you think of any reason why it wouldn't work? I know there are companies that do control panels for you, but I doubt anything would be a cheap as some of these China PCB houses.
  Reply With Quote
Old 26th January 2015, 09:06 PM   #2
rayma is offline rayma  United States
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Upper midwest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Pan View Post
What if I used my PCB software to lay out a board exactly the size of the control panel I need, placing all the holes
exactly where I need them In the exact sizes I need them, and specifying no traces or through plating.
Sure, it's common to use a pcb for both electrical and mechanical purposes.
  Reply With Quote
Old 26th January 2015, 09:22 PM   #3
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: US
I use pcb for mechanical if all possible. FR4 is very strong, if you do 2.4mm thick, it can be very strong. I even use pcb to hold components that take stress. It's all on the design. For added strength, I use copper pour on the surface and put vias onto the pour. This serve as anchors onto the board....just the the root of a tooth!!!
  Reply With Quote
Old 26th January 2015, 09:34 PM   #4
diyAudio Member
 
Peter Pan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Tampa, Florida
OK thanks. So I guess in my notes accompanying the project in the Gerber and drill files set I send to the board house, I just need to explain this a purely "mechanical" board, so they don't think I'm crazy for not requesting any plate through, and the coper layers are all blank.
  Reply With Quote
Old 26th January 2015, 09:38 PM   #5
rayma is offline rayma  United States
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Upper midwest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Pan View Post
OK thanks. So I guess in my notes accompanying the project in the Gerber and drill files set I send to the board house, I just need to explain this a purely "mechanical" board, so they don't think I'm crazy for not requesting any plate through, and the coper layers are all blank.
If you mount controls on the pcb, a copper pad area for the nuts and lock washers is good, as are plated through holes. It reinforces the fiberglass.
  Reply With Quote
Old 26th January 2015, 09:51 PM   #6
AKN is offline AKN  Sweden
No snake oil
diyAudio Member
 
AKN's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: In the middle of Sweden
Send a message via MSN to AKN
Hi,
This Youtube clip from mikeselectricstuff may give some ideas.
__________________
/ Anders
  Reply With Quote
Old 27th January 2015, 01:14 AM   #7
diyAudio Member
 
Peter Pan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Tampa, Florida
Quote:
Originally Posted by rayma View Post
If you mount controls on the pcb, a copper pad area for the nuts and lock washers is good, as are plated through holes. It reinforces the fiberglass.
Well, yes... tbut in my case I'd be leaving holes for buttons to pass through, which need to allow some free movement, and other holes to let some 1MM light fibers pass, and those would be best to be a slightly snug fit. I know i have to expect some variation in hole sizes, and would have to ask the fab house what their nearest matches were. But I'd think trying to account for the thickness of the through plating would make it too much a game of chance.
  Reply With Quote
Old 27th January 2015, 01:28 AM   #8
diyAudio Member
 
Peter Pan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Tampa, Florida
Quote:
Originally Posted by AKN View Post
Hi,
This Youtube clip from mikeselectricstuff may give some ideas.
Wow! that's exactly what i had in mind, but really even better. I wonder how he got both the white silkscreen AND the black background! I'll have to write to this fella!
  Reply With Quote
Old 27th January 2015, 02:35 AM   #9
rayma is offline rayma  United States
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Upper midwest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Pan View Post
Well, yes... tbut in my case I'd be leaving holes for buttons to pass through, which need to allow some free movement, and other holes to let some 1MM light fibers pass, and those would be best to be a slightly snug fit. I know i have to expect some variation in hole sizes, and would have to ask the fab house what their nearest matches were. But I'd think trying to account for the thickness of the through plating would make it too much a game of chance.
When you specify a hole size to the pcb house, the finished board has that hole size, including the plating. It's figured into the process.
  Reply With Quote
Old 27th January 2015, 05:08 AM   #10
diyAudio Member
 
dchisholm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: St Louis, Mo
Quote:
Originally Posted by rayma View Post
When you specify a hole size to the pcb house, the finished board has that hole size, including the plating. It's figured into the process.
That has been the standard commercial practice for the last (at least) 15 years. The purchaser specifies a FINISHED (after plating) hole size, and the PWB fabricator figures out the drilled hole size before plating. (Assuming, of course, that he has adequate control over his process to achieve the desired result within the agreed tolerance.)

For reference . . . . the Seeed studio "Fusion PCB Specification" page at http://support.seeedstudio.com/knowl...-specification is a very complete reference to the tolerances and capabilities of a typical PWB fab house. The many graphical illustrations are especially helpful to understanding what the terms mean!

You may also find it useful to review the discussion of typical PWB drafting and fabrication practices in the thread "PCB layout design problem." at PCB layout design problem.

Dale
  Reply With Quote

Reply


Hide this!Advertise here!
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
DAC Volume Control Output PCBs Tenson Swap Meet 0 14th February 2014 01:15 PM
Wanted: Pass F5 clone pcbs & psu pcbs Renton76 Swap Meet 2 25th March 2013 11:26 AM
WTB: PCBs of various amplifiers and PSUs, Tangentsoft, AMB Labs, Peranders PCBs Spacehead Swap Meet 0 4th September 2010 07:01 AM
Group Buy. Reproduction Garrard 401 control panels. Paul Dimaline Analogue Source 1 26th January 2007 03:18 PM


New To Site? Need Help?

All times are GMT. The time now is 06:27 AM.


vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2015 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright 1999-2015 diyAudio

Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2