Case Design Challenge: Media Centre


24 posts
by mole125 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:32 am
There are a lot of competing case designs going around the group.

Many of them are very good but all of them seem to be following exactly the same premiss of making a box as small as possible to fix an RPi. This is almost certainly going to be the design that the foundation will be creating for the educational marked as well.

Rightly or wrongly many people are planning to use their RPi's as media centre PCs running XBMC (or similar) situated under their TVs, yet no case design I've seen actually addresses this market even though these people are likely to be less sensitive to price and you won't be competing against the foundation.

The key features as I see them are:

1. Case designed to look tidy and not out of place under the TV. This implies (to me) that there aren't cables coming out of every side and the case may well need to use extension cables to route the sockets to a more pleasing location.

2. Location for IR diode at front - infra-red remote controls are still king. This is also why a back mounted attach to the TV case isn't suitable for day to day home use.

4. Space in the case for a USB hard drive and sufficient power/cabling to drive it - this probably implies a powered USB hub in the case as well.

5. Useful ports at the front like additional USB socket(s) for plugging memory sticks in.

6. LCD screen and playback buttons on the front - if you really want to provide the home appliance look and feel

The LCD screen, playback buttons and IR diode probably means that the case would need a small microcontroller hooked up via either GPIO or usb, I don't think this will need to be a particularly complicated or expensive piece of circuity though.

Is anybody up to the challenge? Even if it is just concept artwork and not ever intended to go into production?
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:01 pm
by C4B7 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:28 am
Challenge Accepted.
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 4:58 am
by fodi » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:08 pm
you should redesign an existing device with appropiate size, like a set-top-box or satellite receiver, i'd say. they look consistent with tv's, they have a stylish front panel, have space for a small lcd (like a hd44780) in the front (to replace the original one), usually some playback buttons, that might be re-routed with some cabling to the pi itself (like gutting a usb game controller and resolder the stb's buttons to it, then with some sowftware you could use them for actual playback), and have plenty of space to accomodate the board, a usb hub and a 2.5 (maybe even a 3.5) hard drive and have space on the back panel to re-route all the cables there. plus usually they have an ir diode built-in, if you put yours to the same place it would allow a good sight for the remote.

of course it is not an option for everybody, but it might be for some
User avatar
Posts: 112
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:03 pm
Location: Hungary
by HansH » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:06 pm
Well not exactly what you want, I just was interested in how it could be mounted





Case is 10 x 15 cm  (2.5 cm high)

My intension was to get the hdmi cable and an usb from the tv through the opening in the back and use the 2 usb slots for a bluetooth and wifi.
Posts: 212
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 7:49 am
by hippy » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:32 pm
One 'avoid the problems' solution is to just sling the R-Pi round the back of a TV and hang the IR receiver on a bit of cable out the front.You can do that with thin three-core cable, possible even two-core with a bit of electronic circuitry.

A text LCD isn't essential if it's mainly a video media centre as you've got the IR remote to access everything and a TV as GUI. I can't remember when I last operated any of the buttons on the kit beneath my TV.

If going for an under the TV box then I reckon for cabling it's easiest to fit those direct to the R-Pi then have them run through holes in the case rather than having to find and pay for extension connectors. It's not elegant but once installed you'll likely soon forget that it's a bodge.

The first things to decide are; is it a one off or a more commercial venture, whether you are more interested in having an elegant box or a working solution, how much you are prepared to pay and is it worth that expenditure.
Posts: 807
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:34 pm
by abishur » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:06 pm
My solution to this dilemma is to either hide everything inside my classic NES.  It actually runs of 5Vs so I removed the the voltage regulator and tapped the power supply inside the case to provide the power.  Then I bought a panel mount USB and Network extension cable and modded the case to fit them.  And doing it all without removing the original NES!

