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Old 15th Feb 2018, 7:46 pm   #21
llama
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

Back in the '70s I would matt black spray the panel, Letraset it, then cover with clear Fablon.

My most recent effort (for a WS-38) has been to simply draw the panel with lettering using MS-Paint. Save it as a JPEG onto a USB memory and take that to the print-it-yourself photo printer at a supermarket. The photo costs a few pennies and can look very professional. Yes, a few trials might be needed but at these prices it's worth it. Several sizes of "photo" are available and you need to be careful whether to include a margin or not.

For my job I'm not sure the sharp edge of the photo is good enough but I may be able to smooth it and cover the white edge.
Graham
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Old 15th Feb 2018, 7:52 pm   #22
David G4EBT
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

I wouldn't decry Letraset - I used it a lot when there was little option other than those horrid embossed Dymo labels. I'm just saying the in my view, for Letraset to look right, every single letter has to be accurately spaced and correctly orientated, which is quite challenging, needs a keen eye and a steady hand. Then the lettering protected by varnish and clear film or some such thing. I've attached a couple more examples of projects from the '70s on which I used Letraset. Firstly, a Crystal Calibrator, the front panel of which is black card with white Letraset applied, then covered with a sheet of 2.5mm glazing acrylic. Secondly, a not very sexy looking solid state Direct Conversion receiver.

I think for anyone who doesn't wish to get into creating artwork, or making water-slide transfers and what not, a label printer is by far the easiest option, and the method I've used for many projects for the last twenty years or so. Pic 3 is a 0-30V current limited power supply with four current ranges up to 2 Amp. On that I used blue lettering on white tape. The fourth pic is of a capacitance meter on which I used black text on white tape, but put a box around the lettering. The last pic is a zener diode tester, with blue lettering on white tape, with the lettering in boxes.

Hardly any skill is called for to create and fix the labels, they stick really well, are durable, and to my eyes at any rate, look quite presentable, with no hassles. You can alter the font size, width, height, have a range of symbols, punctuation characters, use upper and lower case as desired, underline the text or put boxes around it, and can choose italics. Apart from being far less hassle than Letraset, they're far more versatile and are no harder to fix than to put a stamp on a letter.

The printer I use is a aging Dymo one, but there is a wide range of makes. They're not that expensive, nor are the tapes.

Thanks for the compliments guys, I don't want to appear to be using the thread to 'showcase' my homebrew projects - I'm just outlining the various options that I've used over the years to try to make my projects look presentable, and to outline the pros & cons of each option.

If those amplifiers sound half as good as they look Tony, and I'm sure they do, that's your reward for the effort involved - they'd grace any living room. If I'm not mistaken, the larger one featured in two issues of Radio Bygones, with the valve-holders and other components mounted on PCBs. The stereo 3-3 looks splendid!
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Old 15th Feb 2018, 8:50 pm   #23
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

Yes, David, you are correct - the larger amp was one I designed myself, based upon a sort of merger between Mullard kit and a Brimar amp! It worked beautifully and I admit to being quite pleased with it.

Sold now, to collect money with which I have just completed another version of a 3-3 stereo which also is now finished and working well. You were kind enough to send me transformers but I'd already ordered from VVT, so they will come in for the next project.
Just for clarity, there's no money in making amplifiers. Break even is the best you could expect and that doesn't cover any of the many hours of concentrated work that goes into the planning and construction.

That said, it's enjoyable, keeps the mind ticking over and fills the hours between migraines, meals, shopping and grandchildren...

Sorry, this has gone a bit off topic. Having looked at your latest upload, David, I am further impressed at the highly professional appearance you have achieved.

I do agree that this is a useful and actually fascinating thread. I'm sure there must be more to come from others of the forum.

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Old 16th Feb 2018, 12:10 am   #24
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Default

Hmm. As already stated, this is an excellent thread!! David's work is superb, ESPECIALLY the Letraset earlier work
.
I also have a Dymo tool/printer that's a bit better than the old BLACK, mostly embossed' Dymo tapes from the sixties, but for me Dymo still looks "stick on".

