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Chameleon Enclosure - Black

Designed and built by ESawdust in Colorado, Chameleon 1 is an enclosure for popular development boards including Arduino and many Olimex dev boards like the AVR-P28. It also supports the XBee Regulated and FreeWave MegaMini RF modules. What makes the Chameleon so great is its universality, and its ruggedness. At only 9oz, it's surprisingly light but can withstand being thrown across a parking lot.

In addition to the enclosure, Chameleon 1 Basic comes with one blank faceplate and stand-offs. The following specialized faceplates can be purchased separately:

  • Olimex AVR-P28 and AVR-P20 Faceplate
  • Atmel NGW100 Faceplate
  • Arduino Duemilanove Faceplate
  • Olimex SAM7-P256 Faceplate
  • ET-AVR Stamp Faceplate
  • FriendlyARM mini2440 Faceplate
  • Blank Faceplate

    Using a 1/8" drill-bit, as referenced by the hole guide, holes are drilled so that the 1/4" standoffs can be mounted on the universal base plate. The pre-centerpunched holes (small dents that guide the drill so it doesn't skate) make drilling much easier. No measuring or tweaking is required. The hole pattern for the Olimex AVR-P28 is 80x100mm and is a very common board size. The Chameleon 1 base plate was engineered to accommodate a host of 80x100mm boards including most Olimex dev boards and the SparkFun Marsupial protoboards.

    Chameleon 1 is made of a stiff, lightweight aluminum. At only 9.5 ounces (269 grams), Chameleon 1 is a ready-made, rapid-install, hard-shell enclosure for your system. Once assembled, the enclosure feels rock solid. Chameleon 1 comes standard with a powder-coated black exterior that can be used as-is or painted if desired.

Note: The Chameleon comes with a single faceplate, but you will need another one to fully enclose the box. You can either get a blank faceplate or a specialized plate.

Package includes:

  • (1) Universal base plate
  • (1) Lid
  • (1) Board mounting hardware kit including ¼” standoffs, screws and nuts****
  • (16) self-cutting, self-tapping metal screws to securely attach the lid and faceplates
  • (1) Blank face plate (additional styles available separately)
  • (1) Hardware package includes:
    • (16) self-cutting, self-tapping metal screws to attach lid, base, faceplates
    • (4) 1/4" female/female standoffs
    • (8) 3/16" 4-40 screws
    • (4) 1/8" 4-40 screws
  • Lid: 2 x 5 x 6.15"
  • Base Plate: 0.40 x 4.90 x 6.15"
  • Weight: 9.5 ounces (269 grams)

Chameleon Enclosure - Black Product Help and Resources

Core Skill: DIY

Whether it's for assembling a kit, hacking an enclosure, or creating your own parts; the DIY skill is all about knowing how to use tools and the techniques associated with them.


Skill Level: Noob - Basic assembly is required. You may need to provide your own basic tools like a screwdriver, hammer or scissors. Power tools or custom parts are not required. Instructions will be included and easy to follow. Sewing may be required, but only with included patterns.
See all skill levels


Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • It isn't obvious from the description (not to me anyway) that you MUST order an additional face plate. Since it said it came with a blank face plate and none of the specialized ones fit my needs, I didn't order one. I didn't realize that BOTH ends of the enclosure are open and only one faceplate is included. It doesn't seem to matter what I buy, I always have to make a second order to get everything I need. Which, of course, means double shipping. Not like buying locally matters, though...I usually have to make two or more trips to the hardware store too!

  • I've been working on a few new items for the Chameleon 1. First some DB9 faceplate designs and secondly, we're in the process of design and manufacture of the no-flange lid suggested above.
    Here's an article on the faceplates that are in the works, particularly DB9 variations. I'm interested in feedback on the designs and any requests for new types of faceplates you need.

    update:12/20/13- these designs are available for free

  • [ nevermind ]

  • I just uploaded a bunch of new faceplate designs for this enclosure system including a blank template, perforated/ventilated, and a range of DB9 designs. You can use these as-is or starting points for new faceplate designs. I have laser cut faceplates on 1/8" acrylic which seems to work well.

