Cases and Display Mounting
by Don Cantrell, ND6T
I was recently informed that there are still a few builders out there that are unaware of the bounty of cabinets, cases, and hardware available for next to nothing.
I am referring to data switch units, those gadgets used to share printers and serial port devices before the age of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) and “wireless”. Most of them used the old DB-9 and DB-25 connectors that are no longer in favor so they show up in thrift stores and swap meets for free or close to it. The cabinets are perfect for most projects, easy to open and very sturdy. The front panel usually has just one hole, for the switch, and is often the right size for a control.
The switches aren't something that you would normally use but the wire from them to the rear panel mounted jacks is frequently stranded, brightly color-coded, and a good length. A touch of the soldering iron releases them intact. A good source of small gauge hook-up wire.
The connectors on the rear panel are usually attached by 3/16 inch hex 4-40 threaded short stand-offs at each end. They were there to provide a means of holding the connecting plugs in place. So each jack has two of these stand-offs.
The mounting hardware supplied with the BITX40 board can be used to mount the Raduino module to the front panel but those 11mm stand-offs are a bit long and place the front of the display behind the panel. That's fine if you want to place a clear plastic cover over it but I prefer to extend the display through the panel as much as is allowed by the backlight and the connector clearance. About an 1/8” (3.5mm).
Those short 3/16 inch stand-offs from the data switchers work perfectly for the display mounting. No bezel needed. The real work is, as always, the cutting of the rectangular hole for the display. A few holes drilled, some nibbling with a hand nibbler, and a lot of work with a big flat file. The adage “measure twice and cut once” does not describe it. I spend most of the time measuring. However, it is time well spent. I can daydream and ponder while doing the largely brainless busy work.
So a couple of bucks toward a good cause will provide a dandy cabinet and parts. A little paint and elbow grease will put your project in a stylish enclosure and your Raduino display out front and proud. You've “up-cycled” and kept those parts out of the landfill, too!