Simple Raspberry Pi case.

raspi pi
Raspberry Pi in rustic setting
(my painting bench)

The Raspberry Pi is an interesting piece of kit, very cheap and very small. The limitations for fun computery DIY projects are down to your imagination.

In order to keep your Pi safe it'll need some sort of case or shell. There are heaps of great ideas on the very friendly Pi forum. For me, a couple of hours with some acrylic sheet and a handful of irrigation fittings and I had a tidy and durable case.

Update: Here is another version based on the same concept, using just two pieces of 1mm polycarbonate sheet (with plans).

This project is all about creating an attractive case with common materials and tools, without spending much money. Acrylic can be hard to find in small quantities, one inexpensive source of small pieces is from cheap photo frames, just be sure it's not glass. Small sections of ABS or Polystyrene can be cut from confectionery packaging though you have to be careful with these as they are much more brittle than Acrylic or Polycarbonate. Food storage containers and picnic plates are a good source of clarified Polypropylene which is less transparent but is softer and can be cut and shaped with a blade. For an ultra-simple approach, thick card could be used in place of the acrylic perhaps with some cutouts to allow access to headers.

    Parts list:
  • -1x 4mm retic'/irrigation riser tube 300mm long - use 100mm
  • -pack of 20x 4mm end plugs - use 4
  • -pack of 10x 4mm joiners - use 4
  • ~100mm x 150mm 1-2mm acrylic sheet
  • Tools:
  • -sharp blade
  • -straight edge
  • -jig or scroll saw - or score-cut if you're brave.
  • -drill & bits
  • -sanding wheel, dremel or block and paper
  • -double sided tape

retic tube end plugs and joiners
Photo 1 & 2: retic'/irrigation tube and end-plugs and joiners

Firstly, I cut 4x 25mm long pieces of 4mm (hole) retic tube, these will be the upright columns of the case.

trim end caps trim joiners
Photo 3 & 4: trim end-plugs and joiners

Next, I gave the barbed head of the end caps a little trim to make it easier to assemble. Depending on the thickness of your acrylic (thinner is better) this may not be required. The joiners will be my case's "feet" these get the threaded bit trimmed off and have their barbs trimmed also.

acrylic plate base with uprights
Photo 5 & 6: cut acrylic

Cut the acrylic into two identical rectangles measuring 95mm x 67mm. (It's easier if you stack them and stick them together temporarily with some double sided tape then work on them together as one thick piece.) These will be the top and base of your case. Round off the corners if you like. The four corner holes are 4.5mm with centres located 4mm in from each edge. You can make these a little oblong to allow for easier assembly.

The uprights are attached to the acrylic base with one trimmed joiner each from photo 4.

pi animation
Pi board corner into upright hole.
Who needs on-board mounting holes?

In photo1 you might have noticed my cut piece has a hole near one end. This hole supports the Raspberry Pi's circuit board.

Each of the 4 upright columns has a hole that grips the board at each corner.

These holes are 3-4mm with centres located 5mm in from one end. Some tweaking is required to get the fit just right so when you assemble the columns onto the base test fit the Pi board then remove excess material around the hole with a sharp blade. Also the joiner's long pegs may interfere with the board support holes, trim out any material with a drill.

base with board completed case
Photo 7 & 8: base with uprights and board - completed unit

Once you get the fit just right go ahead and fit the top piece of acrylic. This is held on with the four trimmed end caps (Though if you use thicker acrylic you may have to use more trimmed joiners with longer pegs here).

The nice thing about this sort of case is that it is more of a display-case than a box, the board is completely visable yet safe from accidental impacts. All ports/sockets are accessable and the top can be removed without tools to get at the headers.

It should all hold together with friction, meaning you can disassemble easily to tweak and modify.

complete side viewcomplete bottom view

Thanks to WPrototypes, dannyk6 and Carbon 6 who have put up photos of their own versions of this concept over on the Pi forum. Thanks also to all those who have shared their ideas for tweaks and improvements.


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