Racking Neotek Series III input modules (making the box)

Back when I started this thing two years ago, I wrote about how I have plans to rack a pair of Neotek SIII strips that I’ve had for a while. That didn’t happen that summer, nor the last one, but it’s happen this one.

Back then I had almost everything I needed except for the enclosure. At some point I found this one, which is pretty cheap but was back ordered every time I checked (the ones on eBay are too rich for my blood). Finally a couple of months ago it was available again. This a pretty good enclosure for $50, but it’s not the sturdiest rack box I’ve seen. The front panel is made of ~3/16″ thick aluminum, but everything else is probably made of tin or really thin aluminum. That doesn’t bother me since this thing isn’t going on the road. It’s going to sit in a rack. However, the screws in this thing are real POS. So many of them stripped as I undid them, and it wasn’t my fault! They’re just really cheap, weak screws. Here’s what they looked like after unscrewing them just the one time:

IMG_20150819_002055 IMG_20150819_002133

A trip to the hardware store sorted me out. So that’s no big deal.

Cutting holes in the box is probably what kept me from getting moving on this project. I had no idea how to cut big rectangular holes in metal, nor access to tools. In this past year I enjoyed a hacker space, so I now have access to any tool imaginable, and I’m more comfortable working with power tools.

The rectangular holes (on the front for the modules and the back for the IEC inlet) were cut with a jigsaw with a metal blade. It’s really simple. I drilled a hole in each corner of the square, got the jigsaw blade in one, and started cutting. Unfortunately, I chooched out at first and didn’t realize the jigsaw was in scroll mode, so I struggled to keep the first edge I cut straight. The rest were easy once I realized my mistake. It then took me a couple of times of trying to fit the modules through the opening, then enlarging it, and repeat. Once the modules fit in the opening, I marked their mounting holes and went to drilled those using with a drill press.

The holes for the XLR and TRS jacks in the back were drilled on a drill press using a 15/16″ drill bit, but I built up to it with smaller bits. I think I started with something small like 1/4″, then 1/2″, then 15/16″. The holes for mounting the jacks required a little more ingenuity. Placing the jack and marking the holes, then taking it to the drill press wasn’t working for me. The thing is, the drill press would drift a little bit on the surface, and not only that, my markings weren’t always dab smack in the middle of those tiny holes. My solution was to place the jack in the 15/16″ hole and tape it to the surface. Then with the jack in place, I carefully drilled the mounting holes using a whatever was the appropriate bit. I didn’t ruin the jack, so this works for me.

Once everything was drilled and cut I used a file to knock off the burrs. Then a smaller, finer file and 0000 steel wool to smooth it out.

I forgot to take any pictures of the panels drilled out (the front panel isn’t too pretty), but I did snap a few pictures of everything put together.

IMG_20150818_174609 IMG_20150818_174646

It’s not the prettiest, but it’ll do. Now to wire everything inside.
P.S. I need to work on making these posts shorter.

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