Baking a paper RasPi case

Take care with sharp knives
Always wear oven gloves
…or something

Can’t afford a beautiful laser-cut acrylic RasPi acrylic case? Here is a handy paper RasPi case for you to cut out and keep.

There is a link at the foot of this page where you can get PDFs of the files to print out and use yourself. They are FREE but please, if you do make a case, do send me a picture and I will feature it here.

If you think something is wrong with the design I am sure you will let me know that too.

If you think that overall the idea is just plain nasty then please be polite enough not to say so.

If you like the idea then my ego needs a boost right now, feel free to lavish praise in abundance.

The concept

The idea was to produce a pastry base into which sits the raspberry topping, enclosing the Raspberry Pi. So without further ado, here are some pictures. Everything seemed to fit reasonably OK for me. The raised pieces in the pastry base are to support the underside of the circuit board of the RasPi. these are formed from two tabs that meet in the middle. You will find the bottom ridges are not the same either side, so if you are going to make one of these you will see which is the best way round to clear the components underneath.

raspi_papercase2

raspi_papercase1

What you will need. A sharp craft knife, a straight edge of some kind, a rule and some suitable glue, I used UHU.

I don’t recommend a PVA glue or any other water-based glue, it will make your paper wrinkle. Pritt stick might be OK but I didn’t try it and it might not be strong enough.

uhu

The templates

The pastry base. This doesn’t have to be red, it’s just a serving suggestion I came up with for another idea of mine. In the PDF the artwork is white, for you to do your own ideas.

base

The Soft Machine Turns On

The topping. There is nothing much softer than a raspberry pie and the RasPi is a machine and it does indeed turn on. Geddit?

I like The Soft Machine’s music and the 60s artwork of:
Hapshash and the Coloured Coat’s posters.
The title Soft Machine comes originally from the work of William S. Burroughs. As did Steely Dan come to think of it, but don’t look that reference up, it’s a bit naughty.

topping

Click the pics to get each blank PDF template. Just remember not to print it out scaled to fit paper. The document is A4 size, not US letter, but it should fit within US letter. If you have Photoshop you can rasterise the pages there and work with them. Just place the PDF in a top layer and set the layer to multiply. It will then show the black lines and show your design in a layer underneath.

I used heavyweight 280gsm photo paper to print the pages.

Just an idea. Let me know how you get on if you try it.

RasPi cases have arrived

New improved model

The new cases have been sent out to all those who pre-ordered and paid. A big thank you to all those who have supported this project so far.

Cases are still available Wow, the latest batch of cases sold out in four days, but I have ordered yet another batch and you can still order them using the button below where you will be given my Paypal account details to pay for the case once you have checked out the order. There will be a week or so delay from today, 22nd June, before I can deliver again.


Costs: UK including delivery £12.50. Non-UK including delivery £15.40.
Shipping discounts apply for multiple orders and are calculated in the cart.


RasPi Raspberry Pi cases

What changes have been made?

The first four cases were based on the smallest form factor that would sensibly enclose the RasPi. For aesthetic reasons the board sits slightly offset within the case, so that the SD card slot sits centrally within the end plate and the HDMI socket sits centrally within the side plate.

The board itself needs supporting in some way, yet the board’s components sit so close to the edges of the board, even extending beyond it where there are sockets, that it is difficult to devise a way of supporting the RasPi underneath so it sits flat in the base of the case and. The components underneath make it difficult to find places where supports can lie across without hitting anything, unless I make the whole case a little deeper.

A by-product of the first design was that the pieces for the RasPi case’s support cradle were very slim, delicate and vulnerable.

The new design has thus made the case slightly deeper, so the cradle underneath can be a little more durable (but only a little). I have also extended the width and length very slightly, so that the supports can extend vertically either side. The minimum gap is now 2mm on the narrow sides.

I have moved the position of the nut securing slots nearer the edge of the board. This makes assembling the final side much easier. The nuts can be placed on the ends of the bolts and slid into place, leaving enough room to fit the side over its locating tags.

