ModMyPi Mk.2 USB Hub, 2.5'' HDD, Patch Bay, On/Off - Ideas


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by modmypi » Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:55 pm
Hi All,

I wanted to throw around some ideas and get a discussion going about our next Raspberry Pi venture. We've been getting feedback and ideas since we released the original MMP case back in March 2012, and we've been working hard to get something concrete about what's viable and what's not for the next one!

The obvious aim here is to expand the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi, whilst not diminishing what the unit stands for.

So the question, what would you like to see in our next case?

Limitations are to minimise size and cost, but that's about it really, if anyone has any input in what they would like to see please share and we'll see if we can incorporate it.

We've already been designing hard and our Current Specification is the following:

  • 5V 2A PSU Included as Standard
  • Powered 7 Port USB Hub. Board will sit with one side external (4 ports) and one internal (3 ports) E.g. external bay to connect mouse keyboard, game controllers. Internal for nano dongles etc.
  • Integrated On/Off Power Switch - Power is fed in to a switched cable >> Hub >> Pi via USB port. This will only work with the Rev 2 Pi boards however which can backfeed power this way.
  • 2.5'' HDD Caddy Bay. For the XBMC lot - basically a bracket that sits underneath the case and allows the insertion of a SATA caddy or other 2.5'' units.
  • Internal Cable patch bay - basically the aim is to reduce the spider web that the Pi can become, and make everything a little neater, we're thinking run internal M to F cables from an internally mounted Pi board to one side on the case. This way all cables can be run out on one side.
  • Stackable - So you can put multiple units on top of each other!
  • Internal SD card holder - to keep those extra SD cards handy
  • Fully enclosed Pi inc. SD card - protection.
  • Removable clear clip in window to allow access to the Pi for GPIO stuff - or just to look at it!
  • Multiple VESA mountings
  • Case to be screw-able shut, for commercial situations where the contents may be at risk
That's what we're working to at the moment. We've gone through multiple iterations with the unit's layout and contents, and we've basically sourced everything we need to. The hard bit was getting everything inside something that isn't excessively large. Current footprint looks to be 200x175mm this is larger than the current case size of approx. 100mm x 75mm. However considering what we're trying to cram inside, it's not too bad.

Scrapped Ideas

We've toyed with a few extra ideas, but scrapped them as we've gone along.

  • Battery Powered - This one was hard and the main reason for scrapping it was cost. I think we'll probably work on a 2.5" battery add-on drive in the future. But adding £15 - £25 to the cost isn't really viable at this point.
  • Built in IR reciever - This was a request, but we decided against it. We don't want to start using GPIO ports up when people might want them for other tasks.

Layout Pictures

Here's some some pretty basic pictures to show the layout we're currently leaning towards. We've gone through quite a few of these including stacked options, options where the board is half enclosed and half not, ones where the Pi board is centre mounted, but (as per usual) the simplest solution is the best - where the majority parts clip in to a bottom plate and a top part clips over it.

Basic Concept with Clip-In Window
Image

Basic Concept with Clip-In Window Removed
Image

Cable/Pi/Hub Layout
Image

Cable/Pi/Hub Layout
Image

Cable/Pi/Hub Layout w/ Switch and SATA Caddy
Image

SD Card Holder
Image

Top Plate
Image

Side View with Raised Window for Expansion Boards
Image

Anyway, thoughts, ideas, feedback, grammer/spelling checking will all be gratefully received!

Cheers,

MODMYPI
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by magno23 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:21 pm
i like it very much
i think it would be nice idea to have different top plates to witch you could mount different size lcd's(16x2 or 20x4) kinda like a removable plastic bit that you would remove to place the lcd
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by KenT » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:21 pm
Taller so that an expansion board and components can be plugged on top of pi
Internal 12 volt - 5 volt high efficiency regulator with standard DC power socket and reverse polarity protection. Enough ampsr for pi and external circuits.
space/mounting points for stripboard somewhere in the box for more circuitry
Flat panel space on sides for controls/displays/connectors
No 250 volts AC in the case.
hub optional
Upward expansion could be by slices similar to Archimedes
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by fernandovg » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:40 pm
Nice!
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by GordonTGopher » Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:07 pm
Looks good so far, what sort of price band are you targeting for this? You might get a better idea on people's interest / expectations if they know how much it's going to be :)
Have you any thoughts on how the camera module that's due 'soon' might be attached to this design? If the case is going to be stackable, would it be pushing the design to make it modular with some sort of way of securing the modules. I'm thinking it would be great to select, for example a battery pack and Pi 'holder' for one application or a hard disk bay, a hub and Pi 'holder' for another....... You could add other modules over time, lcd holders, proto board holders, whatever there is demand for!

