RaspBerryPi 4B Cases that support HDD/SSD (NEW DeskPi-Pro), [! BAD DEAL !]

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Good Day everyone.

Quick Overview:
I have been tinkering with Raspi's for a while and continuing with that, I've elected to switch over to Raspi-4B from the 3B version. Notably, because they support boot from HDD/SSD and have 4GB & 8GB models now available. I'm going to continue with RaspiOS Grafana, Node-Red & InfluxDB as I'm working on integrating my Midnite Solar SCC, Samlex Inverter (both using ModBus) and multiple Chargery BMS' via RS323 & USRIOT RS to IP converter servers. The main Raspi will be situated in the Powerhouse and network connected via 1GB Etherswitch wired back to the house for router & satellite modem access.

The Dilemma I hope to solve, hopefully with some member input.
I want to find a complete Raspi Case with the following capabilities:

- Fully enclosed case with vents.
- Cooling Capability with a quiet fan.
- Ability to house a 2.5" SSD within the case.
- still have full access to USB Ports etc (of course -1 USB for the SSD)

I have sourced 12V to 5V/3A step-down converters (1 for Raspi, 1 for EtherSwitch) which will be wired to the BlueSea 12V Panel.
These are "hardwired" so straight from 12V source, unlike the "cigarette lighter socket" type.
LINKS:
- Yeeco DC to DC Buck Converter 8-22V to 5V 3A/15W Power Adapter 12V to 5V MICRO USB Cable Connector Car
- BlueSea 5025 12V/6 circuit mini panel

The Hunt for cases: What a PITA and I have spent hours looking at videos' reviews etc and "my brain hurts" now....
I have so far found TWO contenders, one which is just coming available but geez, looks like the ticket BUT there may be others.
#1 DeskPi Pro Set-top Box For Raspberry Pi 4-Preoder! There are Video's and more and this certainly has the goodies. (avail end of October)
#2 Most Compatible Enclosure for popular SBCs including ODYSSEY - X86J4105, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone and Jetson Nano.
* This one is stackable and has an optional HDD/SSD mounting boad and can allow for a 3rd party fan. All Extra of course.
#3 ??

Does anyone know of, use a good quality Raspi 4B Case which suits the above need ?
I have external portable drive cases with SSD's in them already, trying to eliminate the extra bits and put it all into one tidy assembly.

Thanks in Advance for the input.
Steve
 
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Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
A note on DeskTopPi, I was just on their site and was going to post questions and the support people were online. All questions answered very well & fully. They are actually 52pi.com which is cool. I'll be ordering TWO of the DeskTopPi cases and one Raspi4B with 8GB which I'll use as a light desktop while the other will get a Raspi4B with 4GB to run the solar stuff. I would have ordered today (after the chat) BUT they are updating their websites and tomorrow will also list the Raspi Boards on the site too.

Hopefully others looking for similar casing fo Raspi's will find something in here useful. Maybe as new cases that can accommodate HDD/SSD with cooling will become available they can get plugged in here too for others to find.

I will Post a review of the cases once get them, there are already a few preliminary reviews on YT which is how I found these.
 

namesgolden

Solar Addict
You might want to look at "odroid nas" cases. They should accommodate a pi.

Check thingiverse for appropriate STL's
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Thanks for the suggestion. I do not have 3D print capability and no plans on buying int that tech. So an STL file for me is moot.
I have been hunting for a Nice, Clean Simple case to do what I want and the DeskPi seems to fit the mold, just not shipping yet.
I have built countless PC's over the years and am amazed that no companies make PC (Mini-Itx sized) that can take an SSD or even a CD/DVD with a backplate designed to accept Raspi-Ports. with say a built in 5V/4A PSU. I suppose I could mod on up but did not want to go that far and it still would not be quite what I wanted.

I also looked at stackabe frames (various types out there) but they are all "open-air" for the most part which is certainly not suitable for my need.
 

namesgolden

Solar Addict
I do not have 3D print capability and no plans on buying int that tech. So an STL file for me is moot.

Gotcha, I don't have a interest in having a 3d printer either. Too much tinkering, I always just have someone local print stuff for me.

Plenty of people will print things and ship.
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Here is a Video on this particular case (there has been mods since the video was cut).

