Week 4: Weather Display Enclosure

This week, I designed an enclosure for a weather display (Figure 1).  The display is designed to hold electronic components that turn on lights based on the weather outside.  If it is sunny, the sun symbol would light up, if it is raining, the rain cloud symbol would light up.

Figure 1 : Weather Display

Figure 1: Weather Display

The overall box was designed using 10 sheets of plywood stacked on top of each other and held together using four nuts and bolts (Figure 2).

Figure 2 : Laser Cut Pieces

Figure 2: Laser Cut Pieces

The layers have varying shapes in order to accommodate the electrical components inside. The first layer contains the cut out weather symbols.  Paper was taped to the back of each symbol so that you could not see into the box (Figure 3).

In the future, I would laser cut the paper (or maybe frosted plastic) into its own layer and place it behind this first layer instead of using tape and manually cutting each piece of paper.  The next three layers were shaped to resemble a window frame (Figure 4).

Figure 4 : Light Cavity Layers

Figure 4: Light Cavity Layers

These layers divided the interior of the box into for sections behind the symbols and created individual areas for the lights.  This was designed to prevent light from one symbol leaking behind another symbol and creating a confusing interface.  The fifth layer was a plain plate which had holes cut into it at the center of each section for the LED legs to fit through.  Figure 5 shows how the LED’s were place and taped into this layer.

Figure 5 : LED Layer

Figure 5: LED Layer

In the future, I would used panel mount lights to ensure these lights stayed in place for a long time.  The next four layers (Figure 6) were designed to create a bigger cavity for the remaining electronics.

Figure 6 : Electronics Cavity Layers

Figure 6: Electronics Cavity Layers

Finally, the last plate had a switch mount attached in order to turn the display on and off (Figure 7).

Figure 7 : Back Layer

Figure 7: Back Layer

I choose not to glue the layers together in order to provide the most modularity to the design.  Once I build the electronics for this project, the cavity sizes may not be sufficient.  Thus, with this design, I can simply add more layers to increase the size of the cavity if I need to.  The same adjustments can be done to the light cavity layers if I change to larger lights.  Overall, I am happy with this design as a first model for this concept.  I think that I would need to produce the electronics before iterating the display enclosure in order to ensure the cavities are the right size.  Thus, the modularity of this enclosure compliments a project like this that is a work in progress. As I think more about the project I may add new buttons or features, but it was a great exercise to build the enclosure first in order to understand the limitations and scope of the project if I want to contain it to a simple display like this one.