I always look forward to my monthly issue of the K9YA Telepgraph e-zine. There are always interesting articles about ham radio, from radio kits and adventure stories to fascinating stories about amateur radio’s storied past. I don’t know how they always put out such a fine publication, but I’m sure a lot of hard work goes into it. Thanks guys!
The lead story of the February 2013 issue is about an audio filter kit called the Hi-Per-Mite, designed by David Cripe – NM0S – and the 4SQRP Club. While the project was pretty cool itself, what caught my attention was the way the designers created the kit’s front panel. They used a slick piece of freeware called Front Design provided by an online service called Front Panel Express.
What I’ve learned about kit building, especially when the kit provides no enclosure, is that creating the enclosure is no mean feat, especially without proper machine shop tools, like drill presses, brakes, etc. What to do? Front Panel Express offers an excellent option. Simply download their free, and quite sophisticated yet easy to use, software which enables you to design a front panel for your kit (they offer enclosures too).
But, wait, there’s more. Once you’re done designing the panel (actually at any point along the way) you can check pricing, which makes it a cinch to keep costs in line. Once you’re set, you can place your order from right within the application. Very nice!
The front panel I designed for my kit will be made of aluminum. You specify all dimensions (metric or English) and color. You can also specify engraved labels, in choice of fonts and colors! My total cost with shipping: $38.
I placed the order this evening (January 29) and can’t wait to see the finished product.
Back in December, I actually obtained enclosures in an attempt to machine my own front panel. But my results were, let’s just say, disappointing.
Once I receive the custom-designed panel, I’ll post photos so you can see my original work vs. the Front Panel Express product.
In the meantime, check out the K9YA Telegraph and Front Panel Express. I’m glad I did on both counts!