Aug 25, 2015 | By Alec

While 3D printing simple pencil holders and Yoda statues is perfectly acceptable and fun, what maker doesn’t dream about tackling some of those more extensive projects you find online? And anyone in need of some inspiration usually doesn’t need to look much further than Adafruit, which is always sharing fun and creative electronic 3D printing builds. And the Ruiz bros have now tackled something that we were hoping for ever since seeing their Raspberry Pi Mini Computer and this PC monitor: a 3D printable tablet.

Anyone who keeps an eye on the activities of the Ruiz brothers will know that they are a big fan of the Raspberry Pi computer board, and this 3D printed Raspberry Pi Tablet is little more than a reminder how remarkably powerful and capable it can be. 'This project showcases the scalibility of a 3D printed project for the Raspberry Pi. You've see this sorta thing before, an all-in-one portable Raspberry Pi fitted in a nice little 3D printed package with a PiTFT display. So, surely it's trivial to scale that up with the best screen in the shop!’ they proudly say. While it might not match up to the latest iPad, it is definitely a fantastic build that will give you access to a more than adequate tablet suitable for a number of applications. The brothers themselves will be using it for monitoring and wirelessly controlling a 3D printer farm.

And what is better than having a tablet that you’ve built yourself for a fraction of the price of a store-bought version? However, in this case, the Ruiz brothers went a bit overboard with the DIY approach, resulting in no compromises being made in terms of costs. ‘The cost of this build is easily goes over low budget DIY projects, but it's meant to be premium build. A dedicated linux box with a decent sized screen could cost about the same amount, but when the process of building a project is more meaningful than getting the cheapest deal, this sorta thing becomes a trophy item as well as a functioning utility,’ they rightly say.

What’s more, there are more advantages to this build. Unlike the rigid confines of Apple, this tablet will be fully customizable. They encourage users to mount it to anything for any application, while they also applaud anyone looking to design custom brackets and bodies. Because if you’re going to build it yourself, you might as well make it suitable for your own goals.

Now usually the Adafruit projects remind you of how easily it actually is to build these things yourself, but in this case the project is quite complex. However, if you’re one of those veteran builders, you would probably love the challenge. As far as parts go, you have quite a lot of freedom – you really only need a Raspberry Pi and display, as well as all the hardware of your choosing. The Ruiz brothers themselves have included the following: 10.1" HDMI 4 PI IPS Display, Raspberry Pi 2, 2x PowerBoost 1000C, 2x 6000mAh Lithium Ion Battery, PAM8302 Audio Amplifier, Pigtail 3.5mm Stereo Audio Cable, HDMI Cable, Slide switch, JST-PH extension cable and a thin plastic speaker. All can, obviously, be purchased through Adafruit here.

And as you probably guessed, the entire body has been 3D printed. All parts were sliced using Simplify3D software and 3D printed on their Type A Machine Series 1. A 10% infill and three shells were used for the four separate STL files, which can all be found on the Adafruit page too. In total, it took about twelve hours to print all parts. ‘The parts can be printed in different types of filament. The most common filaments like PLA and ABS will do just fine but you can of course experiment with copperFill, bambooFill, Semiflex, PET and Nylon, they say.

3D printing itself is fairly straightforward, though the size of the body parts could require a bit of puzzling before you get them right. ‘Any parts with large surface require a well leveled build plate. If you're using a heated bed, you can minimize warping. Blue tapers tape, build tak, and sticky adhesives can help keep your part flat and adhere to the bed,’ the brothers advise. Just make sure you carefully clean up the print and test to see if all parts fit before assembly.

The challenge, really, is in the electronics themselves. The circuit diagram with the two PowerBoost100Cs require a bit of careful work, as will the assembly of all the parts and wires. Fortunately, as ever, they have written up a careful and complete assembly guide that should be fairly easy to follow. Upon completion, this fun and very impressive tablet can be mounted to any point, including a tripod. ‘The case is design to sit on any of its sides. You can also attach a 3/8" to 1/4-20 tripod adapter to easily connect it to a tripod!’ the brothers add. The result is a fantastic tablet that puts the bar for the Adafruit engineers even higher than before. If you’re interested, head over their webpage here.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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