back to article Bloke hews plywood Raspberry Pi tablet

It's a tip of the hat today to Michael Castor, who caught our eye with his attractive fusion of plywood, carbon fibre and Raspberry Pi, dubbed the "PiPad". Top view of the PiPad Michael's plan was to build an "all-in-one system that was usable, portable, and Linux-based", but which also "had to look good". Furthermore, it …

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  1. malle-herbert
    Thumb Up

    "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

    Good luck with that !

    If you open it up, the insides look enough like a home made bomb to scare the crap out of any TSA agent...

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

      > the insides look enough like a home made bomb

      Nah. The highly skilled and extremely motivated folks at the TSA are all fully aware that *any* bomb has curly wires leading to the explosives and a red LED count-down display.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

        Curly wires, lantern battery, alarm clock with the bells on top, and the mandatory block of marzipan.

      2. deshepherd

        Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

        The highly skilled and extremely motivated folks at the TSA are all fully aware that *any* bomb has curly wires leading to the explosives and a red LED count-down display.

        Along with, as we were informed by Sherlock, the all important off switch (which seemed to be a vital could not be omitted part of a bomb that is detonated by remote control but which curiously still had a 2 minute red LED countdown before exploding)

        1. stu 4

          Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

          yeh I just watched that last night...

          it's 'how stupid people think clever people think' tv isn't it.

          the remote detonation thought no mobile signal... the LED countdown, the off switch...

          you sort of wonder how the folk writing the script for this kind of stuff have grown to adult size, without natural selection mowing them down crossing a road, sticking their fingers in a power socket or falling off a cliff ('oh...THATs what gravity does).

          I seen to remember the last series not being quite as fuckwitted, but I might just be a year more grumpy.

          1. IsJustabloke
            Thumb Up

            Re: it's 'how stupid people think clever people think' tv isn't it.

            ha! I used that exact phrase to my fanboy colleague :) he wasn't happy ...at all. :D

        2. Alan Edwards

          Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

          > the all important off switch

          I'd want an off-switch too. You don't know how far you can throw it when you touch two wires you shouldn't during construction. It should be taken out (or disabled) at deploy-time though, or direct-connected to the detonator. "Ah, there's the Off swi..[BOOM!!].

          > bomb that is detonated by remote control but which curiously still had a 2 minute red LED countdown

          A timer backup in case a dead receiver battery/signal blocker etc kills the remote trigger is a sensible design choice IMO. An LED display is a bit showy though.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

            I've taken some unusual stuff through security quite often - custom pc boards for interfacing with servo drives, servo amplifiers, etc; things I don't trust to check through - and the worst that's happened is I've been asked to explain what it is. By the time I get to 'PID loop' they're usually convinced.

            The only time I've had a bag searched is when I carried a wrapped-up bundle of hinges, which as far as I'm concerned is precisely the kind of thing that they ought to take a look at if they're going to look at anything. The only evidence of it was a note saying they'd looked; they were wrapped back up and nothing was out of place.

            I know that it's customary to only put horror stories on the internet, to ensure that everyone things the world is as terrible as possible, but unfortunately I haven't got one despite having spent a year flying all over the world with strange electronics in my carry-on. Oh well!

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

              You got lucky. On my last trip, the TSA took an interest in my first aid kit and emptied then scattered the contents through my checked bag. They did leave a note. I guess they wanted me to know that it was them and not just a baggage handler looking for stuff to sell on eBay.

      3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

        "Nah. The highly skilled and extremely motivated folks at the TSA are all fully aware that *any* bomb has curly wires leading to the explosives and a red LED count-down display."

        I think you've just given me an idea for my next screen saver.

        Naturally all it does when it hits zero is to re cycle back to whatever it was set to.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

      and at least you can open it up...

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

        http://xkcd.com/651/

        "It's OK, dear. In a moment he'll realize I have a good point and return my water... Hey! You can't arrest me if I prove your rules inconsistent!"

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: "it needed to be sufficiently innocuous for in-flight use"

      "If you open it up, the insides look enough like a home made bomb to scare the crap out of any TSA agent..."