While I'm specifying my ideal case :roll: I know the costs for full IP rating / certification would be prohibitive, but an unofficial (and not guaranteed ) splash proof option might have an appeal for webcam or weather station type applications.

Regards,

Gordon
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by modmypi » Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:52 pm
@GordonTGopher

Of course, I forgot the most important part - Monies! :D

Price should be between £17 - £27, once everything's been accounted for.

Considering it contains a decent powered USB hub (£7 - £15), quality power supply (£5 - £10), Case (£5 - £12), and it's an integrated solution (with patch bay, switch, HDD Caddy etc.) I don't think that's too much to ask. This all depends on a number of factors however, but that's our current price point, and should (finger's crossed) be achievable. We don't really want to go over the cost of the Pi itself as that would defeat the whole point of this being a low cost solution. At the end of the day, all these parts do cost money - although offering it as a neat little DIY solution means we can reduce labour overheads in terms of assembly.

Anyway, we would really like to offer it at a price less than the cost of purchasing all the items individually.

Webcam: We've got to get out hands on it first!

Modular - We've toyed with this - and it would be very cool - it's one of the reasons for going 'out' rather than 'up' with the basic footprint - this mean we can go 'up' with expansion parts.

Waterproof - Difficult, especially with the components patch bay/ USB hub mounted on the edge of the case, you would have to grommet the unused ports and waterproof the in-use ones. As I said difficult - but noted nonetheless!

@KenT

Taller so that an expansion board and components can be plugged on top of pi
This is the reason for having the raised lid over the Pi - it should hopefully allow for most Pi sized expansion boards to sit nicely above the board.

Internal 12 volt - 5 volt high efficiency regulator with standard DC power socket and reverse polarity protection. Enough ampsr for pi and external circuits.
Included PSU will be a HQ AC/DC power supply 5V 2A with 'round pin' input. Including a regulator within the case was touched on but dismissed, it's easier to simply purchase a decent power supply which does what we need at the plug.

space/mounting points for stripboard somewhere in the box for more circuitry
Maybe a neat little holding space on the top part of the case for extra internal boards? Unfortunately there's so many different project/solutions that people want to get - it's difficult to cater for all - especially with the tight internals.

Flat panel space on sides for controls/displays/connectors
We we're planning on integrating as many VESA options as we can accommodate for screen mounting.

No 250 volts AC in the case.
We'll be leaving big voltages at the plug with the adaptor.

hub optional
Main feature - sorry ;)

Upward expansion could be by slices similar to Archimedes
Could you expand please? Maybe some pictures to visualise?

@magno23

Got it - removable LCD expansion - we could possibly integrate this in to the Pi window . . . . Hmmm food for thought. This touches on the modular capability too.

@fernandovg

Thanks!
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by cyrano » Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:58 pm
modmypi wrote:So the question, what would you like to see in our next case?


Shielding.

I'm convinced some problems some users are having with the Pi are directly related to RFI/EMI.

Even if it makes the case a little more expensive, I'm buying! AFAIK there's only one other case in metal, that one is "classic" (no protection for the SD card, similar dimensions to all other cases.).
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by PaulCheffus » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:30 pm
Hi

Not just related to the above case but light guides would be nice for it and the original ModMyPi case.

Cheers

Paul
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by srpsco » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:41 pm
I like where you are headed, I do however have a couple of suggestions. I would prefer the power switch be placed on the side of the unit with the rest of the cables or the opposite side (for lack of a better name the front). Second I would like to see an indication the unit is powered on (something as simple as an led), this would avoid having to be near the unit to view the Pi;s LED's.
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by GordonTGopher » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:43 pm
I think KenT and I had similar thoughts on the expansion theme, just arrived there from different directions! I was curious about the slice and found an explanation here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RiscPC and an extreme example here http://www.d1.dion.ne.jp/~r_high/memorial/rocketship.html

Whilst your target price may raise some eyebrows, it seems reasonable given the package, as long as the new case is the same quality of your current design (satisfied customer here!). Of course a modular approach would avoid the "I'm not paying £xx for a case with a yy I don't need one of those" type objections ;)

Regards,

Gordon
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by arcooke » Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:04 pm
Anyway, thoughts, ideas, feedback, grammer/spelling checking will all be gratefully received!


