SwitchMote latest features & R&D

I’ve long wanted to make a professional enclosure for SwitchMote and do away with the acrylic covers and all the screws and spacers. All these parts add a lot of overhead and cost to the kit.

SwitchMote was designed to be a DIY modular/hackable/educational kit (so far at least) that uses mostly “off the shelf” parts. In the past months I’ve invested into a SwitchMote enclosure design. The PSU side would be cool in clear plastic, below is a rendering:

The good news is this can be made very solid and simply snaps onto the top and bottom PCBs with some cleverly designed tabs, without the need to use any spacers or screws or other exotic mating methods. I like to simplify and KISS everything. The enclosure can also accomodate the recently released PIR option, below is a prototype:

The bad news is the eye watering cost to make the moldings for this. The cost of UL certified fire retardant material is also expensive. I would need to put SwitchMote in HomeDepot or go to Shark Tank for that to make financial sense. So at this point I’m looking at alternatives, one option is silicone molds that can produce a few hundred units at most.

Another option is to go the 3D printing route and make these right here in the shop. I’ve had a prototype built on an FDM printer and I’m quite happy with the quality and strength, the downside is detail. Because the front panel is the only exposed part, that could be covered in something else that is nice and smooth, and perhaps allow for any color the user wants. 

There are many other ideas cooking as to make SwitchMote more feature rich, realiable and easy to use. For now an enclosure would be one step closer to professional looking (yet Arduino based) IoT switch (that doesn’t suck).

Ideas, suggestions, feedback and help are always welcome!

6 thoughts on “SwitchMote latest features & R&D

  1. I’d be very interested to know if you find an economically viable alternative to acrylic laser-cut enclosures. I’ve been struggling with the same thing myself, and have searched for something better but not found it. 3D printing is still too expensive and slow for making hundreds of units, and as you noted the fine detail isn’t great. Injection molded cases require a huge upfront expense to make the molds. The only plausible alternative I’ve found is to redesign the product to fit some pre-existing generic enclosure. Have you looked at something like this? https://www.electronicase-us.com

    • Hi Steve!
      I am in the same research mode right now. I badly want a nicer case, in my case there’s the flammability issue too because this is HV. So I have to carefully weigh my options. My advantage is only the front face is exposed to the user so thats the only place I care that it looks aesthetic, the rest only needs to be solid, not so much perfect texture.
      Pre existing enclosures would not work for me because of the tight tolerances I need to work with in my application, in your case I think you could definitely design for an existing enclosure, then CNC the cutouts or something like that.
      IMHO I think 3d printing has come a long way so I need to explore more there. I used to just dismiss it because of the big mess of filament I saw all over the web 🙂
      BTW the link you gave seems like a very good option when your case is fairly simple so definitely look into that!

    • Thanks for the digi link, I was not aware of that module. I have a bunch of stock of the other more pricey one 😛
      But definitely this new one will bring down the kit cost!

      • Sure thing! Hah, gotta burn through that stock. From the datasheet, it looks like a drop-in replacement though if I’m not wrong?

        One idea for future versions would be to have the weather shield, or if there is no space, at least, the BMP280 somehow integrated in the SwitchMote itself. It’s already a node, might as well make it measure some stuff while it’s sitting and not doing anything. I would be curious to know how heat from the PSU would affect readings. Maybe some baffling and/or thermal isolation is necessary to get accurate readings.

        Can also add a light sensor along with the PIR, but not sure how helpful that would be.

        • I think a weatherShield in there would not give good readings, its enclosed in the wall and close to a PSU that does warm up a little.
          But a LDR/light sensor might be a good option!

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