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Designing a 3D Printable Case for the Khadas Tone Board

TimW

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#1
First off I would like to say I was very impressed with the performance of the Khadas Tone Board in Amir's measurements. As far as price to performance goes we seem to have found a real winner. The only problem is that the Tone Board is just that, a board.

To address this issue I began creating dimensioned drawings of the board that people could use for creating their own case. I was then contacted by Amir who had Khadas hook me up with a free board. That led to my creation of this guide. There I show how to purchase and modify a readily available aluminum project enclosure for use with the Tone Board. This case is a grounded metal deal that might help to improve measurements, but that hasn't been tested.

The issue with the case in my guide is that it requires tools and some fabrication skills that many people don't posses. I realized this when I created the guide and tried to keep things simple; but in the back of my head I knew a 3D printed case would be a better option for many. So let's get to the reason for this thread.
uncle_sam_i_want_you_vintage_poster-r12a473d1a7384eb88799ddedfd0fc5ac_2us3_8byvr_540.jpg
I want to know how many of you would be interested in a 3D printable case design. Like this post if yes.

I also want to know what features you would look for in a case for the Tone Board. An opening to see the power indicator LED? Mounting options? An integrated PEZ dispenser?

And last but not least how should the case look? Like an Apple product? Like a Roon Nucleus? Like an actual apple? Pictures say a thousand words.
 
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#4
Hi Tim

Thanks for your excellent metal case write-up and this excellent proposed project.

A few suggestions:

- board snaps in/out of the case (some Pi cases I have do this)
- case snaps together/apart (some Pi cases I have do this)
- case large enough to have some stability with cables connected (would some ballast be needed for stability?)

LED is not a requirement for me, but could a small part of the case be made thin enough to be translucent and a mount for the LED be incorporated into the case moulding for a cool effect?

Aesthetically, as simple as possible would be my preference, a rectangular box with subtly rounded edges would be perfect!
 

TimW

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#5
Hi Tim

Thanks for your excellent metal case write-up and this excellent proposed project.

A few suggestions:

- board snaps in/out of the case (some Pi cases I have do this)
- case snaps together/apart (some Pi cases I have do this)
- case large enough to have some stability with cables connected (would some ballast be needed for stability?)

LED is not a requirement for me, but could a small part of the case be made thin enough to be translucent and a mount for the LED be incorporated into the case moulding for a cool effect?

Aesthetically, as simple as possible would be my preference, a rectangular box with subtly rounded edges would be perfect!
Thanks for the suggestions. I've never designed anything that snaps together and I'm afraid that might be outside the realm of my abilities. I imagine it would take a lot of trial and error to prototype properly working snap connections. I don't have a 3D printer so I have to order prints from online service providers and multiple prototypes could get expensive fast. On top of that, if people were to print the file using different printing methods, materials, or even settings the snap connections might not work properly. So I'll probably design the case to use screws.

Of course asking someone to buy screws makes the design less attractive to the DIY averse. And making the case heavier through the addition of ballast weights would certainly do so. Unfortunately making the case heavier by making its walls unnecessarily thick would add cost. And making it large could prohibit certain people from making it do to print bed size restrictions. 3D printing services charge by volume so it's generally best to avoid designs that are overly girthy. With that being said I agree that the case shouldn't be so light that cables throw it off balance. We'll have to brainstorm ways of adding weight on the cheap and easy.

I also agree that an led glowing through the case could look very cool. Differences in printing could affect this but I think it's doable. We'll have to see how this can be incorporated into the shape of the case.

Honestly a rectangular box with subtly rounded edges is what I've been imagining for this case. I like the look of products with sharp horizontal edges and rounded verticle edges like the Nuforce STA-200, the Flirc RPi case, and the Mac Mini. But I'm open to other styles and would love to get more suggestions.
 