I have replaced the cable tie slots underneath with 3mm mounting holes. Why? Because a cable tie, being made of stiff nylon, does not always bend sharply and because of the small amount of clearance between case and PCB might possibly exert pressure on the underside of the PCB and I do not want to be responsible for failure of anyone’s RasPi.

The M3 mounting holes at least provide the means for affixing the RasPi to another surface or external mounting plate.

RasPi Raspberry Pi cases

The kit of parts

The 2.5mm acrylic comes with protective paper backing both sides, to prevent against scratching during handling. The covering may also help avoid unwanted reflections during cuttting.

The pieces arrived with the unwanted parts already weeded out for me. The edges are very smooth and precise.

I didn’t know how much to compensate for the loss of plastic due to the laser melting away the lines and I also knew that there are tolerances in the thicknesses of the acrylic sheet, which can vary quite a few percent either way. I decided to leave everything uncompensated and see how it turned out. I could compensate on the next batch I thought. There is a slight amount of material removed during the cutting. The little oval raspi badges lost their middles – the slight joining piece I had added was not enough to hold them.

RasPi Raspberry Pi cases
RasPi Raspberry Pi cases

Assembly

I had wondered how easy it would be to assemble the cases – had I engineered myself into an impossible corner? Happily not and assembly was quite enjoyable. The worst part is peeling all the paper off the pieces.

The RasPi itself sits in a very shallow tray to locate it. This is formed by four long thin crossing pieces – you can see them in the top picture. These do need glueing with a spot of superglue – they fall apart too easily and make assembly difficult otherwise. The only tiny mistake I made in the whole case is that there is a small surface mount capacitor underneath – or it might be a diode, I didn’t look that closely – that is in the way of the cradle. I snipped this leg off and all was well. The board is still supported by 7 out of the eight locating lugs and this is not an issue.

My design relies on four very small 2mm bolts, 10mm long, two on the top plate and two on the bottom, to hold it all together securely while allowing unscrewing for future access to the RasPi. While designing the case I had wondered how difficult it would be to fit these bolts and their nuts – it could be very fiddly. I was wondering if I’d need to temporarily hold the nuts in place with blue-tack or something. In practice I found this was not a problem at all.

I started by assembling the base, the video-and-sound side and the USB end. I inserted the bolt through the side and put a nut loose on the very end. The base and USB side slotted in and the nut fell into its place in the captive hole in the base. I tightened the bolt up and I already had a rigid three sides to work with. The RasPi itself and its cradle then slid home, the USB sockets sliding in to sit flush with the outside of the case.

The card-and-power end was easy to slip into its slots. I then put the remaining top bolt through the acrylic and put a nut on the very end of that. I also did the same thing on the opposite HDMI side. Bolts loose with nuts on end.

Next job was to slide the top piece into place while holding the bolt in place with a finger. It went in like a lamb and I tightened it up. Just the HDMI side left to assemble. Holding both bolts in straight with two fingers this time it was possible to push the side on while allowing the bolts to slip over one side of the acrylic and into their slots. A quick tighten up and the case is complete in a lot less time than it has taken fro me to write this up.

How does it look?

I really am happy with the results. I am my own worst critic so if I am happy that’s usually a good sign for me. I had never done any acrylic design before and many people told me to expect to do a few trial runs first, but it seems I didn’t make any glaring mistakes.

If you haven’t got your RasPi yet, then it will be hard for you to imagine how small this computer really is.

The blue glow in the pictures is from the nearby mouse. I have a mini mouse and even so it is almost the same size as the Pi itself. You’ll love it when you get a Pi. It’s so small and neat.

RasPi Raspberry Pi cases
RasPi Raspberry Pi cases
RasPi Raspberry Pi cases

RasPi – A case for the defence

Eben Upton has described the RasPi as ‘Not being particularly static sensitive.’ and there are plenty of videos around of people quite happily holding their RasPis without any precautions. Some even seem to be sitting the PCB on the conductive bag it came is, which is not a good idea.

