DIY Electronics Enclosure

Electronics are cheap

Electronic modules are getting smaller and ever more powerful. For example, modern MCUs are packed with capabilities, and at a very low cost. In addition, making a custom PCB (via JLCPCB for example) is often more time/cost efficient than breadboarding. These are all good news for DIY electronics fans.

I still remember the old times when I had to save lunch money to buy a single transistor, and then went sad for days after unknowingly damaged it, probably due to ESD.

Although you can now DIY electronics cheap and easy, one thing still remains costly. That is the enclosure for your PCB.

Enclosures are expensive

Because the mechanical parts, such as switches, connectors and enclosures have not benefitted from the semiconductor manufacturing technology, their cost remains “constant”, thus they seem to getting more and more expensive compare to the rest of the electronics.

Many consumer electronics nowadays probably have their mechanical parts bear more than half the cost of the whole device.

For DIY electronics, one certainly are not trying to achieve shinny metal finish or super slim enclosures. But it is still a lot of effort to fit a custom PCB into a box and at the same time bring out control surfaces: buttons, LEDs etc.

You may buy pre-made project boxes, and start drilling holes for LEDs and milling out front panels for connectors, or 3D print a custom enclosure from scratch.

But there is one issue remaining. That is, how to make an enclosure that is easy to change and reuse.

The issue

Because two months from now, you would probably get tired of that wireless weather station you spent so much time building, debugging and finally made working. Time to build something else. And you can reuse that MCU board inside for another project.

So you tear down your own electronic device.

The inner guts (PCB) probably gets reused, but the enclosure can’t.

LEGO brick electronics enclosure

LEGO bricks are good examples of reusable pieces. One can build awesome things with LEGO brick pieces, and afterwards disassemble and reuse the pieces for the next creation.

Why don’t we use LEGO bricks to build enclosures for your PCB?

That way, the electronics get the mechanical support/protection from the surroundings by LEGO bricks.

And once the device is to be dismantled, the LEGO enclosure can be broken down into pieces for reuse as well.

There are already many efforts to match PCB mounting holes with LEGO technic pieces, put PCBs directly on LEGO plates, or use a group of LEDs to seat LEGO bricks.

Hopefully, these are enough to get you started.

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circuit4u

circuit4u

memento of electronics and fun exploration for my future self