Most projects around here involve some sort of electronics, and some sort of box to put them in. The same is true of pretty much all commercially available electronic products as well.

Despite that, selecting an enclosure is far from a solved problem. For simple electronics it’s entirely possible to spend more time getting the case just right than working on the circuit itself. But most of the time we need to avoid getting bogged down in what exactly will house our hardware.

The array of options available for your housing is vast, and while many people default to a 3D printer, there are frequently better choices. I’ve been around the block on this issue countless times and wanted to share the options as I see them, and help you decide which is right for you. Let’s talk about enclosures!

Cardboard: Great for Both Enclosures and Proofing PCB Layout

You need something quick and dirty and temporary for a proof of concept or a short-lived project. Why not use some cardboard you have laying around?

Cardboard is easy to work with, and you can rapidly put in holes and slots for your interfaces and connectors. Draw on it, shape it, whatever it takes. Use card stock (like a cereal box) for even higher quality finer dimension work. In the world of rapid prototyping, cardboard is a fantastic option for generating quick iterations that test out usability and rough ideas. It also has a similar thickness to a .062″ PCB, making it quick and easy to print your design, glue it to cardboard, cut it out, and have a temporary substitute to do your mechanical work while you’re waiting for the real ones to arrive by mail.

Plastic Food Containers

Using a yogurt container as the enclosure.
Mobile disco-turtle robot

When you need a little more sturdiness or water resistance, reusable plastic food enclosures, including yogurt containers and Tic Tac packaging, can go a long way as well. This high-fiving mobile disco turtle robot was made under the direction of a 5-year-old. The yogurt container holds the…

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