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Boxes. Cases. I need simple coverings for my projects! What do you use?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by LukeDupont, Apr 19, 2018.

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  1. LukeDupont


    Apr 15, 2018
    Hi guys!

    One recurring issue I'm having with my small electronics is the need for some sort of cases and covers. Often, I need just small housings for USB adaptors, other times larger but flat boxes in various sizes for things like my portable raspberry pi handheld projects. I'd love to be able to find appropriately sized boxes made of soft plastics that I can work by hand.

    My local electronics shops in Akihabara have a few project boxes, but they tend to be quite large. I've hacked at a few mint boxes, but don't have a very wide selection there either.

    Maybe I should combine my current hobby with my previous one and carve some wooden enclosures, but that would be quite time consuming and a bit bulky for many projects.

    I suppose what I really need is a 3D printer, but until I can eventually afford one, are there any good options that I can look into? What do you use?
  2. Audioguru


    Sep 24, 2016
    Cannonball and LukeDupont like this.
  3. kellys_eye


    Jun 25, 2010
    Getting a suitable case for your projects can be difficult. A lot depends on how you feel about the final appearance.

    Plastic (and metal) housings are available in many shapes/sizes but you can guarantee there'll never be one that fits the bill the way you want it to!

    People 'find' their own solutions - from keeping an eye open on the auction sites for surplus case, re-using old cases (my favourite!) to manufacturing their own - originally by metal-bending or wood cutting, more recently by 3D printing.

    Here are three 'extreme' examples of things I've used recently:

    AC PSU.jpg Eliminator.jpg Stack.jpg

    Left to right - a variable isolated AC power supply (in a cut-down old oscilloscope case!) - a 'battery eliminator with dual V/I LED displays (in an old cable modem case) - a stack of three items 'in-progress', top to bottom an SDR receiver, an RF signal generator/analyser and a variable DC PSU (in identical cases I bought on eBay - NOS from RS Components - got SIX for the measly sum of $25).

    My 'anal' concession to matching things meant I painted all the cases and front panel to match and took reasonable care to put labels on the controls.
    darren adcock and LukeDupont like this.
  4. Alec_t


    Jul 7, 2015
    Plastic cable trunking, available in various sizes, can be used for housing small projects.
  5. Hopup


    Jul 5, 2015
    Farnell for example has 3800 plactic and 3000 metal enclosures available worldwide.
  6. Chemelec


    Jul 12, 2016
    darren adcock likes this.
  7. Minder


    Apr 24, 2015
    For simple one-off projects I have used small plastic (food?) containers with clip-on/snap-on lids these are available locally here from the $1.00 store.
    You can mount small switches and P.B.'s in the lids, I have used them to house small powers supplies and Micro-μP projects,
  8. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    Wife ever mistakenly microwaved one of your projects for lunch, Minder?
    Paul Kemp and bushtech like this.
  9. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    You can laser cut boxes out of acrylic or wood.

    One of my local suppliers quite often has project boxes from $0.80 to a dollar fifty each and I stock up on a couple of those so I've always got some to use
  10. Stephen Fitton

    Stephen Fitton

    May 28, 2014
    Answere ssimple, goto local electrical trades outlet and get square condute ,this comes in long lenghts with clip on cover, sizes range from small to large ,cheap. You only have to make and glue in ends.
    If you are smart you can design these and get them made outside on 3d printer maybe sell to like minded people.
    Thats if the store have none.
    Regards StephenFitton.
  11. Chemelec


    Jul 12, 2016
    I make my Boxes to Fit my Projects.
    And Some are even suitable for selling them.
    Decals are Reverse Printed on Transparency Film (Laser Printer), so won't rub off.
    Click for Full Size Picture.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 5, 2018
  12. mr fixit

    mr fixit

    Jun 23, 2013
    If you are into wood for small projects you can hollow out a block of wood with a router then you only have to make 1 lid.
    I have used small sweet boxes sometimes ("Tic Tac boxes), they would be good for USB projects. The brittle plastic can be a challenge but if you take it slowly you can drill it ok.
    To add to the electrical supplier thread, there are myriad junction boxes available in very workable plastic.
  13. GeoNOregon


    Jan 30, 2014
    I have repurposed a variety of unusual plastic and metal consumer items for one-off project cases.

    Smallish computer speaker cases work well. A lot of kid's electronic toys can work. Something else I keep around for cases are both auto and home stereo components and computer hubs.

    A couple I have around right now are metal cases from a stand alone speaker cross over, an audio filter of some sort, (can't recall what it was) and an older computer hub. Oh, another computer related item are old external CD/DVD cases, and the like.

    From a more 'make it' approach, I have used two different plastics to make boxes. One is the 'corrugated' plastic, used most commonly for politcal and other yard-type signs you see everywhere. Purchased new, it can be found in thicknesses up to 16-17mm. This is PVC and can be glued, taped, (a combination duct tape and aluminum HVAC tape makes a great method for assembing things with this plastic, even long term, if the aluminum is the final layer.

    The other plastic is used in many things, primarily in the sign making business. It is foam core PVC sheeting, available from 2-3mm, up to as big as what would be a wooden 2 x 2". It has a hard, solid layer in both sides, with a PVC foam core. This is not the lightweight poster board on the market, it is more rigid, and quite a bit stronger.

    I have two good sources for it, one is a sign shop, where I scavenge remnants and scraps, the other is a commercial plastics suppliers, who have a 'discount' warehouse where everything is 2.00 / pound.

    This can be glued with PVC pipe plumbing glue, and with heavier thicknesses, I have both glued and used construction screws. I used foam core for ALL kinds of things, up to, and including building a kitchen cabinet in an East Coast rental zi spend part of the year at.

    My suggestion, if my ideas appeal, is take a trip to a Goodwill, or other 2nd hand store, and just look at everything with an eye to what type of project you can put in it.

    Happy scrounging, and building.

    Rayregula likes this.
  14. kellys_eye


    Jun 25, 2010
    In years gone past I've even put a PC into a wooden bread box...... looked great!
    darren adcock and Rayregula like this.
  15. ElektroQuark


    May 12, 2018
    It depends.
    Sometimes Hammond plastic or aluminum boxes.
    Sometimes boxes salvaged from DSL or fiber channel routers.
    Sometimes 3D printed cases like this from my SMD oven controller:

  16. Tinker Unique

    Tinker Unique

    Dec 1, 2014
    Small boxes might be made out of plastic soap "boxes" used to keep bar soap in your suit case when travelling. You can also make them "custom" out of styrene plastic sheets purchased at a local hobby store. A bit of silicone where the electrical leads go thru will stop the 'wet', and maybe a small bead around the bottom of the top 1/2. I use a small syringe as a mini calking gun (without the needle).
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