Lego case project

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by eric_baird » Mon Jan 16, 2012 3:58 am
I just had a go at knocking up a quick Lego case prototype. Since I don't know the metrics of all the connections, it's a bit of a "proof of concept" right now, but since's it's not exactly difficult to take out any offending side-pieces and move them if they're in the way of a beloved connector, I'm assuming that this isn't a big deal.

Also, because of the thin side-walls, a bit of additional hacksawing or dremeling shouldn't be too difficult.

I've limited myself to only using pieces that are currently available from Lego's "Pick a Brick" shop, in red. :)

Lego R-Pi case (test)

I've tried to fit everything into an 8*12 grid footprint, which will hopefully fit ... but I don't have the specs of the thickness of the thin wall-pieces, so no guarantees. One thing that might screw things up is the height of the board's connectors: I don't know whether they'll all fit within the upper and lower lip of the side-wall pieces. If the board's "USB port stack" is too high, I guess the "roof" could be raised by a tile or two.

I knocked it up with Lego's Digital Designer program (free download from their site). The critical Lego piece is the repeated hollowed-out "side wall" ("[") brick ("wall element 1*2*2, w. window"), which you'll find on LDD's parts palette behind the little "door" symbol, or under the Pick a Brick page ( ), as element #4507686, design #60032 (red), cost 8 pence each.

Feel free to hack, mangle or otherwise rework. If anyone wants the file to mess around with, they're welcome to that, too (can we upload files here?). Whatever.

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by alecthegeek » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:02 am
We need an upvote button :-)
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by Karos » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:49 am
Neat looking case and I love the minimalistic logo!

The idea of lego case for raspi crossed my mind too. The board itself should fit inside 11x7 bricks, but the connectors on all sides need more space. I made some calculations and guessing from the photo of beta boards: with all connectors it should fit inside 14x8 bricks (or 14x9, depends on the legth of RCA connector). However, while you may want a connectors to be near the wall for easier access, there is also sd card, which might even extend the needed length of the case (or maybe allow access to the sd card slot from outside the case?).

The windows you used are, I think, 1/3 or less of the brick's width. Anyway, when we all get our raspis, it'll be much easier to build a case. :)
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by alecthegeek » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:19 am
You may also want space to accomodate a Gertboard etc
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by HansH » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:09 am
Measurements of beta board
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by spamel » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:03 pm
I remember going into a Lego shop a few years back, it may be worth a trip down when you have one in hand, then you will know for sure. I love the badge design though, lego is too cool for school!
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by guru » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:16 pm
Need to go back and revisit this now we have better dimensions :-)

It's almost right, but needs some holes and wall element pieces to hold the PCB in place somewhat.
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by liz » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:52 pm
There are no words to correctly express how enthusiastic Eben and I are about this - absolutely brilliant. There is an LL928 on my desk at home; on Eben's desk at Broadcom he has the big space shuttle from last year and a load of the Architecture series. Everything is better with Lego.
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by jkcpalmer » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:21 am
This is awesome.. I am sifting through my kids lego's with the enthusiasm of a 9 year old building his first lego castle..

would be hard to know exactly what pieces will be needed but this will definitely be my first case build..

absolute genius.....
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by kevco » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:58 am
I'd like a copy of the file.  If it can't be uploaded here I'd be happy to host it on my website for others to download.
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by treczoks » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:39 am
liz said:

There is an LL928 on my desk at home;

Wow! Just Wow! I am an AFOL (Adult Fan Of Lego) myself, and it ist interesting to see where in the world the bricks pop up, and how.

When I get a chance to come to Cambridge again, I think I'll drop by!

liz said:

Everything is better with Lego.


Leg Bedre!
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by ellis.birt » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:05 am
Lego is now out of Patent.  Maybe the eventual case could be moulded to be a single Lego brick.  Leave an opening above the GPIO and produce a second case for add-on board developers to use - maybe with GPIO pass-through
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by alpaca » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:38 am
Hey Eric,

I stole your design and put it on the wiki (you got the credit, it's ok). If you rather not, let me know (or remove it yourself:-). I copied the text of your first post as text.

It would be totally fantastic if you put any updates or a more comprehensive guide about how to make the thing there on the wiki, we're trying to save content from drowning in the forum.

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by robleady » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:03 pm
liz said:

There is an LL928 on my desk at home

I'm not sure if it's good to admit that I know exactly what model that is without having to look it up.  There's another one on my son's shelf at home :-)

If only I could find all the pieces to rebuild the 8860.



