Back to Arduino blog

Sorry, you will not find any build pictures here. And no, you will not find a build video here either. What is here, though, is a description of the build in text.

In days long past, I would try to build things as small as possible. As I have gotten older, working with small parts has gotten a bit more difficult. So, for this build, I purchased an enclosure that is noticeably bigger than it needs to be for this project. The Arduino Uno, Real Time Clock (RTC) card and Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) certainly have quite a bit of room in this enclosure I can assure you.

The build began by gathering all the parts. This included wires, switches, circuit cards, enclosure, and tools. Next, I measured the LCD and cut a template for it out of thin cardboard. I used this to get a gauge for where the LCD's screen should be in orientation to the front panel switches and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Afterwards, I measured the LCD with my finest Northern Tools micrometer. Then I covered all the white-colored, painted surfaces with Home Despot blue painter's tape to protect them from scratches. With the tape in place I transferred the measurements for the LCD to the front of the enclosure.

I used a Dremel™ tool with cutting wheel to cut the opening for LCD. When cutting I made the cuts about 1mm inside of the lines to ensure a nice fit later. Of course, using a cutting wheel was a bit risky, but it worked out nicely. Once the majority of the cuts where made from the front, I then cut to the corners from the back. I pushed the metal with my fingers and it broke free. As you might expect the edges left by the cutting wheel were lousy. To true them up nice and square I used a small flat, smooth-cut file. This took quite a bit of time, but it leaves a very nice edge. It turned out great. I repeated this process for the small power switch on the back of the enclosure.

At this point, it was about noon. So I went and got a samich. Upon my return to the Garage-Mahal I spun up an adult libation in the form of Jack and Coke. That filed the edges off of other things.

Now, I was ready to start drilling wholes for the small LEDs and tac- switches. In total this project has a whopping three LEDs (two yellow and one green) and two tac-switches. The two yellow LEDs are on the front of the enclosure, as are the two tac-switches.

The measurements for all these parts was pretty easy and was accomplished with my trusty micrometer. Once the centers were marked, I center-punched and drilled each in turn. I started with a 3/64" drill, then moved up to the proper size for each whole. Afterwards, I chamfered the edges with a much larger drill bit. This gave each whole a nice finish with no sharp edges.

With the panel wholes drilled, the mounting wholes for the Arduino Uno card were measured, center-punched, and drilled in similar fashion as above. The Arduino card was mounted at a height so the SD Card can be removed on the side of the enclosure without removing the cover. The SD Card is accessible through the enclosure's ventilation slots on the side.

With the Arduino card mounted I started making all the interconnections. There are not too many connections, but the only ones that I soldered where the ones for the switches, LEDs, and current-limiting resistors. The connections for the Arduino were not soldered though. I used the single-inline connections on the Arduino for its connections. Why? I suspect, this project will no longer be needed in about a year or so and did not want to have any semi-permanent connections to the Arduino.

Now, on to mounting the LEDs, switches, and LCD. You are going to love this. The LEDs and tac-switches were epoxied in place using QUICK. The 5-minute stuff worked great. I used a little to get them set, then added more to ensure they stayed put. If you liked that solution the one for the LCD is even better. It is held partially in place with painter's tape. To ensure it stays put, I used a piece of plastic packing foam. The stuff I used is often placed around electronic equipment for shipping. It is semi-ridged. I cut it slightly over-sized to ensure it holds the LCD in place. Is cheesy as it seems, it worked very nice. I also cut a slot in it to hold the RTC. Badda-bing.

As you might know, the LCD has pins and crud sticking up here and there. To get a nice even fit I cut a piece of cardboard out that is about 1/2" bigger than the screen on each edge. Then I cut out the area for the LCD screen, and cut indentations for the poky-bits. This worked out cheesily perfect as you can see in the build pictures.

The power switch and power indicator LED were installed last. Once installed and connected the final connections to the Arduino were made and tested, then power was applied. Everything was working.

As for the power supply; well, I used a 2 ampere, 5 volt DC device I had in my parts-is-parts box.

That's about it. Work fine - last long time... or about a year or so.
^,  Back to Arduino blog