      And then they will sit on you.

      And you won't like that.

  2. monkeyfish

    Good work.

    The only tablet in the world to sport a full size usb, parrallel IO, and a wooden bevel. Nice. Looks like you could just about fit another of those batteries in though, turned 90°, you'd have squeeze the 3:1 usb device under the ribbon cable though.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: Good work.

      And how much would that weigh?

    2. Pookietoo
      Headmaster

      Re: parrallel IO

      That's the GPIO pins, not a parallel port.

      1. monkeyfish

        Re: parrallel IO

        Ah, GPIO is it, something in my brain told me it wasn't a parallel port when I typed it, but no other type of port was provided by said brain at the time. Pity there isn't some sort of information super highway I could have accessed to tell me things I've forgotten. Never mind.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: parrallel IO

          > Ah, GPIO is it, something in my brain told me it wasn't a parallel port when I typed it

          He's got a spare internal USB port and space on the frame so the fitting of a parallel port would be eminently possible.

  3. DaddyHoggy

    I see space for a speaker, but no speaker... Headphones/Line-out only?

    It looks really good. Genuinely impressed.

  4. sorry, what?
    Coat

    Love the hinges

    But what happens if it "flops open"? Could mean you get raspberry stains everywhere.

    1. NumptyScrub

      Re: Love the hinges

      The hinges are what (in my opinion) take it from a classic garden shed project, to a truly inspired and innovative leap in tablet design philosophy. Other tablet manufacturers should immediately add this feature to all subsequent designs :)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Great Craftmanship

    Well done.

  6. Alister Silver badge
    Coat

    Tree mendous...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We did question his use of plywood

    Much maligned for being cheap and nasty however it is extremely strong, usually does not warp or crack and is an excellent choice for what he did especially as he had some lying around, that's often the best choice.

    If he does make one from an exotic wood I hope he uses a more efficient method to cut the frame, that router wasted more wood than was left.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We did question his use of plywood

      Yup, it's a great material. One of my bass guitars is made of plywood (it's a Japanese clone of a Rickenbacker 4001) and the only way you'd know without disassembling it is if you look inside the bridge pickup cavity. As you say, it doesn't warp since it's made from layers of thin veneer, whereas solid wood can warp and crack as it dries out with age. This is particularly true nowadays, as well seasoned wood is very expensive - hence the use of MDF or soft woods like pine.

      1. J P

        Re: We did question his use of plywood

        A friend who builds rollcages for competition cars recently had to contact the MSA to check how to proceed when installing a rollover hoop to a vintage car with 19mm ply floor - standard MSA regs call for welding the cage to the floor. The MSA confirmed that all you have to do is bolt the plates in rather than weld them; the wooden floor is actually stiffer & more resilient than the pressed steel in moderns.

    2. Dagg

      Re: We did question his use of plywood

      Nothing wrong with plywood, just remember the Mosquito fighter/ bomber/everything else from WW2

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We did question his use of plywood

        The Spruce Goose!!

    3. Barry Rueger

      Re: We did question his use of plywood

      I will continue to malign cheapo Chinese plywood.

      Here in Canada our mighty leaders have determined that the best way to grow our economy is to ship raw logs to China, then ship the finished plywood back for use here.

      It IS cheap, but as if often the case with Chinese products, you get what you pay for.

      When we painted the stuff the top veneer BUBBLED.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We did question his use of plywood

        I guess the plywood that comes back is not from the raw logs that went out. One boatbuilder suggested that the inner layers of Chinese plywood are made of blotting paper.

        There is some excellent Malaysian stuff, though.

    4. Unicornpiss Silver badge

      Re: We did question his use of plywood

      "That router wasted more wood than was left" He should have just bought a router from Netgear, etc. instead of crafting his own :P

  8. eJ2095

    Can be easily serviced

  9. wolfetone Silver badge

    Why did he use carbon fibre at the back? He'd surely have knocked off $150 off the total build cost for that? It may have even looked a bit better being in an all wooden case.

