DIY outdoor device builds: experiences?


I have been dabbling with building devices from esp32 prototype boards / chips on custom boards for a little while now, mostly indoors, which has worked very well.
For this season I have a couple of outdoor devices planned/in progress, I want to see if anyone wants to share their experience on what has worked for them or not, especially after a few years of working in an outdoor environment.

My current setup looks like this:
I have 240V to an outdoor, but dry shed, with a dedicated breaker.
Inside the shed, I have a decent 12V power supply. From this supply I run 12V (fused) to locations around my garden, the cable is protected inside a 20mm PP waterpipe and dug in where possible.

This cable then feeds into standard outdoor IP44 electric boxes, where I have 12v → 5v buck converters that feed into prototype boards.
I currently have GPIO sensors like break beam detector, some i2c modules, some relais / motor controllers, want to add some soil moisture detectors…
I am debating what kind of connector would work well inside the boxes between the modules and the esp32.

I use screw terminals for 12v and 5v power connections
for IO, dupont pin connections are very easy and cheap and work mostly okay, but I am wondering if they would hold up well outdoors?
I don’t really want to solder too much to allow easy maintenance.

sensors / wire connections that are exposed to the elements (like hall effect sensors) are potted into hotglue / sikaflex / epoxy.

My climate is mostly dry, but with a couple of big floods each year and high humidity in summer.

How are you going about it, would this hold up? What are some good ways to do this?


It looks like a nice little setup and you seem to have everything thought out pretty well, in my view.

I run a couple of ESP32s in the garden, but they’re inside (almost) watertight boxes and runs on batteries.

So only advice I could give you right now is: Do not use dupont connectors (unless you glue them together in the final design or something). I would use connectors like Molex KK or JST - something that clicks together. In my experience; If something suddenly doesn’t work, it’s always a damn dupont connector - the female wont hold the male firmly anymore.

nice thanks for sharing.
My experience is similar actually : if something is not connecting well its the duponts. I did invest in some JST connectors, might prefer those, only when needing to run the sensor cable through sleeve or hole, they tent to be bulky.

Yes, I can see how the JST connectors might be too bulky. I often just put a tiny glob of hot glue on the dupont connections. That way they’ll stay put and still easy enough to take apart. I can’t see them being a problem otherwise, they should be fine to use in those weather conditions.

good idea, the other thing is, if you use the dupont connections in 2,3 or 4 pin headers instead of single pin, they tend to stick in better and last longer as well. I got my hands on some development boards that break the gpio each out in pin headers Signal - GND - VCC as well as providing 12v input directly with a dc jack plug that I am going to give a go for this.