I think I might eventually move to a long term solution of a lego case with a single hole for all cables to come through in order to minimize the space taken in my entertainment center :-)
Dear forum: Play nice ;-)
User avatar
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator
Posts: 4280
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:10 am
Location: USA
by averagemidget » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:42 am
Not exactly media center territory but this is my attempt at getting away from the standard "box" style cases that seem to be floating around. A little more "designery". What do you think?

RPi Case Concept

And in sexy red…

RPi Case Concept
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:40 pm
by mole125 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:51 am
One of the nicer renders I've seen.

One of the issues with having the cables already attached before you put the Pi in the cabinet is the physical practicalities of doing so - cables either aren't long enough to have them already attached to the tv and make the connections onto the box, or you have the fun of trying to route a cable up through the back of the cabinet and up to the tv.
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:01 pm
by kreggz » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:38 am
Someone would have thought of this already but what about a case in the shape of the logo.

Anyway, I am thinking about either putting it inside a broken PS1 I have or just buying a black plastic case from the local electronics store.
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:48 am
by Smada » Sun Apr 01, 2012 2:43 pm
I did design something very close to what you are looking for.

It's a wooden case in the design of some speakers I built a few years ago, it will have space for an amplifier, the raspi, an external hdd and an USB hub.



The Pi itself is in another wooden case that has the usual "small and rectangular" approach to it, so I can carry it around when I want to. But at home I will plug everything in and then slide it into the bigger case that fits all other components and hides all cables.

Little summary:

1. Case designed to look tidy and not out of place under the TV.

Nope, designed to look tidy on my hifi-system sitting on my desk ;)

2. Location for IR diode

Not yet, but possible without problem

3. Why is there no 3?

4. Space in the case for a USB hard drive and powered USB hub

Yes, and an amplifier (smsl sa-36a)

5. Useful ports at the front

not yet, but it's a good idea for one usb slot that wouldn't be used otherwise

6. LCD screen and playback buttons on the front

Not sure yet, I was planning to either include the LCD, or have it in a secondary case placed on my main monitor. No buttons.

The dimensions are about (l x w x h) 15 x 14 x 10 cm.

As I'm not at home atm I'll post the exact dimensions and some pictures later, don't expect too much, the standard Solidworks renders are all I have, I just can't handle blender.

I am not sure I will build the case that way though, as the amp is quite nice to look at and it would be a shame to hide it in a case. So I was thinking of separating amp and Pi and using a smaller usb hub and an old 1,8" hdd from an iPod i have, which would mean the dimensions could shrink alot
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:08 pm
by Smada » Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:25 pm
So, here are some pics:



Not much to say... front is acryl glas, painted black from behind. Looks really nice in RL, the picture of the speakers doesn't really show how classy it looks. The rest is MDF covered with cherry veneer. Before anyone complains about all the holes: I'm not worried about the Pi getting too hot... it's the amplifier and the hdd that are worrying me.



This one is better, top to bottom: Raspi in wood case (grey), external hdd(black), amplifier(white). Coming out of the Pi is an angular adapter for HDMI, on the right is the Belkin 7 port USB Hub that will also power the Pi. I at least hope that it does, I don't know whether it only switches on power after beeing connected to a computer. Would be a what came first chicken or the egg kind of dilemma...

There are some USB connectors and the HDMI cable shown in the picture, that helps judging how much space will be needed. Even though it's not the "small rectangular box" approach I'm still trying to keep it as small as possible, so the final dimensions of the case will still change according to what cables i can get.



View from behind, cables coming out of the box are any USB devices, 4 cables for the speakers, ethernet, display and the power for the amp and the USB hub. The Raspi gets power from the hub and connects to it so does the hdd, audio goes directly to the amp.  The screws holding the back in place aren't shown.



Empty case, nicely visible are all the air ducts that will try to keep the heat from the amp in control.



Here you can see how compact it actually is, right of the raspi is only the audio jack, currently that is 1.5 cm, if I use a 90° jack I can move the Raspi a bit to the right which might allow/force me to use a normal straight HDMI cable without adapter/90° cable (the amp is already touching the HDMI cable, final version is dependant of the cables I get...). The space between USB hub and HDMI cable is to let the cables pass, might shrink, too.



