Raspberry Pi Cable Management

The Raspberry Pi is an awesome project, but I've had trouble implementing it into our after-school program, probably because I dread hooking everything up. I think I've solved that problem, and will share the broad strokes with you here.

People are always impressed when you tell them it is a $35 dollar computer, but what that gets you is just the circuit board. You are going to need the following:
  • A HDMI or DVI monitor. Smaller is better for portability. VGA is a no-go since the cable to go from VGA to HDMI is too expensive. Fortunately, you can get suitable monitors at the thrift store for $15 - 25 (make sure it is DVI, not VGA). Onboard speakers is a plus (Sonic Pi!). A suitable new monitor can be had for $100 (example: http://amzn.com/B004N5AH1U).
  • The appropriate video cable. Shorter is better. If you obtained a DVI monitor, you would need a DVI to HDMI cable like http://amzn.com/B000QYZZFK.
  • A USB hub if you have a Model B Pi, which only has two USB ports, and you want to add a WiFi dongle. A plus is if the hub can power the Pi (one less connection). You can see a confusing list of hubs at http://elinux.org/RPi_Powered_USB_Hubs. I've had luck with this Belkin Slim-line: http://amzn.com/B005A0B3FG
  • USB Cables. Shorter is better. Right-angle connectors is a plus. You need:
  • WiFi adapter. If had luck with the Edimax: http://amzn.com/B003MTTJOY
  • A power strip, especially if you are powering more than one Pi, and an extension cord depending on how close to the outlets you are.
  • 4 GB SD Card.
  • Protective case for the Pi. An opening over the GPIO header and camera connector is a plus.  http://amzn.com/B008TCUXLW
  • Oh, and lets not forget a keyboard and mouse.

So, depending on the monitor you obtain, you are closer to the $100 - 200 range by the time you are done. Still a bargain in my book.

I've set four of these up, each with a different monitor and USB hub, so I can't provide detailed instructions. For attaching the Pi Case to the monitor, I removed the monitor back and drilled matching holes in both the case and the back and attached them together with tie-wraps. Depending on the hub, you can use the same tie-wrap method. I've also used two-part epoxy, or double-back tape may do the trick.

Since you have to take the monitor back off to attach the case, you might as well see if there is room to run the USB power and data cables from the hub to the Pi inside. Drill holes large enough for the smaller USB connector and thread them through. 

Even with the shorter 3-foot video cable, you still have about two and a half feet too much. I just loop it around the monitor mount and tie-wrap it together.

The final detail I add is to wrap and tie-wrap the USB hub power cable and the monitor power cable together. Since I had different hubs, I didn't want to have to figure out which cable went with each set up each time.

So there it is. Your mileage may vary. Let me know what you come up with. In the future I'll detail my experience with MineCraft and Python on the Pi!

1 comment:

  1. I just did this to a Philips Brilliance 180P 18" LCD Monitor. It is a little big for my taste, but the back snaps right off, so it is easy to modify, and it has built in speakers.