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Here we will learn step by step how to make your own custom aluminum panels using dipfree
 
   Start Dipfree/trace PC board program, set the scale to 50% so that you can see the whole board area with the cross hairs in the center. Set the grid to 0.1" define the origin at the lower right hand corner of board layout. Go to "route" "board points" check off  "Create rectangular board" enter the size of the panel you will be making. i our example it will be 6" X 3" if needed click "define origin" again for lower right corner of box. reset "scale" to 100% (this will depend on how big of a panel you are making.
    Now using the draw rectangle button we will put in the cutout for a 4 digital display. We want the upper left hand corner to start at 0.5" X 0.5" down, we want it to be 1" high X 4" long. put the cross hairs at starting point and drag the rectangle out. Use the measuring tool to make sure it is 3" long, if not high light it and drag it out more. repeat for the high of cutout. or you can just right click "properties" and set the size position coordinates. Right click "properties and make it "top silk" pictorial # 1
     Pictorial # 1

Pictorial # 2

     Next we will start the input/output and control switches. First set the "grid size" to 0.025" start with the power switch in lower right hand corner. We want it 0.7" in both directions from it's CENTER. temporarily set "scale" to 600% so we can place the drill tip alignment hole. again use the place oval button and make the hole as small as possible as shown in pictorial # 2 Right click "properties and make it "top silk"
     The input and output BNC connectors come next. we are using full round. but you could also use the "curve" button and the line to make one with a cut out. use the pre-described procedures make one first one.  When completed and placed properly simply use copy and paste for the second one. We have have now completed the patterns for the cutouts and holes. Next we will place the text for the panel.
      Set the scale for 200% so you have a good close up. Set grid to .007" so you can get best positioning Then "objects" "place text" type Input repeat but type Output. when done right click on each and choose font size, bold etc. Go to power switch next and repeat as necessary. When placing Frequency remember you will have a bezel snapped in and will need to make sure it clears the bezel. It seems in order to get bold to work in Diptrace font must be at least 11. All text MUST be "top assy" when you look at it's properties.
    You may have to (depending on size of panel) move the finished board so it is in the preview screen all the way. Silk will give the cutout only and assy will give the text only. print a copy of each on plain paper so you can measure and check them.
    Using the drill pattern print out carefully cut it to exactly 3" x 6" and tape it on to the aluminum panel. When properly positioned, drill the round holes first. then using a nibbling tool cut the LED window next. if you do not have a nibbling tool use the drill to drill a series of holes along the window edge, taking care the they DO NOT touch the edge itself. when completed punch out inner block and slowly file the edge smooth. remember 100% perfection is not needed as you will be snapping in a bezel. when completed. Finally clean it with recommended cleaners and cover with plastic wrap and proceed to the final step below.
     Purchase some clear or colored contact of your choose from a art supply store. (plastic with glued backing) Print the text only (assy) using the highest quality setting as for a gloss picture on gloss paper in your inkjet program. After it is printed let it dry completely. Purchase a can of clear gloss spray from art store, the type used to protect lettering and pictures. Spray on a thin coat or two. letting it dry between coats. Now comes the hard part, Peel back only a 1/2" inch or so of the backing of the right side. Lay it across the right side of panel pressing firmly to hold it down. SLOWLY peel of another 1/2" of backing. Some people use a guide tool like a flat stick at the base of the curve and panel to slowly push the plastic down. ( take care not to scrape the lettering) Continence to do this, NOTE: if you have a small bubble do not peel off backing stick it with the head of a pin to let air out and push flat. When it is completely of lay a piece of rubber like material on panel, firmly press down. this what you will not mare the letting as you do this last step. Cut out plastic using a razor blade from the LED cutout and the holes. Get a very close cut so you do not push up on plastic as you mount the switches etc. Last step is to spray on two coats of clear protective plastic and let dry.
     This completes your professional panel made with Dipfree or Diptrace.
 
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