is Ben Rudgers

It ain’t the Beast Pi, but it’s still ugly [part 1]

You might remember I skipped cases because I wasn’t sure what I wanted. A couple of weeks ago I read about ResinIO’s Beast Pi design. It’s a nice piece of aesthetics and at a high level of abstraction it’s the sort of the thing I want. On the other hand it seems to have a lot of fidley bits and to be at the pointy end of a long chain of maker gear that I don’t have and to smell a bit like Yak shaving.

I’d recently got all four Pi’s wired up onto an SSH’able network…my own little universe to rule! So it seemed time to have something a bit more structured than wires running across my desk. Running across my desk the wires were because those cheap Cat5 cables have a nice stiff curve along their length and an arbitrary twist between the orientation of the RJ45’s and this imposes torque on the loose lying Pi’s.

The first stop was for some nuts and bolts from the fastener aisle at local Ace Hardware with a Pi in my pocket. Nothing was small enough to fit. Which by implication means that nothing at Home Depot or Lowes was likely to fit either because they all sell pretty much the same stuff at different prices. So time to get serious enough to know what I need. So a bit of googling:


and I know I need m2.5 bolts (the hardware stores carry a few m3’s and a lot of m4’s). So I head over to Opelika Bolt. They have some m2.5’s but not enough. They can order more.

I don’t want to wait, so I load up on more 4-40 nuts bolts and washers than I need. The 4-40’s are oversize but I realize it’s a PCB board and the holes can be bigger without hurting anything. I get home, grab a suitable drill bit and make the 4-40’s fit.

Why didn’t I want to wait? Inspired to build I was. And what the Beast Pi got me inspired to build was with cardboard. I had a lot of it lying around in the form of Amazon boxes that held the Pi’s and such and it would be kind of cool to build a ‘server rack’ out of the box the Pi’s came in. An afternoon of cutting and fitting and I had a concept and a clear understanding that the shipping box the Pi’s came in was not going to hold all of them in a server configuration.

By which I mean that I couldn’t mount all of them in a sensible way and still plug a bunch of USB thumb drives in for additional storage. I probably could have mentioned that going entirely solid state for storage has been added to the road map and that using thumbdrives is in keeping with my character flaw of doing it on the cheap.

Stymied, I stopped, switched gears and wrote out bills. That meant going to the post office to buy more stamps. And that meant I became unstymied.