Making A Small And Fast Computer Using a Raspberry Pi 4B

Converting the Raspberry Pi to use a SSD or a Hard disk via the USB V.3 connector, instead of the microSD card, allows for a big increase in the speed of the device. The conversion can be done very easily with an RPi 4B, since it already has the capability of booting from a USB-attached storage device, but can be easily done also to older RPi versions with a simple modification to their firmware, following the procedure on the RPi official web site.

The conversion consists in removing the microSD card from the RPi and use instead a hard disk. And for that, I bought on Amazon a nice Samsung 500GB external solid state disk for a very reasonable price. Since it connects through a USB v3 cable, it seems perfect for the job.

If you need a SSD like this, or a different one, you could use my affiliate link to buy one, so you will indirectly support this site and the eleneasy YouTube channel at no extra cost to you. You can also watch the video where I show you how to make the conversion.

And since I now have two devices, the RPi and the SSD, that need to stay connected and work together, I decided to 3D-print a nice box to save some desk space.

There are two parts: one for the actual box and one for its cover. They are both made out of a simple cube, but I made a few slits on the bottom of the box and on the cover to help with the air flow, so the components inside will not overheat, especially the RPi.

Here is the OpenSCAD code I used to design the object:

$fa=0.5;
$fs=0.5;


// BODY

difference()
{
	cube([100, 100, 65]);
	translate([2, 2, 2]) cube([96, 96, 64]);
	translate([1, 1, 63]) cube([98, 98, 3]);
	
	translate([5, 20, -1]) cube([88, 2, 4]);
	translate([5, 34.5, -1]) cube([88, 2, 4]);
	translate([5, 49, -1]) cube([88, 2, 4]);
	translate([5, 63.5, -1]) cube([88, 2, 4]);
	translate([5, 78, -1]) cube([88, 2, 4]);
	
	translate([2, 97, 20]) cube([15, 4, 20]);

	translate([35, 97, 10]) cube([56, 4, 20]);
	
	translate([97, 8 , 10]) cube([4, 70, 15]);
}




// COVER

translate([110, 0, 0]) difference()
{
	cube([98, 98, 2]);
	translate([10, 20, -1]) cube([78, 2, 4]);
	translate([10, 34.5, -1]) cube([78, 2, 4]);
	translate([10, 49, -1]) cube([78, 2, 4]);
	translate([10, 63.5, -1]) cube([78, 2, 4]);
	translate([10, 78, -1]) cube([78, 2, 4]);
}

Pleass refer to my YouTube video for the details of the project.

Experimentation Boards

How to experiment with electronic components to try new things and test your designs

It comes the time where you want to do some experiments to learn how a specific circuit works or to test a new circuit that you are designing.

Fundamentally, there are two options for you:

  1. Use a perforated board where you can solder the components to build the circuit you want to test.
  2. Use a solder-less breadboard, which allows you to build the circuit you need and, later, dismantle it without any damage to the components you used.

There is actually a third possibility, which is to use a PCB, or Printed Circuit Board. However, I will not consider that right now. PCB are normally used in later stage of development, when you are ready to put your design in a more definitive form. Using a PCB board at the early stages of design is not convenient, due to the cost and time needed just to produce the board itself over and over again, until you are satisfied with your design.

Personally, when I am in the first stages of a new design, and I need to try  a new piece of electronic circuit, I prefer to use a solder-less breadboard, which allows me to modify the circuit at will while I test different versions of it.

02_DSC00020

Once I am satisfied with the design and I need to build my first real prototype, I then use a perforated board. In this case I lay down all the components on one side of it, normally the one with no metallic pads, and then I solder the components on the other side, where the metallic pads are located. At the same time I start running the cables from the lead of one component to another, to make all the electric connections between components.

02_DSC00027

If what I need is just one circuit for personal purposes, then I might as well end it right there, leaving the circuit on the perforated board. But if I needed to build several of those circuits, then I start thinking of manufacturing a PCB. But this is a subject for another time.

Since I work a lot with Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards, I have also created my own version of experimentation board, which is basically a piece of cardboard that I covered with blue tape, with  a bunch of stuff glued to it: a couple of breadboards, an Arduino Uno, a Raspberry Pi, and a small LCD display. I also added a few little trays to temporarily place some components needed to build the circuit, or to hold bigger components that are part of the project and cannot fit on the breadboards.

02_DSC00023

This configuration allows me to build my experimentation circuits in a neat way, without having too many things lying around on the workbench. It is very easy to move around the built circuit when it is done on such a custom board.

(Watch the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv7kVVZvULA&t=13s)

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