  • I ordered this product and additionl face plates and it came with no screws. Not sure how to deal with it.. very unhappy about it.. It is hard to get everything at local hardware store

    Update: Sparkfun shipped a new product immediately - Thanks

  • How about having the dimensions in metric as well - for the rest of the world!

  • is it me or when i click the "Blank Faceplate" link in the description text above do i end up at the wrong page? :)

  • From a constructive point of view� 2-3 things ought to be mentioned:

    If you are planning on placing an Arduino (UNO or MEGA) on the right height relative to the cut-outs for the DC connection and USB, you will need -10mm stand-offs- �instead of the 6.5mm (metal?) stand-offs supplied. Actually, not a big draw-back, as the stand-offs ought to be plastic/nylon anyway for isolation purposes!

    The supplied self-cutting screws (16), can easily be traded against normal i.e. (black oxide alloy) metal screws, which will perhaps aesthetically be more pleasing (if black) and also if screwed in with some feeling and precision, will cut a winding (as opposed to a whole with the self-cutting screws) which permits not infinite un- and screwing, -but more disassembling attempts while leaving the holes more intact; �a fact a few people have pointed out before as desirable. (Also, start with a smaller width of screw initially, and when the winding is already chewed-up, use a new set of higher-width screws, which might(!) permit you a few more future tightenings and disassemblies.)

    Last, from a material point of view, the rather 'stiff' price would be more justified, in my personal view, if the material for the box had been duraluminium a.k.a dural, -which is slightly heavier but a tougher alumininium, enhancing the box on the screw-holes issues mentioned above, as the windings cut would last longer.

  • This could use an LCD faceplate.

    • Any particular LCD you're looking at? We've considered LCDs before, but there are a plethora of them.

  • This is currently listed as $19.95 over at ESawdust... Any chance Sparkfun will match that?

  • All in all, this is a nicely built enclosure. With all the self-tapping screws in it is nice and tight, very sturdy feeling. Once I figured out what holes to use it fits perfectly with an Arduino Duemilanove and holds it very securely.
    I've found that the metal the case is made out of isn't very hard. I've noticed that the self-tapping screws feel decreasingly secure the more times you take them in and out. Also, the hardware that ships with it is really soft. I've trashed a couple standoffs and screws with my Radio-Shack screwdrivers (the ones in the blue/clear case) and a pair of needle-nose.
    I bought this because I thought it would be very modular, something I could use for one project and then recycle for a new project when it came up. I've probably changed it's purpose once a month for the last 3-4 months. I am a bit disappointed in its performance as such. It's nicely built but it doesn't seem well suited for being repurposed frequently.
    I would be nice if new tops were available to purchase without having to buy the whole thing as well. I also like the idea of a top without the flanges, they get in the way quite often.

    • Replacement case parts and components are now available http://bit.ly/caseparts if you're interested - lids, baseplates, hardware are now available ala carte. I'll be working with Sparkfun to offer them here as well.

    • feel free to contact me at: https://www.esawdust.com/feedback/ and I'll send you some new standoffs.
      I haven't discussed this with Sparkfun, but I'm more than willing to offer components separately so you can replace a specific piece that wears out without having to replace the entire thing. Again, contact me if you need spare parts for these and we'll see whether sparkfun would like to offer spare parts as well.
      I'm considering the non-flanged lid and other variations as well such as adding a DIN rail adapter.
      Thanks, I appreciate the feedback,
      Landon Cox

    • I guess that is what $30 gets you these days. Good to know.

  • The "Drawings and Applications Guide" says this comes with 1 blank and 1 of each of the custom faceplates, but the description on the page here says you get just the 1 blank.
    Which is right?
    Also, a lid without the flanges or feet instead of flanges would be a nice option.

    • Sorry! We'll work on getting the document corrected. This product ships with only one blank plate.
      I'll talk to Landon about a non-flange option as well.

  • The price is just ridiculous. $30 without a piece of electronic in it.

  • My only problem with this unit is the openings for the holes for the screws of the serial port don't line up perfectly with a standard serial port so you have to grind the holes a bit to make them work. At least this was the case with the Arduino faceplate.

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