Your Raspberry Pi might have only cost $40 or so, but it is remarkably precious. With many different projects underway, you need to keep it safe. A ruggedized case would be a good option, particularly for transporting your Pi or using it in outdoor projects.
There are many reasons to ruggedize your Raspberry Pi. As suggested above, you might be planning or engaged in some projects that involve a battery-powered Pi taking charge of some outdoor activity; alternatively, you might want to keep it out of the way of tiny fingers.
In its uncased form, the Raspberry Pi is a bit of a safety nightmare, with plugs, connectors and bare motherboard waiting to be prodded, splashed and snapped. Meanwhile, low cost plastic cases tend to be too lightweight to make any real difference to the computer’s weight, often resulting in it being pushed around by the tension of the cables alone. While a hook and loop fastener might be a good idea to affix to one place, a heavier, rugged case is another.
Several are available on the market; you might even build your own.
Specifically designed for scientific calculators, this hard-wearing but remarkably low-cost case is also ideal for transporting a Raspberry Pi from A to B.
Virtually indestructible and crush-proof, the case floats in water, will protect its contents from being run over and is waterproof to a depth of 100 ft.
While we hope that you wouldn’t put your Raspberry Pi into the hands of such danger, if peril is likely then this case seems to be the best way to transport your minicomputer.
Note that although a suitable size, this case isn’t specifically designed for the Raspberry Pi; similarly it is completely sealed and as such is no good as a project box.
Proto Armour $31 and up
Featuring a durable construction and modular design to allow the addition of other cases for breakout boards and the Raspberry Pi camera, the Proto Armour is affordable, colourful and ideal for hard-wearing project scenarios.
One particularly pleasing aspect of the Proto Armour case is the GPIO access slot – a far better solution than running ribbon cables out of the top of a case.
These cases are built from aircraft-grade aluminium and are available in a range of finishes, metallic and coloured.
Pi Holder $74.95
A high-end alternative is the Pi Holder, again constructed from aircraft-grade aluminium.
Not only is this case – which comes with all of the access slots necessary to run the computer – virtually indestructible, it also doubles as a giant thermal heat sink, helping to keep your Pi running cool.
The Pi Holder comes in two halves, perfectly milled for you to slot your Pi into the case and secure it. An incredibly durable ruggedized case for the Raspberry Pi, this is also a visually stunning piece of kit, as you can see here:
UniPi Case $39
Originally launched as a Kickstarter project the UniPi Case is a successful attempt to mass produce a unibody aluminium case for the Raspberry Pi.
This durable enclosure is hard-wearing and comes with the pictured vented top as well as an I/O top cover. Manufactured from industrial-grade aluminium, the unibody design has a lightly sanded finish and the case is wall mountable (ideal for media centre projects) and stackable. It is also surprisingly light at just 6.1 oz.
DIY Rugged Raspberry Pi Case
What if none of the solutions above were suitable? If you find these suggestions too expensive or not quite what you’re looking for, don’t overlook what might be your best option – a DIY case.
Several guides are available online for building DIY cases for the Raspberry Pi. What you should be looking for is a case that is both simple and durable, minimising your building time so you can get back to your current project (which might be a Twitter bot or a retro gaming centre, for instance).
This Instructable features an oak case build that can be constructed for under $10. You should be able to find many more like this.
Conclusion: Ruggedised, Not Lightweight
What we’ve looked at here are the ruggedized, hard-wearing options for Raspberry Pi owners. If you’ve looked at any of our previous guides for Raspberry Pi cases (which might have been wacky or beautiful) then you should be aware that there are many different cases available.
Finally, make sure your ruggedized case isn’t too heavy for the project. If it involves your computer being carried along by an engine or balloon, you might prefer to take a more lightweight case for your Pi if it means a more successful venture.