Case your Pi part 2: the case arrives and is assembled

This morning I assembled the case that I previously bought from Shropshire Linux User Group via their eBay store.

The case is made from high quality pre-cut acrylic components ready to be assembled. It comes with 8 nuts and bolts to fasten it all together (mine came with 9 - always good to have a spare) and 4 rubber feet. I am a big fan of clear acrylic, as it is very strong and unobtrusive. It is an excellent choice for the casing material.

Read on for assembly instructions (and note those that come with the case, and the YouTube video of the case designers putting the case together).

PLEASE NOTE: these instructions are provided in good faith as-is with no warranty express or implied. It is YOUR responsibility to make sure that you have assembled your case correctly, not mine. By following these instructions you agree to fully absolve me from any and all damages.

Step 1

The first stage in assembly is to get yourself a nice flat worktop - do not try to assemble this balanced on your lap as the components will easily disappear down the back of the sofa.
Next, find yourself some easy to remove cellotape as “pinning” the components together with tape will make assembly much easier. As a suggestion you could always use bits of the sticky masking tape that cover both sides of each component.

Step 2

Remove all of the masking tape from both sides of each of the acrylic components. This is fairly easy to do and does not appear to leave much if any gunk behind on the acrylic.

Step 3

The large piece with the Raspberry Pi logo etched in is the top, and the SLUG logo piece is the bottom. Lay out the 6 pieces. You will note that each port is marked, ie: HDMI, VIDEO etc. To ensure you do not accidentally attach a component facing inwards (which would present a mirror image of HDMI, ie: back to front) rub your finger gently over each piece - you will note that on the outward facing side the port labels feel a little rough as this is where they are etched into the acrylic.

Here they are (note that in this shot I have not yet removed the SD card and wireless keyboard adaptor from my RPi - do that before assembly):


Step 4

The case comes with 4 rubber feet. They should be applied to the underside (the side with the SD card slot) of the RPi circuit board as shown in the following photograph. Note that one of the feet is cut in half. Potentially the other half of the last foot could be used to “wedge” the RPi inside the case a bit to prevent it rattling a little, but I have not yet explored this.


Step 5

This one is for RS Power supply owners. As I discovered (and is noted in the supplied instructions), the power supply that RS provide has a black moulded connector that is a smidgen too large for the pre-cut hole in the acrylic end piece. Use either sandpaper on a cocktail stick or a craft knife to gently sand / scrape away enough extra plastic to firmly wedge the power supply connector through. This takes about 5 minutes, so is not a big issue IMHO.


Step 6

Start to assemble the case. This took me a fair bit of trial and error, and what I describe below appears to work quite well and should get the case assembled for you with the minimum of fuss.

The components themselves slot together like a jigsaw. This is a very well thought out design decision as it means that when everything it tightened the whole assemblage is secure. The four side components are ordered as follows (by label on the component):

|---SD Card---|
|             |
|             |
|             |
HDMI          Video
|             |
|             |
|             |

As you assemble the case wipe the inner surfaces to keep finger prints to a minimum - remember once assembled you will not have access to the inside without disassembly.

Assemble in this order:

  1. Put the base on your work table, then slot the acrylic parts marked with the USB symbol (front) and SD Card (rear) into place. You will notice that these are going to fall apart quickly until the screws are attached. To stop this tape these places lightly into place using non-marking easily removable cellotape (the keen observer will note that I have accidentally put the SD card end piece on upside down in this shot). RPi_01RPi_02
  2. Place the Raspberry Pi on top of the base. Everything will still be very loose at this stage - no need to worry, the screw and bolts are coming, plus we have our tape backup solution (*groan*)!RPi_03
  3. Place the top on, well, on top... the jigsaw will be like a house of cards at this point, so apply a bit more tape to each end, effectively meaning that the top is taped to the rear, which is taped to the bottom, which is taped to the front, and finally this is taped to the top again. The structure will be a little more stable now.RPi_04RPi_05
  4. Next we will add the side walls. These can be a tight fit. Lift the partly assembled case gently off of the desk a little and then with your other hand slot the HDMI side wall into place. This is one of the most tricky parts without cellotape - the construction is likely to fall apart and need to be reassembled. In either case do not lift it more than an inch or two off your desk (the Raspberry Pi is a wonder, jut not a shockproof one). The side wall needs to connect with all eight protruding rectangular “pins” - that is 2 each for the rear, top, front and base. Also double-check that you have HDMI at the bottom facing outwards (check that rough surface again) AND the correct way up (yes, yes I made this mistake).RPi_06
  5. At this point we are going to add the 4 nuts and bolts to secure the HDMI side wall. Each is attached from outside of the side walls, through one of the 4 small round holes at the edges and then into the corresponding slot on the rectangular base or top. They connect to a bolt held within the cross-shape cutouts top and bottom. NOTE: be careful tightening bolts - do not over tighten as I am assuming they could crack the acrylic (I have not done this, hence this is just a hunch). If you drop a bolt in to the enclosure when all 6 acrylic parts are in place then you will need to partially dismantle the construction in order to retrieve them. Hence, with only one sidewall in place this is an opportunity to get four of the eight bolts into place without having this problem. You will need to slide the bolts into the little cross-shaped cut-outs with the RPi upside down, meaning you can’t actually see what you are doing very easily. Otherwise they will fall straight into the enclosure... OR... attach a small piece of tape to a bolt and use it like a fishing line to dangle it into the hole. The hexagonal nuts go in “pointy edge up”.RPi_07RPi_08RPi_09
  6. Next we are going to attach the side wall marked Video. Again make sure that this is the correct way around (rough edge out, oriented the correct way up). Slot it into place via the 8 jigsaw pins as before. The RPi will rattle around a lot at this stage.RPi_10
  7. Again add the 4 nuts and bolts - being EXTRA careful not to drop a nut inside!RPi_11
  8. Go around all the screws one more time and tighten where necessary (again - do not over-tighten, do not crack the Pi case!)
  9. Remove all of the sticky tape.RPi_12

Step 7

Ok, so at this point we are done aren’t we? Well not quite. You will notice that the Pi rattles around in the case somewhat. This was a bit disappointing I thought at first, but to be honest the RPi has no mounting points so would be difficult to avoid (although some other case designs may get around this I do not see it as a big problem - I am not likely to shake the RPi that often). The RPi will sit safely in the case and will be protected from electrical shorts and the like. It feels MUCH safer having it in this case than not so a little rattle is not a problem.
By attaching the cables the RPi sits even more snugly.

One small issue that I did have was that at first I could not get the micro USB power connector to firmly connect as it seemed as the port was not up flush with the case edge. This was easily corrected by pushing lightly on the dual USB ports at the other end of the case - this caused the micro USB power connector to push firmly up to the edge of the case and I was able to connect the cable. We’re only talking about a millimetre or two here.

Step 8

Celebrate with cake :) This was a leaving present from someone at work yesterday - very tasty, nom nom.

PS: for those that are wondering, the patterned surface you can see beneath several of the images is a mat from a traditional lacquerware workshop from our recent holiday to Burma. It is from a craft shop called Ever Stand, located Between Old Bagan & Nyaung Oo, Wet Kyi Inn Village, Bagan.
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