An unenclosed RasPi is bound to suffer a mishap – the weight of the connected wires have pulled mine off the table several times already. The early RasPis are not enclosed in any way and a box to put it in seems to be an early requirement, if this thing is to survive for any length of time. Due to its small size and light weight it tends to get pulled around by the leads a lot, so some method of securing it would seem a good idea too.

The kit of parts

I’ve gone for a laser cut acrylic case, secured by four tiny 2mm bolts. The case will not need glueing and will come apart if necessary.

I wanted to introduce a few curves purely for aesthetic reasons.

Thinking about school use, where these things might be stacked up for storage or perhaps linked together in a networked ‘Bramble’, I have also designed it so that it is stackable either way round. There are spare locking pieces that insert underneath to keep each RasPi secure in the stack.

There’s a breakout panel for a connection to the 0.1″ (2.45mm) header on the top surface.

Underneath it has a two lugs so that an elastic band can secure it to a monitor stand or pole of some kind. There are also two small holes for cable ties that can serve a similar purpose.

I intend to order a set of 5 cases and these will be made available if other people want them. After the initial run of 5 I will correct anything that seems to need it and will be inviting orders for those who would like one. Cost to be confirmed. I intend to make a modest profit myself for my time and effort and also give 20% of any profit made to the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

3D computer studies

I’ve studied my RasPi carefully and taken measurements with a micrometer. I have also looked at the various plugs that will be used and, where appropriate, made allowances to clear the bodies of these, as some of the connectors are recessed within the case.

Looking at the RasPi, I have contrived it so that the SD card slot sits central in one end and that the HDMI connector sits centrally in one side. The width is determined by how much the RCA video connector sticks out – I did not wish to leave it protruding beyond the case. So the PCB sits slightly offset within the case.

I have provided pieces that form a shallow tray to locate the PCB in horizontally, while vertically there are some packing pieces to prevent the board rattling around inside the case.

Now you see it, now you don’t.

The bolts I shall be using are crosshead rather than the slotted ones shown here. I might also use black machine bolts with an Allen key fitting. Or countersunk bolts if I can find any that small.

Stacking

The RasPi case can stack either way round on top of itself.

Contact me through this website if you are interested in obtaining a case, or watch this space for prices. If anyone has access to a laser cutter and wishes to collaborate on this project, could they also leave a message for me please. My philosophy is to provide a good case, make a small bit of money, make the Raspberry Pi Foundation a small bit of money and sell this to you at a sensible low price.

Firing up the RasPi – first boot

I finally got some spare time to fire up the Raspberry Pi. All my ducks were in a row. I had a suitable HDMI telly, a beefy enough power supply. I am a Mac person, so the only spare USB keyboards kicking around here were some old Mac Pro keyboards. PC mice work fine in Macs and I had a spare mouse.

How easy is it to set up? I am no Linux geek and have only given it a cursory glance by following Liam’s excellent Youtube tutorials. I had installed this on the Mac using VirtualBox.

If I can set this up easily then almost anybody who can read a set of instructions can get the RasPi working.

Writing Linux to an SD card

I’d read that the RasPi does not like high speed cards and I’d bought a class 10 SD card. I went out and bought a class 4 just to be safe. It seems that it reads the class 10 card OK, which was an Ultima Pro. I will report further on this when I get a chance to test it thoroughly.

