Picture of Modelling a Raspberry Pi case - from Cardboard

Hi – I’m Jude and I'm a Design Engineer. I've worked on a range of projects for a variety of companies in different countries - and in many cases we use pretty humble materials to make quick models to communicate and test ideas.

Often in the early stages of a creative process, CAD and Rapid Prototyping can take too long (and might be too expensive for mistakes!) so I wanted to share some techniques that although look simple have a lot of subtle tricks.... As with watching a fancy Chef on TV, they often skim over the details that took them years to master - which may explain why when you try it it's never that easy!

The cardboard Raspberry Pi Case example is not meant to be exhaustive or a final model – indeed, it assumes that you should iron-out the main functionality and aesthetics and then progress with confidence into more serious materials/CAD. The number of iterations is up to you - some might be straightforward, while others can take numerous revisions discussing details with users, manufacturers, etc. though conversations are more productive if you can feel and modify how a product works in front of you.

Just as ‘a sketch says a thousand words’, one could extend that to say a physical model says a thousand sketches… but as with both skills, they should be used appropriately and of course they take some time to perfect. I’m still learning a lot, but hope you in enjoy a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way… (An Instructables Guide of all techniques and more is also being made too!)

Note: A video tutorial of of this was initially done here, but I'm keen to see what you think of it in the Instructables format. Please check out both and let me know what you think!


1. Ventilation
Your Raspberry Pi won't get that hot - but it will certainly not help it to run a movie - while fully air sealed. This was also an opportunity to make a design out of this feature, using an unlikely material - cocktail sticks.

2. Light Pipes
This is a very common technique used in design - where for economy you want the lights (LEDs) mounted on a circuit board, but the board is positioned away from the case or user-interface. By taking a piece of clear plastic, one can 'bounce' the light along it (because of refraction) over some distance. Here I will show you how to do this for yourself.

Experiement as you go - you might see things I've missed and want to change them!
love this, great ible Jude :)
salomon19962 years ago
Very nice! :D
sphere3602 years ago
Cool Eco-Case!
Apolo82 years ago
Really nice!!!

Hey Jude (author)  Apolo82 years ago
Thanks Apolo8... as mentioned - my sketching is rubbish, but the Workshop just got a plug on ID Sketching, which is pretty darn exciting!