Thursday, March 10, 2016

The 89-cent Homebrew Metal Project Box

Here is what your finished 89-cent chassis will look like.
It is quite possible to homebrew your own project boxes, starting with a flat piece of aluminum. An 8x12-inch piece of aluminum at The Home Depot is less than a dollar and can be easily transformed into a project chassis 8-inches wide, 4-inches deep and 1 and 3/4-inches tall. Fancy metal-working tools needed? Absolutely not. This one was made in the 73 Radio Row workshop with a hand drill, awl, hacksaw, vise and a straight edge of metal or wood. It is really easy to do if you are willing to invest an hour-or-so. When was the last time you've said "Rig here is homebrew, including the chassis"? The photographs below tell the story of how it is done.Try it. You have less than a dollar and an hour-or-so to lose.
- Richard Fisher, KI6SN
Founder, 73 Radio Row

NOTE: is proud underwriter of the Adventure Radio Society. Please click on the images for a larger view.

A 1/4-inch hole is drilled into the metal prior to making the cut-outs, shown in RED.

Simple tools are all that are needed to sketch out the pattern.

Etch the pencil pattern with an awl.

Stress-reduction holes are drilled into the pattern before making the cut-outs with a hacksaw.
Prior to folding the metal, here is what the completed pattern looks like.
Held in a vise, the next step is to form the box following the lines you earlier sketched.
The 1/4-inch wide folds along the edge form the bottom of the box. A small piece of wood was slid under the edge for support in preparation for drilling.
Small machine screws hold the box together. Once they are in place, flip over the box and admire the great work you have done.

FOOTNOTE: In the vise, there are actually two bending edges. Again, they can be metal or wood. I used a piece of aluminum stock from the Home Depot that was cut in two with the hacksaw: They are much longer than the vise is wide. So for the smaller folds - indeed *all* of the folds if you'd like - the box is bent to the side of the vise. The metal "bend bars" are squeezed in the vise. Then the aluminum box is squeezed between the two bend bars - to the left or right of the vise. So your bends are not necessarily *in* the vise, but beside it. I used a couple of clamps on the outer end of the bend bars to keep things as tight there as they would be in the vise itself.

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