This tutorial may be outdated. It is no longer recommended for beginners, and may need modifications to code or hardware that is not indicated in the tutorial.

Assembly

1: Prepare pin headers

  • Using pliers or wire cutters, snap off three sections of pin header: two, three and five pins.

  • If using an Arduino Uno with Ethernet Shield, the three- and five-pin headers should be bent at 90 degrees to allow clearance inside the case. This can be done with a firm grip and pliers, or you may want to use a bench vise. The 2-pin header can be left straight. You do not need to bend headers if using an Arduino Ethernet board.

2: Prepare ribbon cable, power button

  • Peel away five strands from the ribbon cable. Here we'll be using the brown, red, orange, yellow and green conductors. Save the other wires, they'll be used in a later step.
  • Strip about 1/4" (6mm) of insulation from these five wires.
  • Twist the ends of the orange and red wires together.

  • The power button has five solder legs. Looking at the back of the button, turn it so that the legs are toward the bottom, forming a "smile" arrangement. Then use the following guide to solder the wires to the legs shown. Note that the second leg is not connected, and the fourth leg is joined to both the orange and red wires.

  • Locate the top piece to the acrylic case (it has a large rectangular cutout for the thermal printer, and a smaller circular cutout for the power button). Feed the ribbon cable through the round hole, then secure the power button with the included nut. (This acrylic piece is symmetrical — there is no "top" or "bottom," so you can insert the button through either side.)

  • The wires of the ribbon cable can now be separated — but leave about 2 inches (toward the power button) intact for sturdiness. Peel apart the remaining length of the green, yellow and orange wires. The red and brown wires can be left mostly together — peel apart about 2 inches near the end.

3: Install DC power jack

  • Locate the back piece of the acrylic case (with the Adafruit logo) and insert the DC power jack from the outside, then secure it from the inside with the included nylon nut.

  • Peel away two more strands from the unused section of ribbon cable. Here we'll use black and white. Strip about 1/4" of insulation and twist these together.
  • Solder the black and white wires to the outer of the two smaller legs on the DC jack. The inner of these two legs is not connected.
  • Solder the yellow wire (from the power switch) to the large center leg on the DC jack. The top and back case pieces are now conjoined by this wire and cannot be separated — be careful to always move these two parts together.

4: Solder row headers

  • Strip about 1/2" (13mm) of insulation from all of the unconnected wire ends, and twist each to prevent fraying.

  • Read the next few steps before proceeding. In a moment, we'll solder the wires to the row headers following the diagram below. But don’t rush into that just yet…read this through.

  • When joining wires to headers, pinch the tip of a wire against the header's plastic support and wrap the wire around the pin. Solder in place, then use wire cutters to snip off the starting bit of wire. But really, don’t start on this quite yet…
  • When finished, your wires will look almost like this. (Yes, the 5-pin header has only a single green wire connected…this is normal.) Read ahead one more step before you start on this…

  • The important part we skipped: the solder connections to the black and orange wires need to be covered with heat-shrink tube. We’ve shown them bare in the images above to mark the connections more clearly, but they really do need protection! Slide a bit of heat-shrink tube over each wire first, then twist and solder the wires to the headers, and finally heat with a lighter or heat gun to secure the tubing, like this:

  • Okay, now that you’ve read all that, go ahead and assemble the three headers, with insulation on the black and orange wires first.
  • Don't plug the headers into anything just yet. We'll refer back to our diagram later.

5: Install printer in top plate

  • Slide the thermal printer through the large cutout in the top piece of the case:

  • Secure the printer using the two plastic wedges. Screw down gently so as not to crack the acrylic.

  • Connect the power and serial cables into the back of the printer. Note the functions of each wire as labeled on the printer — we'll refer back to these later.

6: Attach board to bottom plate

This varies slightly between the Arduino Ethernet and the Uno + Ethernet Shield. In either case, only three of the four mounting holes are used, but it's different for each board type.

For Arduino Ethernet Board:

  • The mounting hole near the DC power jack is NOT used!
  • Insert a screw in the mounting hole near the Ethernet jack and secure it in place with a nut.

  • Insert screws in the remaining two holes near the microSD card slot. Do NOT secure these with nuts yet.
  • Place board on bottom plate by feeding the three screws through the corresponding holes.
  • Secure the three screws with nuts.
  • The 6-pin programming header can now be reinstalled.

Only the screw near the Ethernet jack has the extra "standoff" nut — the others pass straight through. Once installed, the board will be very slightly canted. This is normal and won't show once finished, and does not adversely affect operation.

