Electronics Project Trays




Introduction: Electronics Project Trays

About: Scott Kildall is an new media artist and researcher. He works at Autodesk, Pier 9 and is an artist-in-residence with the SETI Institute

This Instructable is designed for anyone who wants to organize their electronics lab, which is even more important in a communal environment where people share an electronics workshop. I made these for the Electronics Lab at the Pier 9 Creative Workshops at Autodesk.

This short step-by-step guide details how to build project trays, which can hold your LEDs, breadboards, jumper wires and more. As anyone who has ever worked with electronics knows, these bits n' bobs are nearly impossible to organize. This will help solve your problems.

Each tray has a nameplate on the front so that different workshop users can have work-in-progress storage and indicate theirs using a dry-erase marker.

The tray assembly does use both a laser-cutter and 3D printer, so hopefully you can find access to these tools.

The original version of the Electronics Project Trays were designed by Coby Unger and I have taken his version 1 design, modified it, documented the process and have included the McMaster part numbers so anyone can easily make these.

Step 1: Order Things!

There's lots of itty-bitty hardware for assembling the trays. Fortunately, McMaster-Carr has everything we need.

Order from McMaster: Screws, nuts, bolts and washers


2-56 Pan head Machine Screw 3/4"
#2 washers
2-56 nuts

8-32 Lock Nut, Zinc Plated, 100-pack
#8 oversized washers, 1/2", 100-pack
8-32, Stainless steel, Socket Head Cap Screw, 1 1/2"
Chemical Resistant Rubber Cap, Fits 9/64" OD

Amazon has the dry erase materials you'll need, which we will use for the nameplate. You can get these from other vendors, as well, and I encourage you to support your local crafts store.

Order from Amazon: Dry Erase Materials

Dry Erase Self-Adhesive Sheets, 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches
Fine Tip Dry Erase Markers

Step 2: 3D Print Nameplate

Each tray has a nameplate. I designed these in Fusion 360, which took about 10 minutes to make plus a couple of iterations to get the dimensions and fitting just right.

The STL is downloadable here from this page.

And here is the Fusion 360 model, in case you want to check out the parametric design: http://a360.co/1SxNrnu

I printed these on the Objet 500 printers that we have here at Pier 9, but they will work with any 3D printer.

Step 3: Lasercut Trays

The body of the tray consists of two 1/8" sheets of ply that we will bolt together. The top part will create the pocket and the bottom part will be the base.

I've included the Illustrator template for you to work with. Feel free to modify the pockets to suit your needs.

The laser-cutting for each one will take some time and perhaps multiple passes, so make sure you check your settings and do some test cuts before cranking out your project trays.

Step 4: Bolt the Two Halves Together

Make sure to properly align the holes for the nameplate. I have on the right side of the project trays.

For the screw, I use a 8-32, stainless steel, socket head cap screw, 1 1/2" long. You can go with zinc-plated if you want to save a few pennies.

Beneath each screw is a #8 oversized washer (1/2"), so that the wood doesn't splinter.

Use a box wrench or pair of pliers to hold the 8-32 lock nut and spin the allen key to firmly tighten the screws on each of the four corners.

Step 5: Cut and Fit Rubber Feet

We want rubber feet on the bottom of each leg, otherwise, you will scuff up desks and tabletop surfaces.

You will have about 3/4" of threaded rod underneath the tray. The rubber caps are a bit too long, so cut the tops off the rubber feet, such that they will be a little shy of 3/4". Then, fit each one on the bottom of the threaded screws.

Step 6: Bolt on Nameplate

This is also easy-peasy.

The 2-56 machine screw (3/4") goes through a #2 washer from the top.

Use a small screwdriver and thread the two screws onto a 2-56 nut at the bottom of the tray. You can use your fingers-as-pliers.

Step 7: Adhere Dry Erase Materials

Cut off nameplate-sized rectangles from the self-adhesive dry-erase sheets and stick them on the nameplate.

I used the scissors-and-eyeballs method because I was lazy but you can use the Xacto-and-ruler technique if you want to be more precise.

Step 8: Done!

This is what they look like, when built.

You can stack them in shelves like so. The name of each user is visible and the trays are easy-to-access and can be brought to your desk or workstation to hold your parts while you work on them.

I hope this was helpful!
Scott Kildall

For more on electronics and other projects, you can find me here:@kildall or www.kildall.com/blog

Be the First to Share


    • Big and Small Contest

      Big and Small Contest
    • For the Home Contest

      For the Home Contest
    • Make It Bridge

      Make It Bridge



    6 years ago

    good job!


    6 years ago

    Great for schools, one idea would be to make legs connections for power 5v one side 3.3v one other side


    6 years ago

    I was thinking of ways to add more depth to the tray. The first thing that came to mind was more plywood layers. Then I thought that the center layer could be made of foam board.
    Thank you for sharing this.


    6 years ago

    Great idea. This would be a great project for a High School shop class.


    6 years ago

    Always a pleasure working when chasing after moveable components are not a distraction! Nice work!


    6 years ago

    Me three! I love the look of your project trays, I will try this with a router....no access to a laser cutter :(


    6 years ago

    We are kindred spirits. I too use systems of trays!!!!!!! Great instructable!!!