trip·tych [trip-tik]


  1. Fine Arts. a set of three panels or compartments side by side, bearing pictures, carvings, or the like.
  2. a hinged, three-leaved tablet, written on, in ancient times, with a stylus.

In this project, we'll be building the Triptych, a portable Arduino workshop. It's a self-contained, portable (Trip, get it?) solder station, Arduino workstation (through the Arduino IDE running on the Raspberry Pi), and configurable parts storage. As the name suggests, it's made in three parts, with the left and right sides folding open to reveal the workstation inside. Check out this short video.

There are a few different aspects this Instructable will cover.

  1. Setting up the Raspberry Pi (aka RPi) as a self-contained computer. This includes an HDMI monitor, Bluetooth keyboard, wireless mouse, speakers, and a WiFi dongle.
  2. Setting up the Arduino IDE to run on the RPi. Specifically, how to install the provided ISO image to work with RPi. I've also included some detail about and links if you want to try installing the IDE yourself.
  3. Designing and building the case itself - I'll provide the DXF files, but also discuss what tool chain to use to design your own box.
  4. Mounting the RPi and all other required electronics.
  5. Designing and building the stackable shelves
  6. Stocking it with all the goodies required for a basic kit

In most cases, I've tried to provide a shortcut if you just want to build one, as well as some detail if you want to know more about how I built it.

Once again, I used the RedSail 80watt lasercutter from my local hackspace, VHS to cut the parts. If you want to build one quickly, I would recommend buying exactly the same parts that I've used, as the RPi image is built for this setup. Of course, if you want to experiment, go for it!

Footnote: Why you should join a hackspace
It used to frustrate me to no end when I would see an awesome Instructable that required some specialized tool like a laser cutter, water jet cutter, 3D printer etc. Having neither the space nor the money for these fancy tools, I would try to to replicate patterns on a scroll saw, or by some other means. Given my lack of actually woodworking skill, that quickly became an exercise in frustration. That's when I started looking around for folks that might actually have these tools and be willing to share and teach. I was turned on to my local hackspace and never looked back. If you're the type of person that enjoys Instructables, I promise you'll find great resources in tools and brains at your local hackspace. If there's no hackspace near you, start one! Trust me, the cool tools will follow.

Step 1: Parts

The following parts were used in this build:


  • Raspberry Pi (aka RPi) - A or B should be fine ($45.50). Get the new version with the mounting holes if possible.
  • 8gb sd card ($14.97) - I'm using a class 6 card now, but I may upgrade it if speed seems to be the bottleneck
  • Low-profile MicroSD Pi Adapter ($7.00) - Not strictly required, but gives you a few more options about where you can mount the RPi.
  • 10.1" 1200x800 IPS Display from Adafruit ($154.95)
  • Stereo speaker set from Adafruit ($7.50 US) You could use regular portable speakers if you want, but make sure they fit.
  • 12v DC 1000mA power supply for the monitor ($8.95)
  • Wireless mouse ($14.99 on sale)
  • Bluetooth dongle ($15.99)
  • Folding Bluetooth keyboard ($44.99) - something small that will fit in the case.
  • WiFi dongle ($14.99) - make sure you get on that's certified to work with Raspberry Pi
  • Powered USB hub ($34.99) - anything with a small form factor will work
  • Power bar with USB charger ($18.99) - The USB charger must provide at least 1 amp. I love this power bar. The plugs are far enough away so it can take large adapters. It only has four outlets, so it's not overly long, and it has 1 amp USB power supplied too.
  • Laptop with SD Card read/write capabilities - this Instructable will use a Windows 8.1 laptop

