Mutable Instruments Clouds PCB Panel

Creating a custom front panel for the assembled Eurorack module.

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Inspired by some of the PCB art, this is a front panel project for the Mutable Instruments Clouds Eurorack module.

Original, purple Oshpark, black and white variation.

The art piece is from the article, Neurons a Hacker Perspective by Joe Kim. Here is Joe's talk at the Superconference about balancing art and technology.

For most PCB art there are 4-5 colors available depending on which color of solder mask is used. Gold, silver, or copper, solder mask light + dark color, white or black screen print. You can also add an optional silver color to a gold or copper layer with the paste layer.

For the first board I wanted to use Oshpark so I tried a purple color layout. The layers are separated in Illustrator.

First layer is copper, second is where not to apply solder mask, and last is the screen print.

Read the project logs for the rest of the steps.

  • 1 × Time

  • Friday Log

    Richard Hogben02/07/2020 at 22:10 0 comments

    Nothing new to report.

  • OSH Park After Dark?

    Richard Hogben01/24/2020 at 17:24 0 comments

    Thinking of giving this a go in @oshpark 

    Wish I could see the preview in other than purple first!

  • To Do

    Richard Hogben01/17/2020 at 19:00 0 comments

    New design for black PCB

  • Racked

    Richard Hogben03/29/2019 at 15:49 1 comment

    The Clouds panel looks really fun next to the Ears and alongside other Mutable Instruments modules.

    Yes I have two Streams :)

  • First Purple Panels for Clouds

    Richard Hogben03/28/2019 at 22:47 0 comments

    The purple solder mask is as dark as I expected. I would probably remove it from the back next time to give it better translucency.

    The white silk screen is offset a bit, I would probably not run the solder mask behind it to avoid the edge alignment.

    The svg conversion went well and text looks good.

    Just some offset white silk screen here.

    I'm going to test mount in a retail case, then on to the next set of colors.

  • Shipped

    Richard Hogben03/27/2019 at 16:24 0 comments

    First prototypes should arrive soon. I'll have some detailed photos of the results posted here!

  • First Run

    Richard Hogben03/21/2019 at 23:16 0 comments

    Your boards are being made as you read this!
    We've sent the panel containing your boards to the fabricator. 
    We expect to get them back around March 28th.
    In case you're interested, there are 77 other orders on the panel 
    along with yours, adding up to a total of 369 boards. Neat eh?

    So I could have the results back by April 1, but most likely sometime that week. If everything looks good I'll move forward with other colors. Joe thought a red solder mask could be good to try.

  • Not That Easy

    Richard Hogben03/18/2019 at 16:34 0 comments

    The import process went smoothly because there was hours of work prepping the Illustrator file. The problem you will have with most conversions are compound paths. These are objects with holes, all compound paths must be divided into shapes without holes. 

    This proved challenging when coming from a large Illustrator piece. My strategy was to divide the art with a 10x10 grid, and clean divide any remaining compound paths into individual shapes. Any text or simple areas I did by hand, but the grid division really helped break down the rest of the image.

    Here is an example of some of the grid cuts in Illustrator.

    After the layers list included no groups and no compound paths. I went back over the art and combined any shapes that didn't need to be divided. This step is probably not needed but it made the file look a little neater and I was concerned with all the cut lines converting correctly.

  • SVG to Polygons

    Richard Hogben03/18/2019 at 16:20 6 comments

    There are a few articles describing different ways to get the SVG files from Illustrator into your PCB design software. Some are direct methods of importing the SVG to polygons, others use DXF format in between. None of these worked for me because of the size of the files, 800mb DXF files? The common SVG to polygon plugin failed. 

    Svg2Shenzhen actually worked, really well. You have to use Inkscape, and you have to use Kicad because that's what the extension is written for. I opened the SVGs in Inkscape, setup the layers, opened in Kicad and the files were done. The extension settings are important to get good results.

    This produces a 3mb finished Kicad file. 

    Really done, holes, board outline, and layers. The only adjustments I made were to the copper annual rings (copper and mask size, etc)

    Here it is imported to Oshpark.

    If everything checks out with this build I will finish the black, white, and gold version.

View all 9 project logs

Enjoy this project?



atltvhead wrote 02/23/2021 at 21:27 point

Really beautiful panel!

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Richard Hogben wrote 02/23/2021 at 23:04 point


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kroaton wrote 08/27/2019 at 13:10 point

Beautiful work, mate! It came out looking gorgeous. Will the files be made public? I've got two Clouds modules and your panels would be a big step up.

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rania.bakali wrote 04/03/2019 at 06:52 point

Bonjour! Nous sommes étudiants et nous allons faire son travail. Nous voulons savoir comment se conecté le MPR aux touchés du piano , s´il vous plaît

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Budi Prakosa a.k.a Iyok wrote 04/03/2019 at 03:54 point

so cool! good job (im the author of svg2sz)

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Richard Hogben wrote 04/03/2019 at 03:58 point

Thanks! It helped me a lot.

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Rafliwiguna2 wrote 03/20/2019 at 21:00 point

Hallo and how are you

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Richard Hogben wrote 03/21/2019 at 15:37 point

Good and you

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Mike Szczys wrote 03/19/2019 at 00:46 point

Wow, that's really beautiful and a great use of PCB fab. I've seen it used for panel work before and the modularity of Eurorack means a lot of people will be super interested to see this come together (and score some for themselves). Awesome.

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Richard Hogben wrote 03/19/2019 at 03:00 point

Looks like I'll see the boards around April 1st. Really interested to see how they turn out :)

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