I use this basic process for the front panels of my L/C Meter IIB. Transparency film directly onto plastic. I have some over two years old that show no signs of deterioration. The example is for my version of the "poor man's spectrum analyzer" which I will use to test a new Digital Center Frequency Display and Marker Generator designed for that kit.

Materials required

Figure 1, Begin by laying out the panels physical dimensions.

Figure 2, Add the desired labels

Figure 3, Delete the dimensional data

Figure 4, Flip the panel horizontally (this puts the ink on the back side)

Assemblying the panel

Figure 5, The finished panel

( picture is a bit fuzzy, limited by the resolution of my camcorder)

Removing the panel label


Just a comment on your technique for front panels.  I've worked with
acetate-based front panels and found that some adhesives can dissolve the
toner (ink).  Also, some adhesives can dissolve mylar sheets, so be sure to
use acetate (overhead-projector film).  The advantage to using acetate is
that it's pretty durable.  The disadvantage is that you can see the bubbles
from the spray adhesives.

Now, I use a product called Sticky Back.  It used to be made by 3M, but is
still available (although it's getting harder to find)  Look for it in
stores that carry graphic art supplies, but don't even bother going to the
stationary or office supply stores.  Sometimes, Kinko's carries it, but ask
to speak to a manager (because most of the dweebs working there haven't
heard of it and will tell you they don't carry it.)  It's a mylar sheet with
a peel-off backing.  It's laser-printable and reasonably easy to apply.
Supposedly, it comes in colors, but I only use the "ice" color.  For testing
your layouts, a paper version (just like a big address label, only it peels
off the panels easily) is also available.  You CAN get THAT at Kinko's.
What I usually do is:

First, I print out my "drilling guide" and attach it to the panel.  I drill
out all my holes, and if there are any square holes, I use my nibbler tool.
I then finish up by filing down any rough edges.

Then, I'll remove the drilling guide, and clean the panel removing all burrs
and scratches.  I use a green Scotch-Brite pad, Ajax, and some elbow grease.
I use a circular motion to give it a uniform finish.

Then I'll print out and apply the final layout.  Lastly, using an X-acto
knife, I'll cut out the openings for the holes.

The only problem with my technique is that I sometimes get little tiny
bubbles between the panel and the sheet.  You can pop these with a needle,
but it still leaves a visible mark where the bubble was.


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