Fully 3D Printed Case Is Stacked High With Mini PCs

Over the years we’ve seen no shortage of 3D printed cases designed to hold several Raspberry Pi computers, often with the intent to use them as convenient desktop-sized platforms for experimenting with concepts such as server load balancing and redundancy.

The reason the Pi was always the star of the show is simple enough to explain: they were small and cheap. But while the Pi has only gotten more expensive over the years, x86 machines have gotten smaller and cheaper. Which is how a project like the N100 Obelisk was born.

As the name implies, [Jay Doscher] has packed this printed tower of power with a number of mini computers utilizing the Intel N100 CPU, namely the QC12 from Beelink. At $250 a pop they’re definitely a more expensive option than the Pi 5. But with each one packing 16 GB of RAM, a 512 GB NVME drive, plus the option to plug in a SATA drive, you’re getting plenty of bang for your computing buck.

Each QC12 lives on its own printed “shelf” inside the case, which will fit up to five of the machines at once. Though [Jay] notes that heat could become an issue at that point, so four seems like a safer number. The front panel of each computer can be accessed through a cut-out in one side of the case, while the rear (and all the cables) are covered with easily removable panels should you need to get in there and reconfigure anything.

With everything all buttoned up, it looks like it could survive a bomb blast. Considering it took two rolls of filament and the better part of 100 M4 screws to put the thing together, we’d wager it doesn’t just look tough, either. The write-up says the goal was for the final product to have a certain brutalist style, and it certainly seems like the mission was accomplished on that front.

Of course, the really standout feature of the Obelisk is the integrated Waveshare AMOLED display. This 13.3 inch panel boasts a resolution of 2560×1440, and even offers touch support. Here it’s been rotated into portrait orientation to provide plenty of vertical space, making it ideal for working on the command line, writing code, or scrolling through long documents. Don’t need a screen? No problem — the case has been designed in such a way that you can forgo the display and fill in the opening with more of the printed panels.

As we’ve seen with his previous projects, [Jay] has a knack for turning extruded plastic into devices that are both functional and visually striking. We’re always excited when one of his creations come our way, and can’t wait to see what he’s got in store for the future.

9 thoughts on “Fully 3D Printed Case Is Stacked High With Mini PCs

  1. Nice design, and very useful. I’ve swapped all my Raspberry Pi boards with mini PCs and am not looking back, but having two of them stacked plus a USB controller for 8 SATA disks (plus switch, router etc) uses some good space, so I would also consider making a similar one but larger, so that one can contain both PCs and drives (3.5” possibly) arranged in a 2xN matrix.
    One caveat for anyone using Mini PCs as headless servers: they’re great but unfortunately a few of them for some obscure reason refuse to boot without a monitor attached; if that’s your case and options in the BIOS/UEFI won’t solve, which was the case with one of mine, you can easily trick the PC by connecting one of those fake monitor plugs that cost pennies online.

    1. Yep I loved the pi when $25 and a charge you had lying around was all it took.

      Even used a 1B, 2B, 3B and 4B as standalone computers. But as the price and number of accessories required continues to rise, they just aren’t worth it anymore given the low end of x86.

      1. You do realise that use as a PC if any kind was only a perk of the platform right? The real attraction was always for custom IO and a bit more computing power for other devices, sensors, HVAC, exhibits, etc. The push towards higher end performance is too make money in the embedded space, not to appeal to home lab builders.

  2. I love the tiny rack shape for desktop use. I love it so much that I started a project to create open specs for a desktop-sized rack/cabinet to host miniature rack mounted retrocomputers like the PiDP (https://obsolescence.wixsite.com/obsolescence/pidp-11) but smaller.
    Here’s the repo where the spec will be edited: https://codeberg.org/trevorflowers/desktop-computer-lab/
    Not much there, yet, as I made the repo yesterday. :-)

  3. The aesthetics are top notch, but how does cooking work? Putting 200-300W (peak) of hardware into a rectangular prism where all sides but one are closed might be a problem….

    Even at 10w/unit idle, that might be a bit toasty…

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