VMAT4

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#6
To prevent slipping and sliding etc, would a larger case work? Say, 194 mm W X 44 mm H X 135 mm D, this is the rough size of an Arcam rHead.
A thin rubber or Vibram sheet on the bottom might help as well. Of course these will push the price up.

Or, go with an inline design. Put the USB and SPDIF ports on one end and the analogue out on the other. The board doesn't lend it self to that however.

As for me I think sharp vertical edges with rounded horizontal edges, as with your metal and 02 cases, are my preference. But, in the end anything stable and attractive works for me.
 
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TimW

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#10
Just so we're all on the same page, I'm not planning on making and selling these cases. I will just be providing the file which can be printed, I will probably post it on Thingiverse. This is a website where you can find free files for all sorts of 3D printable objects. If you have your own 3D printer or know someone with one you can print the files locally. If not you can upload the file to a 3D printing service website such as Shapeways. They print the object and ship it to you. Shapeways is my preferred printing service because they use a less common printing method that produces smoother more attractive results. They also print in multiple materials like aluminum. Because of these features they are more expensive then other options, and printing in metal is very expensive. So if you buy one of these cases you will be buying it from the 3D printing service and any extra pieces like screws or rubber feet will have to be bought seperately.
 

Nango

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#11
Or you better wait until Khadas brings out new version including the TB-Dac + USB-SPDIF Converter all-in-one ....... seems to me they are capable of doing superb hi-fi stuff at modest prices .........

BTW: I found out the Khadas TB fits perfect inside the plate of such an official RPI Case, but it is not stable because of the cables:

pi-case_2.png
 

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VMAT4

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#12
Just so we're all on the same page, I'm not planning on making and selling these cases. I will just be providing the file which can be printed, I will probably post it on Thingiverse. This is a website where you can find free files for all sorts of 3D printable objects. If you have your own 3D printer or know someone with one you can print the files locally. If not you can upload the file to a 3D printing service website such as Shapeways. They print the object and ship it to you. Shapeways is my preferred printing service because they use a less common printing method that produces smoother more attractive results. They also print in multiple materials like aluminum. Because of these features they are more expensive then other options, and printing in metal is very expensive. So if you buy one of these cases you will be buying it from the 3D printing service and any extra pieces like screws or rubber feet will have to be bought seperately.
Could the labeling of the ports with raised lettering be included in the design?
 

Grave

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#15
It would be nice to have the option to just print a front panel that's compatible with the O2 case, that way you could pay a service to 3D print just the one piece, while still having a cheap grounded metal case.
Is this what NwAvGuy did with the O2? I remember a custom front panel with the right holes and labels. This is all you really need.
 

TimW

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#16
It would be nice to have the option to just print a front panel that's compatible with the O2 case, that way you could pay a service to 3D print just the one piece, while still having a cheap grounded metal case.
This is a great idea. It also eliminates the need to hunt down the nylon washers. You will still have to drill a couple of holes in the case for grounding and reinforcement using the standoffs if you want it.
 
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#17
Thanks for the earlier reply re: the screws Tim.

I agree, RedCometZero's idea is great. Another idea following from that: could the 3D printed front panel include a carrier for the Tone Board that slots into the slots in the slots on the O2 style case. No drilling required in the case then.
 

TimW

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#18
Thanks for the earlier reply re: the screws Tim.

I agree, RedCometZero's idea is great. Another idea following from that: could the 3D printed front panel include a carrier for the Tone Board that slots into the slots in the slots on the O2 style case. No drilling required in the case then.
Another great idea. I'll have to lay this out in 3D modeling space to see if it's feasible. Keep in mind you will not have case grounding with this method.
 

TimW

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#19
Could the labeling of the ports with raised lettering be included in the design?
How would you want them labeled? Left, Right, Coax, USB? LINE OUT L, LINE OUT R, SPDIF IN, USB IN? L, R, SPDIF, USB?[/QUOTE]
 

VMAT4

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#20
USB POWER, SPDIF IN, LINE OUT L, & LINE OUT R would do it for me.
 
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