Review: Raspberry Pi Case

I’ve been enjoying playing with the Raspberry Pi again lately. One of the Pi’s more unusual features is that it comes as a bare circuit board with no case, both to keep the price down at the $35 mark, and so that people can choose (or build) their own cases. So far, my Pi board has mostly just been lying on the carpet under my desk, in amongst the tangle of cables going to and from my main computer, TV, music keyboard and various peripherals. It seems happy enough down there, but there’s always a slight worry in the back of my mind that it’s going to get trodden on (it’s already endured one of Laura’s folders falling on it), zapped by static electricity, or that I’m going to damage something when I hold it to unplug one of the cables.

But not anymore… Gearzap have sent me a Raspberry Pi case to review!

The case arrived quickly, in a padded envelope for protection. The Pi slots into it nice and easily and fits snugly once it’s closed. The lid is easy to prise open, but all the Pi’s main ports and the SD card slot are easily accessible through the pre-cut holes in the sides so I probably won’t need to open it very often. The case is all plastic so it removes the danger of anything getting static zapped, or metal accidentally touching the board and causing a short circuit. Inserting and removing the tighter fitting connectors (especially the micro USB power plug) feels a lot safer now that I can grip onto the box rather than risking crushing a capacitor or stabbing myself on the GPIO pins.

In addition to the holes for the ports, there are various ventilation holes (although the Pi generates very little heat compared to most electronic devices). And there’s these:

A common complaint about the original Raspberry Pi board design was that it had no mounting holes, making it difficult to securely attach the Pi to something, which you may want to do if you’re building it into a larger project, or even just to stop it being pulled all over the place by its cables. The ModMyPi case remedies this by including its own mounting holes, making it easy to screw the Pi onto whatever you please. (The new Revision 2 Pi boards do have mounting holes, but there are a lot of revision 1 boards like mine already out there so it’s a useful feature in a case). But if you just want to sit the case on a desk, there are four little sticky rubber feet supplied that help stop it from sliding about and keep the bottom air vent open.

One possible downside is that the case makes it harder to get at the GPIO pins and to see the status LEDs. However, this is unlikely to be a huge problem in practise; the GPIO pins are mainly only useful to people who want to interface their Pi to custom electronics, something probably only a minority of users will ever do (I haven’t tried it yet myself, but would like to when I get the time). Even then, it would be easy enough to run wires to the GPIOs through one of the pre-cut openings in the case. As for the LEDs, they’re only really useful for troubleshooting when something goes wrong, which hopefully is rare enough that having to pop the case open won’t get annoying. There are slots right above the LEDs, so you can still see at a glance whether the Pi is powered up or not, which is the only thing I normally use them for.

The box seems quite well designed and built. There are no obvious weak bits that look likely to break off, and it still closes nice and firmly even after me fiddling with it quite a lot.

It also goes quite nicely with the external battery pack I’ve been using:

So if you’re looking for a Pi case, this seems like a very good option :).