Introduction: The Movie Box
I have a Rasbperry Pi running Kodi that I like to take on family vacations. My in-laws call it the "Movie Box". However, I wanted something more compact and clean than the box I carried everything in.
I'd seen some people putting Pi's in VHS tapes, but never saw a how-to, so I thought I'd make one.
This tutorial requires some simple to moderate soldering skills, including desoldering a connector that was very difficult. You will also have to remove the GPIO pins from your Pi, and of course, removing parts, soldering, and other mods will void warranties on all components used.
I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel, so there are many links to various sites and videos for general information like removing components from their cases. All content on other sites belongs to its original creator..
Step 1: Parts List
Raspberry Pi v2 B+ with Openelec installed
Plugable USB 2.0 4-Port High Speed Charging Hub (Amazon)
WD MyPassport Ultra 1TB USB 3 Drive (Amazon)
Windows MCE Remote with IR (Amazon)
Various USB cables
VHS Cassette Tape
Clear CD (2 minute Youtube video on how to make one)
Step 2: Tools Needed
Desoldering pump (optional)
Snips to cut the VHS plastic
Hot Glue Gun
Step 3: Preparing Parts
We need all the space we can get. Start by removing the USB hub from its plastic casing. Also remove the Hard drive from its chassis. (How to remove the hard drive)
Open up the VHS cassette by removing the 5 phillips head screws at the bottom of the case. remove the tape reels, and save the tape cover door and springs. The attached image comes from this site if you need additional help in opening the tape.
Step 4: Prepping the Case and Hub
Remove all internal walls from the case, with the exception of 4 screw posts listed in the picture, and the corner that houses the tape cover door release. Glue the clear CD to the case using hot glue to cover the holes.
Desolder the Power connector from the USB hub so that we can relocate it to make more room. This can be very difficult if you haven't had experience desoldering.
Step 5: Modify Your Pi
There wasn't enough room in the case for all the USB connectors and GPIO pins, so I removed the GPIO, and soldered usb connections to the back of the Pi.
You can use the GPIO slots to run power to the Pi, but you lose the voltage protection offered by the USB power input, so I soldered the USB power to the points on the Pi to keep the fuse in play.
Step 6: Fit Wires and IR Receiver
Cut a notch in the front of the case for the IR receiver, and check that everything fits.
I didn't want to cut the USB cable to the hard drive, so it takes up the most room. You may need to work the wires to fit everything in.
Step 7: Cut Back Panel
Cut notches in the plastic to allow for the HDMI, AV, Power, and Extra USB port(optional - added in the next step)
Some of this cutting may need to happen on the TOP of the case. Leave as much of the bottom as you can to avoid extra gaps.
Step 8: Secure Everything
I taped the IR receiver in place (upside down to match the notch). To save space, I also soldered its USB connector directly to the pi, next to where the output to the hub was.
Next I decided I wanted an accessible USB port, so I clipped a USB extension cord and soldered it to the second USB port. Be sure it is not the same port the hard drive is plugged into!
I secured all my solder points with a glob of hot glue. This is non-conductive and holds the fragile wires pretty well.
Step 9: Test Everything
This should be a step you take often, but before putting everything in the case, make sure you haven't damaged anything or wired incorrectly. Power up your pi and make sure that everything works.
Step 10: Re-assemble the VHS Case
Carefully put the top back on your VHS cassette. make sure there are no internal walls on either top or bottom inside of the VHS that will keep you from fitting on all the way. The tape cover door can be tricky to get back in, too. Be patient and you can make it work.
I found it easiest to plug in an HDMI cable to the Pi at this point to give me some leverage to wriggle it to the right spot to close the case.
There is a slight hump in the middle of my case, making it hard to fit inside a VHS tape holder. This may not happen if you skip the CD/Acrylic bottom pieces.
I may fill in the remaining gaps with Suguru to get a clean look, but for now, the closed door covers these, so I may not do that.
Step 11: Enjoy Your Portable Media Center!
Plug in your HDMI and power and you are good to go!
In a future model, I want to have a usb cord that allows me to feed directly from my PC to the hard drive to change the contents of the drive. Until then, I'll use the USB Wifi dongle installed instead.
4 years ago
I like this! I'm going to give this a go sometime :D
6 years ago
Nice job! I'm thinking of doing one of these but I want to try using a pi zero with a hub hat and instead of a 1tb hd, I'll just use 2 128gb USB thumb drives. Won't hold as many movies but it will be easier to stuff into a cassette.
Reply 6 years ago
A Pi Zero and no HDD would definitely fit better. I mostly wanted to use the parts I was already using. I may remove the USB ports and Ethernet connector for more room if I mod this further.
6 years ago
very clever !
6 years ago
That's a great looking enclosure. Thanks for sharing and welcome to the community!