Box structure

  • 1/4" baltic birch plywood - 5'x5' ($25.00) For the outer case and the monitor mount
  • 1/8" baltic birch plywood - 2 1/2' x 2 1/2' ($9.00) For the drawer and the monitor mount
  • Piano hinge - 1 1/16" X 36" ($11.50)I got the antique brass finish
  • Wood screws 3/8" #6 brass screws ($5.50 for 100)- Small but mighty. I did some tests with this as I was a bit concerned about strength, but because there are so many of them, they hold fine.
  • 2" Surface door bolt ($13.40) - to keep the box closed!
  • Roll of velcro ($8.96) - cable management
  • Stickback velcro ($4.47) - to secure the smaller electronics (speaker, USB hub) to the case
  • Rubber adhesive feet

Internal storage

  • 3mm acrylic sheet - ($11.20 each for 24" x 48" sheets) (depending on the types of boxes you want - the larger boxes use more acrylic, since there is more waste). I found all my acrylic at a craft store that sells off cuts. It cost me about $20.
  • Methylene Chloride aka Acrylic Adhesive - ($9.99) 4 oz
  • Applicator ($6.25) - this is really required for welding acrylic
  • 1mm Elastic Chord x 4 metres ($1.99)

Carrying harness

  • 4 metres of 1" webbing ($1.00 / metre)
  • Quick Slip® Keepers ($0.50) x 4
  • Cam Buckles ($0.90) x 2
  • 4 Way Crossover ($0.76) x 4
  • Slides ($0.25) x 4

    Parts storage
    • Glitter mixing tubes - ($8.99 for 2 packs of 6) I got mine at Michaels, but I can't find them on their website.


      For the outer box, monitor mount, drawer, and internal storage, I cut the parts using an 80 watt laser cutter. If you have a bit of experience with woodworking, you can probably modify this design and replicate it by hand.

      • Screwdrivers
      • Palm sander with 220 grit sandpaper
      • Hacksaw to cut the piano hinge
      • Metal file to smooth out the hinge edges
      • Wood glue
      • Drill to mount the electronics
      • Dremel for various work on the project (trimming bolts, drilling holes, etc).
    • <p>I'm jelly right now Lol That's the hottest benchwork box I've ever seen !</p>
      <p>This is a REALLY cool project but how much did this cost? I'm thinking about building one, but I'm a little strapped for cash. Thank you!</p>
      <p>Very cool Instructable. I think i will try to make this. And thank you for the Raspi-Image. </p><p>But You don't need to use Win-Rar for Compression. 7-Zip can handle this :-)</p><p><a href="http://www.7-zip.de/" rel="nofollow">http://www.7-zip.de/</a></p><p>7-Zip is under <strong>GNU LGPL</strong></p>
      <p>That is one sexy portable workbench.<br><br>I think that function is everything, but if you can squeeze a little art into - even better. I liked the surprise when you open the box that there are artistic cutouts in the sides.<br><br>My unbidden suggestions are:<br><br>1) The box where the monitor lives - maybe you should stain the interior a dark color, or line it with a dark color of felt. The powerstrip and cables would not be visually prominent, and the lit screen would. And, <br><br>2) Behind the drawers, you could hodgepodge in some useful cheat sheets, or giant robot blueprints, or any kind of art that turns you on. I would totally laminate something cool in there.<br><br>Anyway - I'm not an Arduino guy, but your portable workshop makes me want to be. It's just that cool.</p>
      <p>Beautiful job! I think I need one of these to keep all my Arduino and RasPi work neat. I now use an inexpensive 13&quot; LED TV and just hot glued the power strip and powered USB hub to it and attached the wireless keyboard and mouse using velcro, but your build provides more protection and more organization for all your tools and supplies. Maybe I'll beef up the box top and add a handle instead of the strapping. Oh and maybe we could use a retractable 5 foot extension cord to power it.</p><p>Best Wishes</p>
      <p>Thanks! Those are all good suggestions. A handle would be a good addition if the wood was a bit thicker. I think a set of wheels and a long handle (like airline luggage) would be a nice touch. The full box weighs about 28lbs. Great idea with the retractable cord too. I'm not sure there's room for it in mine, but it could easily be done if it was planned out from the beginning. </p>

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