Nuts & Volts Magazine
Making Your Own Control Panels
Better Control Panels and Enclosures
Don’t you just hate it when you spend days -- maybe even weeks -- on a great new electronics project, only to have it turn out looking like a six-year-old cobbled it together in half an hour?
What’s on the outside of your projects is almost as important as what’s inside. Control panels and enclosures are the first thing anyone sees of your project, so make sure it looks tip-top and professional.
This support page is for my articles in the April and May 2013 issues of Nuts & Volts Magazine. Here you'll find additional sources and information, updated periodically with new links as they are discovered. Note: All links below open a new window.
Inkscape - Open source vector graphics program. You can can use most any vector graphics application to create the art for your control panels and enclosures, but Inkscape is both robust and free. Downloads are available for all the major platforms.
Conde System - Printing supply resource for heat transfers (including fabric and sublimation process. Sublimation requires specialty inks and substrates, but is capable of applying color directly to pre-coated fiberglass, aluminum, phenolic, and other materials. Also view their laser transfer products, which use a color laser printer to transfer designs to various types of surfaces such as wood and metal.
Coastal Business - Like Conde, Coastal specializes in heat transfers for sublimation, fabric heat transfers, and professional-grade inkjet and laser printing papers.
Labels By the Sheet - This is a handy resource for purchasing label sheets individually or in small quantity. This allows you to test various types of label stock before committing to a full box. Offered are various paper- and polyester-based labels for inkjet and laser printers. (Be sure to get the proper labels for the type of printer you are using. In many cases, a label stock designed for laser will not work well in an inkjet printer. This is particularly true of polyester-based labels.)
Adorama - Just one example of a mail order source for discounted printers.
Epson America Inc - Main Web site for Epson, a major manufacturer of ink jet printers for consumer and professional use. Low cost color inkjet models you may want to consider include the Workforce 30 (letter and legal size) and the Workforce 7010 (up to 13"x19").
Oki Data Americas Inc. - Main Web site for Okidata, a major manufacturer consumer and office laser printers. One possible model to consider is the Okidata C330dn, a four-color (CMYK) laser printer for letter and legal size paper.
And of course there's always your local office supply, hobby stores, and other neighborhood retailers for printers, papers, and specialty substrates.
Consider also having your panels printed at an FedEx Office or similar copy center. Ask to see samples of their "synthetic papers," rigid polyester-based substrates designed for such applications as waterproof restaurant menus. Bring in your finished artwork on a thumb drive, and have them print it the paper or other substrate of your choice.