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Buzz Box

Enclosure Development 4 : Bzzzz!

Some further exploration into an octagonal/hexagonal Pi enclosure. This includes placement of functional slots (such as port access) and utilising the blank faces of the prism shapes.

An octagon would be a functional shape for the enclosure, since it would allow the cap to naturally hook around the top and the bottom of the base component without the need for slots/rails to keep it in place. This would provide security, and ensure that the base component could not be accidentally pushed out of any side but the front end, as intended.

Only three of the eight sides of this octagonal prism would be occupied by holes and slots, such as the port access slots. This leaves five faces free for use.

Since 3D Printing and Raspberry Pi computers are associated with open-source, customisable and upgradable design and production, I thought that these sides could be used to allow users to connect attachments that might allow them to tailor the enclosure to their needs. As a result, threaded holes or Lego-like connection points (crudely illustrated in the image above) could be used to facilitate modularity within the design. Secondly, holes at the bottom of the enclosure would allow it to be fastened down to a component within a construction, or simply a wider base.

I thought that this would be a good opportunity to play on the idea of modularity and open source design, aswell as relating it to the Manchester bee, by changing it, once again, back to a hexagonal prism. Honeycombs, produced by bees as a habitat and structure for making honey, are made of multiple, tessellating hexagonal shapes. This is therefore an ideal shape for conveying a theme of modularity and ‘hive mind’, aswell as relating it to Manchester.

As shown below, I had a couple of ideas as to how the board could be orientated within the casing, yielding different configurations. Whilst the one on the right would allow for the ports to be printed into one of the flat faces, and a vent positioned more directly over the board, the design on the left grants an extra face to connect attachments to (since only two out of six are used instead of three)

After completing this sketch, I also realised that the parts themselves could be adapted, to provide more options to the user. Designing the enclosure with two separable parts invites them to be swapped out for alternatives. For example, a cap with legs/feet could become an option, to elevate the enclosure (whilst the cap is on), should the user want this. This idea is explored briefly below.

Alternatively, leg/feet components could be fastened onto the bottom of the base component as a separate attachment, rather than being part of the cap, to ensure that the board is always elevated, if required or preferred.

Furthering this idea of modularity could encourage the construction of tessellating units to form a honeycomb of computing and electronics.

I would like to continue developing this design, as It makes a lot of sense to me, in it’s combination of themes and values, so I will be proceeding by producing a CAD model of this hexagonal enclosure to be prototyped and tested.

Thankyou for reading.

P.S. The image at the top of this post is an attempt a 2 point perspective sketch, imported into and edited in Autodesk Sketchbook. This a workflow I like and that suits me, but, whilst I’m fairly comfortable with these skills, I’m not largely confident in producing professional looking ideation sketches and drawings, especially when it comes to more organic shapes, so I hope to improve more in these skills individually in the future.

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