Front Panel Express Tricks

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memorygardens
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Front Panel Express Tricks

Post by memorygardens » Sat Apr 13, 2013 1:32 pm

I looked through some post here and didnt find a good list of front panel express tricks. I was wondering if any of you guys have any good tricks to make panels a bit cheaper. I heard of doing no infilling and just using a infill crayon yourself. Does that still look good? Does it work? Id love some more tricks too. thanks.

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Post by Rod Serling Fan Club » Sat Apr 13, 2013 1:45 pm

No infill works nicely on dark/colored panels.

You can save some making tic marks, words, etc. as graphic files. There is a website somewhere that lists tricks like this and how to do it. Try google.

You can save quite a bit by combining multiple separate panels/modules into a single larger panel.

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Post by memorygardens » Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:00 pm

this possibly? http://woosteraudio.com/front-panel-express.html
I was wondering if there is anymore then just this.

how does one make the tic marks and words into graphic files.

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Post by memorygardens » Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:00 pm

another possible thread after much looking
http://www.electro-music.com/forum/topic-20883.html

still would love to see some other stuff from wigglers.

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Post by carynrich » Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:32 pm

i hope to post detailed instructions on this soon, but high level, i use adobe acrobat 6 and corel draw 9 to convert graphics into hpgl (i'm still using windows xp).

so i use FPD to design panel graphics, print the entire front panel 200% to PDF (excluding drill holes), open the PDF in corel draw, shrink by 50% and export as a hpgl file. i then erase all graphics on the panel and import one hpgl file.

i recently ordered a MOTM 2U blacet time machine panel. the cost just using FPD was $94.28 with infill.

using the method described above without infill it cost $46.56. the infill alone was $25.02. i have to admit, it really sucks using Lacquer-Stik cause its a pain getting all the white paint off the panel, but for about a $1/stick which lasts forever vs. $25 a panel, i guess its worth it. any tips on putting this stuff on would help.

will post soon with details.

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Post by negativspace » Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:28 pm

If you have multiple text boxes in a column, put ithem all into one text box and use the 'line spacing' setting to get everything exactly where it needs to be on the vertical. It'll only save you a bit here and there but depending on your panel it can add up to a few dollars in the end.

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Post by Cheradenine » Thu May 09, 2013 4:52 am

carynrich wrote: so i use FPD to design panel graphics, print the entire front panel 200% to PDF (excluding drill holes), open the PDF in corel draw, shrink by 50% and export as a hpgl file. i then erase all graphics on the panel and import one hpgl file.
Best.Trick.Ever

I was about to order a bunch of panels, but seeing the total cost I searched for some tips to get it cheaper...
So I applied your method, and ended up saving 40% of the total cost !
Many thanks for that !

Here's how I've done it (I'm on win7- I had to install PDFcreator, Inkscape and Uniconvertor - all the 3 are free software)
-draw the panel with fpe
-print the graph only to a pdf, A3 200% size
-open the pdf in inkscape
-shrink it to 50%
-remove the outline of the panel
-save the result in .svg
-convert the .svg in HPGL .plt with Uniconvertor
-import the .plt in fpe on the panel with just the drilling and align it

:bacon:

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Post by fonik » Thu May 09, 2013 5:23 am

carynrich wrote:so i use FPD to design panel graphics, print the entire front panel 200% to PDF (excluding drill holes), open the PDF in corel draw, shrink by 50% and export as a hpgl file. i then erase all graphics on the panel and import one hpgl file.
how does this work for fonts and lines of different width?

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Post by hank » Thu May 09, 2013 11:16 am

negativspace wrote:If you have multiple text boxes in a column, put ithem all into one text box and use the 'line spacing' setting to get everything exactly where it needs to be on the vertical. It'll only save you a bit here and there but depending on your panel it can add up to a few dollars in the end.
Not only does it make things cheaper but they also line up automagically!

