Like many here, I have a collection of half-height 5.25" optical drives sitting on the shelf. A few are in USB-interface enclosures, but many are not. As progressively fewer PC's even come with 5.25" drive bays, I had planned to put more of these drives into external enclosures.
Shopping around recently, it seems (and I should have known) that the supply of these enclosures, especially at a reasonable price, has practically dried up. There are >$50 models from Vantec, Bytecc, OWC, and Addonics. Also a generic smooth aluminum $30 enclosure that gets uniformly lousy reviews. There is also a flood of 2009-vintage HP external drives that can be had on eBay for $20, rebadged LiteOn SATA drive included. I have one of these; it's a bear to open (at least, with intent to reassemble) without minor damage but it does do the jub, albeit at USB 2.0 speeds.
There is no shortage, however, of cheap USB-to-SATA adapter cables and power supplies. I have used one these in a pinch, but can't see plugging and unplugging such contraptions repeatedly. It would be nice to have something with more mechanical stability.
Lately I've been noticing product listings for storage boxes that fit empty 5.25" drive bays. Based on the pictures, they appear to consist of a sleeve in which a drawer slides in and out. They come in metal and plastic-and-metal varieties. I don't have one to play with, but was wondering if (with a little modification to the sleeve) a 5.25" drive might fit inside the sleeve. This would give an enclosure-like appearance, and an attractive place in which to anchor the USB-to-SATA and power cables.
Failing that - any other ideas for a do-it-yourself 5.25" optical drive enclosure?