Worklog A Switch Lite Sized Raspberry Pi Portable

Dmcke5

.
2020 1st Place Winner
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
209
Likes
856
Location
Queensland, Australia
Portables
3
Hi guys, thought I'd share my first project with you all.

I've already finished the first iteration of this project but I will try and do this in a build log style so you can see some of my process before I start on some of the upgrades I've got planned.

Late last year I was without a project and wanted something to work on to keep me busy. I'd always wanted to learn about the Raspberry Pi but had never found a project that I needed one for, until I discovered retropie and some of the fantastic DIY builds some other people had already done. I loved the idea, but knew I couldn't settle for a 3D printed housing so I set to work designing my own.

I already have a reasonable amount of CAD and CNC experience so I wanted a bit of a challenge for myself. I decided that I like the form factor of the Nintendo Switch lite and I wanted to stick as closely to that design as I could, within reason anyway. So I set out researching different hardware configurations and deciding on what I thought I would be able to squeeze into such a tight space and got to work. My final parts list is as follows:

1x Raspberry Pi Zero W
1x 5" Reverse Screen - Analog only, probably my biggest regret.
1x Arduino Pro Micro - For gamepad inputs
1x PSP Joystick clone - Should have bought a real one, centering is garbage so I don't really use it at the moment.
1x 27mm Speaker
10x Soft tactile buttons - 8 for Dpad and action buttons, 2 for triggers
4x regular tactile buttons - Start and Select, volume up and down (still not bothered installing these lol)
1x Power Switch
1x 2000mah Li-Ion cell
1x Power Bank PCB - For charge and 5v step up
1x MAX98357A I2S Amplifier module

My first few steps were roughly as follows:

Please note some of these pictures are at least 6 months old. I did have a few different screens to try so I'm fairly sure this is the one I ended up with haha.

Found a 5" reverse screen with the smallest driver board I could get:
IMG_20191105_185916.jpg


Work out how to power it off 5v and get it connected up to the Pi for a test:
IMG_20191105_182949.jpg



More to come in the next post!
 

Dmcke5

.
2020 1st Place Winner
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
209
Likes
856
Location
Queensland, Australia
Portables
3
Unfortunately I don't have a whole heap of progress shots from the CAD side of things, but I'm happy to break the model down a bit if anyone wants to see something specific so let me know.

After way too many hours in CAD, I came up with this solution. I had to mount the LCD driver upside down to help with routing of the LCD panels ribbon cable, it is the large green section on the left. I positioned all the ports/switches/buttons etc at exactly halfway between the top and bottom halves of the case. My idea was to try and avoid having to process each half of the case from more than two sides. The shoulder buttons were the only exception, but I was able to drill and tap the holes that mount their PCB's by hand to get around that.

I used a 3D printed "insert" to mount everything except the battery (which was double sided taped to the back of the LCD Panel).
FB_IMG_1577408446220.jpg


My overall dimensions ended up being very close to a switch lite at 204x92x14mm.

With my design finished I started making a protype on my CNC using HDPE plastic. In hindsight, I should have just printed the trial enclosure as this wasted a fair bit of time, but it was good practice I guess.
IMG_20191113_173804.jpg


Here's a test fit of the LCD panel into my trial enclosure front:
IMG_20191117_125427.jpg
 

Dmcke5

.
2020 1st Place Winner
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
209
Likes
856
Location
Queensland, Australia
Portables
3
I machined my first lot of buttons out of clear acrylic. I ended up sticking with them for the time being but I do have plans to come back at the end and re-make them out of Aluminium and have them anodised. The action buttons are domed and are size for size identical to a gameboy pocket as I was originally going to try and cram all of this into a gameboy pocket housing until I realized I couldn't get a screen I would be happy with.

IMG_20191117_230746.jpg


The D-Pad is also almost identical to a gameboy pocket, I just scaled it up a little to suit the larger platform. It is dished slightly, just like the original.
IMG_20191117_230755.jpg
 

Dmcke5

.
2020 1st Place Winner
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
209
Likes
856
Location
Queensland, Australia
Portables
3
Once I had cut out the PCB's, I began a test assembly to make sure I could get everything functioning the way I wanted it to.
IMG_20191122_185735.jpg


Here it is running just via USB power to begin with. I ended up connecting a wired xbox controller and played with it like this for a while. Wasted a few hours on Pokemon but it was totally worth it haha. The machining marks on the front are worse in this photo as I realized that I stuffed up my setup and the front was 1mm too thick, so I set the part back up on my machine and skimmed the front. This made it vibrate like crazy and basically ruined it. This was when I knew I needed to build this out of aluminum.
IMG_20191123_112326.jpg
 

Dmcke5

.
2020 1st Place Winner
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
209
Likes
856
Location
Queensland, Australia
Portables
3
Here's my little machine set up to machine the front half of the case. The baby monitor on a tripod was so I could watch from the comfort of the air-conditioning and mind the kids at the same time! This was also my first go at processing aluminium on my little toy machine, turns out it does a pretty decent job and beats being stuck at work for hours on end in my spare time trying to make parts.
IMG_20191123_152412.jpg


Here's a couple of random shots of different stages from the machining process.
IMG_20191123_161513.jpg
IMG_20191127_195041.jpg
IMG_20191127_195032.jpg
IMG_20191123_205605.jpg
IMG_20191123_205600.jpg
 

Dmcke5

.
2020 1st Place Winner
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
209
Likes
856
Location
Queensland, Australia
Portables
3
After a whole bunch of sanding and polishing, this was the end result!
IMG_20191208_230344.jpg
IMG_20191208_230348.jpg


I was tempted to keep polishing but I didn't think anything more than this was likely to show through to the finish once the parts were anodised.
 