Left of the USB hub is some space to hide all the cables, moving the Raspi to the left by using an anguar USB connector won't help as the amp is the deciding factor here.



Well it's a small box, nothing to see here...the inner case...

I'm not sure whether I'll use MDF here aswell or just take a piece of cherry wood. The detachable feet are made of steel. I know it's impossible to get the ethernet jack out like that, all the openings are going to change once I have the exact measurements.



The insides aren't complete yet, I'll fit the Raspi by form closure glueing in little pieces of wood. The case will be flush with the SD card, so it'll probably change a bit.

The LCD would be negative (colour on black) so I could leave a bit of the acryl front without paint and it would just look black all over when turned off. Switching on the display, the text would appear like it was part of the glas front (Well that's what I'm aiming for...)

Dimensions are (l x w x h) 14,9 x 14,4 x 11,2 cm.

The second version without amp will have to wait a bit. I'll let you know if I make any progress.

If you have any comments&critics let me know! As I said earlier: The USB socket on the front is a really good and pretty obvious idea and I'll implement it. Beeing kneedeep into designing something like that, stuff like that sometimes just slips by.

Greetings

Dan
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:08 pm
by skyrice » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:10 am
For a media centre i would think a case for it that mounts to the VESA mounts on back of TV would work well. possibly make the case a VESA adaptor plate so you can still use it for wallmounting your TV. will leave plenty of room for cables to be hidden.
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:06 am
by jbanks6424 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:44 pm
Smada,

Love what you have done here.

I was reading in another post that the analog audio output on the Raspberry Pi is 1bit PWM, which would be low quality. Is this what you were going to feed your amplifier with? You might consider putting in a USB sound card to get a higher quality audio output.

Here's that other thread for reference:

http://www.raspberrypi.org/for.....deo#p61373

Here is the sound card I think they are talking about:

http://www.dealextreme.com/p/c.....tput-15746

As to the VESA mounting. Here are a couple ideas I came up with:

This one is 3D printed and the board just clips into it.

This one is made from lasercut steel and is designed to be attached between a mount or stand and the back of the display.



This one is 4 identical plastic pieces that is also designed to be attached between a mount or stand and the back of the display. This was an attempt to make it as cheap as possible…but it didn't turn out that cheap. It's about $15USD to have it printed on Shapeways. http://www.shapeways.com/shops.....wigglyshop
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:54 am
by emmeenne » Fri Apr 06, 2012 4:02 am
Hello,

i have made some render thinking only at micro sd, i must study for hard disk space and where to add this space, i hope you love the design.

EE



Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:33 am
by Smada » Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:47 am
jbanks6424 said:


I was reading in another post that the analog audio output on the Raspberry Pi is 1bit PWM, which would be low quality. Is this what you were going to feed your amplifier with? You might consider putting in a USB sound card to get a higher quality audio output.


Thanks for the warning, I wasn't aware of that!

I really like your third version, it's a very nice idea!

p.s: Why does tinypic delete an image after less than a week... :/
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:08 pm
by calidor » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:21 pm
i was thinking along the lines of Fodi. You can buy a freeview box with HDMI and USB for about £25 or one with a 360 GB Hard drive as well for about £45. I would just take out its motherboard and replace with the Pi. i have seen some with SD card readers as well. It should be possible to link in all the Pi's connectors to the box ones. Mostly the hard drives in these boxes have SATA connectors so i guess i'd use a SATA to USB board from a cheap external hard disk enclosure. Overall you would have a media centre (albeit with a boring box) with 360 GB hard drive for under £100 which is not bad.
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:05 pm
by chrisost » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:48 pm
I've taken a slightly different approach.  I started with a 5.25" enclosure.  I used a blank faceplate, and cut out openings for 5 USB ports, an IR receiver, and a slot load DVD drive.

