waterproof, outdoor-capable housing for no money
- upcycled from the garbage

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Small microcontroller-powered projects often lacks of an appropriate case. A metal housing is counterproductive in case of using a processor board with included WIFI. So the perfect material would be something non-metallic. As everyone with grandparents practicing the worthily tradition of pickling garden-fruits, knows - A glass jar is the perfect package, preserving its tightness over decades. For foods. Why not for electronics?

Note: This project documentation is about the general assembling and housing of components. So it's more a meta-project than a particular one. If you are interested in the greenhouse control application, which is used as an example, don't hesitate to contact me.

For a greenhouse a microcontroller with some extensions and some electric valves is used for moisture and temperature surveillance and for watering control. The environment of that application required feasible water-proofness. To get network connection, an ESP8266 is used.

A professional case was practically out of scope. Moreover a metal case surrounding the processor board would affect the WIFI connection.

So the perfect, hands-on solution was found: A wooden board for housing the valves, wires and connectors and some glass, enclosing the electrical part. Glass would not affect the WIFI like metal, and an attached display would be visible, without the need of cutting an opening. A jar was taken out of the glass-garbage  box. With some holes bored and slits cut into the lid, folded up parts of the tin, a holder for the main board was built.

The construction is intended to stay in-place, so the ESP is mounted pluggable to the main board using an old D-Sub-connection from the scrap box two pieces of bended geared rod and nuts (3mm).

Updating the software can be done remotely or the board can be removed, just two moves by hand: Screwing open the jar and pulling off the board from the socket.

There are 6 slave units, each containing a circuit for a moisture sensor and a valve for the watering. Under the floor, built by old pallets, a flexible tube is leading the water hose and the sensor wires to the planting pot. The cylindrical shaped valve is fixed into a hole, the water-part looking out of the board downward and the electrical part upside inside the jar.

The main power is coming from an external power supply, to get the required 12V for the magnetic valves and feed an additional step-down converter on the board to get 3,3V for the ESP.

  • 1
    preparation and fixing

    Select an empty suitable jar from your garbage. The electronics should fit inside, including some spare space on top.
    The idea is to cut and fold the tin of the jar's lid to build a holder to fix the board with screws and nuts.
    The jar should be cleaned in the dish-washer.

    - Take of the lid
    - Think about the geometry of the holder needed for your board. Fix it horizontal or vertical? Cut and fold a model out of paper.
    - Mark the position of the slits and holes with a marker.
    - bore the screw-hole(s)
    - cut  the slits into the tin. A sturdy cutter knife should be sufficient. Use a wooden board a underlay.
    - fold up the tin

    - prepare the wood. Bore holes at the right places
    - fix the lid on the boar with screws, tighten with grease, wax or other materia.

    Be careful, the tin edges are sharp. Protect yourself, use gloves.

    If you made a mistake: Don't bother - just take the next gratis jar from your glass garbage box and start over.

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iog wrote 05/06/2020 at 20:31 point

For that application it's not important, because it's inside the greenhouse. I used an other jar as enclosing for a GPS receiver board with a M12 plug and socket in the lid with a rubber ring for hanging out a roof window. It was sufficient waterproof during rainy days.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Wibo.van.Noort wrote 05/06/2020 at 17:30 point

Did you make an effort to waterproof the bottom or is that not important for you?

  Are you sure? yes | no

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