Pi in a box

I’ve had this long running obsession to create a neat enclosure for the Raspberry Pi’s I have, mainly because they lie around all over the place. My first attempt involved using an old drive case (with built in fan) that ended up looking something like this (open):

Pi in a case

Which worked pretty well, but then I then decided I wanted EVERYTHING boxed. This would mean I would have to enclose two Pi’s, a drive, a USB hub, and a network switch of some kind (I don’t like wireless for the Pi’s).

In the end I wanted something I could plug a single network cable and a single power cable in to, that would replace my existing web of cables. I was also constrained by money so this had to be something I could cobble together relatively cheaply.

Long story short, I’ve ended up with this:

Pi's in a box

 

which is still a work in progress, but close to what I want.

The container is an old wooden wine box (slide in lid not shown, cost: $2). The router is an old DLINK Wireless Router (free), 2 Raspberry Pi’s (model B) screw mounted into the sides of the box (had these already), a USB hub (to power the drive, also free), an old power supply (not even sure where I got this originally, was lying in a box, so free), a female to female network adapter ($1), a DC-DC converter ($12, I splurged on this for obvious reasons), a 1TB HDD (had this already), a 12V fan (free) and lots of cabling (which I custom made to the right length). So cost wide I’m out less than $20, which wasn’t too bad.

The power supply is rated at 12V, 5A (60W), the DC-DC converter drops it to 5V, 5A (25W) and this supplies everything with power (I made sure everything ran 5V). The converter came with 3 outputs (conveniently) and a power switch, a perfect fit for what I wanted to do.

I’ve just built this so whether it’s stable or not is still to be determined. I know Pi’s have issues with power supply so for the next few days I’ll trial this to see if it’s stable. I’m also concerned with the heat inside the box (the Pi’s are running 10 degrees warmer than usual) hence I’m testing the attached fan to see if it remains stable with it running, if so I’ll mount it as an extractor fan, which should help with the heat. I also need to either get or make a shorter USB Type A-B cable for the USB hub to Pi connection, trying to find one but will probably end up “making” one. I then also need to clean up the “hole” I made for the power supply and network point, looks messy at the moment. Finally I’ll need to mount the breakout breadboard I use for accessing the GPIO ports on the Pi, I’ll probably end up attaching that to the lid with a detachable cable.

In the end I was quite pleased with how it ended up, a bit to do still but I like what’s been done so far. Of course I now need to worry where the NEXT Pi will go, when it arrives 🙂

Some more pics (more available here):

2014-09-02 22.52.312014-09-02 22.52.24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update: I’ve mounted the fan and added a custom (shorter) USB cable. I think I’m pretty much done for now other than pimping the box with decals (and cleaning up the hole I made 🙂 ). Here are updated pics, with the breakout breadboard mounted on the side of the box.

2014-09-03 22.56.40 2014-09-03 23.00.41

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update: Almost 2 months after I posted this and it’s running super stable. I think I rebooted one of the Pi’s twice in all that time. I’ve since upgraded the SD cards to a (hopefully) more stable brand, and swapped out the fan for a 12V PC fan. The Pi’s now run at a cool 36-40 degrees constantly, even under load. I might experiment with over-clocking…

3 Comments

StephanSeptember 3rd, 2014 at 21:38

Hi Rick, great looking enclosure!

Just a question, why don’t you like wireless for RPi’s ? I want to get into this stuff myself but I was quite keen on trying some applications that might use wifi.

Rick TonoliSeptember 3rd, 2014 at 22:33

I’ve just always had problems getting wireless to stay stable and connected on my Pi’s, plus the one Pi I stream from and I get better throughput on cabled connection. Everyone’s use case is different though I guess, let me know how it goes?

Rick TonoliSeptember 3rd, 2014 at 22:40

forgot to mention, I also have quite a large number of other devices (phones, laptops, PC’s) on WiFi as it is, don’t want to add more possibility of contention by adding 3 Pi’s

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