Raspberry Pi, Battle of the Enclosures

Overturned Basket with Raspberries and White Currants, 1882
By Eloise Harriet Stannard (1829 – 1915)

Eventually, you will start looking for an enclosure for the Raspberry Pi. Even during the early hardware development phase of your project, you can put the Raspberry Pi into an enclosure, given that the mainboard doesn’t have any on/off switches and that a Cobbler Breakout Kit provides easy access to the Raspi’s GPIO Pins (on a neighboring solderless breadboard).
Unlike for many other popular embedded development platforms, there are already many enclosures for the Raspberry Pi to chose from; many of which are listed over here at elinux.org.

We have bought two Adafruit Pi Boxes and two Raspberry Pi Cases from Barch Designs.

Adafruit Pi Box

  • Crystal-clear Acrylic (6 pieces)
  • Engraved Labels on all Connector Slots
  • Long Slot to connect a 26-pin IDC cable (e.g. Cobbler Breakout Kit)
  • No additional vents or cooling required
  • $14.95

Evaluation

The case has no screws or standoffs and the little feet have to be squeezed to make the pieces snap together.
Very elegant design, however, (probably accelerated by the Raspberry Pi’s heat emission) after a few days of use, the acrylic became extremely brittle and started to show cracks around the cutouts. One of the feet broke off, while we were trying to open the enclosure, rendering the case useless (all feet are needed to snap the enclosure parts together again.)
Despite operating extremely carefully, the same happened to the second case only a few days later. Kudos to Adafruit though. Once we mentioned our experience with the enclosure, a refund was issued.

While this could have been a temporary issue related to the acrylic used for our cases, we would not recommend the enclosure for longer use or if you needed to open and close the enclosure often or even rarely.

Raspberry Pi Case by Barch Designs

  • CNC Machined from Billet Aluminum
  • Customizable Engraving
  • Long Slot to connect a 26-pin IDC cable (e.g. Cobbler Breakout Kit)
  • Acts as a Heat Sink
  • LED Fiber Optics
  • $69.99 (incl. shipping)

Evaluation

This precisely enclosure is milled from Solid 6061-T6 Aircraft Grade Billet Aluminum in the USA. Fiber Optic cables that have been manufactured into the case and each cable is positioned directly above an LED.
The whole enclosure acts as an heat sink, even a small package of thermal paste is included.
While the price is about four times that of the Acrylic enclosure, if you need an enclosure that lasts you may want to consider this one. It is the Mercedes among the Pi cases, but money well spent.

Raspberry Pi / Case by Barch Designs / with EW-7811Un USB Wireless Adapter

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