For Arduino Uno + Shield:

  • The mounting hole nearest the USB connector is NOT used!
  • Insert three screws in the remaining holes — one near the DC power jack, and in the remaining two holes at the far end of the board.
  • Place board on plate by feeding the three screws through the corresponding holes.
  • Secure the three screws with nuts.
  • The Ethernet shield can now be installed on top of the board.

With this board combination, you will have an extra unused nut when finished. Once installed, the board will be very slightly canted. This is normal and won't show once finished, and does not adversely affect operation.

7: Join first case side

  • Identify the two acrylic side pieces. These are interchangeable; there is no right or left, but there is a specific orientation:

  • Identify the "middle" acrylic piece. This is the only piece not spoken for yet. It has a small round bite out of one end, and a large square bite out of the other (these are the top and bottom, respectively).
  • The case is assembled using "T-slot" construction. Holding the middle piece, insert a nut into the cross part of a "T". Place one of the side pieces, using the alignment slot toward the front, over the corresponding tab on the middle piece, then insert a screw into the hole that's aligned with the nut. If this is a dexterity challenge, the nut can also be held with tape:

  • Make sure the tops of the two pieces are correctly oriented. Insert a second nut and screw, and just finger-tighten for now.

8: Join case back and second case side

  • Things start to get tricky now — the back and top pieces of the case are joined by a wire at this point, so the two can't be separated very far. Work slowly and methodically to make sure you don't break the wire or get anything tangled.
  • Connect the back piece to the first side using the same T-slot technique:

  • Route the yellow wire under the bottom of the case, then install the second side using two more screws and nuts. Just finger-tight for now, and it's okay if the box isn't perfectly square at this stage.

9: Install case top

  • Route the two cables from the printer (power and serial) down through the middle of the box.
  • On one side of the case, loosen the two lower screws just a couple of turns. Then loosen, but do not completely remove, the two upper screws on the same side. The tip of the screw should be flush with the face of the nut. The side piece can then pivot upward slightly.

  • On the opposite side of the case, insert the top piece into the two alignment slots.
  • Pivot the loose side piece upward, press the case top into place, then re-tighten the four side screws (finger-tight is sufficient for now).

10: Connect wires and install case bottom

  • Connect 3-pin header to Arduino power pins. Two wires — white and brown — connect to GND, while the red wire connects to 5V.
  • Connect 5-pin header to Arduino pins 3 through 7. The single green wire should go to pin 3, and there will now be bare protruding pins.
  • Press the serial socket (3 wires) from the printer onto the protruding pins 5, 6 and 7. The green wire should go to pin 5, yellow wire to pin 6, and black wire to pin 7. Pin 4 (reserved for the SD card socket) is not used…here we've clipped off the exposed pin to avoid installing the printer socket in the wrong position:

  • Connect 2-pin header to the power socket (2 wires) from the printer. Orange connects to red, and black to black. Because this connection doesn't go to a fixed socket, it could shift around inside the case and come in contact with exposed metal. Danger! It is vitally important to cover this exposed header with a bit of tape, heat-shrink tube, or a dollop of Sugru. Go do that if you haven't already.

  • Connect 2-pin header to the power socket (2 wires) from the printer. Orange connects to red, and black to black. Because this connection doesn't go to a fixed socket, it could shift around inside the case and come in contact with exposed metal. Danger! It is vitally important to cover this exposed header with a bit of tape, heat-shrink tube, or a dollop of Sugru. Go do that if you haven't already.

  • The case bottom is installed similarly to the top, just inverted. Loosen the two upper screws on one side a couple of turns, and the two corresponding lower screws to where the tip is flush with the nut, allowing the side to pivot slightly outward. You might want to loosen the screws on both sides of the case. Stuffing the wires into the case makes this perhaps the most fussy step of the whole kit, and the extra wiggle room can be helpful.

  • Once the bottom is in place, finger-tighten all the side screws.

11: Install front face

  • One last time with the screw-loosening trick…this time around with the front of the case, enough to insert the tabs from the white acrylic front piece into the circular holes in the side pieces. There are only two tabs here…it acts as a hinge.

  • Be sure to orient the "@" sign the correct way:

  • Finally, all 8 case screws can be tightened. Finger-tight plus about 1/8 turn should suffice…not too tight or the acrylic could crack!
This guide was first published on Jul 29, 2012. It was last updated on Jul 29, 2012. This page (Assembly) was last updated on Apr 20, 2019.