Woodwork: top plate

After making the pillars I started on the top of the wooden casing. I cut off a piece of the oak measuring 23,2 x 16,9 cm that is going to be the top of the base.

A nice piece of oak
A nice piece of oak

After some carefull measuring I drilled all holes for the pillars as well as for the USB and network cables. After that I bevelled the edges.

First fitting
First fitting

After that I did a first fitting. The PI’s are not entirely straight here as the pillars are only just pressed in the holes. In the end the pillars will be recessed in the holes for about 1 cm but I did not want to do that now as it is pretty hard to get them out again… And I would like to paint the wooden base before assembly.

So, on to the rest of the base… And to making the difficult choice on the color of the base..


After modifying the Pibow casesΒ I started making the pillars. This was very tedious work, constantly measuring if the pillars were of equal size.

But I did enjoy spending some time at the lathe (had been too long…) and ended up with a nice result πŸ™‚

16 custom made pillars
16 custom made pillars

The long ones are for mounting the bottom two PI’s. Those are longer as they will be recessed into the wood base to give extra strength.

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 πŸ™‚

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 aΒ 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.

All components arrived!

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

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 πŸ™‚

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!