Electronics Enclosures

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Note that some enclosures cross over into Pendant territory.


An enclosure is just that; it encloses your electronics from the outside working conditions. It serves a dual purpose; first by keeping your electronics clean and tidy while also isolating live wires, but also protecting electronics from flying debris, dust, falling objects, etc... An enclosure is just as important as the CNC machine itself!


A basic enclosure consists of a case, connectors, a fan or two, and all of your electronics. The case is the skeleton of your enclosure. It will protect your electronics from anything that my harm them. However, if certain things aren't taken into account your electronics can fail from a poorly constructed case. A case can be as simple as a plastic milk crate or wooden box or as robust as a custom metal housing or a purchased project box. This is really up to you on how professional or sophisticated you want it to look. We'll discuss more about this below.


Heat will probably be your biggest enemy in an enclosure. If proper circulation isn't provided, your electronics can very well melt. There are several ways to combat this though, some including but, not limited to are fans, heatsinks, or a peltier device.


You need to allow for air to circulate through your enclosure, if it is enclosed on all sides, and whisk away the heat produced by your electronics. The best way to due this is by mounting a fan on your enclosure, much like the fans on a desktop computer.


Heatsinks are another good idea and when coupled with a fan your electronics will love you. Also, look in to a peltier device as an alternative to a heatsink.

Bare Wires

Bare Wires and improper grounding can be another demise to your electronics, especially if your enclosure is made of metal. Be sure to heat shrink any bare wires to keep them from shorting out. I know electrical tape may be an ideal solution to some, but as it ages, it will dry and fall off exposing the wires. Improper grounding could be an issue as well but, provided you set up your electronics correctly, you should be fine.


One helpful feature for an enclosure is labeling controls and connectors. This can be easily done w/ a V-bit and engraving software. Another option us to use a commercial service: http://frankie.graffagnino.net/2015/03/new-way-of-making-electronics-front.html

Control Options


E-Stop implies "Emergency" - it should only be used when the machine is on fire, pulling you into the cutter or some other catastrophe is happening. It should cut ALL power: spindle, coolant, stepper motors, etc.

When you hit the E-Stop, everything should STOP. It's a hard reset, you will need to reset your zero and everything else.

There is a reset button on the controller that can be used to just stop cutting. It will also require you to reset your zero and the like, but it doesn't power everything down.

Feed Hold is designed to pause the machine so you can move something out of the way, maybe move a clamp, pull out some swarf, etc.

Cycle Start resumes a feed hold, it also can be used to start a program after you send it to Grbl if you turn off the 'auto-start' setting. So you can start streaming and the machine won't start moving until you hit 'cycle start'.

Carbide Motion Machine Control Board

hold button only sends signal to the board and pauses movement. Right now, if you press hold, you have to press resume from the keyboard.[1]


Connectors will make your life easy when you need to move your machine. They are simple to use yet often over looked. Just remember to get a connector that meets your voltage and amperage specifications.


  • Aviation Plug 6-Pin 16mm GX16-6 Metal Male Female Panel Connector[2]

Files for layout



Listed below are items you'll want to check out for making your enclosure the best it can be:

An interesting idea is to wire in lights to indicate motor functionality:


There are a number of potential features for an electronics enclosure. Some notable ones:

D.R.O. (Digital Read Out)


Run-time (hour) meter

AC100-250V Electromechanical Hour Meter Counter [4]


Forum Links

Here are some threads from the ShapeOko Forum on enclosures. (Updates will follow to include all threads)


Shapeoko 3







Carbide 3D


Forum Discussions

Electronics enclosure questions? MDF has Static hazard? --- discussion of materials.


Wfa-shapeoko-enclosure-tools.JPG Enclosure made of Lego bricks, Mark III.