Laser cut case for RaspberryPi gateway

Since I imported my new laser cutter from China I wanted to give my RaspberryPi gateway setup a facelift and organize it in a nice custom case which I can actually show off to friends. Before we move on into the details, here’s a perfect spot for a BEFORE/AFTER shot:

This post will describe how I built this case and will include the source files that you can use to customize your own case based on these blueprints.

I have the older Pi model B with 256MB of RAM, without mounting holes so I searched the web for a blueprint of that and I found one but I didn’t save the link unfortunately so I’m not sure who to give credit now. But it’s included in the DXF and corel files I will share at the end of this post. Once I drafted rough dimensions I started cutting the actual case in cardboard to make measurements and do mounting trials using nylon spacer screws from ebay. That went great and a simple pizza cardboard box was sturdy enough to lasercut mockups of the actual case and save me some wasted acrylic. I made a stacked case without side walls. The nylon spacers keep the two layers of electronics sandwiched in between the 3 case cutouts. I organized everything in Corel Draw layers (each layer a different color) which allowed me to visualize where everything will fit.

First pass. Once the cardboard fitting was perfect I cut it from translucent black acrylic and mounted everything in it. I should have gotten black nylon spacers, oh well, it still looks nice. Here’s the result of the first pass:

Second pass. All worked out great. Now a few days later I thought it would be even nicer to merge my standalone mailbox notifier receiver LCD directly into the gateway, since that has a receiver Moteino anyway right? Only the top layer of the case had to be modified to allow the LCD display to fit. I decided to cut a new top out of clear acrylic to be able to see the electronics and LEDs a little better. I used this RGB backlight 3.3V LCD, and I used code from the mailbox notifier receiver sketch that included the LCD code to display any incoming packets on the LCD (also battery level and signal strength from nodes that report it). I added the cutout for this specific LCD in the corel file where you can hide/modify/delete it and print only the parts/cutouts/holes you want to the laser. In my case I just exported everything to DXF files which were then imported into LaserCut 5.3, the software driving the laser. The LCD required some discreete components and pullups which I soldered and taped/hot glued to the back of the LCD, then wiring went directly to the Moteino VCC/GND and I2C pins. Here are the results from the second pass, you can see a message from the mailbox on the newly installed LCD:

In case you’re wondering what the other stuff besides RaspberryPi is:

Source files are posted at github. If you don’t have Corel, it’s a useful program to have but costs a good chunk of cash (I have Corel X5 since I used Epilog lasers that worked directly from that). I also included the DXF exports from corel which you can import in whatever editor you want or lasercut directly.

I hope this post was useful and will inspire some of you who have access to a laser cutter to experiment with making enclosures for your electronics.