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How vulnerable is the Raspberry Pi without a case? I've seen the many Lego cases which look great, but I'm constantly wondering what the risk of such a case is. Will a Lego case successfully protect the Pi just like a regular case will? And what is it that a regular case protects the Pi from?

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For me:

  • The pins, headers and external components look fragile and easily bent.

  • It looks easy to accidentally short GPIO pins and other conductors on the Pi by (e.g.) dropping it on a coductive surface, brushing a conductive object against it or dropping a conductive object onto it while it is powered up.

  • a number of the sockets, the HDMI connector in particular, are quite stiff; anything that makes it easier to grip the board edges or otherwise aid plugging/unplugging cables without exposing fragile connectors to undue forces therefore helps

Even something like the punnet goes a long way to solving those concerns. However, if you do put it in a case:

  • connector joins stick out of the bottom of the device, as does the SD card socket, so simply resting it on a flat case bottom could cause problems - there may be mechanical forces on the solder joins when inserting/removing cables, and it may be difficult to insert/remove SD cards or lay the device flat when an SD card is inserted

  • there isn't a great deal of clear space on the bottom of the device where feet / pads for it to rest on can go, so these would have to be very carefully positioned if such a solution is taken

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I reckon the best case is The Punnet; it is a case made from card. You can print it yourself, fold and glue, and you will have a case in minutes. It protects the RPi from dust, which is the main threat.

Other cases may protect the RPi from light spills or unwanted electrical interference, but I don't think it is worth it given the cost of the RPi!

  • 3
    I would say it is worth it given the low supply of Raspberry Pis. – user46 Jun 20 '12 at 14:21
  • It's worth being careful for a while! – Alex Chamberlain Jun 20 '12 at 14:22
  • RS components has a simple hard case for ~$7. That plus the cost of a Pi plus an SD card puts the total cost at about $50 for a fully-functional PC. I am OK with that price given that price includes protection from minor bumps and scratches that are highly likely to occur on an office desk. – Joel Slowik Jun 22 '12 at 18:26

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