    But fair play to the man, it's inspiring. I'm on eBay as we speak looking for a cheap 10" touchscreen....

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      I think he had the piece lying about, so no extra cost there.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      He'd surely have knocked off $150 .....

      Bloody hell where do you buy yours from? You may want to find another supplier!

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Carbon fibre

        Of course a cheaper alternative is good old Fibre glass.....if you are even remotely more skilled than me, as I tend to get more stuck to my body parts than the mould.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Carbon fibre

          In fact in many cases carbon fibre is now cheaper than glass fibre. It is so much stiffer that a lot less can be used, and the big saving is in epoxy.

          (I deleted my original post because someone downvoted it and I couldn't work out why.)

          1. Schick
            Happy

            Re: Carbon fibre

            ...have just upvoted to make you feel better...

            ( Fiver to the usual mail-drop of course )

  10. Justin Stringfellow
    Joke

    rounded corners

    ... a member of the legal profession will be along presently...

  11. Velv
    Mushroom

    Since it's portable it looks to me like there's a risk of the components moving around inside the case. Can I therefore suggest some white Play-Doh to fill the gaps.

  12. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Pint

    Brilliant idea!

    Love the idea of having a wooden case. I have some birch plywood lying around which should be great for such a casing. Now to find a CNC router.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Brilliant idea!

      The thing to do - apparently - is to build your own computer controlled router. Plenty of open source (plans and programs) projects out there.

    2. Pookietoo

      Re: Now to find a CNC router

      It shouldn't be too hard to make that sort of thing with an ordinary plunge router and a couple of templates.

  13. Rick Giles
    Coat

    He said...

    hard wood....

    I'll get my coat...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    ....

    Man gets soft wood around Pi.

    Raspberry owners all ask to see if he'll get hard next time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: .... @Danbo

      Not only NOT funny but factually incorrect.

      Once you've learned to recognize your birch from quite a long way away you should then learn that it is a hardwood.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Mushroom

        Re: .... @Danbo

        @Chris W. You certainly know your trees. Don't get lost in the woods now while you check out those trees.....It'll be a shame if you didn't come back and share more of your factual but unfunny posts.

        1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: Re: .... @Danbo

          Gents, I'm bringing down the gavel (walnut, in case you're wondering) on this spat. I think commentards falling out over timber is an El Reg first.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: .... @Danbo

            ^^^

            Probably best. We could get a plaque made up about it being an El Reg 1st.

            Not sure what it could be made out of though.

      2. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Re: .... @Danbo

        Once you've learned to recognize your birch from quite a long way away

        Don't you mean "the larch"?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: .... @Danbo

          Frumious - I had to paraphrase, larch is a softwood.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Chris W: Re: .... @Danbo

            I think he's referring to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ug8nHaelWtc

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Facepalm

              Re: @Chris W: .... @Danbo

              Evil Graham - May I ask ever so politely WTF do you think I was paraphrasing?

              However, specially for you

              Frumious - I had to paraphrase the Monty Python sketch, larch is a softwood.

              1. Simon Harris

                Re: @Chris W: .... @Danbo

                "Evil Graham - May I ask..."

                Well, he wasn't expecting a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @Chris W: .... @Danbo

                  Well, I think it would be best if I perhaps started off with just the one [argument] and then see how it goes.

                2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: @Chris W: .... @Danbo

                  Nope, he was expecting the mighty scotch pine!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simply awesome

    enough said.

  16. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Coat

    Man takes things. Puts them in a box.

    Well done for having done it, but there are far more interesting things going on in the maker, hacking and repurposing communities for those willing to seek them out. This doesn't even have the appeal of being cheap to do.

    Perhaps that's the real message - that it doesn't matter how low-cost the motherboard is (be that a Raspberry Pi or anything else), it's the cost of everything else which is the main obstacle to turning that into something useful and usable.

  17. Derek Thomas

    Hmmmm

    How long before a fruity logo calls foul?

