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Arduino/Motor Shield Enclosure (Picture Heavy)

I decided to start building my Maslow with the electronics. One of the goals I had for my machine was to have an enclosure for the arduino and motor controller.

I have a couple simple goals with this PLC case:

  1. To protect the electronics from collision and dust
  2. To provide more cooling for the motor shield
  3. As many components as possible need to be from my bin of discarded electronics.
  4. To make it easy enough to modify and remove parts as needed.

Number 1 is fairly easy. First, I need a shell that fits around the electronics. I have an XYZ DaVinci 1.0 3D printer with the ability to print ABS, so the easiest thing to do is to model up the case real quick, and then print out a prototype to see how it works. Yes, part of my choice to use the printer is novelty :wink:

Which brings me to Number 2, cooling the motor controllers. From what I’ve read, the motor controllers generate a lot of heat. If I’m putting this in an enclosure, it’s going to need airflow or I’m going to fry my electronics. My thought is to use a computer case fan with an air filter on the intake side to provide airflow through the case. This is what really determines the design, since I will have to design the case around the fan.

And this takes us to number 3. I have a bin full of useless (but not broken!) electronics from old computers. Among my collection are a number of 80mm and 120mm case fans. Looking at the motor controller, 120mm would simply dwarf the PLC. Also, such as case would probably exceed the printer’s bounding box. So 80mm it is! Plus, with such a standard size fan it will be very easy to source a fan filter that mounts right to it.

Number 4 is especially important to me because I build/repair and fly multicopters as a hobby. These can be notoriously difficult to work on in their cramped frames. For instance, my current quadcopter requires removing 20 screws to get at it’s motor controllers, and takes considerable time to take apart.

So after a couple of evenings of work, I had a working prototype:

I wanted to relocate all of the board’s ports to the outside of the case. That when the door is closed, I can still swap cables without too much trouble. I also read in the old forums that it was easy to get mixed up as to which DC in port to use. I’m pretty absent-minded, so I made it idiot-proof and covered the arduino port so I can’t plug it in wrong. The more difficult task was to make the extensions for the motor controllers, but after some research I found that they are the same type of connector as those used on 5-cell RC place lipo batteries. Looks like my dabbling in multicopters is paying off :stuck_out_tongue:

So then I printed it:


Now, my printer is nothing special. It’s technically pretty old by printer standards. The slicer (G-code generating software) is very limited in it’s abilities and as such I have very little control over the support structures and such.

I spent tonight cleaning it up:

And then installed the electronics

With the arduino and motor controller, I really wanted to be able to easily remove the whole unit at once. I attached nylon standoffs to the bottom of the arduino, so that way all I would have to to is screw in those standoffs.

Here’s the motor controller right after I installed it in the case. The eagle eyed among you might be able to notice that the front standoffs don’t have nuts on them. They wouldn’t fit next to all the pins on the arduino! I put those standoffs in and tightened everything else down. They won’t be securing the board, but at least they’ll keep it spaced off the base.

I tested the fit of the power and USB cables next. It took a little shaving on the power port. The hole ovaled quite a bit during printing (did I mention my printer is nothing exceptional?).

So next I attached the fan and motor port extenders. To install the fan, I actually needed to take the boards out first! Didn’t think that part through >.>

For the extenders, I simply bought a packet of the balance ports. I soldered the female connector to the ends at the right length. Then everything plugs right in.

The female ports were secured using some epoxy. I’m not sure how tough these are right now, and I may ultimately need to make a catch plate or something to hold it in place.

I have not printed the door yet, so that will have to wait for now. To be honest, I may leave it off for the moment while I get everything set up. We’ll see how I feel!


Ha! Nice. You just reminded me of an enclosure that I salvaged about 10 years ago that I’ve had sitting on a shelf looking for a purpose. Only took a decade to find one!

Man there’s so much extra room in that enclosure. It would be a shame is someone didn;t put some liquid cooling in there.
That could really help button up that dust exclusion. :wink:

Wow awesome! Can you share stl file?

@walter I know the feeling. I’m really trying to use up my overflowing shelves of hoarded parts. This’ll be useful one day, I swear!

Even though the case is built around the fan, I really like how much room I have in there. It would give me the ability to set up a Bluetooth receiver, or convert to liquid cooling! I was thinking about our conversation in better heat sink design when I was putting the finishing touches on the model. Admittedly, I may just print a better version in the future that’s designed around a radiator :smile:

I’m not sure how well dust exclusion will work with this case the way I had intended. I may have gone overboard on my vents. In theory the fan will be supplying clean air which will help keep the dust out, but we’ll see how it goes in practice.

@aluminumwelder I should have put a zip file in the first post with STEP and STL files. I have put a download link at the below. If you want any other formats I can convert them as well. (1.9 MB)

Just a note, this case is designed to be bolted to a 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" steel tube. You can see it’s location in the exploded view below in my drawings. Because of this, if you try to mount it to a sheet of plywood, the motor ports will be covered. You could solve this by mounting it to the edge of the sheet so the ports are exposed, but I just wanted to make sure you were aware it may not work for the stock setup. I can make a plywood mounted version for anyone who wants to mount it that way.

