Apologies for the long delay on any type of update, we've been beavering away trying to get some internal parts sorted. Switch cable and orientation of boards and cables being key. We've also been finalising design of the VESA mount, stackable option, working out what goes where, and generally doing all the annoying tedious boring stuff. BUT we've had a few probing emails so it's about time for an update
I'll go through where we are, then I'll answer some questions, then I'll give you some images of what we've got!
So, development has been stepped up now that we've managed to source everything!
Electronic Destruction Testing
Some testing to destruction on the electronic side of things is obviously important, we don't want this unit damaging anything. As we're powering via hub to Pi, the hub itself will act as a bit of a barrier to the outside world. But we obviously need to test to see how much of a barrier it is - basically we've devised a number of devious test to see how the unit reacts to a few scenarios:
We're going to see what happens if your power charger decides to dump a large current on the hub. Rare, but could happen with a faulty charger. Obviously the hub has an OC cut out, currently set at 2.5A, so we want to make sure this shorts out before anything reaches the Pi.
We're going to fill the hub with as many heavy appliances as possible, leave it running for a few days, and see how the unit copes, whether it runs warm etc.
We're basically going to run the set up as hard as possible, pump some ridiculous currents through it, place some insane draws on it, and generally cause from serious havoc and see what pop's first
Obviously, we want to see if everything fits, works, and then we'll try to get minimise the design as much as possible. The plan is to get all this done before the end of the month, we'll then know exactly where we are size-wise and electronic stability-wise. If everything's OK, which I see no reason for it not to be (as we've tested these parts to bugger throughout), we should be entering the final stage of design in the first half of May.
ANSWERING Q's N' COMMENTS
@cyrano @jsncrdnl @dan_in_sd R.E. RFI/EMI
It's something we've toyed with. The unit will need to be CE certified as a full set up (e.g. including Pi) and we're hoping that simply having the unit fully enclosed will reduce any outside interference problems. I've been speaking to the moulders and they have some cool materials (like the metallised plastic that dan_in_sd mentioned) which are good at stopping interference. However, most likely we'll have someone make up mesh plates which can be internally fitted for high interference scenarios.
@srpsco R.E. Power switch
We've moved the switch on to the side of the case as requested, this actually makes a lot more sense, as the parts can now all be fitted within the bottom plate easing assembly
We were tempted to put an LED in the power switch, but didn't in the end due to the extra current draw having a possible (minor) effect on stability.
@GordonTGopher R.E. Modularity
I see where you're going with this. You want a Pizza Oven from your Pi!
But seriously, this has been taken on board, and we'll be designing the whole thing so it's pretty expansion friendly. Give's us scope to design additional add-on slots for those wanting to expand the unit.
@midi002 R.E. UNC
The problem with having power distribution within the case, is that we would have large voltages within the unit. This is something we want to avoid! It's preferable to leave the big stuff at the plug socket, and just take what we need.
@tekjunkie R.E. Media/Hobby different cases
The reason we're trying to incorporate both is simply that development and moulding is incredibly expensive. We would lurrve to make a different design for every conceivable application, however time and cost constraints make this impossible - hence the reason we're trying to hit as many applications as possible with this one
@bonelifer @pjtewkesbury R.E. USB Sound Board/Amplifier
I think we're too far along to include this in the design now. But I'll see if we can source a decent kit for an add-on.
@ToxicTigger R.E. USB ports
Plan was to leave enough room internally for three of the nano type dongles (and maybe slightly bigger than that), and leave the four external ports free for the larger stuff. Due to the arrangement of the selected hub board, we'll be having all the cables running out of one side, and the external USB ports running down the adjacent corner. Noted one the low cost HDD's - shouldn't be an issue to supply a bundle kit.
@jimaxyn @jsncrdnl @MrWareWolf R.E Pizza vs Pisa
We did try a stacking option (e.g. going up not out) where the Pi actually sat on top of the hub. However first of all, it was pretty difficult to physically mount the boards, we were then worried about heat dissipation (due to heat rising), we then realised that it would diminish some performance aspects in terms of being able to have internal USB ports, it then reduced the VESA options and the HDD caddy options that were available. It also complicated the actual moulding process - due to 'undercuts', which would increase the actual cost of the moulding tools themselves. So it was scrapped and we went for Pizza instead. Plus Pizza is awesome.
@MrWareWolf R.E. GPIO
Noted, we'll leave a slot for a ribbon cable, it's an easy addition.
@dan_in_sd @MrWareWolf R.E. Fan
Fan would not be included but we could probably put together a fan expansion set for those who want extra cooling. We might even be able to produce a modular window which has special cut outs for a fan - cool huh!
@ColinD @ magno23 @alexandali R.E. Price
Haha, thanks for the suggestion
We'll need to see what the bill comes out at and then make the price fair to everyone compared to taking the parts individually as a spider web solution. I would think a £34.99 PP would be the maximum.
@Gary Littlemore R.E. Patch cables
We're having them made bespoke by one of our suppliers in China. We'll probably put these cables on sale other than just with the cases, so you'll be able to get them direct from us. Right Angle LAN Whhhaaaaaat?! These were impossible to find.
I think that's most of them! Sorry if I missed you, but hopefully I've covered the Q's and satisfied some suggestions there. Keep em' coming!
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?!
We've been adding some details around how everything will be fixed within the case, and working through the VESA/HDD caddy - trying to work through orientation, whether it should be 'open' or 'closed', and just generally ironing out issues.
Anyway enough talk - Time for some pictures me thinks.
Case Renders w/ Stacking Feet
SOME EXTRA STUFF
Gaming - we're planning on putting together a 'gaming' retro console kit for the case e.g. where the four external USB ports act as ports for game controller's (these would be included), and the whole thing geared and set up with emulators. Suggestions?
XBMC - Same plan, but we'd be putting a kit together geared towards using the units as a media solution. This would be kitted with a HDD Caddy and decent sized HD, a mini keyboard/remote, or possibly FLIRC. Again, any suggestions?
Fixed Purpose - We want to make the unit safe for use in Schools and places where it might be left unattended. So, we'll be integrating a system (fixing screws) that means you'll be able to fix the unit together 'permanently' (e.g. it'll take a minute or two to un-assemble) or at least it'll be obvious if someone's trying to nick it off the back of a TV or desk
These fixed mounting options would of course be optional, so if you don't want it fixed, it'll simply have a 5 second clip solution too.
Developer - We want to make this case friendly for developers too, so we'll feature a 'raised' window which means that expansion boards can easily be added and fitted within the case. There's been a call for an internal breadboard slot, so I'll get the boys to have a think about this - no promises.
As always, keep your ideas, comments and suggestions coming!