Intro: Lego Lunchbox Computer
Have you ever wanted to build a Raspberry Pi computer in a lunchbox using Legos or other compatible interlocking bricks? First you need to get a hold of a lunchbox.
You will need:
Lunchbox 8x7x4 or larger if possible
sharp Xacto knife
10"x5" Lego Base plates x4
Pair Lego rotation plates
7" tft LCD monitor (touchscreen preferred other wise you need a mouse)
I Pad Mini Bluetooth keyboard
Raspberry Pi 2 CPU
Micro SD card
12,000 mAh USB battery
6" HDMI cable
Wireless Mouse & dongle
Step 1: Prepare the Lunchbox and Program the SD Card
Cut and glue the LEGO base plates using the Liquid Nails to the inside of the lunchbox. Do not use lighter glues because they have water and that will rust the inside of the lunchbox.
Use the Xacto knife to cut the base plates to the appropriate sizes, this means cutting them all the way down to strips and single rivets if you have to because the lunchbox has curved edges you will need to compensate for this. Depending on how snug the keyboard fits you may not want to run the base plate all the way to the edge. You will need to figure this part out on your own.
I did not line the lid where the keyboard would go because it would take up too much space. Instead use Velcro squares to keep the keyboard in place.
Be sure to program the SD card on a larger computer before you put it into the lunchbox because once its in there it can be a real pain to get it back out for maintenance. So be sure you put your version of Raspbian or if you are using an emulator be sure to get your SD card ready. Also be sure to plug it into the monitor and make sure that your program is calibrated to the TFT LCD screen before you add it to the lunchbox. You do not want to fiddle with this once you actually have everything crammed into the lunchbox. Program the Bluetooth Dongle. Also do not forget to program the keyboard either. It will need to be calibrated to the Bluetooth Dongle. Also charge the battery and the keyboard.
Step 2: Build the Skelton
Now that the inside is lined with Lego plates you can attach bricks from five different direction meaning you can create separate parts of the skeleton going in different directions. This means you need to design the skeleton to be turned any direction without the battery, monitor, CPU, or keyboard shifting in the process. It should hold everything firmly in its place.
The monitor will need to be able to move so that you have access to the CPU, battery, and cables so decide how you will want it to swing. (I have it swing down.) Add the Lego rotation plates in the appropriate spot to swing the monitor the way you want it to.
Build a shell for the monitor so that it can rotate when you want it but stay in place when you set it for the display. I just added 2 bricks to keep it from falling forward; I remove them to pull the monitor forward and replace them to keep it in place.
Step 3: Make It Fit!
Once you have built the shell for the monitor attach the battery and the CPU to the back of the lunchbox. They will need to be arranged and rearranged a few time to accommodate the HDMI cable and power cords.
This is where the most difficult situation comes in to play. Getting the cables and cords to fit inside the lunchbox so the bigger the lunchbox the better. HDMI cables are very thick and not pleasant to splice; making them very inflexible and consume a lot of physical space. You may need to rearrange the innards a few times before you can accommodate the cords and cables. I was under the impression they are getting thinner but when I find the right ones I will replace the ones I have.
Step 4: All Done
You may chose to lock all of your bricks in place with liquid nails but it is not necessary; even so it still very delicate. so keep it out of the reach of children.
Now you can open your lunchbox and have as much Raspberry Pi as you want... or until the battery runs out. I want to give a shout out to D10D3 who originated the lunchbox computer concept that I only customized.