I went to the section on writing a disk image on the Mac on the elinux site which said:

Download the image from a mirror or torrent
http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads

Verify if the the hash key is the same (optional), in the terminal run:
shasum ~/Downloads/debian6-13-04-2012.zip
Extract the image:
unzip ~/Downloads/debian6-13-04-2012.zip
(or: just double click the zip, it will extract automatically)
From the terminal run df -h
Connect the sdcard reader with the sdcard inside
Run df -h again and look for the new device that wasn’t listed last time. Record the device name of the filesystem’s partition, e.g. /dev/disk1s1
Unmount the partition so that you will be allowed to overwrite the disk:
diskutil unmount /dev/disk1s1
(or: open Disk Utility and unmount the partition of the sdcard (do not eject it, or you have to reconnect it))
Translate the device name of the partition into the raw device for the entire disk, by missing out the final "s1" and replacing "disk" with "rdisk":
e.g. /dev/disk1s1 => /dev/rdisk1
In the terminal write the image to the card with this command, using the raw disk device name from above:
dd bs=1m if=~/Downloads/debian6-13-04-2012/debian6-13-04-2012.img of=/dev/rdisk1
After the dd command finishes, eject the card:
diskutil eject /dev/rdisk1
(or: open Disk Utility and eject the sdcard)
Insert it in the raspberry pi, and have fun

Did it work?

The first point to realise is that you should leave your zip file in Downloads, or if your downloads folder is somewhere else you need to put that address in instead. Also, the filename will be different – mine was called debian6-19-04-2012.zip – and will need changing to whatever the current distribution is called in the instructions above.

Another thing you will find is that there is no visual feedback in Terminal to show anything is happening, but be assured it is. Just be patient and eventually a message will apppear showing what bytes have been written to the card.

All that remains is to put the card in the RasPi, get your pieces connected up and make sure your monitor or telly is set to receive a signal and you have the RasPi plugged into the correct telly socket. In my case I used HDMI with the telly set to HDMI 1.

First boot

Raspi connections

The red light comes on to show you are plugged into your power supply and the RasPi starts to read from its card and the green light comes on.

Very soon you should start to see a RasPi logo and a stream of text telling you what is happening. There is not much to do here except watch and soon it will settle to a prompt asking for your Username and Password. These were given to me when I when I downloaded the SD card disk image.

Now what confused my son and I was the lack of anything seeming to happen when the password was entered. The cursor does not move and nothing appears to get entered. I wondered if it was because I used a Mac keyboard or whether I had let the card write properly. I went away and wrote the card again but needn’t have bothered. Apparently I was being dumb, but I bet this confuses a lot of people in future.

If you are new to Linux, as I am, you will not be used to seeing a lack of feedback when entering passwords – you don’t see any dots or asterisks to show something is happening. Just press on regardless, making sure you typed it correctly.

If all is well the RasPi will restart itself the first time and after entering the Username and Password will get you to a desktop GUI interface ,where you can start to explore what is inside the basic install. This will be more familiar territory for anyone who has used Windows or OSX.

That logo – I am probably going to have something to say about it in another post – personally I hate it. It doesn’t look much like a raspberry and the leaves just look plain weird.

Preferring the Lighweight X11 Desktop Environment, I quickly changed the pink-disco-ball-with-green-ears to the default background.

There you pretty much have it, a fully-fledged computer that is actually quite responsive. Just don’t click everything at once and it will be a very useable little device. It’s hard to believe and easy to forget how cheap this computer is when making comparisons with any other computer you might have or use. It’s wholly unfair to expect it to compete with the family PC for speed. It’s amazing that a credit-card sized computer can have so many ports and features directly out of the tin in the first place.

So well done to the Raspberry Pi Foundation and all it aims to achieve and indeed has done so far. For myself I shall start to explore further as time permits. Get connected to my ethernet hub and the net, perhaps get a wireless USB dongle working. Start to get some programs of my choice running.

A suitable screen for the RasPi

There was a post somewhere I saw that was suggesting a neat little 16" telly from Kogan. It had HDMI and digital Freeview tuner and even a USB video recorder, all for £59 including delivery - kogan.co.uk.

I checked at ebuyer.com and they had nothing below £100 + delivery, even for a plain computer monitor. As the UK has just stopped analogue broadcasts I thought I could not go wrong – I could watch Freeview telly on it if nothing else.

