Sunday, 3 March 2013

Professional Looking Panels

Having decided not to make my own front panels for this mixer after stabbing myself with a needle file, I need to find a route to fabricating front panels of a professional appearance.The obvious route is to use the excellent Font Panel Express program provided by Schaeffer and have them make the panels.

Unfortunately there are two stumbling blocks to overcome. The first is that I have zero artistic skills  This means that, although I can draw a perfectly functional front panel layout it will at best  not offend the eye. I can tell a good, eye pleasing layout when I see one but there is no way I can create one. Fortunately, in the last few days Braeden, a fellow member of, has begun to publish his versions of the layouts of my Helios and Pultec channels as well as ones for other other popular DIY audio projects and it is clear his artistic skills are streets ahead of mine Here is a composite picture of Braeden's Helios 69 channel layout (left) side by side with mine (right).

Check out Braeden's other designs.

The second stumbling block is that although panels made by Schaeffer look really good, they are rather expensive and the company does not provide any feedback on your proposed layout. Once again, someone on knows of an alternative supplier and in this case it is NRG in Germany. NRG is run by Frank Röllen who can accept panel layouts drawn in Front Panel Express but will make them for 30% less than Schaeffer. His range of materials covers various colours of anodised aluminium as well as some plastic materials but the best part about using Frank is that when you send him a panel design he emails you back  to check you have thought of everything from a mechanical engineering point or view. Things like clearances for pots and switches and adding radii to slots. When you are both happy he makes the panels. I was so impressed by Frank's approach I have already ordered a pair of Braeden's Helios 69 front panels and, as soon as Braeden has finished it, I plan to order a pair of EQP1A versions too.

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