I’ll admit it: I’m an enclosure geek. From the sleek, brushed-metal case I got for my first Mini-ITX computer, to the sheet steel box I wrapped around the electronics in my Nerf Sentry Gun build, I put a lot of thought into selecting the right case for the job. For my new Raspberry Pi Model B computer, however, I didn’t have to think very long. Not after I first laid eyes on the Barch Designs Raspberry PiHolder.
When I actually got my hands on the PiHolder, I was first impressed by its quality. This thing is CNC-milled out a solid hunk of aerospace grade 6061-T6 billet aluminum. It has substantial heft and strength. The milling removes just enough material to let the Pi to nest safely within, plus make all the necessary openings to access the ports. There’s also a bit of extra space to run a ribbon cable to the GPIO header, and to swap out SD cards when needed.
The designers even thought to leave behind three columns of metal, in the top half of the case, positioned to contact the three hottest chips on the board (Broadcom CPU/GPU, LAN controller, and voltage regulator). This allows the entire case to act as a heat sink. Five built-in light pipes connect the case’s surface with its interior so you can still read all of the Pi’s onboard LEDs once it’s sealed inside.
The PiHolder comes with hex screws, an Allen wrench, a neoprene liner, and a small tube of thermal paste. To put it together, insert the neoprene liner in the bottom of the case, then drop in the board. Apply the thermal paste to the three ICs. Plug in an IO ribbon cable if you want—it’s the only connector that can’t be removed once the case is closed. Screw on the top half, and you’re done.
Now, when my daughter wants to do some Scratch programming on the TV in the living room, we just grab this sturdy little computer, plug it in, and go. If it gets accidentally trod upon, no big deal: this case can take it.
OK, sure: it costs twice as much as the Raspberry Pi itself, but if you are using your Pi in a public installation, or other semi-permanent application, this is a classy, beautiful, and durable way to encase it. There are three holes in the case, top and bottom, to facilitate mounting. You can choose from a standard few top graphics or have a custom one engraved for a fee. Expect to pay around $70 from PiHolder.com or other online retailers.