Magnets Make This Panda Move

A single board computer on a desk is fine for quick demos but for taking it into the wild (or even the rest of the house) you’re going to want a little more safety from debris, ESD, and drops. As SBCs get more useful this becomes an increasingly relevant problem to solve, plus a slick enclosure can be the difference between a nice benchtop hack and something that looks ready to sell as a product. [Chris] (as ProjectSBC) has been working on a series of adaptable cases called the MagClick Case System for the LattePanda Alpha SBC which are definitely worth a look.

The LattePanda Alpha isn’t a run-of-the-mill SBC; it’s essentially the mainboard from a low power ultrabook and contains up to an Intel Core M series processor, 8GB RAM, and 64GB of eMMC. Not to mention an onboard Atmega32u4, WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, and more. It has more than enough horsepower to be used as an everyday desktop computer or even a light gaming system if you break PCIe out of one the m.2 card slots. But [Chris] realized that such adaptability was becoming a pain as he had to move it from case-to-case as his use needs changed. Thus the MagClick Case System was born.

As the name suggests, the MagClick cases are designed to click together magnetically during construction and mounting. Snap the sides on the SBC and add the top and bottom and you have an enclosed desktop system that exposes all the ports. Pop the top off and snap it to the side of a GPU/power supply enclosure and you have a stationary gaming system. Pull it off again and attach it to [Chris]’s Nintendo Switch style portable case with batteries and Joycons and you’re gaming on the move. In practice some of these transitions will still require plugging in internal and external wires, but we think it’s a big improvement.

Right now the files for some MagClick variants are on Thingiverse, and [Chris] has a tutorial for now to assemble the desktop (“Base”) case. If you’re interested in learning more check out the slick intro video after the break.

This isn’t the only SBC case we’ve seen recently. [Madeline Gannon] made a similarly adaptable series of cases for the Jetson Nano so she could take it into the world.

17 thoughts on “Magnets Make This Panda Move

    1. Daniel, every single rotating hard drive has powerful rare earth magnets which are far, far closer to the media than these case magnets are. Keeping in mind that field strength drops as 1/r**2, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

      The “Remember folks” part comes off to me as a bit condescending, as if the designer had somehow made a huge gaffe due to their ignorance. I’d guess they have a much firmer grasp on the requirements than you do.

      1. With upmost respect.

        First, I believe you are reading way too much emotion into what is being said here.

        Second, Those magnets in mechanical HDDs are orientated in such ways that their magnetic field lines never reach out from the intended function, to move a read head across the platter.

        Third, electrical signals WILL distort with a magnetic field close by. Changing currents are effectively moving magnetic fields. traces on high speed digital circuits are carefully balanced during design. Any magnetic field outside of their own WILL distort the signals in the traces. Enough to create errors… I wouldn’t chance it.

        1. Tldr; no, it’s almost definitely not an issue

          Any changing magnetic field could induce a current, but it’ll be essentially negligible in this case because it’s at a much lower frequency than any high speed signaling where it would matter, and in most cases it’ll show up as common mode noise which would be rejected in differential signals, as most high speed lines are.

          A constant magnetic field could potentially induce a voltage via the Hall effect, but this is effectively negligible in metals

    2. Don’t worry Daniel.
      Only moving magnets can cause electrical signals. Stationary don’t have any cause on electronics.
      Also, Magnetic media are a thing from the past. This baby uses a solid state drive.

    3. Guy who works around MRI magnets here. There are electronics (microprocessors) on the magnet themselves that operate in much larger magnetic field environments. Also, the windows computers we use to test them experience several hundred gauss consistently everyday. And no, the computers don’t randomly crap out.

      The real killer is a large flux or magnetic field changes that induce current where it isn’t intended. Those magnets aren’t the kind that could deal that kind of damage. A consistent low field could yield slight Hall effects in the materials, not enough voltage cause harm but it’s impossible to rule out detrimental effects in the comments here

  1. Actually I think you need to be aware of the unintended side effects of having magnets around. A few years ago I had a nice mobile phone case with a magnetic catch. I am also a keen sailor and found to my dismay that the case affected the tillerpilot when I sat In a particular place. It took me a while to figure Out why sometimes I had drifted badly off course.

  2. Magnets… cool concept of attaching things. And the whole project is cool in itself as it is so easy to put together. Unfortunately is is therefore also very easy to take apart. Also the non-cool part is that they don’t discriminate and tend to stick to anything that contains iron, like: brackets… screwdrivers… screws… tweezers… but the most annoying one “metal debris” such as the tiny filing particles on your workbench. And once they get it, they almost never get out…

    Although I wonder if Popeye would have problems with it considering his high intake of Spinach (that’s a joke).
    Considering Popeye, those who want to know more about Spinach and it’s iron content should read this:

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