Hand tools and fabrication machines
From time to time, I log online to window shop. We all have expensive guilty pleasures, right? I share things that catch my eye (#DailyTemptations)with you via my social channels. I also press the “order now” way too many times and end up split between 5 different projects at the same time! One of the recent items I bought was seriously too good not to! I’m speaking about the RaspberryPI Zero to USB board. I know, I’m not solving any problems, as it’s essentially a glorified USB-microUSB cable, but just look at the end effect. If you are going to prototype and program on the go, do it like a BOSS!
There are 2 benefits of actually using the USB kit. You will be able to SSH over USB and you will free the USB port. Plus if you going to add an external enclosure, it will look incredibly awesome! My 3D design is modular, so you can add your own decals.
The USB kit is simple, I was able to solder it to the RaspberryPi Zero in about 10 min. You could stop here, however, I wanted to make a project out of it. I have a couple of big CAD projects coming up in the future, so having something to practice on is perfect.
The pictured case is actually pretty cool. The bottom part uses a temperature-sensitive filament, which will change the colour as the RaspberryPi gets hot. There is a vent for a tiny radiator, but honestly, I have done this mostly for decorative purposes. I have added a button which stops the SoC by pulling RUN pin low. Lastly, I had poked a hole through in case you want to add the RaspberryPi camera module.
The final design has been 3D-printed, and laser cut. I understand that not all of you have access to both devices, so I made the design that works with the 3D printing alone. The 3D-printed lid isn’t as pretty, as I got impatient, and used a hairdryer to dry my paint. Sadly the filament shrunk a little (don’t make my mistake).
The decal is a separate design, so your case doesn’t have to sport my NotEnoughTech logo. You can add your own.
The case has standouts that accommodate the USB add-on. It was pretty cool to try the temp sensitive filament, it will turn yellow the warmer it gets – the yellow colour appears when the temperature reaches about 20°C. It will be cool (that pun) to see the enclosure glow over time! You can watch the cooldown timelapse here.
If you going to go for an acrylic glass finish, you will need to print out the lip. I had no thinner acrylic at hand than 3mm, so I skipped the lip. My goal was to have the 40-pin header flushed with the surface. Ideally, you want 1-2mm acrylic and the 3D-printed lip.
If you don’t have access to a laser cutter, fear not! The design works with 3D printers. I’d encourage SLA print for the lid, especially if you go for the hex vent holes as well. The lid will consist of a single body to print out.
It’s my project, so adding my “cog” was an obvious option. Adding something to break the surface was a great idea, and even if you are not going to use my design, consider adding an extra thing. I’ve created USBerry Pi logo – feel free to use it!
The logo can be omitted or printed separately so the choice is in your hands.
Before I can put the USBerry Pi back together, I need to solder in 40 pin header for connectivity and add a reset button. Take your time with the header as you really want it to be straight up. You can tap outside pins first (or bend it gently, to keep the header in position for soldering) then I made the solder joints, inspecting it as I go.
The reset is achieved by shorting RUN pin to GND. The pin is pulled high by default. I don’t want any wires, so I opted out for long pins that will simply touch the button’s prongs. I made the case with that in mind. A very elegant solution. Just make sure there is enough tension between pins it would touch each other once the enclosure is closed.
I love it! I’m pretty sure next time I’m doing some coding on the go I get someone asking me what is it! People always approach me in coffee shops when they see a bunch of wires sticking out from my laptop, connecting to some strange electronics. I appreciate them doing so instead of calling the emergency services first. I’m smart enough not to code timers and displays in the public places no matter how innocent is my agenda.
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I hope you have enjoyed the project!