Or you could do some aluminum welding :wink:

thanks! I have scraps of 1.5 aluminum tube. I don’t really care for working with steel way too heavy, lol!

So how much would you charge for an enclosure like that?

Including all the hardware and electronics soldered up and tested, 40 bucks. I will actually need to sit down and make an enclosure that will work better for the stock setup, however. It’ll just be a slightly modified version of the one I made :slight_smile:

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My setup will be almost nothing stock. So I’m really going to have to get all that assembled first. Then figure out a layout and CAD something up. More I was wondering just how much to print something similar-ish and ship.

I know the feeling. The nice thing about printing it is that it can be customized to fit your needs :wink:

Sorry for the delay getting the updated model together. I have been building my Maslow and haven’t spent much time at my computer. I just finished working on a version that mounts flat to a piece of plywood or the side of a 2x4 using 6x #8 flat head screws.

If anyone wants one printed, they are available for $40.00 with hardware, all the needed wiring done, shipped in the USA (I’m not sure how much international shipping would cost). You will need to provide your own 80mm case fan.

Link to STL, STEP, IGES, and Solidworks Files:


Very nice case! I wanted to let you know I did a remix of your design. I just needed something simple and didn’t want to add cable extenders, this gives me a fan mount and a mount for the maslow circuit board.


@MeticulousMaynard I don’t know why I’m just now seeing this but this is great! Good work!
I’m curious, why did you choose to make the output vents in the sides rather than the end of the enclosure? I would assume you might get better airflow past the heat syncs if the case was vented on the end opposite the fan instead. Maybe I’m wrong, was there a purpose here I’m missing?

I had an idea in my mind to make an enclosure that had internal cowling to direct the airflow almost entirely through the heat syncs. The idea being that any air that passes the board more than about 1/4" away is really just wasted as it won’t do much to carry away heat. If one were to force the air through a smaller area then the velocity increases, therefor your cooling is more efficient… right? I don’t really know. This is just an idea.


Yep, that would be right. The more flow you get in close contact with the heat sink, the better your cooling. Well, until your velocities go supersonic, that is! :wink:

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That’s the plan! :stuck_out_tongue:

Really like your design! I saw an email come in about the remixed model, very nice. I decided I didn’t like the cable extenders myself.

Thanks! I had figured that this thread had gone dead a long time ago.

You are entirely right. After I finished printing the prototype, I realized that was a design flaw. I actually made the changes you were suggesting to the Thingiverse file. When I went to print out the improved version, my extruder didn’t heat up and I haven’t a chance to troubleshoot it. If I can’t get it working, I may just canabalise the steppers and linear guides and make a Prusa i3 clone.

I like that idea a lot! I hadn’t thought of making internal cowling to force the air to go through the heatsinks. Definitely an improvement I’d like to make when I get printing again.

I actually have an update of my own to show. Now that I have my machine working, I finally have put the case to the test:

The cooling this design offer is definitely an improvement for the machine. I didn’t test the heat-sinks with any sort of thermometer, but they stay very cool, even when I’m cutting along the top of the machine. I have left the door out for now, partially because I want to still be able to access the PLC while I am still setting up the machine. This photo was taken before I set up the Z-Axis, so that cable is missing in the photo. I’m trying to figure out how I want to route all the electronics around so everything is zip-tied in place. I have also left out my extenders, it simplified the system greatly, it was just one more part that could go wrong.

I actually made up a second version of the design:

Fusion 360 Link:
This file is avalible in the MaslowCNC Fusion 360 folder that @mrfugu and I have been working in. Not sure how to share that link.

I’m hoping that this solves quite a few problems I had with the previous design. I am still planning on making some kind of cowling to go over it, possibly hold the heat sinks in place mechanically and force air over them better, as @pillageTHENburn suggested. I also am planning on making an actual electronics cabinet that this will be mounted in. As such, I’m less concerned with dust isolation.

Now, if only I can get my printer working again…


what about a version out of wood? mdf / plywood cut on the maslow

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I was going to design a wooden one but my brain still thinks in “laser cutter” and I’m trying to train it to think in “maslow”… It should actually be about the same, just the kerf size is slightly more limiting :slight_smile:

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Definitely a possibility, I had thought about that myself. At the time, I had my 3D printer but not my Maslow, and I wanted to get started on the project. Also, I figured it would be less assembly if I printed the case with the mounting point for the fan as opposed to cutting out parts and gluing them together. I’d make a new one out of wood, but the case I have works well enough for my purposes. When I get my printer working again, I’d like to work with the design I’ve already put time into.

If you’re looking for a wood arduino enclosure, @mexicomillionaire did exactly that:
More pictures in his machine gallery:

Hope I’m not overstepping by posting links to his projects here.

I’m familiar with the feeling. Some days I feel like the biggest limitation to my machine is myself. I’ve worked in cabinet shops and scenic shops for the last couple of years so often I’m thinking in boxes and flats. I know that there is so much more potential in the machine than just that, though.


It all makes sense when the machine can build it’s own parts and spare parts. This allows evolution. Maslow as an organism?

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Can’t go wrong with hot glue unless you’re gluing/protecting/waterproofing something that gets hot. Good for strengthening 3D printed parts too