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Post by hank » Thu May 09, 2013 11:27 am

negativspace wrote:If you have multiple text boxes in a column, put ithem all into one text box and use the 'line spacing' setting to get everything exactly where it needs to be on the vertical. It'll only save you a bit here and there but depending on your panel it can add up to a few dollars in the end.
Not only does it make things cheaper but it also makes moving things around and changing text a lot easier.

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Post by consumed » Thu May 09, 2013 6:15 pm

using a lacquer stik for infill looks really good but ive only found it necessary with aluminum (raw or chromated) finish. its a messy process but satisfying in the end. i did 6u of euro face this way. i got the idea from fonik--his panels look really really nice.

if you're using a dark anodized panel, do not infill! the shininess of the aluminum comes through nearly as bright as white. im doing all my recent panels this way.

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Post by emdot_ambient » Thu May 09, 2013 7:30 pm

memorygardens wrote:..how does one make the tic marks...
I know you didn't really ask how to make tic marks themselves, but I wanted to make sure you know about Scale Generator, available on FPE's web site:

http://www.frontpanelexpress.com/suppor ... index.html

There's a How To pdf there as well. It's a bit odd to use, but once you get the hang of it you can create a good variety of scales directly as hpgl files and import them into FPE designs.

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Post by carynrich » Thu May 09, 2013 11:45 pm

fonik wrote:
carynrich wrote:so i use FPD to design panel graphics, print the entire front panel 200% to PDF (excluding drill holes), open the PDF in corel draw, shrink by 50% and export as a hpgl file. i then erase all graphics on the panel and import one hpgl file.
how does this work for fonts and lines of different width?
Good point. It dosent, the tradeoff is its all one width. I suppose as others have suggested, group the 0.2 and 0.4 separately and have two hpgl files but i assume that would increase the cost, by how much i'm not sure.

Btw, i just purchased front designer buti haven't tried it out yet. I may ditch my method altogether if it turns out to be easier.

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Post by consumed » Thu May 09, 2013 11:49 pm

funny, i purchased front designer some time back but never got around to learning how to use it. my initial stabs at it turned up nothing useful.

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Post by fonik » Fri May 10, 2013 3:12 am

so in general one could say:

don't use color infill (expensive)
use hpgl as much as possible
use less text objects (i.e. use pragraphs for text in columns)

i emphasize the point of leaving off the color fill. here are a few examples of colored panels w/o that:

bronze:
Image
Binary Game Sequencer by fonitronik, on Flickr

red:
Image
TH Controller LFO Custom by fonitronik, on Flickr

green:
Image
DualQuadSeqSwitch by fonitronik, on Flickr

and black, of course:
Image
PS3100 custom 01 by fonitronik, on Flickr

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Post by emdot_ambient » Fri May 10, 2013 4:43 pm

The panels I've seen with in-fill actually look worse than those without it, IMHO. In-fill to my eyes looks too heavily painted, too clunky. No in-fill leaves the letters and graphics sharp and clean. That's a totally subjective opinion, though.

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Post by Rod Serling Fan Club » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:29 pm

Cheradenine wrote:
carynrich wrote: so i use FPD to design panel graphics, print the entire front panel 200% to PDF (excluding drill holes), open the PDF in corel draw, shrink by 50% and export as a hpgl file. i then erase all graphics on the panel and import one hpgl file.
Best.Trick.Ever

I was about to order a bunch of panels, but seeing the total cost I searched for some tips to get it cheaper...
So I applied your method, and ended up saving 40% of the total cost !
Many thanks for that !

Here's how I've done it (I'm on win7- I had to install PDFcreator, Inkscape and Uniconvertor - all the 3 are free software)
-draw the panel with fpe
-print the graph only to a pdf, A3 200% size
-open the pdf in inkscape
-shrink it to 50%
-remove the outline of the panel
-save the result in .svg
-convert the .svg in HPGL .plt with Uniconvertor
-import the .plt in fpe on the panel with just the drilling and align it

:bacon:
damnit... I can't get it to work without my files getting corrupted. the conversions are messing up the original files.

