Using Plastic Electrical Covers as Arduino and Breadboard Bases

These electrical box covers, found in home improvement and hardware stores, make excellent bases for Arduino boards and prototyping breadboards. The covers have a neoprene weather seal on the back, which keeps a sliding Arduino or breadboard from scratching any surface it may be on. The covers are available as single- or double-gang and in white or gray colors. (I use white for breadboards and gray for PCB devices.) The outer surface has a molded pattern similar to the orange-peel paint texture that you may see on antique items.

I used Radio Shack insulated standoffs (part number 2761381) for most of the boards. The plastic ends of the standoffs were notched as needed to avoid conflicting with soldered pins protruding from the underside of each board. When possible I used existing holes for the mounting screws, but felt no reticence to drill new ones.

Double-sided tape was used to adhere the breadboards to their bases. I added small breadboard power supply PCBs to each breadboard. Because these were supported only by their inserted pins, I cut nylon spacers to the correct height to support them. The spacers are screwed to the base, but not to the power boards themselves. Instead, the power boards just sit on the tops of the spacers. Note that the large breadboard was too long for one cover plate, so two plates were cut to the desired length. No gluing was needed, because the double-sided tape used to mount the breadboard holds perfectly well.

I like several things about using these covers as bases:
    The Arduino, breadboard, or other device is held securely in place
    The foam gasket on the back of the cover protects surfaces and keeps things from sliding
    The bases look rather nice, I think, and give a consistent look to all the devices

-- Stan Cleveland, McMinnville, Oregon

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