Internally, I had 5V available from the existing poser supply, and added a USB hub and USB to SATA adapter.  To connect HDMI and Ethernet, I picked up a couple of 6" extension cables to route the connection outside of the enclosure.

I'm still waiting to get my Pi to put in it, and I'm not sure how the DVD drive will work out without HW decoding.  (I started the build before finding out that MPEG-2 would not be licensed.)

All said - enclosure, slot load drive, hub, 6*USB extension, 1*Ethernet extension, 1*HDMI extension, 1* RCA extension, 1*mini to RCA cable - I've spent around $50.
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:48 pm
by Danbury Shakes » Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:05 am
Hmm, I replied but my reply is missing.  Oh well, I'll do it again

I wouldn't go down the silver/black bow rout.  My TV in on a shelf unit and shares it's environs with books, dvd's and various ornaments so I'd want to do a case that fits in with the surroundings, e.g


  • Several DVD cases stuck together and hollowed out

  • Box made to look like a book.  I saw a wooden box that was made to look like several books that would be able to get the raspi, 2.5" hdd, wifi stick and DVD drive in it - power would have to be from an external brick

  • Old Cigar Box which would be stained and varnished

  • Mask - I have a few wooden Himalayan & Sri Lankan masks that would be able to house the gubbins in the hollow.  Bring out the power lights to the eyes for that special demonic glow.

  • Ornate Brass box - I have a large tea caddy that could fit in a raspi and a 1.8" hdd

Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:41 am
by shanebarrett123 » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:17 pm
Has anyone worked out have to attach an IR receiver (not USB)?
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:13 pm
by abishur » Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:14 pm
shanebarrett123 wrote:Has anyone worked out have to attach an IR receiver (not USB)?


I suppose the technical answer to my response is no, but using XBMC I found that my remote control could learn the signal from my wireless IR keyboard to control my media center. I know if you boil things down that's a usb IR receiver, but it's also rather guaranteed to work (unlike some random IR receiver/remote combo) since the Pi sees it as keyboard inputs.
Dear forum: Play nice ;-)
User avatar
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator
Posts: 4280
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:10 am
Location: USA
by Dilligaf » Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:26 am
shanebarrett123 wrote:Has anyone worked out have to attach an IR receiver (not USB)?


See here viewtopic.php?f=45&t=7798&view=unread#unread
Posts: 283
Joined: Wed May 23, 2012 6:48 pm
by richl796 » Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:33 pm
chrisost wrote:I've taken a slightly different approach.  I started with a 5.25" enclosure.  I used a blank faceplate, and cut out openings for 5 USB ports, an IR receiver, and a slot load DVD drive.

Internally, I had 5V available from the existing poser supply, and added a USB hub and USB to SATA adapter.  To connect HDMI and Ethernet, I picked up a couple of 6" extension cables to route the connection outside of the enclosure.

I'm still waiting to get my Pi to put in it, and I'm not sure how the DVD drive will work out without HW decoding.  (I started the build before finding out that MPEG-2 would not be licensed.)

All said - enclosure, slot load drive, hub, 6*USB extension, 1*Ethernet extension, 1*HDMI extension, 1* RCA extension, 1*mini to RCA cable - I've spent around $50.


Same path I'm heading down but with no DVD. I'm having some issues with layout though and was wondering if perhaps you could share a link to some photos of how you see it playing out. Want to make sure I'm seeing the right setup before I start making cuts. Would appreciate the help, thanks.
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:34 pm
Location: Boston, MA
by iain1970 » Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:14 pm
I have an old parallel port CD-ROM in the loft. It might be what I'm looking for in a case for under the telly.

A bigger case is definitely the way forward. I was thinking a large HDD for storage, Blu-Ray drive and a powered USB hub would be great as an all-in-one solution.

I should get my thinking cap on!
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:10 am
by Step » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:29 pm
IM slowly constructing my own media case with no DVD but a nice hard drive inside and some USB's on the front so i could in theory plug one in. Just need to wait for my wood to straighten
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 3:11 pm
Location: milton keynes