This 3D printed portable mini PC is the perfect DIY project for 3D printer host control

Jun 4, 2017 | By Julia

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Adafruit has uploaded a new tutorial for 3D printing a portable mini PC. Featuring a 7-inch display and built-in battery, this handy and highly portable gadget works with any HDMI device, making it the perfect setup for 3D printer host control.

Posted by the Ruiz Brothers, the 7” Mini PC provides a solid alternative to a Raspberry Pi when running 3D printer interfaces such as Octoprint. Particularly when running maintenance checks and updating firmware, a full blown PC is a key tool to have, but can often be too bulky. For that reason, the Adafruit duo designed and constructed this DIY project to easily control some of their 3D printers.

“We like this because it’s actually a lot smaller to bring this over to a printer then it is to bring over a MacBook Air,” explain the Ruiz Brothers. “So much smaller that we can fit the display right inside the printer and configure printers that can only use windows software.”

In progress for some time now, the 3D printed 7” Mini PC is actually an update to Adafruit’s earlier 7-inch design. Added benefits include an easier assembly thanks to snap fit nubs (as opposed to the previously seen screws) that fasten the lid onto the case.

Mounts are an easy addition to the model, making attaching your preferred tiny computer (whether a PC or Rasperry PI) a synch. Alternatively, threads can be made directly onto the lid.

For this DIY project, the Ruiz Brothers decided to go with a PowerBoost 1000c for easy circuit powerage, ensuring a simple recharging process from the USB port on the side. The makers also included tripod compatibility into their model. The case geometry provides the option for adding a tripod-compatible screw so the whole enclosure can be mounted efficiently to a tripod. Don’t want to use a tripod? The tripod screw fits flush against the enclosure, so the mini PC can still stand upright even without the use of a tripod.

Last but not least, small interchangeable 90 degree up-angled HDMI connectors feature a nifty latching mechanism for linking up flat flexible ribbon cables. These connectors are available in all different types of angle configurations, making it easy to mix and match depending on the specific project.

To prep for this project, the Ruiz Brothers recommend checking out their previous guide for a 7″ HDMI Monitor Backpack. Required tools and accessories include a soldering iron and solder, some silicone wire, PLA filament and a desktop FDM style 3D printer. The full list of parts can be viewed here, which mainly revolves around basics that any tech-inclined makers will likely have in their toolbox. Happy DIYing!

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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