Electric Brewing Supply 30A BCS Giveaway!


Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > control box / enclosures - some tips for anyone considering it
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 03-16-2010, 02:34 PM   #1
Walker
I use secondaries. :p
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Walker's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 11,236
Liked 86 Times on 77 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default control box / enclosures - some tips for anyone considering it

I'm building a HERMS system and thought I would share some thoughts. I took my time and was very patient while searching for good deals and one day an offer too good to refuse presented itself on ebay. I picked up a new-in-box Weigmann brand 10"x12"x5" NEMA 4X steel enclosure (with an inside panel and hinged door) for $35 shipped. This thing sells for no less than $130 online.

I was very pleased with myself for having scored such a good enclosure for such a good price.

But.......

Now I have to work with that thing, and the steel is 1/8" thick. I don't know if you've ever spent time cutting through 1/8" thick steel, but it ain't exactly easy or quick with common tools. I can pretty easily DRILL through it (stepping up a little at a time). A 1/2" hole through it takes just a couple minutes. Easy as pie.

Cutting big 2 1/8" holes for my output receptacles was a chore. Lots of time, pressure, cutting oil, and a big hole saw. I had to take a few breaks to let my drill cool off, but I got it done. While doing this, I started to get pretty damn concerned about what lay ahead for me.

Cutting square or rectanglular holes in that f*cker is not fun. The PID needs a square hole, and it has to be a pretty clean one, so brute force and sloppy lines is not an option. A little finesse is in order. I'll get it done because I really have few options, but I am starting to reconsider all of the switches I bought that need to be installed. They are all rectangular in shape with a very small lip around the front to keep them from going all the way through the panel holes, but the lips on them are very very very small.

This means I have a good bit more straight-line cutting, with very clean and precise lines.

I am seriously considering cutting my losses on the switches re-ordering round ones that I can just install in drilled holes. This will save me hours of work and be less prone to error.

So... sorry for being long winded... but if you are considering building a control box for a HERMS or RIMS or just a box for the controls of an electric kettle, think about what you are buying, how you will cut and or drill it, and what you will have to actually install through the walls of the thing.

If my box were made of plastic, I think I would already be done with everything.

__________________
Ground Fault Brewing Co.

Reason: fix typo in title
Walker is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-16-2010, 02:50 PM   #2
Walker
I use secondaries. :p
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Walker's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 11,236
Liked 86 Times on 77 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default

Forgot to add... one thing I am considering is cutting rough holes in the thing and covering them up with blank face plates from the hardware store. Those face plates will be much easier to do precision work on so that I can mount switches and the PID and whatnot.

I don't really want a bunch of faceplates screwed to the thing, but I absolutely think that I will not be able to do a good job mounting the small rectangular switches directly through the thick steel.

__________________
Ground Fault Brewing Co.
Walker is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-16-2010, 03:31 PM   #3
EvilGnome6
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 678
Liked 9 Times on 9 Posts

Default

Maybe a nibbler would work for cutting the straight lines.

nibbler.jpg

__________________
EvilGnome6 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-16-2010, 03:34 PM   #4
Boerderij_Kabouter
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Boerderij_Kabouter's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
Posts: 8,461
Liked 119 Times on 103 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default

Try that with stainless steel.... hehe I have 5 LOVE profiles and 8 switches to cut in.

http://www.amazon.com/Dremel-EZ406-C...8753605&sr=1-1



http://www.amazon.com/Dremel-EZ684-0...8753605&sr=1-4



That will help a lot!

Boerderij_Kabouter is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-16-2010, 03:39 PM   #5
diatonic
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Boise, ID
Posts: 716
Liked 12 Times on 10 Posts
Likes Given: 14

Default

If it makes you feel any better, had the majority of my panel done, but was waiting on some new L6-30 flanged power connectors. I wasn't able to find plugs that fit the ones on my box. Sent it off to powder-coat. Came back real pretty, but the new flanged inlet/outlet are about 1/4" bigger in diameter and don't fit. Now I'm struggling with taking a jig saw to my shiny red panel to make the holes bigger... or trying to track down a 2¼" chassis punch. I feel your pain.

__________________

.:diatonic:.

