For the Cardano on the Rocks project we first designed a small simple metal case and showed it off in a presentation at the 2019 IOHK Summit in Miami.
Although this metal housing can be produced very cheaply, not everyone can do it themselves, and as such it is not an ideal option.
As such, the idea was born to develop a 3d-printable case for a full Cardano staking node. It was designed not only to be visually and clearly a Cardano node, but also allow continuous operation without needing to connect a large computer screen.
With that in mind the housing is circular with the Cardano logo integrated, while also showing off the current operating status of the node on a small OLED display.
Now, let’s look into more of the specifics piece by piece.
First of is the base plate. As can be seen below, it accommodates the RockPi’s heat sink without issue:
The current design has already gone through several stages of development with the aim of increasing stability, simplifying assembly and, of course, keeping manufacturing/printing costs as low as possible.
The top cover has a window for the OLED display and shows off the Cardano logo as well. Only two screws are required to assemble all of the housing parts together with the RockPi board making assembly extremely simple.
You can order the printed case or download the open-source project files for this case and produce them yourself with a 3D printer or by using an online print service of your choice.
We generally recommend the use of PETG or ABS as the printing material. Both offer an excellent combination of cost and durability. Nylon costs a little more, but has a very nice and noble looking surface. Print service providers also offer other materials which you may be interested in testing. For a more in-depth analysis check out this webpage where a produce explains the advantages and disadvantages of various options. Keep in mind that light or semi-transparent material colours will allow light to shine through and have a less-optimal aesthetic feel compared to non-transparent material.
Please note that the CPU emits a certain amount of heat that the housing material must withstand permanently. Cheap PLA material, high room temperatures and long-lasting direct sunlight are certainly not recommended while running your node.
Depending on your location you may have to do a few searches to figure out the best option to get your 3d-printed case. Based on our own experiences we can recommend one of the following 3D-Print online providers (in alphabetical order):
Drag&Drop upload, get an instant quote, select material and color and you should receive your parts within a week. https://www.3dhubs.com/manufacture/
Drag&Drop upload, select “mm”, get the current best instant quote from many different affiliated printing services and select material and color. You should receive your parts within two weeks https://print.all3dp.com/
Drag&Drop upload, select “mm”, get the current best instant quote from many different local printing services. watch out for PETG or another heat-resistant material. shows the lowest prices, but your result will heavily depend on the selected service provider. https://www.treatstock.com/my/print-model3d
Watch below to get an idea of how the 3D-Print process looks like when producing your own case:
The printed parts will come out like this:
Note: We have also 3d-designed a white internal adapter. It is only useful if you plan to mount the M.2 adapter with a NVMe storage module AND you want continue to have a backlighted Cardano-Logo.
The Cardano on the Rocks enclosure uses the green bright power LED of the motherboard to create the light effect of the Cardano logo in the lid. The M.2 adapter board, unfortunately, covers this green light.
If you like, you can install a replacement LED or even a dynamically glowing RGB board as an alternative to mend this issue.
That’s why we designed the internal diffuser: 3-D printed in white and cheap material (PETG, ABS, PLA, …) it is internally mounted between the M.2 adapter and the top cover. Supplemented with a small and inexpensive RGB LED module, it provides a multi-color logo backlight. In this way, different operating states of the node can be displayed.
Alternatively, if you would prefer a generic pre-made case then Allnet, the global RockPi distributor, has also developed their own enclosures. They don’t carry the Cardano logo and have no OLED display, but they’re great if you prefer a simplified building process.