The following features to the first batch of mass-produced DeskPi Pro
1. GPIO extension header
2. M.2(SATA)to 2.5 inch SATA adapter board
3. Infrared receiving module​

 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
The Deskpi Pro site was updated today and they have added the option of ordering Case & Raspi as well.
So I've ordered one case for my 4GB model and one with an 8GB Raspi as well.
They take PayPal and have an option for DHL shipping as well (not very expensive surprisingly).
Apparently, everything is still on schedule and shipping will start at the end of this week (Oct 25-ish)
 

BoloMKXXVIII

Fully Charged
Looking forward to hearing how things go for you on this project. Not surprised DHL shipping is cheap. Weight and size are both small.
As namesgolden said, there are plenty of places to get STL files printed. I understand your not wanting to go that route. No guarantee of the quality of the print nor how well your pi will fit. Home 3D printing has come a long way but from what I have seen it still has a long way to go before it is ready for the masses.
 

JoeHam

Photon Sorcerer
Looks a lot like a NUC computer.

I’m pretty sure you are aware of those from an old thread if I remember correctly.

Care to opine on why a Pi vs NUC?
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
My Desktop PC is an HP EliteDesk NUC and while it is a pretty good PC with Win-10 (run WOW & Heavy Simulation Graphics fine) it's a bit power hungry for a good portion of what I use it for.
It's NOT a pig compared to my Gaming Rig though with the video card & everything on it runs 900W and up. 3.0ghz 8-Core AMD Black with 32GB and NVidia GTX +++

The 8GB Raspi will be used as my Alternate Desktop which is browsing, video watching and light duty stuff.
The 4GB Raspi is to be in the Powerhouse for managing / monitoring the solar system & equipment.
Each will get an SSD.

Specs of the EliteDesk:
Operating System
Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
CPU
Intel Core i7 6700T @ 2.80GHz 62 °C
Skylake 14nm Technology
RAM
16.0GB Dual-Channel Unknown @ 1063MHz (15-15-15-36)
Motherboard
HP 8055 (U3E1)
Graphics
47LV4400 (1920x1080@60Hz)
Intel HD Graphics 530 (HP)
Storage
931GB Hitachi HGST HTS721010A9E630 (SATA ) 38 °C
1862GB Western Digital WD Elements 25A2 USB Device (USB (SATA) ) 38 °C
1862GB Western Digital WD My Passport 0820 USB Device (USB (SATA) ) 38 °C
Optical Drives
No optical disk drives detected
Audio
Intel Display Audio
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Quicky update on Shipping. Website was updated today. Bummer, I am waiting "impatiently" now.

Shipping to start(15th NOV - 17th NOV).​

 

svetz

Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
Staff member
Moderator
10 days? Amazon has me so spoiled...
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
10 days? Amazon has me so spoiled...
It is a production & supply issues, this is a new product.
It is too bad that similar casings are not available from other companies already.
When Raspi announced their 400 Series (all built into a keyboard) they really dropped the ball by not having provision for M2.Sata or 2.5" SSD within the keyboard casing.
 

Keith C

Ahhh, the sharks have him.
Steve, If you get hung up I'd be happy to 3D print you a case if you lay hands on the STL file for one that would work for you. I have a seriously under utilized printer.
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Steve, If you get hung up I'd be happy to 3D print you a case if you lay hands on the STL file for one that would work for you. I have a seriously under utilized printer.
Thanks, the thought is very much appreciated.
The DeskPi looks to be the ideal solution for my use case due to cooling and added features & functionality especially for the environment the main one will sit (in the powerhouse) where any open case would not be good, nor having more extras hanging off of it (like the SSD).

I could easily craft a wooden case (i have the woodworking tools & capability) or even one out of perspex / acrylic or similar if I wanted to.

I even considered such below: and similar ones too. So many creative ideas & options and with a Raspi being so small, they can be stuffed into just about anything.
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
QUICKY UPDATE:

Just got the Notification of shipment with the DHL tracking #. Now the waiting for delivery stage begins. (hopefully not too long)
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
UPDATE : Package Arrived with the two Deskpi-Pro's and one Raspi 4b/8g.

Hardware: GOOD - Great !

