Once we had a basic design for Noodle's enclosure, we wanted to create an object that approximated the enclosure without using 1kg of expensive 3d printing material. To do this, we imported the enclosure into 123d Make, which sliced the model into chunks that could be laser cut and reassembled into a single 3d object. Once we had this cardboard prototype (held together with masking tape) we could just drop all the components inside and get a feeling for where they could fit best.
Four main things guided the placement of the components:
1. Overall weight distribution. The battery rests near the bottom of Noodle to help keep Noodle upright.
2. Support material: the 3d printer uses a significant amount of support material, and you have to remove the material after printing before the print is usable. Instead of designing solid platforms for supporting the battery, for example, we used posts that the support material could be removed around. This also reduced the weight of enclosure. Similarly, the battery holder has holes in it to allow the support material to be removed in large chunks.
3. Cabling: some cables inside Noodle are shorter than others and we needed to make sure everything would run the right distance. The relative placement of the Raspberry Pi to the camera module is the best example of this.
4. A playful aesthetic: we tried to give Noodle speakers for ears and other a microphone and camera for eyes. We considered using the screen as a mouth but found it to be difficult to integrate visually.