Designing a gameboy enclosure for Raspberry Pi #3DPrinting #3DThursday

In this week’s Layer by Layer segment, I’m going to attempt to outline the main steps used to design the PiGRRL Raspberry Pi gameboy enclosure. This project was designed in Autodesk 123D and available to modify and edit the original solids.


Started off by inserting the components you need from our widgets library. In this build we’re using the Raspberry Pi, PiTFT, micro USB charger, PowerBoost500 and Slide Switch.


Get the base measurements for your object and lay down a primitive cube . Our enclosure will be sized just like the original Nintendo Gameboy. 90 mm (W) × 148 mm (H) × 32 mm (D).


To get an X-Ray view of our enclosure, we can set the material to “Clear Glass”. Setting objects to this material really helps modeling projects that have components inside enclosures.


Apply some bevels to the base object to give it a smoother feel when holding it.


The original gameboy design had the bottom right corner over ally beveled, giving it that iconic characteristic shape.


Beveling all the edges ensures a smooth hand held experience. In 123D, you can select multiple edges by clicking on them, (multiple objects too and no need for holding down shift!).


Using a polyline tool, we can sketch a line that will runs across the thickness.


Split the solid in half making it to objects by selecing the polyline sketch for the axis.


Ensure the polyline is in the center of the object by moving or shifting it to the middle using the object manipulator.


Separate the two pieces and move them away from each other.


Using the shell function, we can create a 2mm thick bottom enclosure.


The shell function provides an interactive manipulator and features a live preview.


Duplicate the shelled bottom and split the solid into a 2mm thick slice using the polyline sketch. We can use this solid to carve out the inner and outer lips that will make the two pieces a snap fit enclosure.


Create PDad and buttons using primitives and position them into place. Use can use the material editor to change the color of the objects.


Create new solids that will be used to ‘punch out’, subtract shapes to create holes for the components that stick. Here we’re using cylinders to make holes for the Audio port and S-Video port.


Next, make solids for the Ethernet port and the USB ports.


Also for the Micro USB Charger


We’ll need some for the SD Card slot and USB Power port.


The slide witch widget includes the part that we’ll subtract from the enclosure part.


To mount the two enclosure pieces together, I used a series of cylinders to make a part that would allow phillips screw to go inside a hollow cylinder and fasten to another cylinder. This type of design is very common in game controllers, gadget enclosures and the like.


The radius of the large cylinder that allows the screw to slide in is 7mm. The radius for the screw thread is 3mm. The bottom cylinder will merge to the bottom enclosure part while the top cylinder gets added to the top enclosure part.


With one set created, group them together. Duplicated them to make 4 sets and distribute them to the four corners.


Use the side view to ensure the two cylinders meet up in the middle where the two pieces connect.


The cylinders should not intersect with the rest of the components and solids.


Use the back view to ensure all the cylinders are not getting in the way of the components.


The PCBs from the SNES gamepad will be fun-tac’d to these hollow cylindrical platforms. The platforms elevate the PCB’s to the right height.

These clips will hold the cylindrical lithium ion battery in place.


These various parts will keep the plastic buttons in place.


These small walls will be printed as support material. It’s important to leave custom support material unmergerd, separated from your manifold object. That way the material can be broken away.

This model has room for upgrades like adding a speaker, vibrator-motor, more controls, etc. The original solids are available on Autodesk 123D Design and the STLs are up on Thingiverse. If you’d like to build your own, check out the complete guide on The Adafruit Learning System.

Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!

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