Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Look back up at me in an old spicy way

Hello boaters, look down at your panel, and then back up to mine, now back to your panel, now back to mine. Sadly your panel isn't mine, but if you used acrylics, instead of those other poor choices, your panels could look like mine.

Look down, then back up. Where are you? You're on a boat with the panels your boat could have.

What's in your hand, now back to me. I have it, it's an acrylic panel. Look again, the panel is now etched with a laser. Anything is possible when you use acrylics for your panels. 

I'm, supposed to be on a horse now, but I don't seem to fit. What should you do? Why of course, look back up at me. 

CNC cut 3/8" panels, laser etched nomenclature, beveled, and edge polished. The two panels cost $140.00 and were made by Delcraft, priceless. I would still be trying to sand the fur off of Starboard.

The photo of Thumbelina is from Wikipedia, and was taken by Phil Konstantin.


  1. I like the looks of the etched plastic panels. I do find they get scratched up pretty easily. I opted for anodized aluminum from frontpanelexpress.com. Ever used them?


    I think I proved definitively that you can't build your own AC/DC dist panel cheaper than you can buy one but it is cool! If I remember correctly the panel is 3mm anodized aluminum and cost approx. $120


  2. Thanks Rick, I have two issues with aluminum, anodized or otherwise. The first is that any scratch, or new cut out, in a saltwater environment will eventually lead to corrosion. You also have bimetallic corrosion potential if you use SS screws to attach it. The aluminum panels are also more difficult to work with in general. It takes nice new hole saws to get a good cut out, and in situ jigsaw work can result in big time chatter if you aren't careful. But it is better than other options. The acrylics can be bent, scratches can be polished out, 1500 grit sandpaper can put a matte surface on it to stop reflection. I just like the stuff, but you do need to have a good fabricator with the right tools to make the stuff for you. You are right, I would buy a distribution panel long before I would try make one. I do make them, if it is the only option available.

  3. I second frontpanelexpress.com. They do have acrylic selections in addition to many thicknesses of various colors of aluminum and powder coated finishes. We used them to create an interior aluminum panel for instrument mounting.

    Bill - in case you haven't seen these guys, you download a piece of software which lets you design your entire panel - cutouts, engravings, etchings, countersunk threaded or non-threaded holes, various shapes, etc. It's a full CAD program (for free). When you're done designing, you hit a few buttons and it will price out the panel and then upload the design on demand. A few days later, the panel appears at your door. Their pricing is VERY reasonable, the service is great, the program is wonderful and not too tough to use.

    You can download the program from their website to play with it (no affiliation - just a happy customer). Even if you don't use them for producing the end product, the software is very easy to use to play with various instrument layouts and design specifications.

  4. Thanks Chris and Rick, I will check it out asap.

  5. Another vote for Front Panel Express. I've used them on 3 large rewiring jobs that couldn't easily use standard panels. Their service couldn't be better. After making a wrong panel, they remade it correctly, offered to ship it to Panama at their expense, and followed up with a hand-written apology.


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