New Case Idea: PCB

A project log for PiCarts: GPIO ROM Carts

Loading from ROM cartridges plugged into the GPIO port. Just like the old days.

DustinDustin 07/24/2021 at 17:370 Comments

I've been struggling with cases for these carts. Injection molding is the standard, but I can't afford the molds and tooling for production runs. I've seen setup costs run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don't have $100,000+ just laying around to finish this project. What I do have is access to PCB fab houses that don't care what they're making, and are reasonably priced. Price per unit of a PCB case will likely be higher than injection molded, but that's ok as it gets this project completed. 

FR4 Enclosures(HaD Article)

That article came to mind recently and makes the most sense for this project. Cheap, strong, mechanically and electrically useful, and can be made into works of art. The missing piece to this project is the case, and I do believe I've found that missing link. The possibilities of FR4 as a case material are nearly endless. It's this endless possibility that draws me to certain things, such as programming. This project is a way for me to explore the possibilities of some of my favorite things, and come out with something useful others can enjoy. Just picturing the closet cases made of FR4 gave me an idea for an entire game console made with the stuff. One complete with status lights, switches and dials, input and output ports, and even expansion and carriage ports with robust edge connectors, instead of the more fragile pin headers. This project is growing in scope in my mind, so I'll need to manage the old feature creep if I ever want to get this done. I've just put together a list of development Hardware for this project, so I'm just waiting on the pay from my new job I start I'm a few days. 

Anyway, the case dilemma, which has haunted me from the start, has been resolved. The idea is solid, I just need to out in the work to bring it to life. Very satisfying.