I’ve got a bit of a thing for the Raspberry Pi. At one point I had five or six. I’m a bit of a smart home enthusiast, and I have a Raspberry Pi running Kodi (formerly XBMC) for both TVs at home. They both look at a server for all their audio and video content. When my wife and I initially moved into our home, knowing that I was a bit of a technology geek, she told me that “you can do anything you want in the house, as long as I can’t see the wires”. Challenge accepted. A couple of false walls later, there were two TVs mounted on walls with no trace of the wires. Everything ran up to the loft and was terminated in a 19-inch rack. Including two Windows 7 PCs running XBMC. Last year I migrated away from the PCs to Raspberry Pi setups. Partly for space and partly for power consumption reduction.
The only thing with this was that I didn’t have anywhere to put them in my equipment rack in the loft, so they plugged into the PCs like you would use a Roku or something similar – you could see the wires and my wife was far from amused. I had an idea that I wanted to rack mount the both devices in the same box. I’d done my research and found that the existing rackmount cases for the Pi were not popular with the Pi community. They weren’t anything much to look at either, and I wanted something sexy. Nothing seemed to satisfy them or me, and I decided that the only way I was going to get what I was looking for was to make something myself. I say ‘myself’, but I really mean designed by a friend, Mark and I.
Mark and I have form for building custom Raspberry Pi cases. A couple of years ago, we built a custom case for a Pi which was to serve as a wifi radio in a local childrens’ hospital. The project was even featured on the Raspberry Pi blog. We used transparent acrylic because we wanted to be able to see the internals of the device. The Raspberry Pi is a very pretty looking device, after all!
One Sunday afternoon, Mark and I sat down at MAKLab, a personal digital fabrication space where he is the technical manager. I sat the very large sheet of acrylic to the side and we stared at his AutoCAD screen. Very slowly, but surely, the PiRak was taking shape. After a couple of hours, the CAD drawing was complete. We loaded it into the laser cutter and stuck the acrylic sheet in. I absolutely love laser cutters. If I had the cash and somewhere to store it, I’d have one.
We put all the pieces together and tightened up the nuts and bolts to hold it together. It was finished. The PiRak was born. We’d initially designed it to house three devices, but once I started mounting the two that I had, it was clear that two would probably be the limit. This was really only ever for my own personal use, but I think there might actually be an audience for something like this. We’ll work on the design a little more, tweak it a few more times and see what we come up with. We might even make a Kickstarter out of it. After laser cutting, Kickstarter is my next favourite thing.