I have to say, the hardware is impressive the casing is heavy extruded aluminium and very solid !
The electric's componentry within is very good, well made & very clean.
Some of the screws are "micro" sized, OMG, seriously tiny, do not drop them ! 3 hours to find one on a hardwood floor ! EEK ! Thank goodness I have no carpet !
Accepts M2.Sata to 80mm long, adapter & mounting is provided. Pop it out and install a Sata SSD or HDD
Power Supply: This is a funky creature ! - output 3.6-6.5V=3A; 6.5-9.0V=2A; 9-12.0V=1.5A,
The Case requires a Mini USB not Micro-USB like a normal Raspi Power plug.
Takes about 30 minutes to assemble (few delicate bits) and you will need a jewelers screwdriver set.
The acrylic / plastic facings are very tight and places force/pressure on the connectors, risking potential damage. Be cautious, take your time and gently work it into place... it IS very snug, almost too much.

Quirks:
The ribbon cables are a PITA, very finicky. There is a little brown clip to lift up, slip cable in and lock down the brown clip (no mention in manual at all). TIP, Lesson Learned, install the big cable before connecting the Raspi to the Deskpi Interface board. Be gentle, use a small flat screw driver to life the tiny little brown locking bracket. (very delicate !). Install the DCCard interface cable last, after you have the fan etc all secured.

Manual: Fair needs help.
  • It is OKAY but lacks detail on the ribbon cable installation which IS tricky.
  • They provide one link to install power button & fan control software BUT they printed it in a very light thin white font on a black background making it nearly impossible to read. NO links to WIKI, Forum or Github for the software.
  • There is no information at all provided with regards to setting up Boot from M2.Sata or Sata.SSD/HDD ! New methods vary from old methods due to fimware changes, pick the wrong one and you KILL a Raspi, I have one of them (dead unrecoverable) now.
Provided Software: (BAD)
They provide Raspberry Pi OS on a 32GB MicroSD but it's NOT fresh ! Maybe they screwed up on the batch, I dunno. Preconfigured for Chinese WIFI and all sorts of things are preset. Cannot change user account, device name (NO PRIVELEDGES) also CANNOT update anything from Raspberry OS as the utilities ALL fail to connect to server even when actually connected to the internet... It appears they took one of their Tech's preconfigured Raspberry Pi OS' configurations and imaged that to give o clients - NOT ! It is NOT a clean Virgin Install - I suggest getting your own fesh NOOBS or whatever.

The Next Challenge !

Finding a Powersupply that can be hardwired to 12V and provide 5V/4A to be able to drive the SSD etc. Type-C(PD 2.0 & QC 3.0) Input So much for pre-buying the ones with 5V/3A Micro-USB units... Grrrrrrrrr
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Well, the disappointment level is HIGH...
This has been such a negative experience, I cannot recommend this product at this time until they fix it.


Their included OS SDCARD = dubious at best. I ended up creating new images from Raspberry.org, then installing the Deskpi Drivers and running that from scratch fresh & new.

Hardware Defects !

Well after 2 complete disassemblies & reassemblies (times 2 deskpi-pro's) to verify that everything was properly connected & the ribbon cables lined up properly the two Front USB ports are BAD. One does not even have power and the second one is intermittent (suspect bad soldering on the PCB or other hardware issue. I am NOT doing board level diags.

Their Tech Support dragged out the 101 Book of Excuses and blamed drivers from 3rd parties. Maximum Lameness no less, as the same drivers work fine on a non-deskpi (regular RTaspi 4B & even my 3B's for logitech wireless USB keyboard & mouse.

Running SATA-SSD's !
NOT GOOD !
Two different brands & models 240GB units installed. These worked perfectly fine & FAST on Raspi 3B using Orico External drive cases. In these DeskiPi's they run like 1987 MFM 80MB/80-ms MFM Hard Disks... sloooooowwwwwwww. WTH ?
Tried using the SD-Card Copier (let's you copy SD image to USB Key, USB Drive and more now).
Tried making a fresh image from Raspberry Org. Used Win-10 & the utility to do it, also tried by using the native in Raspberry-OS as well.

Today, I will go out and get two M2.SATA SSD's to replace the SATA-III drives, hope they work better...


