Building a Pi Tablet using new Raspberry Pi Touchscreen Display & 3D Printing

Raspberry Pi

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Description:

A 3D printing project to make a Pi Tablet  using the new Touchscreen Display for the Raspberry Pi – project posted on the Adafruit website – developed by the Ruiz Brothers

Additional Information:

Link to instructions and 3D files:

https://learn.adafruit.com/7-portable-raspberry-pi-multitouch-tablet/overview

List of UK sourced materials:

* Please note these are our UK sourced alternatives – but you need to double check yourself to make sure they are the correct items

List of tools needed:

  • Soldering kit
  • Small screwdrivers
  • Access to 3D printer

 

Experience:rpi_touchscreen_display_contents_26ad12b4-6289-4c2a-b581-d8e8f45a4d84_1024x1024This was an epic project for me and my mum. There was a lot of excitement around the new touchscreen display for the Raspberry Pi and I really wanted to get hold of one. After some persuasion, mum went to order one but the display stands where all out of stock. She ordered the screen and then suggested we look on the internet to see if we could find a 3D printed case/stand as she’d just found out that there was a 3D printer she could use at work. I found the Adafruit one (see link above). First mistake, the printing took 10 times longer than stated. Second mistake – we did the 3D print before clicking on the links for the materials – disaster, we realized that Adafruit is an American website and we really didn’t want to pay £30 postage. Also – all the parts really do add up. I guess the excitement of doing our first 3D project kept us keen, along with the idea that I’ll make my own ‘Pi Pad’ style touchscreen tablet.

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Mum reported, after a heavy dose of skepticism from both herself and the IT team at work, they downloaded the files – not expecting much more that a sinewy pile of filament. However, after about two – three days , a beautiful 3D casing was produced – amazing everyone.

After a couple of weeks, all our carefully sourced materials arrived and I was ready to build the tablet. We have taken some of the time and pain from this by giving you the links we used for UK suppliers (follow links above but please double check they are correct).

It was very fiddly and dad taught me how to tin the ends of the wires. In the end, I used female jumper wires. I stripped one end off, tinned them with solder and soldered them to the switch but used the female jumper wire ending to connect with my Raspberry Pi pins and the Touchscreen display circuit board so they could be dissembled easily. Not all the holes in the 3D printed frame lined up so I did a bit of improvising with cable ties. Dad gave it the once over and I screwed up the back of the case. Here we go – lets switch on….. wait there – we forgot to put a SD card in the Raspberry Pi! Design fault – there’s no slot so we had to unscrew the casing, put it in and screw it back up again.

The moment of truth……. and nothing. We weren’t sure that we’d got the ribbon, connecting the Touchscreen display to the Raspberry Pi, the right way round so we turned it over. Second moment of truth…. and wow! The lovely image of the Raspberry Pi booting up using the terminal came into view. Success. My reward… game of Minecraft walking around the house – no wires, no extra screen but I did use my Kano wireless keyboard, though. Really looking forward to using the Touchscreen feature in my programming too.

Pros:

  • This is such an amazing educational project in 3D printing and electronics with our favourite Raspberry Pi computer and the new Touchscreen display. It really does work and you get an amazing sense of achievement.
  • It is a challenge as you have to get all the components, do the 3D printing, solder wires but the instructions are clear – you have to figure some bits out but I think that is normal for technical instructions. I learnt so much.
  • Now I have a very cool piece of technology that has been homemade. There are so many areas to explore with the touchscreen element of the Raspberry Pi – and I can do it all on the tablet I made myself. It’s fully rechargeable so I can take it anyway without it being plugged in. The on/off switch is very handy too.

 

Cons: 

  • All the materials are American-based but we have provided you with UK alternatives (see Additional Information section)
  • 3D printing can takes much longer than expected and can be a bit of hit and miss so you have to make adaptations  -when things don’t quite fit how they should.
  • It’s difficult to access the SD card slot without having to unscrew the back – so design needs modifying for this.
  • All the materials needed comes up to quite a lot of money (over £100) but for a learning experience this is money well spent really, especially if you have some of the bits already and you have free access to a 3D printer.

Conclusion:

Although it adds up to be a little costly – it has given me, as well as my parents, an invaluable learning experience of 3D printing and building electronic devises. Every time I pick it up, I feel a real sense of ‘pride and wonder’ that we didn’t just buy this from the shops but produced it ourselves. I would really recommend this project but be warned, it is quite challenging especially for newbies like us.

Thank you Adafruit and the Ruiz Brothers for sharing your project.

 

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