Something Old, Something New

When I started to wrap my head around the ambition of the MiSTer project, I started considering which form factor I wanted to make the SDRAM and how I wanted to lay out the USB hub ports. Ultimately, I decided to do what was most standard in case my customers wanted to buy NegSol’s 3D printed case. I had no idea that a few months later I might be the one selling them the case. But here we are.

Something Old

By now, I’ve printed close to 100 cases. While I still believe the original case design is a great, it is in need of some updates and refinements. In speaking with NegSol, I was told that the case would not be easy to update for small features. I eventually figured out that the original design of the case was adapted from the The Ultimate Boxmaker, which was designed in OpenSCAD. This makes modifications very difficult since it’s not a traditional 3D model. To this end, I set out to remodel the case from scratch and fix some of the issues with the first case. While there are still a few tweaks to make, the case is ready for its debut. Here’s what’s new in V2:

  • Main Case:
    • Interchangeable buttons – choose your own color
    • Hole for the serial (USB 3) port
    • New, more attractive (methinks), vent design
    • LED light pipes (need finish work)
    • Micro SD card slot no longer hits mounting hole standoff for DE10-nano board, making the card hard to remove
    • Re-aligned PCB mounting holes
    • Enlarged and deepened mounting holes to more easily accommodate inserting the M3 standoffs
    • Sync-on-green and micro SD plugs fit holes better
    • New hole for serial port uses same plug as micro SD ports
    • Decreased button size slightly to improve button response (previous buttons were slightly too long and sometimes partially depressed the IO board’s push button when resting as well as rubbed on top of case).
    • Recessed case screw holes
  • USB Hub Case:
    • Universal layout to accommodate both USB Hub port layouts
    • Lowered mounting holes so USB ports sit lower in the case.
    • Improved strain relief for micro USB cable (only relevant if you bought my style USB hub with an off-the-shelf micro USB cable)
    • Re-aligned PCB mounting holes
  • To do:
    • Fix mating between top case and USB
    • Eliminate slight gap between two halves of top case
    • Perfect light pipes
    • Re-align rear opening for DC jack and test (this one may be tight)

Something New

I’m super excited to reveal what will be my first original product: the MiSTer acrylic case! Several people have mentioned that they’re waiting to get a case until there’s a good acrylic option. This case is exactly that. It assembles with only 8 screws and does not require adhesive. The goal is to have a 100% acrylic case with no 3D printed parts, including buttons.

Things to tweak before it’s 100% ready:

  • Light pipes (same design as V2 case)
  • Add opening for main micro SD card (whoops)
  • Finalize acrylic button solution and finish
  • Add USB and power holes to make USB hub portion universal
  • Slightly round top and bottom plate corners as well as port holes
  • Adjust label positioning and port hole sizes for better fit
  • Create internal micro USB solution to eliminate external USB hub cable
  • Test vent design to ensure sturdiness
  • Tighten up case dimension where possible (it’s usable as is, but could be a few mm smaller in some directions)
  • Get proper sized standoffs for case top

Because I’ve waited long enough to get the prototype done, I’ll be investing in my own laser cutter. This should minimize future delays for all acrylic products.

Availability

The 3D printed case V2 is available now. Expect slightly longer delays in print times from V1 cases while I make the final few tweaks. I’ll more than likely be printing on demand to start, which may slow things down a little.

I’m also taking acrylic case pre-orders starting today. I’ll keep you posted with tweaks and changes so you know what you’re getting yourself into and you can cancel at any time. I don’t expect more than a few weeks before the modifications are done, but stranger things have happened and I’m not making any promises.

Pricing

Now for the part you really care about. Starting today, V2 of the 3D printed case will be $35 for the main case and $10 for the USB hub case, a $5 savings for each piece. The acrylic case will be $55. My remaining stock of V1 cases will remain at their current, discounted price ($28 for the main case and $10.50 for the USB hub case) until all inventory is sold, at which point the product will be removed.

But, I just bought a case from you!

I hear you. It’s difficult to roll out surprise products without stepping on toes. To show my appreciation for previous customers a $10 discount will be granted for either the 3D Printed V2, or the acrylic case. Send me an email ([email protected]) after you order a new case and I’ll issue a refund.

I thought MiSTer was open source. Where are the design files?

I’ll make the 3D printed files available either on my site or Thingiverse once I get a few printed out and proofed by others. The laser cut files will also be made available but special consideration will be needed to make the buttons.

What else do you have up your sleeve?

Wouldn’t you like to know? I’ll undoubtedly be adding case solutions as board designs change and new add-on boards are released.

Also, I’m working on a few other off-the-wall case solutions but those are a ways away. One thing at a time.

Thank you

To everyone who’s like or retweeted one of my posts, bought a product from me, told a friend, or sent me positive comments, thank you. This year is full of change as I transition from a previous small business venture into MiSTerAddons.com. I never expected to have a dedicated video game business but, thanks to generous customers and awesome developers like Sorgelig, Furrtek, ElectronAsh, Jotego, Rysha, and others, this has been a dream come true (ironically speaking, since I’m way behind on sleep).

If you would like to do even more than what you’ve already done, post a picture of your setup and tag me on Twitter, refer a friend to the site, leave a feedback comment on how I can improve, and most importantly, donate to the developers who make this project possible. I’ll also have a donation link for the case files in the event that, after everything else you’ve done, you have some spare change you want to throw at me.