Cheap Enclosure For Project

Thread Starter

ElectEng

Joined Sep 3, 2019
42
Hello,

I am building a "portable" dual axis solar tracker. Overall the enclosure will be a box roughly 26" by 26". Where can I buy something and it look professional? This is an overall project that I will have to present so I want it to look good. Keep in mind I need something that I will have to modify, make holes for switch, lcd screen, led, and more.
Please explain and or give links to cheap sources, hopefully under $50. I would prefer a Sheetmetal box or thick plastic but do not know where to buy.
 

narkeleptk

Joined Mar 11, 2019
474
don't know what region your in but if you just looking to build a metal box you can buy all that stuff at some place like home depot. I would build the frame out of the angled pieces of aluminum and then use a sheet for the walls. Probably closer to $100.
everbilt-bar-flats-tubes-rods-802607-64_1000.jpg m-d-building-products-sheet-57000-64_1000.jpg
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
22,084
That is a HUGE box.
You can find maybe 24" x 24" x 12", but not 26" high.
Your cost is going to exceed US$200.
 

Thread Starter

ElectEng

Joined Sep 3, 2019
42
Drill and Dremel with metal cut off wheels will be useful. Might want to clamp the sheets to some plywood when drilling.

Thanks. I will speak with my group partners but am sure we will go with this method. Would you recommend attaching the metal by welds or rivets?
 

JohnInTX

Joined Jun 26, 2012
4,341
don't know what region your in but if you just looking to build a metal box you can buy all that stuff at some place like home depot. I would build the frame out of the angled pieces of aluminum and then use a sheet for the walls. Probably closer to $100.
View attachment 185386 View attachment 185387
You also might consider 80/20 for a roll-your own solution. Home Depot et al has a selection of extrusions/angles etc but these guys have everything you need.
Here's the how-to document.

Good luck!

EDIT: You might google 'blow molded cases' and 'deep drawn cases' to get stuff like this but not particularly cheap when they get as big as you want.
http://www.ameripack.com/cases/standard/

EDIT2: A good way to drill into thin stock is to use a step-drill. Regular twist drills can snatch the material when breaking through. Uni-bit is the US made one but these are cheap and work well:
https://www.harborfreight.com/3-pie...oated-high-speed-steel-step-drills-91616.html
For small squares, drill and file the corners.
For bigger rectangles, try a nibbling tool
HT-204-3.jpg
Cheap punch sets can be useful as well.
 
Last edited:

narkeleptk

Joined Mar 11, 2019
474
No worries. Where would you get the angled aluminium?
Home Depot or Lowes both have a small metal works area. Usually around the nuts and bolts isle. Its easy to walk in and play around with the metal to try and figure out a build and if you like it or not.
 

Thread Starter

ElectEng

Joined Sep 3, 2019
42
You also might consider 80/20 for a roll-your own solution. Home Depot et al has a selection of extrusions/angles etc but these guys have everything you need.
Here's the how-to document.

Good luck!

EDIT: You might google 'blow molded cases' and 'deep drawn cases' to get stuff like this but not particularly cheap when they get as big as you want.
http://www.ameripack.com/cases/standard/

EDIT2: A good way to drill into thin stock is to use a step-drill. Regular twist drills can snatch the material when breaking through. Uni-bit is the US made one but these are cheap and work well:
https://www.harborfreight.com/3-pie...oated-high-speed-steel-step-drills-91616.html
For small squares, drill and file the corners.
For bigger rectangles, try a nibbling tool
View attachment 185389
Cheap punch sets can be useful as well.
Wow! Awesome information. This whole project is a senior design project for college. I have the electrical experience but little mechanical. My mechanical engineering partner wants to try to weld the sheet metal together but I like the idea of making a frame out of the angled aluminium first.
 

narkeleptk

Joined Mar 11, 2019
474
I used the angled aluminum once to make key container racks for one of my service vans. It was about 8 shelves that would hold those plastic fishing lure containers. With all the brass key blanks I imagine it was about 200lbs or more it supported while constantly being jostled around while driving. Held up longer then the van did.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
10,492
I second 80/20 (https://8020.net/freesample ).

You will see its products used extensively in industrial designs and displays. You can then attach panels of whatever material you want (e.g., aluminum, tempered white fiberboard, acrylic/polycarbonate sheet). A solar panel suggests it will be exposed to weather, so I would go with aluminum or plastic panels. A sheet metal shop or metal supplier could shear the aluminum pieces to size at very little additional charge, if any, compared to the cost of the aluminum alone. Acrylic panels are easy to cut with ordinary equipment. It can be scratched and snapped just like glass can be.
 

Thread Starter

ElectEng

Joined Sep 3, 2019
42
What about labeling? What is the best way for labeling things on the outside like an on/off switch or a push button and it look professional?
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
22,084
Silk screening is commonly used for labeling multiple units.

For one of a kind you can use Letraset letter transfers. Make sure that you protect the transfers with clear lacquer or polyurethane spray.

For personal use, I go with Brother P-Touch Label Maker.
 

ag-123

Joined Apr 28, 2017
40
you can try using wood or mdf sheets, acrylic (plexiglass) sheets etc
they usual ways of tying them together can simply be glue, machine screws and nuts etc
 
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