Front panel

The Front panel
During this part of the build you begin to see the end result of how the Elecraft K2 radio is going to look. It's just not components soldered onto a board but here you will end up with buttons, LCD, knobs, VFO and a cool front plate.  When done this section of the build you can hold up the front panel and dream of the finished rig! The control board build is a great "get your feet wet" for the front panel build. As with all parts of the K2 assembly taking your time and enjoying the experience is key. With the front panel there are some sections were a mistake can be pain staking to undo. Apart from the capacitor, resistor, diode and inductor placement and soldering the front panel build breaks the board-um with some challenges.

Challenges of the Front panel build

 Push button installation
Push button spacing tool
There are16 push buttons to install, you want to take your time here as rushing will affect the looks of the K2 and possibly the push button functionality.  To make sure all the push buttons have the same spacing off the board, Elecraft has a spacing tool that will give all the buttons a professional look. Once the key caps are placed on the push buttons board begins to take on the look of a radio!

Defuser and LCD
Now the real fun begins, I have found this to be one of the confusing parts of the K2 build. The defuser and LCD can be rendered useless if instructions (which at times I find vague) are not followed. I wrote a post on the LCD and defuser install. So the link to that is available so I don't have to repeat myself.

4 bare wires for encoder
How I do it
If you take your time with this section it's not a big deal to complete. In the manual you are asked to remove 1.5 inches of insulation. I ended up with 4 pieces at 2 inches long. I found the longer wire was easier to work with. Also Elecraft provides over and above the amount of wire needed. You will not be short of wire for the other needs of the build if you cut each piece at 2 inches.   To get nice straight pieces I would strip about 6 or so inches. Then with the wire cutters cut out 2 inch pieces from areas were the wire was nice and straight. Having straight pieces is important as you do not want these wires touching each other. If they do touch one another it is a lot of disassembling to correct the issue. Here is a link to show how I soldered these wires in place
Things to remember during the front panel board build
  1. Take the time to use the spacing tool for the switches and the spacers for the defuser, the placing of the plastic green bar graph filter and care handling and installing the LCD plastic bezel. This will make for a professional looking end product. 
  2. Pay close attention to the amount of washers are to be placed under certain standoffs. Some require 2 and failing to do so will mean dis-assembly  on your part to correct the issue.  The problem may not be noticed until a considerable part of the rig has been built. 
  3. There is a new Encoder as of March 2012 and this involves not only an encoder but a circuit board with some parts and pieces to solder. Make sure you trim the leads on the bottom of this board. I found (as did not trim these leads for some reason) when not trimmed these leads will come into contact with the control board once assembled.....not good!
  4. Finally DON'T skip the checkout section, sure this may seem like a tedious step BUT it may reveal a small problem easily corrected. Rather than a large problem further down the build and possible damaged components as well.

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