What a lovely little telly it turned out to be.

telly

I liked it so much I bought another one, to replace the old telly in the kitchen. Somehow this order went astray, and after some tooing and froing I was told the order had shipped, only to be told there had been an error and they were all out of stock. They did offer me the next model up for the same price, which is exactly the same but has a DVD player built in. The cost of this model is £89 including delivery. I took them up on the offer and can say this is also a lovely little telly. So well done Kogan for sorting out the hitch and sending me a better replacement at no extra cost.

Recommended as a good partner for the Raspi.

RasPi power supply rant

This week has been hectic, so what with one thing and another I didn’t have a chance to fire up my RasPi in anger until today, although it arrived on Monday from Farnell.

I thought I had bought an appropriate power supply. There are a number of sellers on UK Amazon selling what purports to be a genuine Samsung ATADS10UBE rated at 700mA. ‘Ideal for the RasPi’, thought I.

So imagine my surprise and delight when some while I received a .55amp ETA3U30UBE, not a .7amp ATADU10UBE.

I contacted the seller, who duly sent a jiffy bag for me to return the item for a full refund, which I did on the same day.

I heard no more about it and somehow didn’t get notification of the refund I was promised, so I gave them a 2 star rating and registered my dissatisfaction on Amazon.

I was called on the telephone almost immediately by someone not wholly conversant with the english language who asked what the problem was and I repeated that they had sent an inferior charger, not the item specified and it was no good because I wanted it to work with a Raspberry Pi and it needed 700mA. ‘So what’s that mean?’ was the response. I patiently explained it meant the amount of current the charger could supply.

‘OK, we send you the right one, please amend your feedback, we’ll send you a link.’

‘You will send the right one?’ I asked. Yes, yes, the right one, no problem.

They sent the right one and guess what? It’s another under-rated .55amp ETA3U30UBE. The idiots.

I advise them of the mistake and received the following:

‘Hi! Thanks for your mail, We have sent you the one is in the picture and this charger is for Samsung and any other deceives which had micro connector, We would also like to let you know that far as we know the ap doesn’t really matter at longest you device is getting chartered, As you can see we have tried our best to help you but it seems like nothing can, IF you send the item back to us we will issue you with the full refund, Regards’

I had already given up with these guys, congratulations to The Fonetech. They’d already promised a refund once and I didn’t get it. So I’d already ordered from another Amazon seller a week ago, Deal Direct UK, and duly got a confirmation of order

1 Genuine Samsung ATADU10UBE Mains Charger
Electronics; £2.61
In stock
Sold by: deal direct uk

And then yesterday I received the following:

Dear Customer,

We’re writing to inform you that your order 203-4536738-5245134 from deal direct uk has been cancelled by the seller with the following reason: -

The item(s) you purchased were out of stock. Please return and attempt to purchase the item again at a later time.

So I wonder which part of ‘In stock’ I didn’t understand.

Today my son dropped by and for now I have exchanged my inferior Samsung supply from Fonetec with my son’s 1A supply.

It seems there is a bit of a free-for-all with Amazon listing all sellers willing to sell the item of your desire, yet who have no clue what they are doing. So they sell a substitute or, in my case, an item that looks the same, is not in the packaging shown and is an inferior rated product.

Did I mention The Fonetec? Forget I ever did.

Raspberry Pi delayed

A disappointment, but the first production run of Raspberry Pies were fitted with non-magnetic ethernet jacks. Manual changes have been made to the boards and delivery is expected to be as anticipated.

The larger run of 100,000 boards may be delayed due to sourcing issues with this quantity of components. Farnell and RS are helping to source the correct sockets.

Read about Raspberry Pi’s Manufacturing hiccup on the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s website.

Introducing RasPi

The site dedicated to the Raspberry Pi computer

Welcome to Raspi. The computer is now on sale, people are expecting their deliveries within the next few weeks and the excitement and anticipation is growing.

We hope to bring the best in news, views and experiences as they develop. Our team will be having its say, but you are invited to use the forum to have your say too.

Whether you are new to computing and programming or an expert, we hope there will be something for everyone. Please join in and above all have fun.