Make a Cool Project Enclosure in Six Easy Steps

Make a Cool Project Enclosure in Six Easy Steps


I’m a big fan of MicroRAX aluminum beams — they’re great for throwing together quick structures for my projects. Recently I had to make a project enclosure so I thought I’d test out some corner braces I’d bought. It turned out pretty sweet! Click on the slideshow to see how to make your own.

[make_slideshow slug=”” title=”MicroRAX Project Enclosure” link=”Open Slideshow!”]

30 thoughts on “Make a Cool Project Enclosure in Six Easy Steps

  1. Bart Patrzalek says:

    slide show not working….

    1. Jake Spurlock says:

      What’s not working? Are you on an iPad/iPhone?

      1. craig says:

        Chrome for Windows here. Can see the first photo in the slideshow, but can’t move past the first photo.

        Le sigh. Get over the damn slideshow, Make!

        1. Jake Spurlock says:

          Hi Craig, I’m on Chrome, but on a Mac here. Are you using any adblockers, or javascript blockers? It’s working for me…

          1. ckarper says:

            I’m on Chrome, doesn’t work for me either.. “View All Slides” just opens the first slide, with all clicks opening the same slideshow in a new tab. It’s a total mess. Just post the pics in a gallery already.

          2. James says:

            Same problem here: unable to arrow past the first picture in the slideshow.

            copypasta from chrome://version

            Google Chrome 24.0.1312.52 (Official Build 175374)
            OS Linux
            WebKit 537.17 (@138969)
            JavaScript V8
            Flash 11.2 r202
            User Agent Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/24.0.1312.52 Safari/537.17

  2. Jake Spurlock says:

    Ahh, the view all slides wouldn’t work with this system… Sorry about that. We are making some changes right now. You’ll need to use the arrows that are overlayed on the image. Sorry about that.

    1. davidcdean says:

      Icons and arrow keys don’t work in FF on Win, either. Any idea what the BOM comes out to on this, for cost?

    2. James says:

      Also, the layout of the page with fixed-width column but descending-width nested comments renders the comments section nigh-unreadable, with many words alone on their own lines.

      Leaving aside that old chestnut about never reading the comments, it’s just broke.

      A few months ago, probably to drive pageviews, the RSS feed stopped delivering full articles. Given the problems with the actual page, maybe it’s time to undo that so that articles become readable again, albeit in an RSS client.

  3. csmoreno (@csmoreno) says:

    Arrows don’t seem to work either.

  4. chuck says:

    OK I’m in IE and the slides open but they advance automatically every two seconds.
    From what I managed to speed read after a few flash throughs it seems like a cool project but probably out of the budget of most of us.
    The best project boxes in my opinion are the ‘dry boxes’ from the Home Depot electrical department. They’re like heavy duty junction boxes without through holes. They have nice screw on covers with gaskets that are easy to drill to mount components. They come in various sizes and prices.
    My wife brought me some heavy duty cardboard hat boxes from work that I’ve used on a few projects and I like them but they feel slightly ‘mushy’. I also like to use cigar boxes but with the flood of cigar box purses and guitars on ebay, etsy, and every craft fair I’ve seen in the last few years, the prices on the boxes have gone up.
    I’m thinking about using the 6×6 square PVC fence posts that are popular now. Just cut it to length, drill your holes, populate it and slide some pre made caps over the open ends. Sounds easy plus PVC is dyable with RIT and can be scribed like scrimshaw!
    Any other state of the shelf or recycled project enclosure solutions for the DIY skinflint?

    1. John Baichtal says:

      Hi Chuck,

      MicroRAX is a penny a mm, which equates to $12 for the beams, and the corner connectors are $2.50 for 8. The wood was scrap I got out of the free bin at my makerspace, for a total cost of $14.50.

      1. davidcdean says:

        Hey, that’s not bad for a good looking case.

      2. chuck says:

        Wow I assumed It would have been much more. I stand corrected and may have to try those out.

      3. Scott Saunders says:

        On the site, it looks like the corner connectors are $2.40 each: for a total of almost $20 for just the connectors. Did you get them somewhere else or did I misunderstand?

        1. John Baichtal says:

          You’re right, for some reason I thought they were cheaper.

      4. Andrew Brannan says:

        MicroRax may be a penny per mm, provided you buy it in sufficient quantity, and ignore shipping costs. Some of us don’t have makerspaces, or have makerspaces where there isn’t a scrap bin, or have makerspaces where the scrap bin regularly gets raided of anything more that 2″x2″ square. Unless you plan on buying MicroRax in bulk (and I know that’s what you advocate because you find it so useful) this is not useful for a one-off enclosure.

        1. John Baichtal says:

          Andrew, actually, those prices are down to 30mm lengths:

          1. Andrew Brannan says:

            Yes, the base price is $.01 per mm, but the shipping for that 30mm piece is a minimum of $8.55 for me, which puts the total price per mm just shy of $.30. So the price of the rails is linear, with a shipping cost that stair-steps. Obviously, there’s going to be certain order amounts that are going to be better values than others. But in order to make the shipping a negligible part of the overall cost, you’ve got to purchase a fair amount. Again, not a problem for someone with a hackerspace that will do a large group order, but for the individual maker, it’s not a low-cost proposition.

            If MicroRax were ubiquitous enough to be sold in the Big Box hardware stores, it might be an option, but until there’s a true “killer app” for MicroRax, it’s just not cost effective.

  5. unrepentantgeek says:

    Nice! I’ve been doing similar with OpenBeam:

    I’m currently working on a Raspberry Pi enclosure that uses a slightly different construction technique, but those corner braces have got me thinking!

  6. loty says:

    Really expensive – I quickly calculated total cost for 3″ x 2″ tiny enclosure and it came up to almost $40!!! You can almost buy 2(!) Raspery Pis for that money.

    1. davidcdean says:

      Figure it with the L brackets instead of the fancy corner ones. Those come in 8 or 10 packs for much less.

      1. Joby Elliott says:

        Actually, the price is better with the new corner pieces.

        The brackets he used cost $2.40 each. The brackets you’re talking about cost $1.35 each ($10.80/pack of 8). So even if you went the ugly and structurally unsound route of only two L brackets per corner, the new corner pieces are still 30 cents cheaper.

  7. Jerry Isdale says:

    Bummed that the slide show is totally munged – using Chrome on OSX 10.8.

    I gotta make yet another project case today – I’ve used micro rax (medium kit via on several already – and reused and reused. I made tops/sides out of cardboard, wood and acrylic. Having a laser cutter makes it easier – and you can cut holes, etch logos, etc.

  8. Isaac says:

    A sideshow…. I was looking forward to seeing how the enclosure was made. Oh well. :(

  9. Tim_Allan_UK says:

    Slideshow link is broken – I’d really like to do the tutorial – please can you fix? Thanks!

    1. sophiacamille says:

      Hey Tim, looking into this for you now.

      1. Tim_Allan_UK says:

        hey thanks! Can you let me know when it’s working? Cheers!

        1. sophiacamille says:

          Hey, so I had some of our engineers look into this and unfortunately it looks like this data was lost when we migrated our pages from our old website to this one. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help! If you’re looking for some projects about enclosures, we have these ones:


          Here’s a roundup of some more ideas with links out to other sites:

          And here’s our collection page for enclosures:

          Hope that gives you something to work with.

          1. Tim_Allan_UK says:


            Thanks for the other links.

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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