Putting my projects together I like to dress them up. I found Front Panel Designer by Schaeffer. It's freeware at
It's purpose is to use their service and order panels. However, you can use it and export to DXF, or PDF and otherwise play with it and it's all fine with the license. Since I will not be using their service just yet, I wanted to prototype a panel and see how I do. The measurements and print out are exact, so you can use it for a template. I positioned all the controls in the software, then print it on card stock, but paper is fine. Then you can actually check the layout.
I purchased some polycarbonate that is easy to score and drill, no cracking, from Amazon to try.
Search for it on Amazon
"Polycarbonate Plastic Sheet 12" X 12" X 0.118" (1/8") Exact with EasyRuler Film, Shatter Resistant, Easier to Cut, Bend, Mold than Plexiglass. For Robotics Teams, Hobby, Home, DIY, Industrial, Crafts."
I put the plastic on top of the printout and marked the hole spots. Using a drill press is very hard, the parallax of the plastic is hard to align. But it's good for a rough panel. I also used a plexiglass cutting tool, to the score the dial. You need to start very light and slow for it to not slip. This is not used for a final panel, but can go a long way to getting it right before you send it out. Of course, if you are simply drilling holes for parts to hang, this is great.
I also tried printing on a clear stick-on label but it was a huge, huge mess. Lost of bubbles, impossible to align, and on and on.
I took some pictures. Since the output is accurate, and Front Panel Designer outputs to DXF, I am taking the drawing to a local laser cutter to make my panel.
I'll keep you posted as I make my way through this.
Here is the output printed on a card
Line up the plastic
Mark the holes, scare what you want, the drill it
This looks very interesting, its usually the front panel that makes the best project look a tad home made. Would placing the printout on top of the panel then marking the centers eliminate that parallax problem? Im gunna check this out, my front panels look awful, marker pen , wobbly writing and not much else..
1. Center punch your holes
2. Buy a center drill. It's a drill with a point that's almost a needle, with a thicker shank to prevent wobble.
If that doesn't work, you may need a new drill press.
I use COREL DRAW for panel templates. Since I usually use aluminum or opaque acrylic, I tape the paper template on top of the panel and mark all the holes with a punch. No parallax if the paper is on top of the plastic. Rich