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by MINKIN2 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:54 pm
Why just stop at a box? It is Lego after all...

This would have plenty of room for the Gert Board too

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by birger » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:57 pm
There are now several 3D printers on the market. Like the MakerBot at that is available from $1750. And there are repositories like that have lego-compatible designs for such printers.

With this, it should be possible to create a few different custom-fit lego-compatible cases. One for the bare pi, and possibly one with room for some power source and a bluetooth interface? Perhaps even a IR interface? If you have a collection of old RCX and NXT bricks, this could be the brick to rule them all. Let's call it "Precious"!
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by jannis » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:04 pm
Really nice work eric!

It would be really nice if you could upload the file somewhere. What about ?

Unfortunately, Lego stopped their "DesignedByMe"-stuff yesterday (, so we have to order the parts individually via Pick-a-Brick.
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by Prometheus » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:27 pm
Does anyone have a rough estimate for what this would cost via the Pick-a-Brick service? I'm wondering if it's worth it to get official Lego, or go for some of the bizarre "bootLego" that you see here and there and top it off with something weird from one of those sets. :P
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by guru » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:22 pm
Depending on what size bricks you use and how much leeway you leave in the case I'd expect anything between £12 and £30 on pick a brick in the UK.

The one I showed above was a £23 order + about £3 P&P, as the Model B was my budget and I wanted the 'mosaic' tiles for the top :)
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by WheelsOC » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:34 pm
Howdy! I've been toying with some quick Lego mockups recently.

A standard SD card or microSD adapter neatly fits into a space of 3x4 studs and has slightly less height (~1mm) than a plate sans the studs, so it's possible to make a nicely fitted slot to secure the card and keep it protected while it's in the SD slot but extending from the case.

Here's a hideous scan job to illustrate.

I have the walls built up of 2 layers of plates, the SD card sitting on top of 1 layer of smooth plates on the green backplate, and it's held down by the 2x2 square plates for a total height of 3 plates (=1 brick). This works with my normal SD card and a microSD in an SD adapter.

I was surprised at just how nicely the card fits into the 3x4 stud space; there's no extra room on a side for it to slide side-to-side. Since the card dimensions are standardized, this should hold for just about any make/model. Just thought I'd contribute that little tidbit, I can't add to the main case discussion since my crude index card cutout confirms what's already been said about the mainboard.
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by kimondo » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:25 pm
How thick is the circuit board? I had an idea of a simple open-style lego case with a novel way of mounting the board:

lego case

The "mini-figures" (I always called them lego men) can hold something about 3mm thick and the hands protrude a maximum of 3mm over what they're gripping. Stood on a lego board they grip quite firmly. You could even stick them inside a case with a few windows so they can look out.

Does depend on where the surface mounted components are, and if they get tired holding the board.

Loving the models and ideas on here.
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by robleady » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:23 pm
kimondo said:

How thick is the circuit board?

From the dimensions posted in one of the previous replies, 1.6mm...
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by Borg 1.0 » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:21 am
Although I'd personally prefer a machined titanium case with platinum hinges and a neodymium catch, the lego design is definitely a very close second!

The only concern I have with the "traditional" lego is the strength of the locking force.

I wouldn't mind seeing a one-piece moulded lego case (four sides + base, similar to eric's original artwork), in either "Raspberry Pi Red" or "lucky dip" colours, with the option of a couple of different lids.

A clear acrylic lid would seem to be ideal, and it could be made to clip on to the top of the moulded lego thingies (what do you call the little bumps on a lego?). That would seem to be strong enough and accessible enough to show off!

Alternatively, a metal lid with the RPi logo would look pretty cool too.

The other alternative, as I see it, would be to go with the "real lego" option, and superglue the lego bricks together. That would be cheaper than a moulded case (given that someone's gonna have to pay for mould setup and so on), and strong enough to withstand being shoved in the schoolbag on the way out the door.
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by bones0 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:36 am
If some things don't fit perfectly you can still add some sugru to make it stick.


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by arwen » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:17 am
My first thought for a case was Lego, but I would like it transparent as well. So I e-mailed Lego asking about it :-) Will let you know if I get a response.

If you look on eBay however, there is quite a lot of people selling transparent or translucent Lego bricks, of various shapes and sizes. :-)
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