Raspberry Pi Zero & Arduino UNO in an old DVD Player Chassis

Well, it’s not really at all like prototype kids electronics computer station thing I made a render of in Blender last year, but it’s kind of cool and definitely helps my desk stay uncluttered, which is nice.

Nice and tidy Pi Zero and Arduino UNO setup

The keyboard is a particularly kick butt off-brand mechanical deal, with Cherry MX blue style switches and double-shot PBT keycaps built on a thick metal plate, that I bought on sale of less than $24 CAD. That was one hell of a deal considering that I paid about the same for my all plastic Microsoft ComfortCurve 2000, with its bendy chassis and rubber dome keys, in the early 2000s. Moving on, I also included a powered USB hub, a breadboard for electronics tinkering, and hand-made mount that allows the Pi Zero W to sit mostly inside the plastic front bezel, leaving it beyond the metal chassis for better Wifi reception. Speaking of Wifi, initially I only wanted the $6 CAD Pi Zero, but I wasn’t able to find one in stock, so I bought the $11 Pi Zero W instead. All things considered, I suppose it is a lot simpler to use Apt on the network rather than downloading packages to a USB stick on a different computer and installing them that way. All of these parts I attached with a handful of screws and some wire I pealed out of an Ethernet cable; Threading the wires through holes in the plastic/metal plates was both sturdy and cost effective! Don’t worry, there is a piece of silver coloured plastic between the bottom on the Pi and the metal frame it’s mounted upon.

Anyhow, my primary use for the machine is to play around with programming in the C language in a command line only world that hearkens back to the 8 Bit days, in a way. Having spent a year with my Commodore 64c, I decided that I prefer puttering around with Linux, C, Python, Lua, BASIC, and all that jazz rather than futzing with Assembly on the C64. I very much enjoy the combination of the “limited” Pi Zero, with its single core CPU and 512MB RAM, and the meager Arduino UNO, because the combo is not only crazy powerful for character graphics programming (Ncurses library), but I can accidentally blow up either of them when working on an electronics project without worrying too much about it. Always a little freaky plugging that Arduino into a computer! Finally, I love that the whole system uses less than 2 Watts of power under full load – it makes a whole lot more sense to do use it for command line based programming that my electricity sucking desktop, that’s for sure!

That said, I don’t really have any projects on the go with it at this time. I already have a bunch of other projects I am not doing as it is lol… Seriously, I need to find the passion to finish RocketTux, basically for the sake of doing so at this point… And with that said, I do have some crazy ideas which will no doubt show up on my GitHub page in due time. Think Commodore PET style games and software, only it’s Rasbian (Debian) Linux rather than Commodore BASIC…

Here are some more pictures of the setup.

This once was Daytech DVD-868V50 DVD player.

Powered USB Hub, Breadboard, and a plastic bottom with plenty of space for misc parts to dangle around!

I made a custom rear panel out of plastic. Could have done a better job with the Arduino hole…

This is a terrible picture. My main desktop keyboard is backlit, while the one for the Pi in front of it is not. Split screen command line thanks to Tmux.