Some people seem to have some difficulty making panels in Kicad. This can be a art on it’s own. I’m just starting to make panel in Kicad, so I don’t know it all but here are my tricks.
I came to this by the Haraldwerks designs. These where made with Front panel express, great tool for designing panels. But the price of these panels where a bit to much for me so I went the cheap route and made them from PCB’s
Haraldswerk was nice enough to make the panels in Front panel express and putting the files for them into the documentation (zip). This made the first part quite simple. Just install frontpanel express and open the file.
Above is a example of the Quad LFO in front panel express. On the top left side you will see the file menu. This has the option “Export” (or cntl +L)
A new window will appear where you can save the file. I choose for DXF as a file type mainly because Kicad can work with DXF. When pressing save a message box will appear.
We now have a DXF we can use in Kicad. We start by making a new pcb with pcbnew.
Again go to the top left and choose File. Here you have the option to “Import”. Import the graphic (DXF).
A new window will appear.
Import the graphic on the layer you want this graphic to display. I tend to use the silkscreen front and back (for lettering), the edge layer for the cut outs.
You should have something like the screenshot below
Everything is now on the silkscreen layer. I’m going to import the graphic again but this time on the edge layer and put them right on top of each other.
Now we can use the menu on the righthand side to turn layers on and off. And by doing so only selecting in the layers that are shown.
Now I start removing things just by selecting them.
On the edge layer I only leave the holes that need to be cut.
On the silkscreen I removed the holes and only leave lettering and text. When combining these two you get the result below.
From here on the panel is done, but it still can lead to questions from your manufacture. There is no copper on this board nor are there drill files. I tend to make some line on there with copper or use a filling mask. Just to avoid these questions. But from here on the main part is done. If you need a drilling file you could use the shapes for positioning your holes.
Design panels from PCB’s can be a real art. Looking at ST-modular or feedback modules, I still got a lot to learn.
Below is the final product