Introduction: Cigarbox Raspberry Pi

About: Just an engineer having fun.

A few months ago, I saw a project where someone had put a Raspberry Pi in a cigar box. At the time, I thought it was a pretty cool idea to put that kind of high tech inside of a well crafted enclosure. A short time after that, I stopped by a garage sale and there on one of tables was a beautiful cigar box. The seller accepted my offer of $10 and I was off.

Returning home home, I located a 10.1" LCD that I had leftover from a previous project and did a fit check inside the lid - it was just a bit small but almost spot on. After thinking about it for awhile, I decided that just having a Raspberry Pi in the box might be a bit dull and that there should be something to play with. So I added an Astro Pi to the assembly.

Step 1: Components - the Box

On closer examination the box has some adhesive and water marks on the inside. While that wouldn't be an issue for the lid, we decided to cover the bottom with a layer of green felt.

Step 2: Components - Display Assembly

This is the 10.1" LCD Assembly that was left over from another project. This was a semi custom assembly but a very similar equivalent can be picked up from Adafruit

Step 3: Components - the Innards

The components that make up the rest of our cigar box Pi are shown in the image above. I wanted to keep things tidy inside so rather than using two power supplies (12V for the display and 5V for the RPi), I picked up a small 12 to 5 regulator from Amazon. Note that this is an adjustable device so do not connect it to anything until you have set the output voltage to 5.1VDC.

Step 4: Components - Bezel

As mentioned above, the LCD was just a bit small for the lid of the cigar box. So, to clean it up, we designed a rounded frame, or bezel using the tools at TinkerCAD. We then used a 3D printer to fabricate it. Since the bed on our printer is only 200x200mm, we had to print it in two sections.

Step 5: Bill of Materials

  1. 10.1" LCD Assembly - ours was left over from another project but the 1287 from Adafruit should work well
  2. HDMI Cable - Monoprice 13575
  3. Barrel Connector - Digikey 839-1271-ND
  4. 12V Power Cable - Digikey 10-01935
  5. USB microB cable
  6. Raspberry Pi 3
  7. Astro Pi
  8. 12-5V Converter - Efly LM2596 from Amazon
  9. Cigar Box - neighborhood garage sale
  10. 1/4" Spacers - Digikey RPC1603-ND
  11. #4 x 1/2" screws - Home Depot 102 173
  12. Acrylic Plate - Pi-Plates CASEplate
  13. Bezel - 3D Printed
  14. Green Felt - Hobby Lobby HL202210
  15. 12VDC Power Supply - Jameco 1962345
  16. 1/4" 3M VHB double sided tape

Step 6: Block Diagram

The Cigarbox Pi has the following components:

  1. The Raspberry Pi 3 with the Astro Pi
  2. The 10.1" LCD with video controller and OSD board
  3. The 12VDC power brick
  4. The 12 to 5V converter
  5. Assorted cables to attach all of the above

The block diagram above shows how all of the components connect to each other.

Step 7: Assembly - Wiring

  1. Solder a 1' length of 16-18 gauge two conductor wire (we used speaker cable) to the two terminals of the barrel connector.
  2. Drill a 3/8" hole in the back of the box and then file the opening a bit until the barrel connector can slide in.
  3. Use epoxy to glue the connector into the hole with the end flush with the back of the cigar box. Leave this to cure overnight.
  4. Solder the wire from the center of the barrel connector to the + input on the 12 to 5 converter.
  5. Solder the wire on the edge of the connector to the - input of the 12 to 5 converter.
  6. Cut the 12V power cable to a length of about 6"
  7. Solder the red wire of the 12V power cable to the + input of the 12 to 5 converter
  8. Solder the black wire of the 12V power cable to the - input of the 12 to 5 converter

  9. Cut the USB micro B cable to a length of about 8"

  10. Strip off the outer insulating jacket cut off the white and green wires

  11. Solder the red wire from the USB cable to the + output of the 12 to 5 converter

  12. Solder the black wire of the 12V power cable to the - input of the 12 to 5 converter

Step 8: Fit Check and Drilling

  1. Connect the wires and do a rough fit check
  2. Apply power and verify that everything works
  3. Mark the hole locations for each board when satisfied
  4. Tap each hole with a 1/16" drill bit

Step 9: Prepare and Apply the Felt

  1. Trim the green felt to fit into the bottom of the box

  2. Place the felt into the box and the use a ball point pen to mark the hole locations

  3. Use a punch to place a hole in the felt over each of the mounting hole locations

  4. Mask off all of the inside edge of the box and cover the top with newspaper.
  5. In a well ventilated area, spray a uniform layer of contact cement on the bottom of the box
  6. Carefully align the felt and press into place.

Step 10: Final Assembly

The above is what the bottom of our box looked like before we mounted the boards

To mount your boards:

  1. Put a spacer over each of the predrilled holes
  2. Lay the boards on top of the spacers, drop in the screws, and then hand tighten.

The following describes how we mounted our display assembly. Note that yours may be different.

  1. Pull the release liner from the pressure sensitive adhesive on the front of the LCD and press on the 3D printed bezels
  2. Use a file to make a small notch for the cable on the bottom of the bezel
  3. Apply about six small strips of the 3M VHB to the back of the bezel
  4. Pull the release liner from each strip and press fit the bezel with the attached LCD into the lid of the cigar box.

Step 11: Completion

Connect a wireless keyboard / mouse combo, plug your 12V brick into the barrel connector, let the RPi boot, and admire your creation. For more interesting Rasberry Pi projects, visit