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2017-05-25

A cheap cure for terminal disease

There was a time when small electronic projects of the kind handy children and hobbyists assembled would be housed in what I called "project boxes", lidded and often opaque relatively heavy plastic or metal boxes into which openings could be cut or drilled for wire runs for circuitry that could be inserted, glued or mounted. Yer basic "black boxes", although they needn't have been black.

Like this. Gasket optional.
Well, they aren't easy to find anymore. Apparently, hobbyist electronics aren't a thing in downtown Toronto, at least since the late and lamented Active Surplus closed up. They had shelves of what I'm talking about (see above). So my secondary go-tos of Rotblott's and even Lee Valley did not have what I needed, a way to keep the weather off the terminal strip I use for the mast-mounted steaming, trilight and anchor lights. So I had to get creative. Creative can be freeing...and free.

Behold this crappy if sturdy little plastic box. It originally held an assortment of driver bits (Robertson, Phillips and slot). I usually stock up when they are on sale at Crappy Tire, because they tend to wander or drop off the boat. I kept the container probably because I wanted a place to consolidate glass fuses or auto fuses or thread-cutting dies or some other small, obscure, easily lost bit of kit. My hoarding tendencies paid off yesterday when figuring out how to connect wiring from the mast to the pilothouse nav light breakers.
Note the Dremel...man, have I used the hell out of it over the years.
With slots cut out of the ends and "internally", this would just be an experiment in keeping the rain (plentiful today) off the terminal strip and the PL-259 connectors from the VHF to its antenna. "Water resistant" would suffice, as I'm mainly doing proof of concept until I can source a better box. But even a better box isn't going to be much bigger than this.
As it turned out, these strips were rotated 90 degrees.
The job took five minutes of careful (meaning slow) Dremel work with a small cut-off disc. The plastic melts as much as it is cut, so a light touch was needed. Further on-deck crimping and heat-shrinking with the Ancor ring terminals I got in my last Amazon order finished the job.
Flat on deck, but covered is better than a bag, right?
This is provisional (I do not expect it to do well in direct sunlight and UV rays may make it brittle and clouded quickly) and may yet leak, but this beats butt connections and a load of heat shrink in that I can remove it if required and "inspect" it with a glance. And before anyone comments, yes, the entirety of that aged RG-58U coax will be replaced with LMR-400 or some equally decent grade of low-loss coax. Although I'm still "5x5" according to my radio checks with Prescott, which is nice.

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