So, you finally got your Raspberry Pi? Congratulations. It might only cost $35, but if you’re like many of us, you likely waited a long time for your RaspPi to show up in the mail. The first thing you ought to do is protect your new RaspPi with an enclosure. Although, the Raspberry Pi is still fairly new, there no shortage of accessories, including enclosures.
Priced anywhere on average from $10 – $40 USD, RaspPi enclosures (case, container, box) come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. Most entry-level enclosures are made of clear acrylic or colorized plastic. They may require some basic assembly. Slightly better, mid-range enclosures are often made of the same materials, but are manufactured with a better fit and finish than the entry-level enclosures. Many mid-level enclosures come with screws to secure the case and your RaspPi. Others have special treatments, such as such as Raspberry Pi logo die-cut from acrylic. The highest-end enclosures include exotic materials such as wood or metals. These can run as much as $75 or more. This kind of defeats the purpose of the ‘low-cost’ computer for the masses, but I admit, the milled aluminum case is pretty cool.
In this post, I will review three entry-level RaspPi enclosures. These are often the first cases many of us buy, or receive as part of a RaspPi starter kit. One of the enclosures is acrylic, the other two are plastic; all three cost less than $20. The enclosures include:
- Pi Sandwich Enclosure by Bud Industries
- Pi Box by Adafruit Industries
- A1Clear Pi Container by HungryPi.com
Pi Sandwich Enclosure by Bud Industries
The lowest cost enclosure of the three is the Bud Industries’ Pi Sandwich Enclosure. This item sells for an unbelievably low $6.39 at Newark. I purchased it as part of a special bundle, offered to attendees of Rob Bishop’s Raspberry Pi workshop at the recent ARM Processor Symposium at RIT.
- Very inexpensive;
- Large, lots of space around RaspPi to connect cables and attachments;
- Cool mathematical Pi symbol on top of red, translucent enclosure.
- Does not secure RaspPi well with its small plastic grippers;
- Difficult to remove certain cables and attachments from RaspPi while in case;
Pi Box by Adafruit Industries
The Pi Box by Adafruit Industries, retails for $14.95. It’s also included as part of several RaspPi starter kits, including the Adafruit Started Pack, sold by Adafruit and Newark. I liked everything about this case, except one thing. The six pieces of acrylic that make up the enclosure have a very loose fit. Although it’s intentional, I feel it makes an otherwise handsome case, feel cheap. Aside from the ‘fit’, it’s a really nice, inexpensive, clear acrylic enclosure. I especially like the etched Adafruit logo and port names on the case.
- Small footprint;
- Good fit around ports, easy to plug and unplug cables;
- Clear acrylic design with etching;
- GPIO ribbon-cable opening on side vs. top;
- Loose fitting parts;
- Peeling off all the paper protecting the clear acrylic;
- Must disassemble into six separate pieces to remove RaspPi.
A1Clear Pi Container by HungryPi.com
The A1Clear Pi Container by HungryPi.com, retails for $19.95 from Amazon, where I purchased mine. It’s a two-piece, clear plastic enclosure. Similar to the Adafruit case, above, I loved everything about this case, except two small things, the ridiculously small opening for the power cable and the narrow top opening for the GPIO ribbon-cable. My stock power cable was not able to connect to the RaspPi at all before I ‘modded’ the case (see below). Otherwise it’s a really nice, relatively inexpensive, plastic enclosure. I prefer the tighter-fit and smaller profile of this case, along with the clear plastic, to show the RaspPi.
- Small footprint;
- Holds the RaspPi securely;
- Clear plastic design;
- Impossibly small opening for power cable (easy to fix);
- Narrow opening for GPIO ribbon-cable;
- Difficult to remove RaspPi from enclosure once secured.
Increasing the size of the power cable and GPIO ribbon-cable openings, was very simple. Being a hard-plastic case, a small cut with a hack saw, and quick couple of passes with a good file did the job. I enlarged the power opening considerably and only slightly expanded the width of the GPIO cable opening. I am much happier after taking less than five minutes to modify the case to suit my needs.
Although, I would like to upgrade to a better-quality Pibow layered case at some point, for now I’m happy with my modified A1Clear Pi Container. For the price, any of these three enclosures will protect your RaspPi. Some just look better than others, and some make it easier to interact with the RaspPi itself, than others. I suggest reading the reviews on Amazon and other manufacturer’s sites, as well as Blogs like this, before making a decision on an enclosure for your RaspPi.
All photos copyright Gary A. Stafford, 2012.