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Post by emdot_ambient » Sat Jul 13, 2013 2:18 pm

Rod Serling Fan Club wrote:
Cheradenine wrote:Best.Trick.Ever...

Here's how I've done it (I'm on win7- I had to install PDFcreator, Inkscape and Uniconvertor - all the 3 are free software)
-draw the panel with fpe
-print the graph only to a pdf, A3 200% size
-open the pdf in inkscape
-shrink it to 50%
-remove the outline of the panel
-save the result in .svg
-convert the .svg in HPGL .plt with Uniconvertor
-import the .plt in fpe on the panel with just the drilling and align it
damnit... I can't get it to work without my files getting corrupted. the conversions are messing up the original files.
Hmm...I've been thinking of trying that process myself.

I assume PDFcreator acts as a printer destination, and that you'd want to print the fpd file in Outline Mode.

What SVG format did you save it in? Inscape has like 4 different SVG formats.

Also...are all your graphics and text from fpe using the same tool? I haven't looked at Uniconverter yet but I'd assume the HPGL should all be limited to just one tool (I pretty much only use the engraving tool 0.4mm for my panels.

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Post by Cheradenine » Sat Jul 13, 2013 3:14 pm

Indeed, PDFcreator is the destination for printing the outline only (That's why there's the external panel outline to remove in Inscape before saving)

I didn't pay attention to the many type of .svg in Inkscape...so it's the one by defaut when saving, "SVG Inkscape" (I never used this software before doing all that :despair: )

And yes, all the graving of my front panel used the same tool, 0.2mm
I guess you'll have to make one HPGL file for each size/type of tool.
RSFC, maybe that's why your files end up corrupted ?

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Post by Rod Serling Fan Club » Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:53 am

Ugh, so I finally got everything to work and it turns out, on this panel it's more expensive doing the graphics as hpgl. It added around $5 to the price. Maybe large hpgl are expensive? It's a 32hp euro panel and the hpgl file is nearly that large.

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Post by Cheradenine » Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:22 am

Weird !
Some of the panels I did where 32HP too, it always reduced the price from 30-40%
But the panels I did aren't too heavy on graphics and text :despair:

Here's an example, 35% cheaper with HPGL :
Attachments
QRLPG.fpd
Normal
(3.02 KiB) Downloaded 86 times
QRLPG HPGL.fpd
HPGL
(153.39 KiB) Downloaded 109 times

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Post by Rod Serling Fan Club » Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:30 pm

Thanks for posting the files. I actually don't have a whole lot of graphics going on. I think the HPGL is done by size and in my case it just ends up being a little more expensive. Granted, the price of my panel isn't too bad, I noticed you started at close to $100 and got it down to $60 (good job!). Mine is $61 for the same size panel so maybe I'm already sitting at the lower limit and there is little I can do to reduce it :hmm:

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Post by emdot_ambient » Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:21 pm

Wow. Most of my MOTM sized panels are 2U wide, which is just about the same area as those 32HP panels, and are 3mm thick, not 2mm. I generally get them to come in between $62 and $78.

The reason Cheradenine's original panel is so expensive is that he's built the scales around each knob from lines. Whereas I build mine in the HPGL scale generator available at FPE's download page. It's a bit of a bugger to figure out, but you can certainly build simple scales like Cheradenine's using.

That in itself may cut costs about as much as one can. I'm wondering if I'd see any significant reduction at all?

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Post by jarvis » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:08 pm

Does anyone know of any 1-stroke fonts besides the ones that come with Front Designer? Sure would be nice to have a few more options...

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Post by jarvis » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:08 pm

So I've been doing a bit of layout work and found these fonts: http://www.onelinefonts.com/ It's nice to have some alternatives over the FPE ones!

While I haven't gotten any panels made yet, I've been working mainly in Illustrator to do the type and layout. I then convert the fonts to outline, export the file as a DXF, convert the DXF to an HPGL in a free program called 'Cenon', then import the HPGL into FPE. So far so good... we'll see what happens when I order my first panel at the end of the month!

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