We use Front Panel Express frequently across our offices and as such we have initiated a plan for a company library of approved components. Here is a list of issues we have come up with that prevent us from managing and organizing this "library" efficiently:
* re-organizing of Macro shapes: please add support for dragging/dropping shapes to re-organize the library file
* "smarter parts": a lot of components have minimum or maximum panel thickness spec's. Currently there is no way to document this in a macro shape except in the name. Ideally, the Macro part would automatically adjust the mill-out depth depending on the thickness of the panel that the part is dropped own on.
* overlay/outline: a lot of components have a flange or similar that won't be machined. Currently, to facilitate proper placement of such parts (for example MIL style connectors), we have added a (red colored) outline to the macro part. This allows us to better visualize and space components on the front panel while guaranteeing that we don't have colliding flanges/parts, but we have to manually go in and un-group all the Macro parts and manually delete these outlines before ordering. As mentioned in another recent thread, a document or non-design layer would be very helpful.
* more "property" fields for macro's. These would be stored with the shape but have no machining effect. A little side-bar could show this information, or maybe add the fields to the "object properties" view? Fields we want to see are: vendor, part#, revision, Comments/Notes with the last being a larger text box. This would to some degree alleviate the fact that the parts are not smart as we could type in min/max panel thicknesses in the part comment section.
I'm sure I/we will have more questions/comments and requests, but mainly the main thing we have issues with right now are all related to the Macro implementation and features that are missing in that. We hope to see these improved soon!
If I was not clear on certain things, let me know and I can clarify. If you disagree, I'm open to discussions, maybe there is a better way or a good reason not to do something?
Thanks for reading!
Posted By: Kjell-Edmund Ims on Feb 24, 2011 07:11PM Category: Whishes
Thank you for contacting us regarding our software.
I will forward your comments along to our design team. There has been a lot of interest in integrating a non-design layer into the software. For several of your requests, a non-design layer would be very helpful (component outline, part number, vendor, etc.).
The panel thickness issue with macros is one that is quite tough to tackle. While some datasheets specify different cutouts for different panel thicknesses, others simply have a maximum panel thickness. On top of that, a designer could use cavities in our software to mount components to panels that are thicker than a datahseet allows. I have brought this up several times, and work is in progress for additions to be added to a later release of Front Panel Designer.
Keep the suggestions coming, many of the features available in the most recent version of Front Panel Designer were added from user requests.
Posted By: Paul Birkeland on Feb 25, 2011 09:59PMReply
I am designing a case for a VHF Transverter for amateur radio use.
I will use side profile 2 - 56mm high
Case will be 200mm x 250mm
I can find the dimensions of the cavity on the cover panels ok but how do I insert those onto a panel
I downloaded the templates but can't see where on the cover panels the slot information for the cavity is entered
hope that makes sense!
Posted By: Simon Lewis on Feb 24, 2011 11:23AM Category: Front Panel Designer
Thank you for contacting us regarding our enclosures.
To insert a cavity onto the panel, go to the "Insert" drop down menu and select "Cavity". From there, you can click the "M" key on the keyboard to specify where to place the cavity, then after you click "OK" another box will appear for the dimensions.
You can view more information regarding these procedures in our tutorials:
Also, we are available by e-mail to check over your design before ordering, or to offer additional technical support.
Posted By: Paul Birkeland on Feb 24, 2011 05:47PMReply
excellent! super service and I will check with your team before order that its all ok and I did the right thing :)
Posted By: Simon Lewis on Feb 24, 2011 10:47PMReply
who should I send the file to for checking?
I priced the panel but seems expensive to create a panel to fit .. so def needs checking!
pls advise what email to use
Posted By: Simon Lewis on Mar 03, 2011 06:55AMReply
Go ahead and send the file(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted By: Paul Birkeland on Mar 03, 2011 05:20PMReply
I am sourcing and gathering parts for a PASS DIY build theese days, and found out about this place through some threads on a diy forum. If I can get the entire enclosure from here, that be best. I don't need to order from hifi2000 and then get another panel. Much better from one place. BUT, I have tried the panel designer, and I don't understand how to make a full enclosure....
Posted By: Kenneth Rørås on Feb 22, 2011 01:17PM Category: Front Panel Designer
Thank you for contacting us regarding your project.
To design an entire enclosure in our software, you will need to design each side as a separate panel. We have a collection of datasheets for the extrusions we offer, and they can be found here:
Your needs will often dictate which products must be used to complete your project, and I would invite you to e-mail me at email@example.com to further discuss the details of your project.
If, by chance, you happen to live in Europe, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance from our sister company in Berlin.
Posted By: Paul Birkeland on Feb 22, 2011 10:02PMReply
Thank you. I'll take a look at the link and get in touch with Berlin when I have som more questions :)
Posted By: Kenneth Rørås on Feb 23, 2011 01:14PMReply
When in the process is the anodizing done? If it's done prior to cutting, milling and drilling, then the edges will be raw. If it's done afterwards, then the edges will also be anodized.
What about the filling of the engravings?
BTW, I am planning black anodized, with white fillings.
Posted By: Keith Mycek on Feb 21, 2011 08:35PM Category: Production
Thank you for contacting us regarding our manufacturing processes.
Our sheets are anodized before milling, so the edges and holes will be raw milled aluminum. The engravings also penetrate the anodized layer, so they are raw until infilling.
If the raw edges are an issue, you could opt for powder coating.
Let us know if you have any additional questions.
Posted By: Paul Birkeland on Feb 21, 2011 10:29PMReply
For those of us using the Mac OS X platform, it seems that generating an HPGL file is quite tricky. It would be great if FPD could import vector EPS files or some sort of PostScript-based file. This would open up many design possibilities for Adobe users.
Any other Mac/Illustrator users out there?
Posted By: Seth Alder on Feb 10, 2011 12:07AM Category: Whishes
I would recommending hopping onto the forum for the conversion software you are using to go from your .ai files to .plt files.
The scaling issues you showed me can likely be remedied within the graphics generation programs.
Otherwise, I hear that Corel Draw runs quite well on a Mac through Boot Camp or a virtual machine, but that of course requires obtaining a license for both Corel Draw and Windows XP.
Let us know if you are able to find a solution. Our base of Mac users continues to grow, and this will undoubtedly be an issue for others in the near future!
Posted By: Paul Birkeland on Feb 10, 2011 12:15AMReply
I am new to your tool and cannot figure out how to add a rabbit cut around the outside edge of the panel. This is needed to allow the front panel to slide into a slot on the rack assembly. The rabbit is about 1.27mm deep and 1.27mm wide.
Posted By: Larry Grandstaff on Feb 04, 2011 08:54PM Category: Front Panel Designer