Making the case for cool project enclosures

luna_mod_case

Quite often, we see project boxes that seem to be constructed more as an afterthought than anything else. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with stuffing your latest creation into a nondescript black box, or even cardboard if it happens to fit your needs. Sometimes however, an enclosure embodies the spirit of a project, making it all that much cooler.

[Adam] recently picked up a copy of Make magazine and decided to build their “Luna Mod”, a sound effects generator and looper based on a PICAXE-08M. Aside from the micro controller the Luna Mod includes a couple of pots, a switch, and a few LEDs – nothing incredibly striking. Once he had everything assembled on a strip of protoboard, he started working on his enclosure.

The enclosure is made from an old record, which after some trial and error, [Adam] got just right. The record was heated and cut, then bent into shape. While it’s not necessarily a hack, we think it looks pretty slick. It really fits the theme of the Luna Mod and is far more attractive than a plain plastic box.

Stick around to see his sound generator in action.

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Don’t hit that switch!

switch_box

Hackaday reader [Danukeru] sent us a video featuring a box-based robot with an interesting personality. The box is fairly simple and from the outside seems to consist only of a switch and an LED. When the switch is flipped however, the box comes to life.

When the box is activated, the lid opens, and a small arm reaches out to turn the switch off. We’ve seen that plenty of times, but this one turns out to be a little different. In the video, this process seems to repeat a couple dozen times before the robot gets angry and flips out. At first we thought that the end portion of the video was done with a bit of digital trickery, but after reviewing the creator’s blog, it looks like it could be legit. It is very hard to see the box’s innards in the video, but it does house a remote control car chassis that allows it to move around and spin out, as seen below.

It’s a pretty neat project, and if you can handle reading the creator’s site via Google translate, there is plenty of picture documentation of the build process for your perusal.

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Booby box – It’s a trap!

Here’s a puzzle oddity that challenges you to open the box without falling into one of the booby-traps. It was built as a side-distraction from the more serious events happening at Insomni’hack 2011. [Sergio] and a colleague built the box to resemble a ticking bomb like in the blockbuster action movies we know you look forward to seeing each summer. A display on top of the device counts down for ninety seconds with an audible beep to mark the passage of time and boost your tension level. See it ticking away in the clip after the break.

Two wires meet at the edges of the box halves, completing a circuit that will set off an alarm when the contact is broken. There’s also a photocell on the bottom of the box which triggers the alarm if you lift it and expose this sensor to light. The combination necessary to open the box was provided to each competitor; it was not a numerical code, but a color code. Three potentiometers control the red, green, and blue anodes of an RGB LED, while being monitored by an Arduino at the same time. If you can dial in the appropriate color, the lid trap is disabled and the box can be opened. What does the winner get? Why an Arduino, of course!

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More 555 Projects to Enjoy

We love all of the projects that are coming out for the 555 design contest, so we thought we would share a couple more that have caught our collective eye.  Have a 555 project of your own? Be sure to share it with us, and keep an eye out for the contest submission dates. Read on for a few of our project picks.

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Wireless electricity enables next generation of annoying packaging

Yep, these cereal boxes light up. They’re using a new branded-technology called eCoupling that provides electricity via induction, which means the shelves have a coil with AC power running through it. The “printed coils” on the boxes allow inventory control and data exchange presumably thanks to a low-power microcontroller. But in the video after the break you can see that the printed lighting on the boxes lets them flash parts of the box art as a way to attract customers’ attention. We’d bet that they’re using electroluminescent materials but we weren’t able to get find specifics on how this is done. We just hope advertisers don’t start rolling noise-makers into their packaging.

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Making boxes from soda cans

This shiny little box was made from a soda can. You don’t need much to pull this off; an aluminum can, sand paper, scissors, a ballpoint pen, a straight edge, and some time. The embossing is done with the tip of the pen, but there’s a bit of a trick to it. The designs are first pressed into the metal from the underside of the aluminum. It is then flipped over and the outlines are traced, with one last tracing of the shape from the underside once that is completed. We think you’ll agree that this results in an impressive relief of the design.

This would make a nice project for that wedding ring you’ve been carrying around sans-case. Or perhaps this is just what you needed as an enclosure for your next project. You’ll find an instructional video after the break.

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Reverse geocaching Christmas gift box

This is the reverse geocache box that [William Dillon] built as a Christmas gift this year. He started with an interestingly shaped wooden box from the craft store. The clasp to keep it shut uses a servo motor on the lid with a wooden arm that grasps a screw on the base. As with the original geocache box, the Frustratomatic, and the smaller geocache, the box is designed to open only when in the correct geographic location thanks to the GPS module inside. That was a problem for [William] when a bug in his firmware locked the box during development while the key location was 1000 miles away. Luckily the box uses hinges that are attached from the outside with screws. We wonder how feasible it would be to use the mounting screws from the LCD screen to implement a coded emergency entry, using one as ground and the others as paths to microcontroller pins.