Project Enclosure with Display and Keypad.

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by osx-addict, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. osx-addict

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    Ok.. One step further if you don't mind..

    IF I had a project that I wanted to turn into a product that would need to have a higher level of fit-n-finish, what would you use?

    I've got a product in mind (no, not built yet -- I'm just starting to work on it) and it will have an LCD display and a few buttons along with needing a battery door (not sure why kind yet -- perhaps 9V or pair of AA's).. Are there ANY boxes out there that are off-the-shelf that might qualify and still be perhaps about twice the size of a pack of cigarette's? In my case I'd like a case that looks nice but won't cost me $15-$20/ea in qty.. I realize I could probably design something in a 3D CAD program and send it to a plastic joint and have them fab a custom case but suspect that may cost me the big $$..

    Has anyone done this sort of custom/semi-custom case yet?

    P.S. If you moderator types think this should be a separate topic, I'm fine with that..
  2. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    Hi. I'm not a moderator type, but closly related questions are often welcome on an existing thread. Personally, I've very interested in the responses to your ques.
  3. MrChips


    Oct 2, 2009
  4. KMoffett

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 19, 2007
  5. osx-addict

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    Thanks guys.. You're on the right track.. However, what if what you're after isn't quite normal.. In my case anyway, I'm thinking it would be nice to have wall-mount tabs on the box, have mounting tabs for the LCD and also for the buttons. I'm assuming any of these pre-fab boxes you'd need to cut out the holes for any buttons/keypads & displays and they would NOT provide mounting tabs for displays unless it was specifically designed for a display -- and it would probably be a bit of hit-or miss as to whether the display you chose would match-up with the box mounting tabs..

    I guess I'm wondering if anyone has actually gone through this process or not with a product you designed and if you have, do you have any lesson's learned that you can share or other tips/pointers?

    P.S. I do note that at least a few of these companies (polycase,EAI, etc) do offer one-off modifications, for a cost, to tailor the box to your needs so that's a good start... However, it appears to be cost effective, it would be nice to find a box that has stand-offs for displays already and perhaps find a display that could match the stand-offs. I guess you could consider that designing backwards a bit.. ?

    P.S. Another place that sounds interesting is
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2012
  6. KMoffett

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 19, 2007
    Google: custom plastic enclosures

  7. osx-addict

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    I found a thread on another forum that had some interesting ideas/suggestions.. If interested, checkout this link..

    Ultimately what I believe I've gleaned/learned is that your best bet would be to :

    • Find a box/enclosure that will fit your product's expected size, use, etc
    • Find an LCD display that will fit said box/enclosure (fingers crossed)!
    • Design PCB so that it mounts in said box/enclosure
    All in that order..
  8. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    Welcome to AAC!

    A thread belongs to the OP (original poster). Trying to take over someone elses thread is called hijacking, which is not allowed at All About Circuits. I have therefore given you a thread of your very own.

    This was split from What Do You Use for a "Project Box"?
  9. elec_mech

    Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2008
    That sounds about right. The gating items are the size of your LCD and number and size of your buttons. How big of an LCD are you planning, 2x16, 2x20, 4x40, etc.? What kinds and how many switches are you planning on?

    Once you have that and a rough layout of where you want each item, you find an enclosure that will accommodate the layout, ideally with some extra space so you have plenty of room on the PCB for the mounting holes.

    I'm not sure what you mean by mounting tabs - do you mean the mounting standoffs built into the enclosure for PCBs?

    If you want to give it a professional look, I suggest buying a mounting kit for the LCD you use. Here is an example:

    Additionally, if you're not inclined to cut and drill holes and openings, you can design a front panel to go over your enclosure. There are a few companies that do this, here is one: You could just cut out the top of your enclosure - leave a 1/4" border or so to mount the panel to. This option also allows you to have the labels etched in and adds that much more to your professional look.

    Alternately, you can print a sticker to go over the front with the buttons labeled. You can do this yourself or have it done professionally.

    Lastly, you can apply lettering yourself directly to the enclosure to label your buttons using dry transfer, such as this:

    Hope this helps.
  10. BMorse

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 26, 2009
  11. radiohead

    Distinguished Member

    May 28, 2009
  12. osx-addict

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 9, 2012
    Thanks guys and Sorry Bill -- I will not hijack a thread again!

    I was reading the catalog for both Hammond and OKW and found some interesting items in the OKW catalog.. What I really like about the OKW catalog is that it lists max sizes for PCB's right in the catalog for each enclosure -- really nice! Someone had asked if I was looking to mount the box and the answer is yes.. Having mounting tabs would be nice since the box will likely be fixed in a particular location -- wall mounting would be likely I believe.

    I'll see if I can pick a particular LCD display and use that to loosely drive box dimensions -- outside of PCB size (which I really don't know yet) and button size/qty. The box I really like is the OKW Smart-Box on page 42 of their catalog -- IP66, wall mountable, decent size.. I might have to order a sample.. :)