Modding in the digital age… Choosing an enclosure

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In this second installment in the series, I want to discuss choosing an enclosure for your project. The enclosure is the case and final form factor your mod will take. There are many factors to take into consideration when choosing an enclosure. I will attempt to discuss some of the major ones here. This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it should get you pointed in the right direction as to what you should look for when planning your build.

Probably the biggest consideration is size. How big do you want your mod to be. Factors to be considered in choosing the size of your enclosure are battery capacity (the bigger the mAh the bigger the battery, the bigger the enclosure), making sure there is room for all components (main board, buttons, switches, LEDs, atomizer connection, wiring, USB charging board, etc.), layout of the controls, and ergonomics (how the finished product feels in the hand).

Components take up space; batteries, the chip, screen, buttons, atomizer connection, MicroUSB charging boards and wiring can be laid out to maximize efficient use of space in an attempt to get the best performance and battery life, in a package as small as possible. The DNA20D AND Nivel Chip both require high drain batteries. You can use IMR batteries, or LiPo (Lithium Polymer). An Advantage of the LiPo battery is that many of them come as flat packs which can be soldered together to increase capacity (mAh) without taking up a lot of valuable space inside your mod.

The downside to using LiPo batteries is that not many places sell them in the US. The types of LiPo batteries with a C rating appropriate for modding are usually designed for model airplane/helicopter use. Thus the best place to find them is a hobby shop that specializes in model aircraft. I managed to find a few at my local hobby store, but they were quite expensive ($30.00 USD for 2). Online hobby retailers (like HobbyKing) carry them at a reasonable price, but pay attention to where they ship from. Many come from overseas which greatly increases shipping cost, and can complicate things since many carriers won’t ship LiPo batteries.

Pictured below are some size references of different components.

Dimensions of the 1s1p 1200mAh LiPo battery
Dimensions of a 1s3p 18650 battery pack
Dimensions of the Evolv DNA20D
Dimension required inside the enclosure for the horn switch from MadVapes
These tact switches from MadVapes are very small and help keep your mod small

Below are some common off the shelf enclosures that many people have used for modding. Again, not exhaustive by any means. The first picture features two small enclosures purchased at Radio Shack very inexpensively. They are plastic, easy to work with, and cheap, but may or may not be the most aesthetically pleasing (beauty is in the eye of the beholder). The third enclosure I ordered online from Hammond Manufacturing (part #1455C801) and is made of extruded aluminum. Personally, I like the durability and look of a metal enclosure, but it is more expensive and harder to work with (especially the screen cutouts).

2 plastic project boxes from Radio Shack, and 1 aluminum enclosure from Hammond

Other enclosures can be found easy enough if you don’t mind buying online, often directly from China. eBay in another good source for finding enclosures. A quick search for 18650 battery case found several including this one, which looks like it would be very easy to mod.

1s2p 18650 battery case - eBay

For aluminum enclosures, this Chinese eBay seller has several that will work.

Aluminum project enclosure from China on eBay

Another option to consider is modding an existing product. A common item that lends itself to modding, due to its size and original purpose, is the portable USB cellphone/tablet charger. These can be purchased several places from domestic retailers, Amazon, or direct from China via alibaba.com. To mod an existing device, you will first need to gut the original components (the batteries and various other components) and toss them aside. Many of these devices come with 18650 batteries already in them. Do not use these Li-Ion 18650’s, as they are not rated to handle the amp draw necessary for use in an APV. A nice feature about modding an existing portable power supply, is that it will most likely already have a MicroUSB charging board installed in it that you can use for your device.

Once you decide on the type of enclosure you want, ordered all of the other parts to complete your project (controller, batteries, switches, etc.), it’s time to start putting it all together. In the next entry in this series, we will discuss just that. We will take a look at soldering, dremeling/routing, routing wire, using epoxy, and lots more. Stay tuned!

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28 Comments

  1. toweknee says

    What a great article and making sure you spell out choosing the safest batteries is outstanding. A great modder giving the best advice it doesn’t get any better. Fazed makes my wallet growl every time I read something from him lol.

  2. Morrinb says

    Great info, can’t wait for part 3

  3. John "Shub" Fellhoelter says

    The suspense is almost killing me. Dun-dun-DUH!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Ralph says

    moar

  5. saboinia says

    im still waiting on the rba one….

  6. saboinia says

    still a grate post

  7. mrcrunch08 says

    I love the blog and I’m really looking forward to the next one. I really want to build a mod now. This series is making me consider ripping apart my vamo that is due here on the 27th. I didn’t need it anyway. lmao

  8. Michelle says

    Sweet

  9. Zane says

    Woww. thats awesome!

  10. lauriehere says

    Thanks SO much for this series! “I” might even try it! I have NO experience doing ANY of this, right down to soldering! It’s about time I do! Do you know how many Ego’s I have that are broken?! I could fix those, too! I’ve been wanting to buy that starter kit from Madvapes, but just haven’t ‘jet’. This’ll be GREAT in the event our stuff IS banned! Although, I don’t see HOW they’ll accomplish it! HA!

  11. slap_maxwell says

    Awesome series so far, Matt! Hopefully over the course of the next few weeks I can make some time to follow along; I really miss fiddling with electronic stuff for my own enjoyment and not just for work….

  12. Holden says

    🙂

  13. Tyler says

    Awesome post can’t wait for the 3rd part

  14. Courtney says

    Love it!

  15. Chad says

    Very cool Dude.

  16. Philippe Caron-Boutin says

    Great!! Thanks!

  17. mongrel says

    This is starting to get exciting now. I really appreciate pointing out some of the links for the nice aluminum enclosures.

  18. imtheboss says

    Nice Very Detailed

  19. brianwilson says

    Im lost. Lol. Thanks though.

  20. crystalT64 says

    i love reading your stuff even if i don’t get it (not due to you) just a newbie 🙂 thanks for all the work you put into your write ups

  21. Johnathan Brown (Sepsis) says

    i need to try to get some LiPos and some enclosures to try. Only problem is i have to research how to make it rechargeable through usb, which i believe you can also buy from the same place you buy the dna20s

  22. Mike Z says

    Great article here thank you! I love modding for my own use. I have made some killer stuff, and I have made some outright junk. I can’t help but look at everything and wonder if I can make it vape anymore!!! Mod At Your Own Risk!!!! It’s addictive once you start lol!!!!

  23. Todd says

    I love seeing this – I just wish I had the confidence to attempt it! One day…perhaps 🙂

  24. Sonar505 says

    Great series you have going looking forward to the rest. But I take exception with you not mentioning a type of enclosure near and dear to my heart. How could you not mention wood? : )

  25. Holden says

    😀

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  27. Filomena E. Wadsworth says

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful article. Many thanks for providing these details.

  28. Caryn says

    Wow, this paragraph is nice, my younger sister is analyzing these kinds of things,
    thus I am going to let know her.

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