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: Hmmmm

      "How long before a fruity logo calls foul?"

      Certainly there is prior art of a certain fruity firm selling uncased PCBs and leaving it up to users to make wooden cases to put them in!

  18. Sandtreader
    Thumb Up

    Sandbenders

    Sir, you are a Sandbender. I know of no higher praise.

    "It started with a woman who was an interface designer ... Her husband was a jeweller, and he'd died of that nerve-attenuation thing, before they saw how to fix it. But he'd been a big green, too, and he hated the way consumer electronics were made, a couple of little chips and boards inside these plastic shells. The shells were just point-of-purchase eye-candy, he said, made to wind up in the landfill if nobody recycled it, and usually nobody did. So, before he got sick, he used to tear up her hardware, the designer's, and put the real parts into cases he'd make in his shop. Say he'd make a solid bronze case for a minidisk unit, ebony inlays, carve the control surfaces out of fossil ivory, turquoise, rock crystal. It weighed more, sure, but it turned out a lot of people liked that, like they had their music or their memory, whatever, in something that felt like it was there. . . . And people liked touching all that stuff: metal, a smooth stone. . . . And once you had the case, when the manufacturer brought out a new model, well, if the electronics were any better, you just pulled the old ones out and put the new ones in your case. So you still had the same object, just with better functions."

    Gibson. Idoru. GIYF.

  19. stucs201

    He needs to make the next one out of a different species of wood.

    I'm thinking wood from an apple tree might be amusing.

    1. Schick

      Re: He needs to make the next one out of a different species of wood.

      I don't get it. Why apple ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He needs to make the next one out of a different species of wood.

        Because pearwood is more expensive. Also, because marketing.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: He needs to make the next one out of a different species of wood.

          Sapient pear wood?

    2. Andus McCoatover
      Windows

      wooden have believed it myself.

      He could make it from peartree wood. Then spruce it up a bit.

      Apple my ash!

      But, very nice job!

      1. Swarthy
        Joke

        Re: wooden have believed it myself.

        Yew'll be sorry for those puns!

        The first was oak-ay, but alder-gether they left me pining for my sanity.

        I'm aspen you not to do that again. Please.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Coat

          @Swarthy Re: wooden have believed it myself.

          Couldn't leaf well enough alone, could you?

  20. Philip Lewis

    And this, direct from Ars.

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/01/intrepid-modder-builds-hackintosh-mac-pro-replica-inside-a-real-trashcan/

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Planing to make one myself. But I have eyed up some old game boxes as a case. :)

  22. vmistery

    Cant wait for the ifixit teardown!

  23. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Omnibus

    There are lots of shops with CNC routers that will make you the parts you want. Unless you plan to open a business, it's probably cheaper than buying one. I looked at building my own CNC router once. It was cheaper to buy a used commercially made one on eBay and even cheaper to send CAD drawings to shop and have them ship back the parts in a day or so. Going DIY is fun, but not always the cheapest alternative. If you still want to build your own, look for a parts kit of the major mechanical bits or find a deal on a used/not-working one that will yield most of the more expensive kit.

    Russian birch ply is marvelous stuff. You can cut yourself on the edges if you are not careful. They make junk ply too, but that doesn't usually get exported since worse can be had for even less from South American and Indonesia. Finland birch ply is the absolute top. The sheet with outdoor rated phenolic adhesive is incredible. Apple ply is a compromise for larger projects where cash is tight. Typically, the more individual plies, the better and you also want it to be void free.

    The carbon fibre is cool, but remember that it's electrically conductive. Mounting a PCB with the connections contacting the CF might short out. It's not a dead short, so sometimes it could just lead to unexpected weirdness. Shorting battery connections could lead to a fire.

    A speaker manufacturer built some 18" woofers carbon fibre cones for PA systems and began getting them back with fire damage. The leads to the coil contact the cone and with a high power amplifier, there was enough current flowing through the CF between the leads to start a fire. Oops.

  24. RISC OS

    "had to look good"

    He seems to have forgotten this requirement

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