Neatifying project boxes

How do you keep your project boxes neat? I am currently doing a project box that 150x100x70mm that has four pots and two lcd 4-digit in the “lid” and it quickly becomes a birds nest with all the cables :grinning:
I am using zip ties to gather the cables the best I can but wonder if there might be some other clever devices that might help the neatifying process.
My question is not specifically about my project but a more open question so please share your ideas/tips and tricks if you want :blush:

Have you thought of making your own PCBs? It's actually pretty easy to create a basic bare bones Arduino setup, and add the required components to a custom PCB... upload to one of the many board manufacturers.. wait a bit and... when it arrives... you have a very tidy setup.

Example.. custom brew temperature controller PCB... (using Eagle)

Here are 900+ posts of tips you can thumb thru:

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Wow, that was fast :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:
Yes, I might try that some time. It would be fun and will for sure neat up the board portion of the project.
This is how it looks today


This is how the lid with the pots look like:

I once tried using din rails with the smallest terminals I could find but their still way too big for a small project box. I have searched for miniature “din-rail terminals” types but haven’t struck gold yet.

Yep... custom PCB including a few of these connectors for the peripherals...

A board I created... built in power regulator (5v & 3.3v), ESP8266 micro controller, header for 20x4 LCD, header pins for keypad, couple of relays, external sensor input, programming header pins.

Cost about $25 NZ to make 10 and ship from china.

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I have found building my own project box out of MDF and superglue is very quick and easy. If you use superglue activator it can take a matter of minutes to build, just run some superglue along the edge, hold in place and spray with activator and you have an instant, surprisingly solid joint.
This helps in "neatifying" in that you can first lay out all you need to put in the box then build one the exact size required. I tend to pick up off-cuts of cabinet/flooring material from the DIY shop so it comes pre-finished.

e.g. This box took me literally 30mins to build

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I would suggest:-

  1. With flying leads always have a socket at least at one end.

  2. When connecting multiple wires to a component like a pot or I2C device use ribbon cable rather than separate wires.

  3. Always use mounting spacers rather than blobs of hot melt glue. Save that for fixing wire routing or adding strain relief to a flexible wire soldered to a fixed post, like in a pot.

  4. Just like @alanesq I have found a good box can work wonders at hiding a mess of wires. See the contrast between internal wiring and the box in this project:-
    Hexome

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I am forever posting on this subject. :grin:

You are referring to neatness. There is a more important aspect, which is reliability. Open loops in the wiring can and will function as coupling inductors from one part of the circuit to another. These microprocessors are operating at radio frequencies.

While I see some heavier wires in your device and have no idea what it is supposed to do, I see connectors to external devices which may switch significant currents. The overall rule is that both or all connections from each part of the circuit to another must be bundled together, with no single "flying" connections to a separate part.

Both power connections, supply and ground, must always travel as a pair and a signal connection must travel together with its ground. If both supply and signal connections run from one part to another, all three (or more) must be bundled.

Once you actually follow that rule, the wiring will be neat. :sunglasses:

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Wow, i should have posted here before spending 10 hours (not kidding) googling and youtubing :sweat_smile:
Thank you all for your tips, really good ones :+1:

I must admit that I just grabbed what I could find. I actually got a buck converter to “hang” using a too thick cable. Or at least it worked again when I changed to a smaller one :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Most improbable. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Yes, pretend I didn’t say that :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: