A Case For The RxTx Ensemble Transceiver

For the past few weeks I’ve been working on putting together an RxTx Ensemble transceiver. Using the available instructions I finally finished it, only to realize I didn’t have a suitable case.

I’ve seen advertisements for a nice aluminum case for this radio but it no longer appears to be available. I also found files for a 3D printed case on Thingiverse but didn’t want to sit for the Slicer predicted seven hour print time. I was ready to build a case from copper clad board as described by WA4MNT but then remembered a trick I ran across in another case build. The designer used copper clad board for the case walls but 3D printed corner posts to hold them in place. This seemed a nice compromise so I decided to give it a try.

Required Materials

Materials used to create the case include:

  • Two 2.5″ x 2″ (64mm x 51mm) side panels from .032″ copper clad board
  • Two 5″ x 2″ (127mm x 51mm) front and back panels from .032″ copper clad board
  • Two 5.5″x3″ (140mm x 77mm) top and bottom panels from .032″ copper clad board
  • 1 cm spacers to mount the transceiver on the bottom panel
  • Four 3D printed corner posts
  • Screws to mount the 3D printed corner posts to the top and bottom panels

Putting It Together

The first step is to print the corner posts and make sure the screws will fit. The figure below shows the corner post design. It is designed to stand vertically, with the side and front/back panels fitting into the slots shown. The OpenSCAD and STL files are available in my GitHub repository.

I printed the corner posts using PLA with a .3mm resolution and the vertical shell set to 1 perimeter. If you set the vertical shell to more than 1 perimeter the material may overflow and fill the slots intended to hold the case walls.

The screw holes were sized for 2.6mm self-tapping screws I had on hand. The alternative is to drill the holes out and tap them for use with M3 screws.

Once the corner posts are ready, drill a 1/8″ (3.2mm) hole at each of the corner of the top/bottom panels, 1/8″ (3.2mm)from each side. Attach the top and bottom panels to the corner posts as shown below.

Now remove the top panel and insert the side and top/bottom panels into corner posts. Then replace the top panel to confirm everything fits together properly. If it’s necessary to trim the side or top/bottom panels, only remove a small bit of material at a time.

At this point you should have a small copper clad box as shown in the figure below.

Mounting The Transceiver Board

Disassemble the box and select which panel will serve as the bottom of the case. Drill two 1/8″ (3.2mm) holes at the front corners, 3/8″ (9.5mm) from each side. These will be used to mount the spacers that hold the board in place. I used four spacers to support the circuit board but drilled only two holes since that’s all that’s needed to hold the board.

Creating The Front Panel

A template for the front panel is shown below and can be downloaded from the same repository containing the corner posts. It was layed out assuming that 1cm spacers will be used to mount the transceiver circuit board. If you use a different size spacer you’ll have to adjust the holes’ vertical locations as appropriate.

Print the template at 100% scale and tape it to the side of one of the front/back panels that will face outwards. Compare the hole locations to the circuit board jacks to make sure they line up properly, then drill out the holes as shown and reassemble the case.

Some Followup Items

My assembled case is shown below. I’m still considering a couple of improvements.

Right now the transceiver jacks aren’t labeled. Since the case is made of copper clad, this can be done using the toner transfer method directly on the front panel. Also, the case is tall enough to mount a small fan on the back to provide forced air cooling. I think I’ll have to wait and see how the transceiver performs before doing that.

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