Project case advice (my Achilles heel)

Hey all,

Are there any good project cases for Arduino? I can't for the life iff me find a single one.

What I mean is boxes with pre-made holes for USB, power, perhaps for switches and LEDs and maybe also for displays etc?

I am pretty good at electronics - started my career as electronics engineer - but I am no good at all at drilling holes. The example pics show a little box that I built that shows me temperature comfort ranges (using math to work out what comfort zone we're in). The electronics was trivial; the math took a little while; but the box took almost a week, struggling with drill bits and cursing loudly...

Having discovered Arduino, I am making circuits like crazy (the latest is a lightning detector for my ham radio equipment), but all of them are just board with wires. I do NOT look forward to spending another week of whatever life I have left trying to drill a square opening in a box...

Any advice welcome!


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I've had the same frustration. You can get boxes of various sizes on ebay etc but they are usually just boxes with nothing else.

If you really want custom boxes with hole placement then get a 3d printer and learn CAD

Never use a regular drill bit to make holes in plastic !

Use a unibit for holes in plastic:


I was afraid that would be the answer.

Odd. So many sensor boards etc - but no-one has thought of making project boxes with at LEAST the right screw holes for an Arduino, and with openings for USB and power? My room is overflowing with loose boards and wires... :frowning:

Larry: that link is dead (for me anyway)?

I´m using a 3D printer to make cases or front panels with all holes and cut outs necessary.

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Yes, I am thinking I'll need to save up for that - and to learn how to use it... this is not my preferred skill building, but if it really is the only way... :frowning:

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Take a view here.

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See this posts and subsequent:

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I prefer a CNC.

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A nibbler is a good thing if you plan to make square holes . . .

Also review this PDF:

I've had plastic bezels cut by a local sign company, they have a flat bed machine for cutting plastic sheet. I would imagine there are companies near you with the right machines for cutting plastic or metal accurately. If you buy pre made boxes with slot in panels you should be able to find someone to cut the panels or make new ones for you.

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I layout my front (or rear) panel on a drawing program. Then I print it on a normal printer (any). You may have to play with the program to get a true 1:1 from your printer.

Tape it onto the front panel and use a small pin punch to mark the hole centers and corners of any not round holes.

Then for the non round holes I scribe a line on the panel between the dots. I use a sharp exacto (backwards) as a scribe.

Likely for the USB and Power in you show, I would drill a hole then I would only have to file the corners.

Any step drill will work. They are wonderful! I usually color the steps with different color markers so I know where to stop drilling. They are not cheap but for only plastic you could start with a less expensive one.

I personally don't use a nibbler often. They leave marks on the panel, especially on a softer plastic (abs).

Dremel's can be useful but they are hard to control by hand.

Greenlee has different punches for odd shaped holes, RS232 Sub D etc but they are costly.

Good luck.

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what JohnRob said, but:

get a PC board drill set. twist them by hand to mark the hole centers. a second use: when you have to replace a header, don't waste time and risk damage with heat, solder suckers and solder wick. just use a PC board drill, twisted by hand, to extract the solder from the hole.

control a Dremel: it is not a scalpel, don't hold it like one. dominant hand on the body of the dremel holding the tool vertically. forearm resting on the table. non dominant hand on the work piece, at a right angle. non dominant hand acts like an X-Y controller, dominant hand is the Z axis control. if you move more than your fingertips you're holding it wrong.

when I make templates for modules I put a + in the mounting holes as a center marker. You should be able to drop the module on the page and see 4 +'es and a thin dotted line inside the hole. I use Libre Office Draw, open source, free, pre installed on Linux.

my preferred technique:

  • template.
  • mark, drill, tap.
  • put a 4-40 or metric screw in the tapped hole as required.
  • put a nylon nut on that for spacing the solder pads away from the plastic.
  • module.
  • nylon couplers, also known as standoffs, to hold the module. these are much easier to install than scrawny little nuts, if you have kielbasa fingers.

you need nerves to make a large project box from clear plexiglass. mistakes glare like neon.

If I had a 3D printer I would try this: flat panels, thinned at hinge points. One edge of each panel round, the opposite edge C shaped. Mount and wire modules and controller laid flat, bend it into box shape, snap round edges into the C shapes, and voila: a compact box that a guy with hands by Hormel can work in.

it would be a fine and wonderful thing if some Arduino forum would set up a place where fussy perfectionists could post module templates in .odg format. one guy who does it well does the work, the whole community benefits.

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Great info - thanks.

Bit disappointing that no-one is making boxes that make it at lest a little easier (eg pre-made cutouts) - because all these suggestions still mean I will spend much longer on the box than on the circuit and code, while my INTEREST is 100% in code/circuit and 0% in box... :slight_smile: - wonder if there's a market opportunity there...

No :frowning:

Think not? I am sure there are tens of thousands like me who want to do electronics and code and who have zero desire to get into making hardware...

BTW, any wood working skills ?



the thing is: one of my projects has one each DB9, DB 15 VGA, and DB44 connectors, a 4 pin power connector, and

I have 3 megas with USB type B connectors, countless UNOs and Nanos with mini B connectors and a handful of mini megas with Type C connectors.

do you:

  • put one of every kind of connector ever made on the box
  • put one particular set of connectors on the box, or
  • just make a blank box that can be put to any use and let the user solve his own problem