Introduction: Laser Cut Raspberry Pi LCD Case
I wanted a decent size portable display for my Raspberry Pi's that I could easily pack up and take to work, friend's houses, gatherings, and TechShop. I bought an inexpensive 10.1" LCD display from eBay and using a laser cutter, 1/8" birch plywood, 1/16" clear acrylic, and some hardware, I made a case to protect the LCD display and the electronics that come with it. When the LCD display is placed on stand for tablets and e-readers, it makes a perfect display for Raspberry Pi hacking on the go!
I made this at TechShop.
Step 1: Parts
The following parts are required to construct the Raspberry Pi LCD Display Case:
LCD display panel electronics:
- 10.1" IPS LCD Display Module and HDMI+VGA+2AV Driver Board for Raspberry Pi (I purchased mine on eBay from the seller named 1984yht888) (photo 1)
- Tontec 12 volt 2 amp power supply adapter or equivalent (Amazon part B00LFBPL7K) (photo 2)
- HDMI cable for connecting the display to the Raspberry Pi (photo 3)
Hardware for holding the panels together (photo 4):
- Six sets of the following:
- 1 #4-40 3/4” Machine screw
- 7 #4 Nylon washers (Amazon part number B000FN1560)
- 1 #4-40 1” Aluminum hex female to female standoff (Jameco part number 139205)
- 1 #4-40 1/2” Machine screw
Hardware for attaching the button circuit board to the case (photo 5):
- 2 #6-32 3/8” Machine screws
- 2 #6-32 Nuts
Hardware for attaching the video controller to the bottom hardware panel (photo 6):
- 4 Black nylon #4-40 1/2" machine screws (Amazon part number B00F3304S2)
- 4 Nylon #4-40 nuts (Amazon part number B000FN0C4Q)
- 4 #4 Nylon washers (Amazon part number B000FN1560)
- 4 #4 Nylon round spacers (size 0.187", outer diameter 0.115", inner diameter 1/8") (Amazon part number B000FP7TY0)
- 1 18" x 24" sheet of 1/8" (3mm) birch plywood (not pictured)
- 1 9" x 12" sheet of 1/16" acrylic (not pictured)
- 4 Rubber feet (photo 7)
- AmazonBasics Portable fold up travel stand for tablets and e-readers (photos 8-10) (Amazon part number B0006ZT4VA0)
Tools (not pictured):
- Small Phillips head screwdriver
- 120 Grit sand paper for removing burn marks from the laser cut wood pieces.
- Novus 1 Plastic Clean and Shine or similar (TAP Plastics part number 09550) for cleaning the acrylic panel.
- Non-abrasive lint free wipes (TAP Plastics part number 64603) for cleaning the acrylic panel.
Step 2: Cut the Case Parts
The first task is to cut the wood panels out of a sheet of 1/8" (3mm) birch plywood. A 45 watt Epilog Helix laser cutter at TechShop was used to cut out and engrave the parts. All of the case parts can be cut out from one 24" x 18" sheet of the plywood.
The design for the wood panels is shown in the first diagram. The black lines will be cut by the laser cutter; the green text will be engraved; red lines will not be cut - they show alignment information used as the panels were designed. I used the color mapping capability of the Laser cutter to specify the settings for cutting and engraving. The settings used are shown in the right hand side of the "Laser Settings for Wood Panels" screenshot.
The wood parts are:
- Front panel (photos 1 and 2).
- Middle panel used to hold the LCD display (photo 3). The LCD display fits exactly into the opening. The LCD displays probably vary slightly in size so you should measure your LCD display to make sure it will fit into this cutout and adjust the cutout if necessary.
- Bottom panel that supports and locks the LCD display in place (photo 4). The circuit board with the control buttons for the display will be attached to this panel.
- Bottom hardware panel (photo 5). The video controller for the display is mounted on this panel.
Burn marks left by the laser can be removed with a gentle sanding using 120 grit sandpaper.
The next task is to cut the top acrylic panel (photo 6). This panel is used to protect the LCD display. The design for this panel is shown in the second diagram. Color mapping was used for the cutting: the black lines were cut and the red lines were set to not cut nor engrave as shown in the "Laser Settings for Acrylic Panel" screenshot. Use an acrylic cleaner like Novus 1 Plastic Clean and Shine and non-abrasive wipes to clean the panel.
The laser cutting design files are in the ZIP file attached to this step. The ZIP file contains CorelDraw (.cdr) and Encapsulated PostScript (.eps) files for the design and the color mapping setting files (.dat) for cutting the wood and acrylic parts. See page 113 of https://www.epiloglaser.com/downloads/pdf/mini_he... for details on how to use color mapping.
Step 3: Assemble the Case
The case will be assembled in layers as shown in the cross section diagram.
- Start by placing the acrylic panel face down on a soft cloth or soft paper towel towel (photo 1). When handling the acrylic be very careful not to put fingerprints on the side of the panel that will be inside the case.
- Put a nylon washer on each machine screw and insert the six #4-40 machine screws from the bottom. Add a nylon washer on each of screws (photo 2).
- Place the top panel engraving side down onto the screws and put nylon washers on each of the screws (photo 3).
- Place the middle panel onto the screws and put nylon washers on each of the screws (photo 4).
- Clean the LCD screen and then place it face down into the cutout on the middle panel with the LCD cable connector on the right side (photo 5). The LCD screen should fit perfectly - don't force it. If it doesn't fit but is close to fitting, sand the opening to make it bigger. If the fit is way off, then you may need to cut a new panel with a larger opening.
- Using the two #6-32 machine screws and nuts, attach the circuit board with the buttons to panel and then place the bottom panel on the screws, add nylon washers to each of the screws, and plug the cable from the video circuit board into the display (photo 6).
- Screw the standoffs onto each of the screws (photo 7). The standoffs should be screwed on tight enough to hold the panels in place.
- Using the nylon machine screws, the round nylon spacers, and nylon nuts, mount the video circuit board on the bottom hardware panel using the "Video Circuit Board Mounting" diagram and photo 8 as guides.
- Place the bottom hardware panel on the aluminum standoffs. Put a nylon washer on each of the six #4-40 1/2" machine screws and attach the bottom hardware panel to the standoffs as shown in photo 9. Adhere the rubber sheet to the bottom.
- Tighten all the screws. Don't over tighten them - they should be "monkey tight" not "gorilla tight".
The case is now fully assembled. Various views of the case share shown in photos 10-15.
Step 4: Voila! the Raspberry Pi LCD Is Complete!
Plug the HDMI cable into the display controller and the power adapter into the power socket on the controller (photo 1). Plug the other end of the HDMI cable into the Raspberry Pi and power everything up. As the Raspberry Pi powers up, you should see text on the screen as you would on a desktop display. Examples of the the Raspian GUI is shown in photo 2 and the console in photo 3.
Unfold the AmazonBasics portable fold-up travel stand for tables and e-readers (photo 4) and place the back hardware panel onto the stand (photos 5-8).
Hook up the display to the Raspberry Pi and power and Voila! (photo 9) the Raspberry Pi LCD Display case is now complete!
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