Arduino-plex 2.0: Modular Plexiglas Arduino Work Surface

Picture of Arduino-plex 2.0: Modular Plexiglas Arduino Work Surface
Last year I needed a board that I could stick my breadboards to, that would also securely hold my Arduino. I used some Plexiglas I picked up at Skycraft in Orlando and I glued everything together with Crazy Glue. This worked well, but it didn't give me the freedom to reconfigure or put something on the back burner and start a new project. The double-stick tape that comes on the breadboards is too permanent, and the Crazy Glue was also very limiting.

I thought about using some industrial strength Velcro to keep everything secure, without that squishy-wobbly feeling that you can get from regular Velcro. Because this Velcro is so strong, I cut it into strips and made sure that the breadboards and Arduino mounts would never have complete contact between the Velcro. This would make it so the pieces could still be moved when needed.
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Step 1: Arduino-plex 1.0

Picture of Arduino-plex 1.0
This is my original Arduino-Plex: Plexiglas Arduino work surface. It still works great, but now it has been completely taken over by a project that continues to grow. I realized after everything was stuck and glued in place that it would have been more helpful to be able to move things around. I would have liked to move the Arduino mounts to add more breadboard space and even remove the bus-bars between the breadboards that probably didn't belong there in the first place.

I needed a way to shift work to something new, without completely destroying the previous project. I also built this board when I only had 2 Arduinos, and now I will be ordering a 5th board shortly. Clearly, I needed to build a new board.
Vire1 year ago

This is just what I was looking for! I took the idea and ran with it (see image). The only thing I'd improve on my setup is to use a rigid surface inside the lid. The inside of the lid itself (what I put the velcro on) is a bit convex and pops in/out. I'll probably back it with something hard to save this particular build.

Vire Vire1 year ago

Oh, forgot to mention, you can get little stick-on rubber "feet" at the hardware store. The ones I got were clear rubber squares. So far they work perfect for protecting the table surface and keeping the platform from sliding around.

ProfMuggs (author)  Vire1 year ago

Very nice! I like the idea of keeping everything enclosed, and it doubles as it's own storage container.

Vire ProfMuggs1 year ago

Ya, exactly! :) If I want to go work (or show off) at a friend or family member's house, I just pack up and leave. Also, it protects my prototype from cats. That's important.

nerd74731 year ago
I made something similar
cobun1 year ago
I can get the trim boards at Lowes Hdwe. I had some crawlspace work done and he had maybe 4X8X 1/2 sheets from which he made flat doors. He doesnt answer my email about where to get the pvc
ProfMuggs (author)  cobun1 year ago
Maybe a commercial building supply yard? They usually carry a lot of stuff you won't find at a hardware store. I had to call around to a couple in my area to find one that would sell me a single piece of vinyl siding once. Maybe its the same niche market for the larger PVC pieces?
cobun1 year ago
Fine job. Plexiglass seems wonderful.
But I am not sure why cheaper plywood wouldn't work as well. Velcro could be glued or screwed to it.
And I also think two screws per board lightly screwed into the plywood, without velcro, would hold the boards through some of their grooves and/ or holes and allow them to be unscrewed and placed wherever you need to move them.
But again, nothing wrong with your approach.
ProfMuggs (author)  cobun1 year ago
Thanks cobun, wood is fine, and I have used plenty of wood for other projects. I have been picking up these Acrylic/Plexiglas remnants for a while now and I like using it when I can. I like making the edges perfectly smooth and clear with a blowtorch. Its fun watching all the small scuffs melt away and the edges turn clear like cut glass.
That comment benefitted me a lot. I vaguely remembered the edge treatment and you gave me the confidence to try it. Thanks. I like plastics and really wish I could use pvc boards, but can't find sheets of it. (I dont imagine them for arduino stuff.)
ProfMuggs (author)  cobun1 year ago
How about in the siding section of the hardware store? Do you mean like those Azek PVC trim boards? Those could be another good material for something like this.
Velcro has issues with static, how have you addressed this?
ProfMuggs (author)  Slinkytreekreeper1 year ago
Thanks for your comment. I haven't done anything to discharge the static electricity. I used the Velcro so everything would be moveable, but its only on occasion that I actually move anything. I don't plan to stick and re-stick any of the pieces very often. If I was concerned about static, I guess I could solder some wires to the steel standoffs on the Arduino mounts and wire them to the ground terminal on a 3 prong plug, but I think that is unnecessary.
dweith1 year ago
Great idea, the only thing that scares me is the acrylic is a static electricity build up and sudden discharge damaging the components. Would a 1/4" piece of plywood be a better choice? It would make attaching the Velcro more of a challenge, but some double sided foam tape might do the trick.
ProfMuggs (author)  dweith1 year ago
Thanks for the feedback. I could use wood, but I like the more finished look of the acrylic for electronics projects. The breadboards come with foam tape on the back, so I could have gone that direction, but I need things to be moveable so I opted for the Velcro instead.
I8mAll1 year ago
Very neat,
Don't worry too much about static, black velcro is very slightly conductive, certainly enough to discharge static and not enough to short any tracks. So A+ there, I may use the idea and may pretend it's "All my own work"
No, the last bit's not true, I'm just tickled with your appropriate ingenuity.
You could also probably use BLUE TACK for this, it's pretty sticky, but can be peeled away without residue and is non conducting (I just checked with my Fluke).

Anyway - nice idea and it looks like there will be velcro in my Arduino and Pi future ;)
manfredpw1 year ago
Fantastic idea. Tks for sharing.
alganon1 year ago
Very well done .
i like it, especially since the acrylic use caught my eye. last summer i was bicycling home and found 3 perfect green acrylic 3/8 thick- 2 feet X 4 feet boards with paper backing still attached in a curbside trash pick up, the rest of the items were obvious old parts and broken appliances, so i knew it wasn't left for someone.Last night i was cleaning out a locker and rediscovered them, and today was looking for a project. maybe there is a plastic fabrication shop that had a laser that would cut your pieces for a low fee. The dealers may know of a owner in your area
Bidao1 year ago
Simple but effective! I will be making one soon, thank you for the idea!
Gelfling61 year ago
I've done the same, but for a Raspberry Pi, and using a polyethylene cutting board bought from a 'clearance' store. (Job-Lot.) .. Seemed a logical idea, whenever you want to re-arrange the components.. Glad to see it posted here!
husamwadi1 year ago
great project! very useful, I'll try to make one sooon :)