Perhaps the most important item you can buy for your Raspberry Pi is a case. Generally inexpensive, they serve to protect your little computer from dust, tiny fingers, and paws. In some cases, they’re rugged enough to protect your Pi from the elements.
But what if you want a more DIY approach?
Many options are available for DIY builds, from using the approved cardboard punnet to repurposing old hardware such as games cartridges. You might even 3D print a case, or simply bolt two pieces of wood around your Raspberry Pi.
But there’s another option: Lego. The world’s foremost construction toy makes an excellent case for the Raspberry Pi, as these five examples demonstrate.
1. Build a Basic Lego Case for Your Raspberry Pi 3
Just getting started with Lego and your Raspberry Pi? The best place to start is with a simple build using common pieces. Depending on which model of Raspberry Pi you own, you’ll need to take some time to appreciate the computer’s shape.
For example, the Raspberry Pi Model B is different to the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, which has a slightly different layout. It also has additional USB ports.
This video demonstrates how to approach building a Lego case for a Raspberry Pi 3. It also gives you some good instructions on how to build one.
Of course, you might not have a Raspberry Pi 3. Perhaps you’re using the Model B+, or even the older Raspberry Pi Model B. Although similar, this has a slightly different form factor to the later models.
Both of these videos demonstrate the importance of planning your Lego case build. Make sure you have enough pieces to get started!
2. Lego Case: Pi Meets the Sinclair QL
Looking for inspiration for styling your Raspberry Pi Lego case? Being Lego, you can shape it pretty much however you like. This example from YouTuber QLvsJaguar is inspired by the Sinclair QL home computer.
Released in 1984 as a high-end companion to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (a popular 8-bit home computer in the UK), the QL had a distinctive ebony finish, and was targeted at business users. You’ll notice how this build employs doors and Windows to provide access to the ports. There’s also a door to let you connect cables to the GPIO.
Of course, there is a certain synchronicity in all of this. Sinclair was previously the most popular British home computer manufacturer; the Raspberry Pi could claim that title in the modern era.
3. Ultimate Lego Raspberry Pi Case
Lego blocks are very recognizable. So much so, in fact, that in recent years a split in approach (and even in building philosophies) has developed.
Should you build with the studs visible, or not? If you prefer to avoid visible studs, then you’re probably an adherent of the SNOT technique. Standing for Studs Not On Top, this takes advantage of hinges, reverse sides, or simply smoothed pieces, to leave the top of your Lego build more aesthetically pleasing.
An alternative approach, however, is to abandon the traditional Lego pieces in favor of the Technics-style pieces. Resembling Meccano, and suitable for constructing moving and remote controlled Lego projects, such pieces can be found in kits such as the Mindstorms EV3.
This example not only provides a rattle-free Lego case for your Raspberry Pi, it also houses a cooling fan! If you’re planning on really pushing your Raspberry Pi’s performance, a Pi cooling solution is definitely needed.
4. Lego-Based Raspberry Pi NES Case
You probably know that the Raspberry Pi is a popular option for retro gaming fans. As a result, cases with a retro gaming feel have proved popular. But rather than buy a retro gaming case for your Pi, why not build one with Lego?
In this video, you’ll find out how to build a case for your Raspberry Pi that resembles a NES console.
The producer of this video, Live Free and DIY, has also provided a PDF guide to help you through this. It’s designed like a genuine Lego manual, so you should be able to work through it.
What’s great about this case is the way the cartridge flap is positioned to provide access to the GPIO pins.
5. Make Your Raspberry Pi Portable
One of the most interesting Raspberry Pi based projects over the past few years has been the Noodle Pi. An attempt to make the Pi fully portable, the Noodle Pi (one of several portable Raspberry Pi projects) uses a Raspberry Pi Zero, a small touch-screen display, and 3D printed case. It’s best used via a wireless keyboard with built-in touchpad.
But rather than a 3D-printed case (and Raspberry Pi Zero), you could enjoy a similar experience with this build.
As well as providing a home for your Raspberry Pi, this project incorporates a display and space for the keyboard. With a battery solution also hidden inside, you’ll be able to take your Pi anywhere. The aim of the build, according to YouTuber Severed.Garden, is for “Perfect for programming Python on the go.”
Perhaps the only shortcoming is the lack of access to the Ethernet port, but this being Lego, you could probably accommodate that if necessary.
Not Enough Lego? One More to Try
If you’re a big fan of Lego but prefer a smarter look for your Raspberry Pi, try a Lego-compatible case. Something like the Makerfire PiBlox case for the Raspberry Pi 3 is particularly ideal for children.
Not only can you mount Lego upon this case, you can also mount the case on pieces of Lego. The end result is a Raspberry Pi that you can “hide” within your Lego builds. Perhaps use it to control light and sound, for instance? The choice is yours.
And if you couldn’t follow any of the videos listed above, take a look at these detailed instructions at Instructables. Designed just like a genuine Lego guide, it should be simple to follow.