Project construction life cycle
When you start designing an Arduino project from start to finish, you need to have a plan.
Once you have decided what you want to make, scale drawings and component selection is a must.
For scaled drawings, a 3D computer program like ‘Sketchup Make’ is great but there is a learning curve that you must achieve. There are lots of YouTube Videos you can review to gain the skills needed to draw your scaled drawing.
Here we will be making a ‘Useless Box’ designed around an Arduino Pro Mini.
First, we will draw a 1:1 3D image of the enclosure/box for our project.
It is important that all components be drawn to scale so you can move them in the drawing to confirm they will fit in the final assembly.
Since you can HIDE elements in the drawing, it is easy to work on certain sections unobscured.
Sketchup allows you to ORBIT your drawing to check to see if elements are overlapping.
You can print out 1:1 hard copy sections of your drawing to confirm measurements against the actual components and you can paste these printouts onto wood and cut out perimeters, holes etc.
3 mm Baltic Birch plywood is easy to work with for making enclosures; most electronic components like switches can be easily accommodated in 3 mm.
Accurate cutting of the plywood is a must. Some woodworking skills should be attained if you want to have a nice, finished product.
I use cutting templates in most woodworking projects. This allows for easy duplication of parts and of course making another identical finished product.
3 mm plywood can be used for boxes by cutting mitered corners and accurately gluing the corners at 90°.
Since glued wood makes strong connections, adding internal components like PCBs and sub-assemblies is easily managed.
When you make the control circuitry for your Arduino project, making a mother board PCB helps keep things organized.
Of course, the software to control the whole thing needs to be written so runtime bugs will not make things go wonky.