Dmcke5

.
2020 1st Place Winner
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
209
Likes
856
Location
Queensland, Australia
Portables
3
And here's some shots of how the project currently sits, in its mostly but not quite finished state. Those marks on the left of this photo aren't scratches, just some weird reflection that I only just noticed.
IMG_20191222_193931.jpg


The pictures really don't do the finish justice. The grain of the aluminium came through the anodising which was an effect I wasn't expecting but I think it looks great. Its nice and shiny and very evenly coated.

IMG_20191226_132146.jpg
IMG_20191226_132210.jpg


I'm still using 3D printed trigger buttons. I haven't been bothered to make any replacements yet. I'll make some aluminium ones when I make the rest of the buttons.
IMG_20191226_132220.jpg
 

Dmcke5

.
2020 1st Place Winner
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
209
Likes
856
Location
Queensland, Australia
Portables
3
Now I don't have any photos of my many failed attempts, but I don't want to put anyone off by letting you think I achieved this all on my first try. The design itself worked pretty well from the start with only minor adjustments needed after the trial fit, but I've been using CAD for just about my entire life and have spent the last 3 years doing it full time for work so that is to be expected. I did however have at least three complete failures when machining the aluminium housings, resulting in a complete start from scratch again. Very frustrating and time consuming but the result was worth it.

Few things I need to do still still. As I mentioned, I want to make some aluminium buttons. I'm not happy with the contrast of the clear acrylic and I couldn't get a finish I was happy with out of any of my black plastic so I think Aluminium is the way I want to go with that.

My next step will probably be to pull it all apart again and see if I can find the room to fit a HDMI display driver board in there so I can get rid of the horrible looking low resolution fonts found in the menus. Most of the games are fine, just navigating menus and choosing games etc that bother me with the poor resolution. I don't want to re-make the housing so if I can't fit it it'll just have to stay the way it is.
 

Stitches

2 and a Half Dollarydoos
Staff member
.
.
.
Joined
Feb 5, 2017
Messages
2,329
Likes
1,864
Location
Banana Bender Land, Australia
Portables
6
Fuck me what an intro...... A+ work my dude, that thing looks professional!
 

Dmcke5

.
2020 1st Place Winner
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
209
Likes
856
Location
Queensland, Australia
Portables
3
Haha thanks guys. I've posted the finished product on some retropie facebook groups before, but I only just discovered this group and felt like it would be a good spot for an actual build log. So it may seem like a lot all at once, but this was probably stretched over at least a few months worth of my spare time.

I'm already working on the next project. Basically aiming to build my own version of the Alienware concept that has been making the rounds across the net the last few months. That idea started as just me trying to build a slightly larger handheld to accommodate a full sized Pi, so I could play some N64 and PS1 games but I quickly realised it would be easier and cheaper to build around a tablet. That gives me the benefit of native support for early PC games, which I also have fond memories of from my childhood. Just waiting on some funds to clear so I can purchase the tablet and really start working out the finer details of the design. Have already worked out the overall shape I want and made a few test prints of the handle areas. I'm trying to take a more ergonomic approach this time as its something I've never had much to do with before.
 

Dmcke5

.
2020 1st Place Winner
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
209
Likes
856
Location
Queensland, Australia
Portables
3
Thanks guys! Found a bonus picture for you. Here's the current clusterfuck of wiring that's inside my creation. I want to improve on the neatness of my wiring when I attempt to convert the screen to HDMI. I've considered trying to build the Arduino into the button PCB itself to save space and wiring, but I'm not confident my PCB design skills are quite at that level yet.

Don't mind the electrical tape, that's simply there to insulate the arduino from the back cover, as it is the highest point and is VERY close to touching the inside of the back cover.

IMG_20191227_131225.jpg
 

Dmcke5

.
2020 1st Place Winner
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
209
Likes
856
Location
Queensland, Australia
Portables
3
And here's a sneak peak of my next project. I'll start a thread of its own once I've made a bit more progress on it. At the moment I can't go far until I've been able to order the 8" tablet I'm intending to use. I've already got the switch joysticks coming so I can experiment with the light up surrounds.

This is still very far from being a complete design so it may change drastically from this yet, just depends on how all the components will end up fitting.
8in_Win_10_Handheld_Render_2020-Feb-17_03-20-15AM-000_CustomizedView14335439050.png
8in_Win_10_Handheld_Render_2020-Feb-17_04-45-58AM-000_CustomizedView27294565596.png
 
Top