A scrapped amplifier that I built a few years ago is engraved brass, HALF hard brass, which is one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made because it's REAL hard and I broke numerous HSS ( high speed steel ) engraving bits engraving it.

The reason the amp was scrapped I couldn't lift it . Half hard brass has one nice property however it stays polished. The marks around the edge are from the timber case that held it, screwed in from behind.

Joe
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Old 16th Feb 2018, 12:31 am   #25
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

I use MS Paint for most of my projects. I print out a crude ruler in the horizontal plane but you can add a vertical one. Print it out and lay against your panel, marking the ruler where you want the label to be centered. the first two pictures should give you some idea.
I have tended to make long narrow labels as they are easy to cover with 19mm Scotch Crystal Tape which does not Yellow like standard clear adhesive tape. Then I turn the paper over and cover the respective areas with double sided tape, the type used on carpet tiles gives the best adhesion. Then the label is cut out, backing removed from the double sided tape and the label carefully offered up to the panel. Full labels like the resistance box are trickier as they are applied after the panel has been drilled but if you have clear circles in the label, it allows you to get the holes centralised with the label. I found it best to remove just a small strip of the double sided so that you can use this as a holding aid on the panel. For the larger labels I use self adhesive clear film like the type used to cover exercise books. The last label is one I made this evening for a quick audio attenuator box.
Don't forget to set Printing to 100%, you can adjust this if required to get a better fit.
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Old 16th Feb 2018, 9:52 am   #26
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

Very nice work. If you don't mind me asking, where did you find the knobs for the decade box? I was planning on building one with the numbered skirted knobs in exactly the same way, until I found out that RS sold them in packs of 5 only (1 short!) and they cost more than the rest of the entire box
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Old 16th Feb 2018, 8:45 pm   #27
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

Quote:
Originally Posted by merlinmaxwell View Post
Re post 14 and perspex, I did a front panel (30 years ago!) with reverse applied white Letraset, it did take some time to work out which letters worked backwards and what to call the various bits, roman numerals helped a lot. With a spray of black paint on the back it looked superb.
Letraset used to claim that you could transfer the lettering to the backing sheet, then from there to a transparent substrate. Not easy though!

Normal application of Letraset isn't really too difficult. Rule a baseline in pencil first on a bit of masking tape placed where the 'autospace' bars go, not the lettering itself. Burnish each letter and its space bar in one go onto the panel, using the ruled line to position the bar - not the letter, then burnish over it again, using the backing sheet as an intermediate. Align the next letter, using the previously applied space bar as a guide (you might need to adjust the spacing for certain letter combinations 'kerning and kerfing'). Once the whole line is complete, you can remove the masking tape, leaving the intended lettering neatly aligned and correctly spaced.

Sheets of LS do dry up over time, and it's worth buying a new sheet for important work. To prevent damage from rubbing, varnish the whole panel rather than individual labels, to give a consistent appearance - a very lightly sprayed coat first to avoid any risk of lifting, then a heavier coat.

These days, though, my usual method is to print the text in reverse on OHP transparency acetate, which is fixed to the panel by the control mounting hardware and suitable edge trim (usually U-section flexible plastic in black or silver).
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Old 17th Feb 2018, 2:25 am   #28
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

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Originally Posted by MrBungle View Post
Very nice work. If you don't mind me asking, where did you find the knobs for the decade box? I was planning on building one with the numbered skirted knobs in exactly the same way, until I found out that RS sold them in packs of 5 only (1 short!) and they cost more than the rest of the entire box
Yes they are expensive, straight pointer knobs (Chicken Head to the Americans) would do if on a budget. I use them in various projects as they save a lot of label making.
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Old 17th Feb 2018, 9:57 pm   #29
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

Thanks for the reply - appreciated.
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Old 18th Feb 2018, 3:27 am   #30
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

Hi there,

For some projects, I use the method outlined by Tony in post #14.

1 - draw up in Inkscape, a vector drafting program, free, great.
2 - print on photo paper, two copies, first copy as a panel drilling guide
3 - use 2-3 mm clear Lexan (polycarbonate) avbl in small bits ex signwriters
4 - screw fix the "scale" etc and protective plastic overlay at corners etc.

