Modifying the Pibow cases

The first thing I did was modifying the Pibow cases. The cases come packed in a nice paper bag and consist of the following parts:

Pibow casing parts
Pibow casing parts

The idea was to put two cases in top of each other with the bottom side upwards. This because both the USB as the network cables had 90 degree angles plugs that faced upwards when put in a Pi in normal postion…

As pillar bolts were hard to come by locally, I opted for a long threaded M4 rod and some aluminium pipe to stack the PI’s together. In order to be able to feed the rod through the PI’s and casings I had to carefully enlarge the holes from 2,5 mm to 4 mm.

Oops disaster!
Oops disaster!

At first I tried tapping thread in the Pibow casing parts. That worked out wel in the clear top and bottom parts but one of the red parts broke into pieces :(. I was able to glue it back together though and you cannot even see the seam 🙂

All four PI's ready
All four PI’s ready

After some drilling and fitting I ended up with 4 nice looking mini computers! If you look carefully you can see the enlarged holes in the casings.




The design

First thing of course was deciding on a design…: would I make a stack of 4 Pi’s, two stacks of two sitting side by side or 4 Pi’s side by side… After some thinking I decided to stick with my original idea of the 2 x 2. The pile of 4 seems a bit unstable and the 4 in a row would take too much space at my desk.

The base of my cluster was going to be made of wood and would have to have enough space to accommodate the hub, switch and all cables.

I also decided to fit a 16×2 3V3 LCD Display somewhere in the cluster to show the IP or something. Just like in the Makezine manual.

With that out of the way I started working on the Pibow casings. More on that in a future post.

A trip to the DIY store

After the unboxing I had a very good look at all the parts. I also assembled one of the Pibow cases and fiddled around a bit with the cables. Then it was time to visit the local DIY store to find the parts for the base of the cluster.

I intend to make the cluster as tidy as possible, with as less cables visible as possible. Most clusters you find online have lots of cable poking out and that just does not look nice. I also wanted to make a base that hides the switch and hub completely. As I have pretty decent woodworking skills (see this image of a turntable I recently made a new base for) I wanted to work with wood again. But finding a nice pice of wood is hard in the Dutch DIY stores. Most of the wood is plain soft timber wood, hard wood is difficult to find. But in the third DIY store I found a nice piece of oak that will be perfect for the clusters base (and about 10 more I guess, as it was 2,5 metres long…).

I also bought some extra RJ-45 plugs and some aluminium pipe to make the stays for the Pi’s as well as some other small stuff.

Now I have all the parts to finally get to work!

All components arrived!

I just got 5 parcels delivered to my doorstep containing all necessary parts for my Pi cluster! An excellent opportunity for posting my very first picture on this blog 🙂

A pile of boxes

The parts were all ordered online just yesterday at 5 different stores. And all stores managed to deliver the goods the next day 🙂

After unpacking and sorting the whole lot looked like this:

The parts after unboxing

On the top left is the TP-link-SF1005D unmanaged 5 port switch. Below that the Anker 5 port USB power supply. And below that a USB power cord so I can power the switch from the fifth USB port.

At the top are the 4 Raspberry Pi 3 boards and below that the brand new Pibow Coupe casings. In the middle row the micro SD cards. These are SanDisk Ultra 16GB cards with read speed up to 80MB/s. The bottom two rows are 4 micro USB cables and 4 network cables, both with angled connectors.

And after some more unboxing I made this picture with the egg to show the scale. The components are tiny!

Look how tiny the Pi, switch and hub are!

After this picture I made myself a nice omelet!