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Author Topic: Computer programs for creating graphics for panels  (Read 1271 times)
AB4D
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« on: August 14, 2009, 07:23:25 AM »

Have any of you used a computer program to create the panel graphics for your projects?

I am looking for a program that can create near professional quality graphics onto paper stock. What do you suggest? Would something like Photo Shop be able to create quality graphics?

I am trying to avoid dealing with outside companies like Front Panel Express to make the panel.

73 Jim
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K8AC
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2009, 01:20:39 PM »

Take a look here http://www.k8ac.net/VFOPhotos.html and see what you think of the panel.  It was made with OpenOffice Draw (totally free) and printed on photo paper.  I printed the panel with an ink jet printer, let it dry 24 hrs, sprayed 3 coats of clear Krylon, then one coat of satin Krylon.  The photo is then glued to the metal panel with Elmers spray-on glue.  Here's another project I used the same approach with: http://www.k8ac.net/BalancedTuner.html

I drill and cut the holes in the metal panel first, and after the photo is glued on, I trim the square holes with a razor blade, and the round ones with a very sharp hobby knife.  To ensure that the panel holes line up with the photo, I lay the cut metal panel on a piece of paper, trace the edge, and outline the holes with a pencil.  When I have the design done with Draw, I print samples on plain white paper and hold them up to the metal panel to make sure things are properly aligned.
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AB4D
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2009, 03:23:21 PM »

Thank you for the response, your front panels look nice,it may be what I am looking for if it allows the user to draw lines and boxes in different colors.

Thanks again.

73, Jim AB4D
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VK2TIL
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2009, 05:13:37 PM »

I use MS Publisher;

http://img406.imageshack.us/img406/1200/photo018m.jpg

Print on paper colour of your choice and laminate with Marbig Quick Laminate.
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K8AC
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2009, 10:02:56 AM »

The Marbig stuff isn't available here, but I've tried some clear stuff with an adhesive back with unsatisfactory results.  Is the Marbig stuff applied with heat or just cold and do you roll it to get a good appearance?
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VK2TIL
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2009, 11:13:20 PM »

The Marbig stuff is dry-laminate; it has an adhesive.

It gives a slight "diamond-dust" appearance that I quite like; it's regular and doesn't look like blotchy glue.

Here are some examples;

http://img29.imageshack.us/img29/5834/exteriort.jpg

http://img10.imageshack.us/img10/6970/photoexterior.jpg

http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/9232/finalcase2.jpg
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VK2TIL
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« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2009, 12:50:12 AM »

I didn't answer your specific questions clearly; sorry.

No heat; you just peel-off the backing then press it on.  Starting at one end and "rolling" it on avoids air bubbles but it's very forgiving.

I rub it down hard with a wad of cloth or tissue.

I glue the finished sheet to the panel (usually PCB) with UHU Stik office paste; this doesn't "bleed" through the paper.

This is the Marbig product;

http://www.marbig.com.au/products/Prod.aspx?P=14016341
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KC9KEP
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2009, 03:38:35 PM »

I use CorelDraw graphics suite 12.

73
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W0BTU
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« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2009, 10:38:21 PM »

We use Photoshop to create a very professional looking label for a product that we manufacture and sell. It\'s printed on special paper, then heat-laminated between two sheets of special clear plastic made for the job. We then punch three holes in it and use a double-face tape dispenser to fasten it to the enclosure.

You can see it at
http://www.negativeiongenerators.com/iondetector.html
...but the photo doesn\'t do it justice.

73 Mike
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K7GLM
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« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2009, 08:54:34 PM »

If you're looking for free, search for Paint.NET on the web. It's a very complete drawing program.
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K9WI
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« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2009, 06:15:17 AM »

Once you have your image, if price is no or little object, this looks like the way to go

http://www.pulsarprofx.com/decalpro/Vertical/1_MENU/1c_How_It_Works/How_It_Works.html
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N1YE
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« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2009, 01:08:36 PM »

I like OpenOffice Draw. The panel is then printed on to paper for a drilling template. Then the actual panel is printed onto self-adhesive vinyl label material. The vinyl label is then covered with a self-adhesive clear laminate sheet to protect the graphics. The adhesive label and laminate, together, make a rugged decal that can be directly applied to the front panel. Laser printers make the most professional prints, but are limited to black. There is a company on the net that makes vinyl labels that are coated for inkjets. The vinyl, especially white, looks like a painted finish when applied smoothly. One can easily print onto colored
cardstock and apply the same clear laminate with good results. However, it is not as durable as the vinyl because cardstock absorbs moisture and can easily be discolored by any liquids that should happen to leak around the edges of the clear laminate. Simple lines, boxes, and Sans Serif fonts look more professional than  other fonts which one would seldom see on commercially produced equipment. Use blue painters tape to carefully line up the decal before carefully pulling the backing off. Start in the middle and work out to the edges. After all the bubbles are gone, a short blast of warm air from a heat gun will make the vinyl shrink ever so slightly and take on the painted appearance.  Hope it works well for you. 73
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K8AXW
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« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2009, 09:09:45 AM »

Jim,

I have spent 50 years building and constantly searching for ways to create professional looking panels for my projects.

I presently use Microsoft Visio....which unfortunately isn't free.  Visio lets you create lines of various widths, most shapes and of course many fonts.

The main purpose of this response is to suggest that you first create the front panel label sheet using whatever graphics program you decide to use. Then  make a copy on ordinary paper and use that as a template for creating the holes for the controls.  I use a spray-on adhesive obtained at Wal-mart and use it only on the "temp" template.  It will then peel off fairly easy.  

This will insure that your labels for the controls are aligned perfectly.  If you lay out the panel, drill and cut the holes then try to create a label sheet to fit the panel, you're going to spend hours getting everything aligned. Even then it is almost a given that something not line up.

Once you print out the final label sheet then you spray both the panel and sheet, let it set for 5 minutes and the stick them together.... carefully.

As for paper, go to a large crafts store.  They usually have an incredible selection of heavy scrapbooking paper of various colors.  Of course you will need to choose a color that will show the black ink.

73

Al - K8AXW
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