Seems to work and last well.
You can use any drawing program instead of Inkscape.

Inkspot allows both "snap to grid" and freehand positioning, and scaling to exactly fit your project front panel size.
You can also make multiple layers as drill guides and final panel, and print separately.
And you always have a spare label if reqd.

I have also made scales for 50mm analogue panel meters, eg SWR, and "non-linear RF power meter" scales, and just glued it over the original meter scale.
I used the free French program "Galva" to draw the scales, then print as above.

Here are some photos of some examples using this process.
The minor labels on the Z Bridge are just Brother tape labels, which seem to be quite durable, and easily replaceable
mike
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Old 18th Feb 2018, 11:05 am   #31
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

Thanks for sharing this excellent work with us, Mike. You have achieved a professional look and your skill is only to be admired.
Great!
Tony
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Old 18th Feb 2018, 1:54 pm   #32
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

Al,

I have attached some images of a prototype device I've designed that I'm still writing an article about, I will post that article when its finished. But it shows the type of Brother label tape I used on it.

The Box is a die cast aluminium type (like an Eddystone box). I treated it with Bondrite which is an aviation etch prime solution similar to Alodine, then painted with VHT spray paint and baked it in the wife's oven. The pictures give an indication of what the clear label tape is like. This tape is ok for a limited amount of writing, but it is better to do a computer printout for something like an entire dial scale.

Obviously a superior result in this case would be obtained from having the box both professionally powder coated and then screen printed, but then it has to be passed off to other parties and it is more time consuming to do it.

Hugo.
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Old 18th Feb 2018, 2:41 pm   #33
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

This is my recent (if unimaginative) attempt using MS Word and a laminator.

Some of the lettering is not quite in the right place, which I'm sure will probably irritate me enough to get me to redo it in coming days!

I'm afraid I didn't have the patience to add the frequency calibration properly - it's hand written. But something else I may well correct in the MkII.
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Old 18th Feb 2018, 2:57 pm   #34
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

Quote:
I'm afraid I didn't have the patience to add the frequency calibration properly - it's hand written.
The matt laminating pouches take pencil very well.
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Old 18th Feb 2018, 4:45 pm   #35
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

I have done some panels using Letraset Safmat (not any more have you seen the new prices) and mat self adhesive inkjet film and a lot cheaper. These were printed up on paintshop and as previously stated print a plain sheet first to check positions first then print onto the paper. The big thing is that it does not need to be protected as so far I have had no loss of letters. Probably the biggest problem is with panels that are bigger than A4 (see the join on the LCR bridge) this takes a lot of care to get right, more care than i used! The meters were treated in the same way using the blank side sprayed white first.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 2:34 am   #36
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Argus25 View Post
I have attached some images of a prototype device I've designed that I'm still writing an article about, I will post that article when its finished. But it shows the type of Brother label tape I used on it.
Hugo, the Brother labels do look good there.
I'm intrigued to give it a go on a project that doesn't have dials that need calibrating.

A lot of the effect there, though, I reckon, is the very smooth paint job you achieved as a substrate for the labels! Far from easy to do that!
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 4:50 am   #37
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

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is the very smooth paint job you achieved as a substrate for the labels!
Yes, these types of label do require a nice smooth surface, especially the transparent ones. They don't apply well to rough surfaces like crinkle paint for example. They do come in all sorts of colors though, black on red or white on red, black on yellow, silver, white, and others like gold on black. The black on silver looks good if applied to bare metallic panelwork.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 11:18 am   #38
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

I use a program from Abacom called Front Designer.

Does scales for around pots/switches etc and meter faces.

Then print onto paper/light card, laminate and glue on (or thin doublesided tape) to the front panel.

Before the colour laser printer decided to spread toner all through it's innards, it made some quite nice panels (really must get round to sorting that printer).
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 1:07 pm   #39
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

I have always designed and printed onto clear OHP sheets in my laser printer. Quick, accurate and looks good.
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Old 21st Feb 2018, 9:52 pm   #40
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Default Re: Simple method to mark calibration and functions externally on a case?

I used Word, made a complete white front panel with black lettering, then covered it with fablon or similar.
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