Modelling a Raspberry Pi case – from Cardboard

2. Light Pipes
This is a very common technique used in design – where for economy you want the lights (LEDs) mounted on a circuit board, but the board is positioned away from the case or user-interface. By taking a piece of clear plastic, one can ‘bounce’ the light along it (because of refraction) over some distance. Here I will show you how to do this for yourself.
Experiement as you go – you might see things I’ve missed and want to change them!

Modelling a Raspberry Pi case - from Cardboard

Step 1: Sketch some ideas for your case

Sketching out a few ideas obviously helps refine what you want to design. If like me, you sketching is so-so, you might want to try Sketch-A-Day

I considered 6 different grill styles for the case – which not only gave ventilation to printed circuit board (PCB) – but also made a feature of the lights (LEDS) on the board.

I then considered a rounded case or a square-edged case. I selected the square one for simplicity at this stage, but as you can see in other tips, it could be easily rounded too.

Step 2: Make rough models or things you are unsure about

I wanted to check how the sketches of the grill looked – in rough – before I committed to modelling them fully. I cut out a window for the front case and inserted the sticks a number of orientations.

Keep experimenting until you are happy.

Step 3: Create a template (net) for the case

This is rough guide to the template needed to create all 6 sides of the case. A more accurate one is available here. I’d recommend using (digital) calilpers to measure things if possible – an example is given here.
Modelling a Raspberry Pi case - from Cardboard

Step 4: Creating an accurate cardboard joint

This is perhaps the crux of this tutorial, as this technique for joining card together neatly and is not that well known. It involves cutting through the top layer of the cardboard, through the corrugated (wavy) part – but stopping just before the lower layer of card. The edge is then removed as shown below, with a ruler. The results are perfectly presentable for any meetings with designers or users. It is shown in more details here.

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