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Phoenix Contact ECS Enclosure Kit - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 10
Product was easy to use: 10
Support materials were available: 10
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 60 / 60
  • RoadTest: Phoenix Contact ECS Enclosure Kit
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Test Equipment
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?:

  • Detailed Review:

    I am really impressed with this enclosure kit.  It has some very handy features that I really like.  There is one negative but I'll save that for the end.  Overall, this is a very hearty enclosure that can handle some pretty miserable conditions and is a worthwhile candidate for your next all-weather project.

     

    The guidance for the roadtest was...

    This roadtest should examine and test out, in whatever way possible, the durability and environmental hardness for the enclosure.

    The most miserable environment I could think of (that I could reasonably duplicate) was working under a trailer in the driving rain, sleet or snow.  Since it's Summer in Wisconsin, sleet and snow are less likely.  But rain... we get a little of that.  Sometimes with hail and tornados.

     

    My roadtest proposal was to attach the enclosure to a trailer or the bumper of my vehicle and drive it around in miserable weather to see how well it held up.  To determine if there was any moisture intrusion, I lined both sides of the included PCB with litmus paper.  The PCB included a connector, so I soldered it on.  Since I did not have the mating weathertight connector, I sealed the connector with a piece of plastic tubing sealed with hot glue.  It worked well, only developing a small amount of condensation within the sealing tube.

     

    And I drove in the rain.  We had four really decent storms and each foray into the weather lasted at least 45 minutes.  The longest drive lasted 90 minutes.  We had other rainy days, but I didn't track them like the thunderstorms.  After taking the trailer out in a storm that spawned a F-1 tornado, I opted not to continue the trailer part of the testing.

     

    The Kit

    ECS Enclosure Kit

    The main body is very sturdy with two captive holes on one side for mounting and two slots on the other.  I like this design because (sometimes) you need that little extra "margin" - or that third hand to keep the device in place while you secure it.  I also used the included screwdriver - a lot.  It was the primary tool used to disengage the enclosure latches and PCB latches.  Assembly was fairly intuitive and straight forward.  The enclosure was larger than I expected and that was a pleasant surprise, but the thing that impressed me most was the heft.  This is truly made for the field.

     

     

    {gallery} ECS Enclosure Kit

    Near Stuff for Scale

    Showing relative size.

    Another Size Comparison

    Another size comparison.

    Kit Connector

    Included connector.

    PCB

    PCB mounted to front plate.

    Connector Seal

    Connector seal.

    Complete

    Ready to mount.

     

    Handy Feature - PCB Interlock

    This feature proved quite handy and sometimes frustrating - because it did what it was supposed to.  It held the PCB at the desired positions.  Releasing the board completely sometimes took finesse.

    I like the rail design.  Once the PCB and face plate were moved forward, the PCB could be moved up and down in the track slightly.  The picture on the right is the inner back where the PCB track ends.  You can see how it ramps up to secure the PCB once the cover is closed.  This is a well executed feature.

    PCB Latch    Rear Step

     

    Detection

    To determine if the enclosure was environmentally hearty, I covered the PCB with strips of litmus paper.

    Litmus Paper 1    Litmus Paper 2

    Will the litmus paper work?  Yes.  Unfortunately, I dropped the PCB while checking it and got some water droplets on the paper.  You can see the results.

    Dropped PCB

    As you can imagine, the enclosure did what it was supposed to so I didn't have any actual leaks.  The litmus paper came out in the same condition it went in.

     

    The Test Environment

    Sometimes pictures say it best.

    Bumper Far    Bumper Under

    Trailer Far    Trailer Near

    I think the video captures the unpleasantness of the test environment. The point-of-view shots are later in the video.  It's a lot of rain.

     

    Conclusion

    I am not surprised that the enclosure kept out the elements despite having rain hit it at over 70 miles per hour.  It maintained the weathertight seal throughout the testing.  What I didn't share was a lot of video with the enclosure getting bounced around on the trailer.  Little trailers bounce a lot.  This particular housing was perfect for automotive, fitting the bumper support on my truck and the trailer brace just right.

     

    Now the one negative.  The latch that holds the front face plate to the body is a bit too robust if the enclosure needs to be accessed periodically.  It is much easier to remove the front plate when the unit is mounted on anything, but "easier" doesn't imply easy.

    "You want it to be robust!"

    ECS Latch

    You want it to be functional.  Put a little more trust in the seal.  Either give the latch more flex or increase the size of the hole that one would insert a screwdriver into to pop that latch.  A 1/4" wide flat blade screwdriver should do the trick.  I plan to sand my latch down about 20% the thickness.  The width of the latch could also be made more narrow.  It is possible to free one side but not the other.  Thankfully, there are side holes, but nothing is bringing that notch back.

     

    All in, I still think it's a wonderful enclosure and I hope to find a suitable project to give it purpose and meaning.  Right now, it's napping quietly in the freezer.  While it wasn't part of the original Roadtest proposal, cold happens.  I expect it to be no different frozen than it was warm - but we'll see.  I'll update if anything interesting happens.

    Update 9 SEP 2021:  Freezer results in the comments below.  Look for the odd pictures.


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