1° - Simple Cider (2/15/2014) - Saison Mead (6/26/2014) - En Perpetuum (Belgian sour base) (7/3/2014)
2° - Nuthin
Aging in a wine barrel - En Perpetuum—Solera (1/23/2011)
Kegs - May the Schwarz-Bier with you (2/9/2014) — Test Depth American Stout (8/29/2013), Big Red Imperial Red IPA (1/19/2014)

My brew rig is pretty much done :)
You should follow me on Twitter - My Brew Logs

diatonic is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-16-2010, 03:40 PM   #6
Walker
I use secondaries. :p
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Walker's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 11,236
Liked 86 Times on 77 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default

Boerderji:

I am (or have been) trying to use a dremel with cutting discs at this point. I have not tried the exact (large) cutting disc you have pictured at the top, but I actually think that this will be TOO big to help me with the switches.

By the time the disc made it through the 1/8" thick steel, it will have cut a line into the metal that is too long.... it would reach past the edges of my switches. I guess i could cut from the inside instead of the outside to get around that ugliness. I will say that using the small cutting discs, the dremel gets REALLY f*cking hot and I have to stop either because of that or because the batter is nearly drained.

I was looking at a dremel cutting tip (a bit, not a disc) that is meant for hardened steel, and might pick one up today and try some practice cuts on the back panel.

I'm also considering removing most of the metal with drill bits and then cutting away the teeth that are left behind with the dremel.

__________________
Ground Fault Brewing Co.
Walker is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-16-2010, 03:42 PM   #7
Boerderij_Kabouter
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Boerderij_Kabouter's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
Posts: 8,461
Liked 119 Times on 103 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default

Where did you get the switches from? Returnable? The controllers are one thing, but tiny square holes are a bit silly IMO. Do you have any machinist friends? A mill would be handy or maybe look for a square punch...

Those bits are very hard to control without a jig FWIW.

__________________
2P-Twent-E Simple Brew DITCHES 1 DITCHES 2 Fermentolagertaporator side-by-side ferm Twelve Hopostles Labels
Boerderij_Kabouter is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-16-2010, 03:45 PM   #8
Walker
I use secondaries. :p
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Walker's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 11,236
Liked 86 Times on 77 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default

I bought the switches from mouser.com. I don't know it they are returnable, but I only have a few of them (costing me a couple of $'s), so it's probably not worth the effort.

I agree that, in retrospect, rectangular switches were probably a bad idea. It was just something I didn't think about when I purchased them (which was really the thing I was trying to get across to others with this thread.... think CAREFULLY about what you are buying, what you have to install it in, and how you will go about doing that.)

No machinist friend for me.

__________________
Ground Fault Brewing Co.
Walker is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-16-2010, 03:45 PM   #9
RegionalChaos
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Drain, OR
Posts: 606
Liked 4 Times on 4 Posts
Likes Given: 4

Default

The dremel or a small cut off disc on an air tool would be my suggestion.

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too...2951_200322951

__________________
How I brew: Stir plate starters, Extract, Full boil in a Keggle, 10 gallon batches.
Brewing upgrades in progress: temp controlled ferment, stir plate re-work, building mash tun, milling station

Planned House Ales: an Amber, an IPA, a dark IPA, a Mango Ale, a blueberry oatmeal stout, a dry Irish stout, a honey wheat, Apfelwien

What kind of R-Value does your ferm chamber need? - http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/what...hamber-190459/
RegionalChaos is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-16-2010, 03:47 PM   #10
Walker
I use secondaries. :p
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Walker's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 11,236
Liked 86 Times on 77 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default

I'm am using a dremel. It will eventually get the job done, but it'll take forever.

1/8" is a LOT of steel to cut through.

__________________
Ground Fault Brewing Co.
Walker is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply



Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Brewing-tips.com - Daily Brewing Tips Website onelegout General Beer Discussion 13 06-08-2010 12:42 PM
Tips on using DME BigE Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 21 06-19-2009 08:05 PM
For Sale - WTT Propane Burner tips for Nat Gas tips Mirilis For Sale 0 05-28-2009 05:39 PM
Red Ale Tips SpeedfReako5 Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 2 04-10-2009 06:53 AM
Thanks for the Tips Chip General Techniques 3 07-02-2008 02:46 AM