In this class we will scratch the surface of creating project enclosures. We will go over common (and not so common) examples and techniques.
“Everybody needs boxes.” — John Locke
Show and Tell
We’ll review and discuss last week’s assignment. What processes/techniques/tools did we use? Any tips? What would we change if we could do it all over again?
Tool of the Week
The nibbling tool is great for cutting non-uniform holes in sheet material.
Tip of the Week
“Find your standard.”
Whether it is the screw, motor, material, connector, enclosure, or tool you fall back on — be consistent. It will make your current and future projects easier.
Project enclosures are such a broad topic, they could practically be anything. But when creating one you typically want the following:
- Easy to open
- Easy to modify
- Easy to make multiples
Don’t Do This
I know it seems like a great idea and getting the files are incredibly easy, but these boxes are difficult to get right. Material thickness, tolerance, and glues have to be taken into consideration. These types of enclosures are typically a headache, and I suggest you avoid them whenever possible.
Off the shelf Project Enclosures
Standoffs and Panels
Adding rubber feet on the bottom is always a nice touch.
Using screw on corner braces (also called corner reinforcing brackets), screws, and panels is a n option for quickly changing out any surface of your enclosure. A great choice if the walls of your enclosure are often modified or changed.
Attachment Blocks make it easy to join two flat panels at a 90 degree angle.
Stacking layered material may not be the most conservative use of material, but it gives a lot of control on placement of components inside of an enclosure.
Thinking Hz’s Solar Theremin
Construction Toy Enclosures
Construction toys (Legos, Erector Sets, etc.) make for quick, modifiable enclosures.
Cardboard and Paper Enclosure
Using cardboard or thick paper can be an affordable, re-producible, and easily modified enclosure.
Starting with a store bought enclosure can save a lot of time.
Electrical Conduit Boxes
Off the shelf electrical boxes make for cheap, durable, and repeatable project enclosures.
Laser Cut Panel on Open Box
Hand-crafted Wooden Enclosures
Sheet Metal Enclosures
Guitar Pedal Cases
2 Materials: Metal & Wood, Plastic & Wood
Some toys can make great enclosures, hopefully yours will not be as creepy as these.
Using tubes or pipes for the housing gives an interesting shape. The trick is capping off the ends.
Chances are you will need some sort of control panel for you project enclosure. It is basically a flat plat that all of your components mount to. Panels typically can be removed easily from the rest of the enclosure. This allows for easy repair-ability and modifying.
Panel Mount Components
Using panel mount components makes fabricating control panels much easier. Use switches, LED holders, potentiometers, connectors, buttons, etc. that are made to mount to panels easily. Take note whether these components mount from the the front or the back.
Panel Mount USB Cables are great adding a USB connector to an enclosure surface.
Flexible Panel for Buttons
A useful trick is to use screen behind a panel for speakers or venting.
Interesting patterned grills can be purchased.
In Class Demo
We’ll go over all of the steps to make a simple 2 by 4 Project Enclosure.
Halfway through and time to let us know how we’re doing. Please take the class survey.
Build an enclosure for an electronics project using any tool(s) or technique(s) you like. Make sure that you can get back inside to make repairs, change batteries, modify, etc. The enclosure should have multiple components: buttons, switches, sliders, connectors, display lights, dials, etc.
Go to KMart or the Container Store (I know it sounds ridiculous) or even thrift stores to find containers/materials for possible enclosures. You don’t have to use these materials in the assignment, but take note of what would be useful in the future.
What you Should Try
Try enclosing an existing PComp project. It is a great way to make them more rugged and durable.
What You Should Buy
It’s a good idea to have project enclosures or materials on hand. I highly recommend getting some containers and stand-offs.
DIY Cellphone by David Mellis