Hackaday Prize 2023: Ubo Project: Building For Builders

The Ubo Pod by [Mehrdad Majzoobi] is a very highly polished extension pack and enclosure for the Raspberry Pi 4, which shows you how far you can go to turn a bare PCB into something that rivals the hardware offerings from Google and others. Gadgets like the Sonos speakers and Amazon or Google’s covert listening devices (aka Echo, Alexa, or whatever they’re branded as) are fun to play with. Still, the difficulty of hacking custom applications into them and god-forbid adding one’s own extension hardware, makes them fairly closed ecosystems. Add in the concerns of privacy and data security; they look less and less attractive the closer you look. Luckily the Raspberry Pi and its friends have improved the accessibility to the point where it’s positively easy to create whatever you want with whatever hardware you need, and to that end we think [Mehrdad] has done a splendid job.

The custom top PCB sits below the wooden top surface, hosting a central LCD display with push buttons located around it. Also sitting atop are some IR transmitters and receivers as well as RGB LEDs for the ring lighting. This top PCB acts as a RPi hat, and plugs into an RPi4 below, which then attaches to a side board via some PCB-mounted connectors, matching up with the USB and audio connectors. This board seems to act purely as an interconnect and form-factor adaptor allowing interfaces to be presented more conveniently without needing wires. This makes for a very clean construction. Extensive use of resin printing is shown, with lots of nice details of how to solve problems such as LED diffusion and bleeding. Overall, a very slick and well-executed project, that is giving us a few ideas for our own projects.

This type of project is commonplace on these fair pages, like this DIY smart speaker for example. With the supply of pi being still a little difficult to deal with, could you roll your own or get an alternative? What about just using your old mobile phone?

6 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize 2023: Ubo Project: Building For Builders

    1. great that you can buy an rpi4 so long as you use aggregated vendors instead of trusted ones! seems like an invitation to scalping at the best and fraud at the worst?

      anyways i was triggered by the suggestion it’s now on par with google/amazon offerings…hello…those products are able to enter low power modes. i know for a fact that google developers put a ton of effort on power management. if you want to compete with them, you’re going to have to do that work too…oh, what is this i hear? raspberry foundation has proprietary binary blobs everywhere you would need to hack to make that effort yourself? shocking!

      1. I can’t make any claims about other aggregators, but rpilocator’s about page says they only use authorized distributors. Of course, it is up to you to decide whether a distributor that has a Pi in stock is one you want to order from.

        That being said, the Pi 4 has been pretty constantly in stock for a month or so now, with some distributors selling out and receiving more stock on occasion. The US sites are still the rarest to find on the list, but even they’ve been restocking often – Chicago Electric, Digikey, and even Adafruit have all had stock recently. Hell, I’ve managed to snag a 2GB Pi 4 and a 4 GB Pi 4 within the past few weeks.

        You can sit there and complain, or you can go order a Pi. It’s up to you! ;)

  1. project creator here :) I understand Raspberry Pis have been hard to find at good price but seems like the availability is getting better specially during the last few month. I am working with Crowdsupply.com to bring this product to market with a crowdfunding campaign. Since CrowdSupply is a subsidiary of Mouser, we are working to ensure project backers get a Raspberry Pi secured through Mouser and shipped with their pledge. If you would like to get notified about the campaign, feel free to sign up on the website: http://www.getubo.com

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