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I have seen myself working on a growing number of projects over the past few months. The one thing I have started to dislike is seeing the circuit board (and often my messy soldering) after I consider my project complete.

I would like to start putting my projects inside small project boxes/enclosures, but have noticed that items dedicated for this purpose are often overpriced for just a plastic box. I was wondering if people here had any tips with regards to what they use to encase their finished work. I am open to constructing simple boxes as well, which have the added advantage of being customizable. Any tips there would be appreciated as well (i.e. what material you use, overview of construction method, etc.)

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One popular and traditional hacker enclosure has been the classic metal Altoids peppermint can - to the extent that some products and prototyping PCBs are shaped to precisely fit one.

Altoids Tin Can protoboard (Image from Adafruit)

For more examples, see a toy, an amplifier and another, a sound generator, a USB charger, one could go on all day.

A fringe benefit of using a metal can like the Altoids, is EMI / RFI reduction, both emission from poorly designed circuits, and from the outside into the circuit.


For smaller circuits, round metal shoe polish cans are popular, and again qualify as "EMI-Safe Device Enclosure".

Shoe Polish Tin (from Wikipedia)


Another "hacker's standard" that has been around for decades is the wooden cigar box. They're sometimes found at garage sales or the scrapyard, in a variety of sizes and designs. My favorite are the ones with a double hinge, and a little metal latch in the front. Back in college, I built myself a bench power supply in a big cigar box, that is still around somewhere.

The fringe benefit of wooden cigar boxes is protection from electrical accidents when working with main line power input to your device.


A third standard go-to option in cases where robustness is not a concern, is the small Pringles or other potato crisps cardboard can. They're especially convenient for cutting holes in, for sockets and connectors. The 2 to 3 inch height and diameter make such boxes useful for circuits with a transformer in them, such as non-switched (good old) power supplies.


Finally, plastic enclosures aren't necessarily expensive: You can sometimes pick up assorted sizes in lots of 5 or 10 from eBay for under 1 US$ a box, and manufacturers offer a variety of standard enclosures starting in the $3 range, probably cheaper if you search around.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Chewing gum boxes, tic-tac mint boxes. \$\endgroup\$ – ExcitingProjects Nov 11 '12 at 9:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ The other benefit of the wooden cigar boxes is fuel for the fire! ;) \$\endgroup\$ – kenny Nov 11 '12 at 13:22
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How crazy do you want to go? Here's a cheap solution I've used to make proto cases

http://www.firstcut.com/?awk=true

or these guys

http://www.shapeways.com/

kind of want my own maker bot but haven't justified it to myself yet. :)

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Electrical boxes (like for light switches) can work. Radio Shack sells project boxes. Small projects will fit nicely into an Altoids tin.

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These boxes in various sizes are quite affordable and DIN rail mountable. http://www.budind.com/view/Plastic+Boxes/DIN+Rail+Mount+Multi-Board+Box

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