Build Yourself a Cardboard-Framed Raspberry Pi Tablet for Under $60

For most people, designing and fabricating a case to house an electronics project is the one of the hardest parts of the entire process…

Cameron Coward
3 years ago

For most people, designing and fabricating a case to house an electronics project is the one of the hardest parts of the entire process. CAD and mechanical design are skills that take years to develop—even after going to college specifically for that, I was still only mediocre at it when I started my career. If you’re still learning CAD, a great way to keep your projects going is to prototype your enclosures first.

These days, people tend to jump straight to rapid prototyping with a 3D printer. But, the reality is that it’s only rapid relative to traditional manufacturing. Even a simple design can take an experienced CAD operator hours to model, and then at least another few hours to print on a consumer 3D printer. In his tutorial video on building a Raspberry Pi-based tablet, Josh of JoshBuilds demonstrates how prototyping can be done much more quickly with cardboard.

The electronic components for the build are what you’d expect: a Raspberry Pi Zero W, along with a 7" touchscreen, charger, and LiPo battery that all appear to be from Adafruit. But, the way Josh constructed the case from cardboard is what makes the video stand out. All you’ll need to follow his example is some corrugated cardboard and a box cutter or X-Acto knife.

The process is simple enough for anyone to follow along with: just trace the screen and cut it out. Josh uses hot glue to layer the cardboard, and to attached the components to the back of the display. This is a fantastic way to quickly build a functional prototype, and gives you something to reference if you decide to actually create a CAD model for 3D printing or CNC machining.

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