Author Topic: Raspberry Pi in Dreamcast shell with custom paint job :)  (Read 4099 times)

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Offline Gryzor

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Hello guys!


I recently turned a Dreamcast case into a Pi-based media player and thought I'd share the results.


I chose the Dreamcast (DC) because it seemed spacious enough to fit everything in (and because I love the DC). Turns out its internal layout doesn't leave much room; true, you *can* cram everything in but not in a very usable layout as we'll see later.


Of course I wouldn't destroy a functioning DC. I have mine in a beautiful smoke-gray (translucent) case and its original one is in mint, snow-white condition so I wasn't touching that either. Over at Amibay I found someone who said he had an empty shell but in a bad condition. I thought, what the heck, let's make some Retrobrite and bring this back to life!


I then remembered I actually wanted to paint it black all along to fit in with the rest of the equipment, so... :D Bryce suggested using vinyl spray paint. This is used to paint vinyl surfaces, like upholstery, and it gives a very nice matte finish. Unfortunately I couldn't find any locally. However, while looking for vinyl spray - that is, spray for vinyl surfaces - I found actual VINYL in spray form: Plasti-Dip! This is a paint used on cars and it gives that great matte look you see every now and then on custom paint jobs. They claim it is vinyl in spray form and it actually forms a vinyl membrane on the sprayed surface (more on that later). What's more, it can easily be removed by peeling it off, though it is claimed it's very durable, as it can withstand regular car washing.


€15 later I had a can of spray in my hands. Instructions say it needs 4 layers, but for our purposes two layers were more than enough. I think one can is more than enough for a couple of machines.


So...




This is the DC shell I received:






YUK!!! Poor Dreamcast... For the purposes of comparison and to see what the original colour was like:





Opening it to see where everything fits:





The fact that the Pi has ports all over the place isn't very good as it needs to have space around it for the cables to curve around. The powered USB hub, serving as a PSU for the whole thing as well as a hub for the HDD and receivers stayed outside - I'll discuss this later.


Starting the paint job:





At the top right corner you'll notice some bubbling. This was due to incorrect spraying - I moved the nozzle too close. I could have peeled it off and redo the region but I didn't care since it's the bottom, however it served as a good lesson for when I sprayed the top parts.


Beautiful! :








The photo can't capture quite how good it looks however I did use the flash to give an indication of what it is like under a light source.


The GD-ROM cover:





Now, if you look closely you'll see a part of the circular groove where the paint didn't completely cover it, perhaps because of the angle I was spraying at. This may mean the spray is actually not that fine as it can't always get into the finest of details. I think that if I did another layer or two it'd be perfect even there, but I didn't see it at first and really you can't really see it in normal circumstances (here the flash helps; I have it sitting about a meter from me and I can't see the imperfection)


Mighty DC logo:








End result:























I also wired a white LED to the Pi's GPIO:





The original was orange, of course, but I wanted it to fit with the overall look. I used a 270Ω resistor because I didn't want it to be too bright, though it's probably on the low intensity side now. Perhaps a lower-value resistor, but I'm happy with it as it is.


Fixing the led was a bit tricky. The plastic LED cover has a LED tunnel under it, however the original SMD LED was sitting just under it on top of the controller input board. With that mini-board gone you're left with thin air. So I used a sachet of spare Sugru I had lying about and affixed it to the bottom of the tunnel perfectly.


The power button is also functional; I wired it again to the Pi's GPIO and can now switch the Pi on with it. Not that you ever power the Pi off (it doesn't really switch off anyway, it just enters a low power mode), but for those cases that I do, it's better to use than unplugging the USB and plugging it in again. Also, it can't power down the Pi, just wake it up from the low-power state. Can't be done any other way. Bryce (again) suggested some nice USB terminals I could use to break the USB cable and so truly switch the power off and on but I decided it wasn't worth the trouble of fitting them.


One small side-effect of the paint's texture is that the button doesn't return to its original position as easily after being pressed because of the friction. Same goes for the Eject button (still usable so I can see what's inside, that was a bit tricky to reassemble), but it's a very minor annoyance.


And looky here:








That's the metal shielding that was inside the DC case. I wanted to show you how easy and clean it is to peel the paint off. It's not easy to get started, even after only two layers (I assume that with three or four it'll be even harder) - I had to use a razor to cut a line and then start peeling, but once that's done you just tear it off. That's metal, but the effect was absolutely the same on the plastic I used to spray the DC shell on, so it's not that dependent on what's been sprayed.


You can see the gallery in higher resolution here: DC-Pi - Imgur . If you want a particular photo in full-res for any reason let me know.


Now, as I said, the USB hub was left outside the shell. Two reasons for that: first, there's not enough room for this hub, since it's an 8-slot, angled one (a flat one would fit nicely but I didn't find a cheap powered one with a quick browsing around). And second, the IR/BT receivers (for the remote/keyboard) are on it and I couldn't see where they could go. If I had a small one I could probably align the IR receiver with one of the controller port holes and get good reception, but not with my set up. BT shouldn't be an issue. I also considered moving the HDD to my DGND3700v2 Netgear router, turning it into a NAS and getting lots of extra space in the shell, but word of caution, the Netgear firmware sucks so much I was getting transfer speeds of less than 10Mbps on my Giga network! So it'll stay as it is for the time being, at least until I get a smaller USB hub.


...and that's about it, hope you liked it and that it gives you some ideas :)
« Last Edit: 19:21, 24 June 14 by Gryzor »

Offline Bryce

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Great result Gryzor. I'll have to invest in some of the paint for my next mod.

About the peeling: How long did you allow it to cure before you started picking away at it? And did you roughen the surfaces before you sprayed it or spray directly onto smooth plastic/steel.

Buttons: You should always sand the buttons down slightly smaller before you spray them, so that they still work after getting a layer of paint.

Bryce.
« Last Edit: 10:35, 25 June 14 by Bryce »

Offline Gryzor

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Cheers :) Yes it is, and you really can turn stuff into mean mother@#&*(^$@# with it... Not sure it'll work as well for keyboards though, where your hands rest. For other objects though... Oh, and there are several colours, too! Check them out: Προιόντα . Some neat effects...

Offline CraigsBar

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Oooh, my spare and very yellowed 6128 plus might get a paint job. I fancy something gold or silver. I wonder if I can get character transfers made up in the Cpc font to re-decal the keyboard after painting?
IRC:  #Retro4All on Freenode

Offline Gryzor

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Well, transfers are easy to do, but I highly doubt you'll get some of high enough quality to last after some typing; they'll probably start peeling off after a while...

Offline Gryzor

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Oh, @Bryce , just saw your additional comments.

Never occurred to me to sand the buttons, nice idea... it'd take slow, patient sanding, but it's probably the proper way.

Spraying was done on the original plastic, only 'treatment' it got was to thoroughly clean it. The metal plate was sitting there for less than a week; instructions say a car can be washed under pressure in ten days, and that the paint continues getting stronger after that.

Offline Bryce

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Never occurred to me to sand the buttons, nice idea... it'd take slow, patient sanding, but it's probably the proper way.

Bryce trick No. 273 - Sanding round buttons: Mount the button on the end of a steel rod using hotglue and centred as good as possible. Mount the rod in a multi-speed drill. Wrap fine sandpaper around a sponge (this compensates for any offset due to the button not being 100% centred). Spin the button and press it gently against the sandpaper. You should end up with an evenly sanded button. I usually mark things with a felt-tip pen before sanding them so that I can tell how much I have removed.

Bryce.

Offline Gryzor

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Holy crap, that's a totally new level :D Will definitely keep it in mind (but how do you mound the drill?)