Putting it all together

I guess you cannot really just have the bare PCB lying about with wires all over the place, not only because of the obvious risk due to the mains power running through part of your Panda, but also because a nice housing WILL increase your bragging rights AND make the music sound even better!
I started scavenging for something, but did not really come across anything at home worthy of my Panda headamp. Eventually I even considered building a wooden case, but that has been done a million times before, and ordering a metal casing was going to cost me more than I was willing to pay, so WHAT DO?
Looking around the net I came across someone selling a defective (I do not remember the defect as it played fine by me) Philips MZ1000 and I was somehow intrigued by its design. I bought it and decided to try and fit the Panda in it...

I chose one of the speakers to house the Panda, so off to the workshop to tear the poor speaker apart.
This is the Panda sitting in the inner casing of the speaker, a pretty tight fit considering the mains supply will also have to fit in there, but here goes...

As I would need a flat back for the inputs and mains I started by cutting out a piece of steel from an old computer casing I have lying about just for those purposes. It fit alright as you can see.

Next I found the front plate where the speakers were mounted and glued the steel plate onto it, not very exciting yet, is it?

On to a quick markup of what goes where and then make some holes and finally see if it all fits.
The fuse holder is pretty standard, the IEC socket packs a mains filter to eliminate noise from the mains supply to enter the amplifier. The phono sockets are Neutrik ones, I have worked with these before and I absolutely love them. They are quite expensive and probably do not sound better than el-cheapo ones bought off of eBay, but I had these lying about and decided they must be used.

Last I decided to make some vent holes to allow the amp to dissipate some of the heat. Now the backplate was ready to get painted...

...and here it is, painted and with components fitted.

Moving on to the front I had the backside of the speaker left, the one with the bass reflex port in it. Hmm, how to proceed...

Feeling all clever and shit I got the crazy idea that this was in fact perfect for a front plate with volume control and whatnot. So, off with the port and see if we have a match.

It might not be clearly evident from the pictures, but the potmeter is actually too low when mounted on the pcb, so I desoldered it (which, by the way is an absolute pain in the ass). Moving the potmeter all the way too the front plate would be the obvious choice, but I seem to recollect having read somewhere that potmeters are excellent at picking up noise, so I decided to keep it as close to the PCB as I could and the plan was then to have an axle running from the volume knob to the potmeter, more on this later. I quickly manufactured a round plate of plexi-glass and put a steel washer on it for better wear-resistance.

I carefully drilled some holes for mains switch and headphone socket, the hole for the LED was already there, it just needed to be drilled a bit bigger. In with the components to see if I was on track and I thought to myself that this is not bad at all... One thing stuck out though, the metallic of the headphone socket, so I quickly decided to paint thtat along with the front. I covered the parts I did not want paint in and was ready to paint it.

Now it is on to the main casing, below my first thoughts on how to fit the toroid.

...and how it would look all mounted.

A bitter thought stroke me of mains hum radiating all over that poor PCB, and also the thought of having a mains current toroid only fastened in two strips did not quite appeal to me. Oh well, back to the spare parts computer casings and make up something.

Hmm, this looks better! After drilling a few holes I was able to get a feel of the final fit.

Alas, no place for IEC socket (mains inlet) and fuse holder so I had to bend the plates a bit. No need for a proper plate bender when you have your good old vise and a hammer!

Looking a little bit better, but still I decided to paint the plate. I chose a black spray rubber-paint used to prevent stone chips and which can also be used to help reduce vibrations. Finished result below.

You might remember the whole volume knob issue I described earlier, this is how it was solved.

Getting awfully close we are, so the headphone socket was connected to the board...

...and of course so was the phono sockets on the rear.

The toroid was wired up.

Power button was pressed... 2 seconds later I was still alive and no fuses blown, big sigh of relief. The amp was measured and trimmed over resistors and outputs again and I connected my trusty old Panasonic Compact Disc Player and headphones.

Make way, music coming through! I put on the outer shells and here is what you all waited for.

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