Grammar* :lol:
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by Mick1152 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:11 pm
I LOVE IT! I'll take two with the SATA caddy!

*Throws money at the screen*
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by thelini » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:07 pm
Very very interested, this is exactly what I have been after for a long time.
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by BBsan2k » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:19 pm
Wow, that looks really great.
Hopefully this becomes reality, as it would be the perfect MediaCenter Case. How about a black nobel finish?
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by Brianetta » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:31 pm
I'd like an all in one case, but I don't think it's necessary to poke extra holes in it for GPIO access. I'd use mine as a portable XBMC, with the hard disk drive inside there. There's no reason to expose that Pi to any more of the outside world than necessary, and extra ports are just weak spots waiting to split the case when it's being carried about.

I would have thought that the media centre and the hobbyist project would be two separate targets, even if they're bought by the same customer.
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by midi002 » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:35 am
I'd like to see a mount that consolidates the entire Raspberry Pi, Network, Keyboard, Mouse, and Monitor to 1 wire.

Could you please put a UNC power connector and make the power source part of the enclosure. Have that 1 UNC power both the Raspberry Pi and the USB Powered Hub.

I'd like to get a split UNC cable so I can hook up the Raspberry Pi, the powered USB hub, and a 1080p monitor all on 1 cable.

The Raspberry Pi will be connected to the monitor via a short HDMI cable. Sound may or may not come from the HDMI, or a headphone style stereo jack.

The Raspberry would connect to the LAN wirelessly, and the keyboard and mouse would connect wirelessly, thus having a terminal with just 1 wire, a power wire.

Essentially, I want to make the illusion/presentation of just a monitor with a wireless Keyboard and Mouse.
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by tekjunkie » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:55 pm
I really think you should just make a good case for an raspi, usb 2.5 harddrive, power switch, usb hub and LCD.
Get this a good price and then you will get all the XBMC people happy.
After you sell a lot of these learn from it and then build what you really want a modular system.
I want both :)

regards,

jip
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by bonelifer » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:11 pm
An optional(sold separately) caddy for this USB sound board: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product ... o_detail_a As for the output, I think for most just being able to plug the 3.5mm plug into it's output would suffice. Though optional perforated punch-outs would be nice, but not a deal breaker(at least for me). In fact a single perforated punch-out that a RCA panel mount would fit would be easy. Find an widely available one and either sell it with the caddy or provide model number/information and a picture for people to find on eBay(etc).

Otherwise a very nice design, especially with the VESA mounts.
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by markleiper » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:42 pm
Loving this case, on/off switch on back pls love the idea of toslink via usb.
looking forward to the development and def put me down for one
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by ToxicTigger » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:49 am
I love this idea for lots of reasons, not least of all it would remove the spiders web of cables which inhabits the area where all my pis live. It would make demoing the Pi at University a lot easier and it would mean I could get the students to better to relate to it as a fully fledged computer in its own right.

I have a couple of suggestions... I think the external USB ports should be at the back or split (2 at the back and 2 at the front) I especially like the idea of some front facing USB ports for things like USB memory sticks, digital cameras... removable items like that. The back ports would allow all the cables to go in the same direction and would tidy things up a lot. Also could you allow more space internally for the internal USB ports. If you split them you could free up more space for the internal USB ports.

If you're going to be adding in a 2.5" HDD area can you also sell some cheap low capacity HDDs (100gb - 320gb) for those of us who would like a Hard Disk but don't quite need the capacity of XBMC lot. There are plenty of instructions out there for creating a working root partition on a USB hard disk and using the SD card as a boot drive with only the kernel and bootloader files on which then hands over to a the root partition on the Hard Disk. It would also allow for better SWAP usage and creation.

Otherwise I love this idea and as soon as they become a reality I shall probably be one of the first people to buy one.

Jamie
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by mummson » Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:49 am
I'm sorry to inform you that ... I'd buy the sh*t out of that!
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by squidders » Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:39 pm
Hi,

Big fan of the ModMyPi case. All my Pis live in one.

I have a couple of thoughts for Rasberry Pi cases (none particularly original!):

  • Put all the connectors on on side for easy pugging in and out. Would also allow installation in a corner, on a shelf, etc...
  • Not really interested in an integrated hub. I'd prefer small.
  • Have some score-lines cut on the inside of the lid for different sized LED and LCD displays. If they were scored in enough, they would allow for neat cutting out of holes (hopefully you know what I mean).
  • I like the idea of an integrated PSU. How about a case with an integrated PSU that can be plugged straight into the wall? Basically imagine a case the could take a wall wart PSU internally with just the wall pins sticking out. Then a Pi could be installed directly into a wall socket.
  • I like the current modular design which allows for mix and match top and bottom colours.
  • Stackable.

