Pi Face Control and Display Case

In my excitement at ordering the new PiFace Control and Display board, I also ordered a black plastic case to hold both the Raspberry Pi with the add on board fitted.

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I can't say that I'm very impressed, though. The case consists of two "U"-shaped halves, which clip together to form a closed case. For many electronic projects this is a tried-and-tested design, but it works best if all the cut-outs for sockets, knobs and stuff are on one half of the case, and there is a bit of room around the board for access and wiring. That way the board can be secured in place, yet the case can be easily opened for modification and maintenance. This combination of a Raspberry Pi with a PiFace Control and Display fitted requires cut-outs on five of the six faces of the case, and almost all of those have protruding sockets or buttons. This means that the case needs to be bent alarmingly out of shape even to get a single board in place.

I just about managed to squeeze my red Chinese Pi into the bottom part of the case, but had no end of trouble trying to fit the delicate-looking protruding buttons of the PiFace Control and Display at the same time. I tried fitting the PFCAD to the Pi first, then put the Pi in first and tried mangling the case to get the board in place and on to the GPIO pins at the same time. Eventually I abandoned both approaches as I was seriously scared of damaging the Pi, the PFCAD, or both.

In conclusion I can't really recommend this case. It's a nice enough idea but it simply does not seem practical, especially for the price of £13.78, almost as much as the PFCAD board itself! I would have been much better with a PFCAD version of the cheap acrylic "jigsaw case", or better still, a new design from the clever people at ModMyPi or Pimoroni

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9 Comments

  1. I, too, found the CamdenBoss case a tad difficult to work with, although I eventually succeeded.

    One unclear bit is the fitting of the lightpipe. I had to magnify the included photo to its maximum extent to see what the correct orientation was supposed to be. And I spent an awfully long time trying to remove the protective film from this tiny piece of transparent plastic, as instructed, before I gave up and had to assume that there wasn’t actually any there to remove (I may still be wrong about that).

    I bought the box also because it would accommodate the camera. But this you must first fit to the main pi board with the camera ribbon already threaded through one of the halves of the enclosure. This makes fitting the hardware – with the camera attached, on a moderately short piece of ribbon – into the other half of the enclosure really awkward. There’s very little room to play with and – as you say – aligning all the bits with the case holes is a bit of a nightmare.

    I don’t think there’s any way you could fit a camera-laden pi, with its piface, separately into the enclosure. You must have the piface fit to the pi first, and fit both. But manoeuvring such a double-decker into the case – with its other half forced to be close by because the camera’s threaded through it – is pretty horrible.

    But it is possible.

    I can’t get the IR to work though. The irw command simply results in a connection error (despite all the prior IR installation tests functioning as advertised with no bother). And the IR part of the radio example also fails to initialise. So I’ve no idea what’s up with that.

    • Thanks for the description of your case-fitting efforts. I just gave up because I don’t trust myself not to break the Pi or the PiFace while fitting it into such a tight squeeze. As for the IR sensor, there seems to be something very odd going on. By trying several different remotes (laboriously setting up the buttons for each one) I have shown that irw can work, but it only ever works for at most two or three button presses before it locks up and refuses to show anything. I can only assume something must break in the lirc driver when this happens, as restarting irw has no effect, but rebooting the Pi can sometimes make it work for a few clicks again.

      I agree that it is not useful as described, though.

      • I’m having little trouble with mode2 –d /dev/lirc0 and get oodles of space/pulse responses. Occasionally it seems struck dumb, but if you wait a few seconds and try the apparently silent button again, it’ll work. But irw has never done anything other than return instantly with connect: Connection refused.

        As far as python (3) is concerned, the pifacecad parts seem fine, but there’s nary a peep out of the pifacecad.ir subsystem.

  2. Thanks – just about to buy one of these to use pif ace-CAD with their snap camera – and it looks like a bad idea. Lets hope someone else comes up with a more useable design….

    • Looks nice too. Does it have a slot to allow the pi camera’s ribbon cable through? Although the plastic case does, it’s actually this allowance for (and use of) the camera which is the single most problematic aspect because the two plastic halves have to be awkwardly coupled (via that ribbon) which makes the manipulation and final fitting so difficult. With one piece of cardboard, such a problem may evaporate!

      I suppose, even if the cardboard one does not have a slot for the camera’s ribbon cable, it will at least be fairly easy to cut one.

  3. Hi Paul,
    I think the camera cable can go out on the top of the case where the closing is.
    I mounted the Pi first in my case and after this I sticked on the Piface CAD.
    This way it is easier to fit the connectors in all openings.
    If we make a cut above the Ethernet connector to enter the camera cable this proceeder is necessary to connect the cable on the PI board and after this connect the Piface CAD.

  4. I tried to follow the manufacturers instructions but shared your fears so I stopped. However I decided to it must be possible so I separated the two boards. I started by inserting the video (yellow) connector first and it was fairly easy to push the Pi board down until it clicked into place at the bottom the case. I started inserting the Piface Control and Display board by inserting the five tactile switches first. After making sure that the connector pins are aligned it is not too frightening to bend one side of the case so as not to damage the navigation switch while pushing the board down.

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