Creating Enclosures

This week for Fabrication, we had to play with enclosures. When we were introduced to enclosures, I was really attracted to the different enclosures that you could make with electrical boxes. I liked how they fit in your hand, and I liked their industrial look.

So I set out to make an enclosure using an electrical conduit box. This assignment marks the first time I’ve worked with metal.

I first went to Home Depot to look for conduit boxes. I was disappointed at the selection, as I was looking for the colored, almost lacquered look that was previewed in class. However, I bought a 4-inch electrical conduit box, as I still wanted to experiment with metal and see how many electronics I could fit into such a small enclosure.

I searched Amazon for different buttons, knobs, and switches that inspired me. Here are my raw materials:

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To cut the holes in the metal plate, I used standard drill bits for the potentiometer and the toggle switch. The button switch required a hole that was nearly 3/4″ wide in diameter. After consulting with Ben Light, I borrowed his step drill bit. What a dream this bit is for this material. I might invest in one if I decide to make conduit boxes my “standard”.

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Once I had the holes I wanted, I put in the knobs, switch, and button and began to wire my box. I wanted the box to control LEDs that I have in my house. The switch would turn the lights on/off, the button would switch the lights from solid colors to rainbow colors, and the knobs would affect color and brightness.

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When I was adding the components into the box, I realized that the battery would not fit with the breadboard and the arduino, so I drilled another hole into the side of the box to fit the USB cable into the box.

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Here’s the final product:

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I enjoyed working with metal, and I will probably look to use conduit boxes some more for enclosures. I enjoy their sturdiness and how they feel in my hand. They are a little small inside, so I can’t fit that many components, but it also forces me to efficient with the number of materials I use.

Next time, I’ll probably also laser-etch words on before I start cutting, as well as outlining circles where I will drill. It was a little difficult to start since the metal plate is not perfectly square, but something to experiment on when I’m not so busy with finals.