Cheers,

Steve
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by jimaxyn » Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:25 pm
I would like to see a Media Centre case that includes a powered hub, a space for at least one 2.5 SATA HDD, and use the basic footprint of the HDD (Slightly longer to allow a thermal chimney) so you have a chunky little box, not a large flat pizza box style case. This means most if not all the ports are on the outside edges.

The layout:
HDD on the bottom (Heaviest item, will help make it stable)
Powered Hub next (potential integrated WiFi stick?)
Pi on top (Powered off the hub to avoid an addition cable)
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by jfornango » Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:10 am
Looking long term, and I realize that this would boost the price (maybe make it an option?), but you might consider replacing the window over the Pi with a small screen?

I say "long term" because I know this would be best to wait until the Foundation gets a DSI solution released.
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by MrWareWolf » Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:44 pm
I like the idea.

I do not like this design.

Put the hub(s) UNDER the pi, and use a hub that is configured to have ports at the end to connect to another hub, and/or the pi itself.. I would integrate two x 4port powered hubs, as they are far cheaper than 7's. I would hunt for a hub with the ports spaced apart from each other, so as not to interfere when a wide device is plugged in. I would resell the original power packs from the hubs, and source something else big enough and well designed to handle many of the ports being drained and not dropping pi power too low. I've seen some hubs with switches for EVERY port, this might be wise to prevent the pi from rebooting when you don't expect it. It might be helpful to have one hub internal that is not easy to get to the power switch so the pi doesn't get rebooted, and the peripherals can be, it would need to be tested to find the proper mix.

Under all this put a 3.5" hard drive bay or 2, include a 2.5" bracket/adapter that works with it for ppl with tiny hard drives. Include a adapter set for each 3" bay. I would test this a bit with 10k rpm drives to ensure that everything is working good.

So basically I don't like this layout at all, it serve's no benefit being in this layout, imho. Also, I would prefer something 4+" tall, not 1-2" tall.

A GOOD PSU (for the hard drive bays, hubs & pi) and PSU switch would be helpful, along with a reset switch (yep, I saw what you said about GPIO & again I disagree, GPIO additions is EXACTLY where a case is most able to exceed other offerings). Offer the IR receiver as a addon bundle. Offer an real-time-clock module as a addon bundle. Offer a GPIO breakout cable, or consider as optional addon since it is so simple..is just a cable.

I would pay more for a case with a standard sized, and socketed fan. The fan you provide does not have to be special, or move tons of air. In fact, it should be low-speed and inexpensive. People will substitute in their preferred fan if they care.

Case must have a good light-thingy to properly display the LED's out the front of the case!! This is one of the most important functions of the case IMHO. My case is clear so I can see this. BECAUSE OF THIS: pi probably needs to be positioned with composite video and analog audio nearest the front of the case for a light-bar-plastic-thing to work properly. I would also be willing to pay more to have full status lights just like pi motherboard has (can this be jacked into the gpio?) along with the hdd's all on the front of the case. Since the thing would start looking like a disco-tech soon, a on/off switch for the lights would be most helpful. Nothing is more annoying than bright lights in your eyes sometimes, too.

extra's:
I would offer pre-loaded hard drives and sd cards preloaded to use the hard drive properly.. Newb's will want this stuff. Keep [in stock] working and simple solution for each peripheral need which is pi compatible like: a wifi dongle, wireless mouse by logitech (m185 or something simple), etc. This way the non-geek can pickup a bundle for their geek, and geek has XYZ bits to boot up. Most of these items are like $5-7 each at most, so if you buy them in bulk it should be possible to resell the bits at 7-$10 ea. Ramcard, mouse, wifi, bluetooth, activity light cluster, etc.. $5 x 7 = 35 in extra's right here (about 10 profit too). Add IR, for another $5. Add remote control for another $5. Add USB Game controller for another $15.. card reader out the front @ +$10, plastic safety cover for front power button & reset + $10, extension audio cable male right angle female 6" & right angle male rca video female 6" +$5, 10" male-to-female hdmi $5, sd-slot adapter to a [normal] spring-loaded SD socket which can be flush mounted.. $10 Etc.

Just some idear's.. 8)

Oh and also, if it has the bits you talk about, even though I dont like the design, I'd still prolly buy yours as it is better than any other option.. Please stack it above the ports though..
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