Introduction: Convert Old Toolcase to Mobile Electronics Workstation

In our current appartement I don't have a dedicated workplace where I can leave all the stuff I need for my projects. So all those little boxes with electronic components where lying around everywhere. Same for the soldering iron and all the other tools.

One thing that was always missing when working on electronic projects was a decent power supply.

I had this old toolbox which was basically on the way to the trash because I didn't know what to do with it. It had a lot of inlays and pockets that where not really usefull for me. Then I got the idea to combine all my electronic components, tools and a power supply into it. The great thing about this toolbox is the lid that can be opened to the front. So I can work with drawers for storage and have my soldering iron and so on accessible from the front.

First of all I ripped out everything that was in that toolbox until only the bare metall and wood of the toolbox itself was left. Then I was able to measure the available space inside of the box and transfer it into Fusion360.


  • 48V Power supply (Link)
  • 12V Power supply (Link)
  • 5V Power supply (Link)
  • Variable power supply unit 50V / 750W (Link)
  • 2x 12V PC fans
  • Plastic boards
  • switches and fuse holders
  • wires and crimp connectors

Step 1: Design and Build of Electronics Insert

I used the CAD model to utilize the available space as much as possible. The "electronics insert" should have the following features:

  • Space to hold and fixate the soldering station
  • Hold 3 power supplies to have the most important voltages always accessible
  • Hold the variable power supply controler
  • Hold the fuses, switches and connectors
  • Keep all the components sufficiently ventilated

I have moved the components inside of the model a lot until I fould a placement where everything was fitting into the available space. After modeling the tower I used a laser cutter and some sheets of acrylic to build it up. I then glewed up all the panels and put the components into it.

For the soldering station I added some holes in the plate below that match with the round feet of the soldering station. If you put it in its position the soldering station will slide into those holes and will not move at all anymore.

Since the model is very specific for my toolbox and the components I have used I think it makes no sense to upload the drawings here. If you are interested anyways, just let me know.

Step 2: Wiring

First off all I want to say that we are working with mains voltage here. So only do this if you really know what you are doing!

The space was a little bit tight to wire all the components, but in the end it worked out. For the soldering station I have included the plug of an extension cord so I can plug it in and out if I would need it stand-alone somewhen in the future.

I used a seperate fuse for each power supply with the proper value for the device. So I have the maximum safety inside my toolbox and none of the other componets should be fried if a poblem occures.

The two fans I have connected via a 10kOhm variable resistor to the 12V power supply. So I can reduce the speed and the noise if the power supplies are not working at their full capacity. The fan on the bottom will draw the air in and the one on top is blowing it out of the toolcase.

At the end I have connected everything to a extension cord that was going through a hole in the toolbox. So I can connect everything to mains with only one connector.

Step 3: Final Assembly

With the soldering station and the power supplies build into the toolbox it was time to find a solution to store all the small components and tools like screw drivers.

My first idea was to build a custom organizer with the laser cutter that would fit exactly into the left over space. But I was not happy with this solution since this would be really a lot of work to design and make all the drawers. By concidence I figured out, that the office organizer that I had almost unused on my desk for years fits perfectly into the available space. So I changed my plans and used this one instead.

The bottom drawer can only be used when I lift the organizer out of the toolbox. But this is fine for me, because I used it to store components that I use very rarely.

In the other 2 drawers I put all the handtools.

All the small boxes with electronic components fit into the lid of the toolbox.

In the end I had even some space left. I used this to include my little oscilloscope into the workstation as well. It is a "Smartscope" which you can plug into the USB port of a phone or laptop. The performance of this thing is sufficient for all that I have used it so far and I'm really happy to have it included into the box.

So in the end I want to summerize all the features of my mobile electronics workstation:

  • output for fixed 5V and 12V
  • variable power supply with 600W and up to 48V
  • Soldering station included
  • Breadboards and jumper cables to build up circuits
  • All necessary handtools included
  • All the small electronic components as well as a number of different wires included
  • Osziloscope included (Laptop/Phone needed for this feature)

For me this is all I need to work on my little projects. I'm very happy how this workstation turned out and I can't wait for the first time to really use it. Also the desk is clean from all the boxes and tools now :-)

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