Here I look into various ideas for the panel design and settle on my final plan and get building. You learn how I came up with my design and spent much less money.
So I pondered over the MFOS the synth panel at £58
Nearly bought it, then realised that it would also need an aluminium rigid back panel too!
At about £100 once you’ve added taxes, I couldn’t justify the cost. I thought that what matters most to me is getting sound out of the thing and it seemed a bit expensive for something that looks fairly pedestrian.
I also like the idea of re-using stuff, recycling, permaculture, make-do-and-mend all that stuff. So making my own panel seemed like a good challenge as long as I didn’t spend too much time on it.
I found this vid by Ray Wilson (the designer of my Synth Kit) on making cheap panels
Initially I’d looked into printing out the panel design like in the video, I bought some red card but found when making the template, setting up the scale on my home printer was tricky, and had to stick various sheets together which would look crap if done on the final panel. I also would need to laminate it and I didn’t have a laminator big enough. All in all It started to sound like a bit of a chore for some not particularly interesting results. So I scrapped that idea and went for a rummage in the next door neighbours workshop. He’s into Post-industrial design, and loves anything to do with machines, lucky me. He soon got me going with a piece of old steel, and an grinder to clean it up.
I was getting into buffing the paint off it, and started to think. Hey that’s a really cool effect. So I kind of used that buffed effect as the basis for the design concept.
So I’ll go through in steps what I did
Workbench, Hacksaw, Power-drill, Flat-File, Round file, Letter Punch set, steel rule hammer, centre punch, Sharpie, Calipers, Spring clamps
Step 1 Cutting the metal
Marked it up against my printed out panel diagram,Cutting the steel with a hacksaw and a bit of elbow grease seemed to do the trick.
Filed off the edges to make them more hand friendly
Step 2 Marking up the holes
As you can see I used a ruler to mark out the drill holes on a printed out panel template (available on the MFOS site) Then punched through with a hard piece of metal (centre punch)
Step 4 Drilling the Holes
To drill the holes I used HSS drill bits and lots of WD40. Botching together a sort of drill holder I could make the holes fairly accurate, well accurate enough anyway.
Warning !, This takes longer than you might think. Also be careful with drilling metal, lots of shards can get stuck in your hands and wear safety gear such as goggles.
Don’t forget to use lots of WD40 too, this helps lubricate the drilling and stops the bit from getting stuck and smoking, take it easy and clamp down your metal panel whilst drilling.
At the same time I also made the plywood back plate, it added some rigidity as well as some spacer material for the components to sit on.
Step 5 Letter punching the labels
Here we see my efforts at abbreviating Ray’s rather long labels, I mean who calls an LFO a “Low frequency Oscillator”?
So as well as thinking what still makes sense, I had to fit my chunky 5mm letters into the space availble.
Well at least I know what they all mean!
The letters were punched through the paper onto to a smooth hard surface, you’ll need to find one for this to work. Don’t use a counter top or it won’t work. I used the base of my drop drill bracket. Basically you’ll need something with no give to it.
So the results are pretty raw looking, I used a sharpie to fill in the indents of the letters to give it more contrast. It could have looked clearer in parts , but overall I’m pretty pleased with the look of it. I used some clear metal lacquer to give it a finish, and done
Next time we look at the populating the panel components! Hope you enjoyed the pics. But sure to check out the rest of the build and you can follow me on twitter.