When I first saw/read about those eBay aquarium controllers, I thought they were great and I immediately bought 5. I built my first one out of a gray junction box (the sealed type) and it took me a good 2.5 hours to build one. I built a second one out of a 2-gang electric box, but it's a bit hokey (no fit and finish).
So yesterday I was at Wally World and decided to get a few parts to build my 3rd one. The first thing that came to mind was that those "square" electrical face plates look darn close to the size of the controller. May be it would work... So I got the parts to make it happen.
The build time was about 1h20m, including fetching tools, taking pictures, answering text's, answering calls, and flipping through TV channels.
1x 2-gang electric box
1x 10-ft 13A electrical cord (some folks have used spare computer power cords)
1x square electrical outlet
1x square 2-gang electric box face plate
1x pack of wire nuts (only 2 are needed).
Total cost was around $15, the electrical cord being the most expensive part ($8 I think - Darn copper prices!)
Continuity tester (volt-meter) (optional, really)
Razor blade cutter
Small flat screwdrivers (for the controller's posts)
Small Phillips screwdriver
Dremel tool with de-burring drum attachment (not pictured).
Fitting the controller to the faceplate
The face plate looks like it would hold a controller nicely...I verified to see that the controller would fit in the face plate.
And... It doesn't. It's actually a touch wider (may be 1/8"?) than the hole. Bummer. No despair, I took it outside (I didn't want plastic dust in the kitchen) and gently enlarged it with the Dremel tool. The de-burring drum really doesn't sand it down, it really melts the plastic from friction/heat. I did a little bit at a time, until the controller fit snugly (but not tightly).
After the work with the Dremel tool, I mounted the controller into the faceplate, and latched the holding clips snugly to lock the controller in place.
Fitting the controller into the 2-gang electrical box.
The gang box has a number of spots that can be made into openings for running wires. They also protrude INSIDE the box and this prevents the controller from fitting properly inside it. I punched out the top-right hole, and the 2 on one level lower (from the inside out).
Then I used the Dremel tool to grind away any protrusions from the holes that I opened up. The idea is to make the bottom as flat as possible where the controller will go. It really didn't take that much time, may be 5-10 minutes. Just go slow and remove a little bit at a time and do not "punch thru" the back of the box.