BOOT FROM USB INSTRUCTIONS

After initial Raspberry Pi Configuration and once you have Internet Connectivity established, Install the DeskPi Pro Utilities from https://github.com/DeskPi-Team/deskpi
Open a Terminal / Console and run the following commands
sudo apt update (to update the library listings)
sudo apt full-upgrade (long process to update all libraries)
When complete, run “ sudo reboot “

Upon reboot, open Terminal again
sudo raspi-config
go to Advanced Options.​
Select Boot Order, select #1 USB Boot​
Return to Advanced Options,​
Select Boot Loader Version, choose Latest Version​
Save & exit​
sudo reboot (to restart with new settings)

After reboot, re-open Terminal again
sudo -E rpi-eeprom-config –edit​
do not change anything, it is unnecessary
press Ctrl-X to save, answer Y to overwrite file.​
sudo reboot (to restart with new settings)

Now you are ready to install Raspberry-OS onto your USB Boot Device.
You can use the Raspberry Imager from their website.
Depending on device the new SD Card Copier can transfer the SD-Card image to the USB Device (ensure you select generate a new UUID).

Once your USB drive is imaged & ready to boot, shutdown your Deskpi-Pro, remove the SD-Card and power-up to boot from the USB Boot drive, once running & configured you can install your additional software and proceed as usual.


Hope this helps anyone following along.
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Well more testing and the Drama is coming to an end...

I now have two essentially useless DeskPi Pro's ($55 each plus DHL Express courier fees).
One fried Raspi 4B-4G thanks to a botched eeprom.
2 M.2.Sata 128 GB drives purchased just to test this and now I also have a 1TB & 1 500GB en-route which were intended for the production boxes. At least the 1TB & 500GB units can be popped into external USB-3 to M.2.SATA boxes (thank goodness they're cheap)

These were a WASTE OF MONEY & TIME ! A terrible waste too as neither are in abundance.

Last EMail sent to 52.pi / Deskpi.

Well here we are more days and many hours lost.

I’ve given up on attempting to use SATA 2.5” SSD drives in these units. Neither the Chronos 240 or Western Digital 250 behave nor boot properly.
I went out and specifically purchased Sandisk X600-SSD M.2.2280 /128GB units. These are also not working per spec.
I have attempted the following procedures to make a bootable M.2.SATA SSD, same for the physical 2.5” SATA SSD’s.
With Fresh Image provided by Raspberry Org.

Once SD-Card was configured with deskpi drivers. SD Card boots very fast, connects and functions as it should.
  • Attempted to use the SD-Card Copier utility, generating new UUID. The drive will boot, causes errors and takes forever to load. Once loaded, any and all applications are slow.
  • Attempted same but NOT changing UUID, same result.
  • Attempted to use Raspberry Imager Utility within the raspi and imaged the drive, booted from it, it expanded file system and then hangs... Rebooting this after a hang results in Recovery Mode boot and then fails.
  • Attempted to image a drive using Raspberry Imager on Windows, the end result Is the same.
Once the image is on the M.2.Sata it should boot very fast, application should snap open quickly. It should not take 90 seconds to boot, nor 2 minutes to load Chromium.

Next Test Set:
  • Took a M2.SATA and your USB-SATA Adapter board out of a deskpi.
  • Mounted that into an Orico USB-3 to SATA case and attached that to Windows-10 PC and imaged the M2.Sata.
  • Took that and attached it to the deskpi while removing your Bridge Dongle for USB-3 and used the Top USB-3 port for the Orico mounted M2.Sata.
  • This Booted FAST !
Required a Wired Keyboard & Mouse to complete install, then installed the Deskpi Utilities.

Next installed the Logitech Unified Drivers from the downloadable sofware.
Restarted with the Logitech Wireless adapter working. ALL GOOD !
Opened Chromium and other apps and they snapped open and ran perfectly.
  • Exactly as expected.
NEXT: Remove M2.Sata from Orico case and mount into DeskPi
Re-installed the M2.Sata adapter card into Deskpi.
Re-installed the USB-3 Bridge Dongle.
Booted Deskpi with Wired Keyboard & Mouse. VERY SLOW BOOT, 90+ seconds.
Only the Drive Access LED blinks like crazy while loading.
Once it does load, opening Chromium is extremely slow.
! This behaviour is identical if Wireless Keyboard/Mouse are used.
  • THIS IS A FAILURE !
Additionally, I replicated the exact same with the second DeskPi Pro.
This is CLEARLY a 52.pi Deskpi-Pro problem.
There must be an issue with the Bridge Dongle.
As the adapter board when transferred into a “neutral” adapter to USB-3 (such as an external drive adapter for USB-3 to SATA) it works and access the drive properly without issue. Once installed within the DespkPi it has issues.

I’ve swapped the Bridge Dongles (thinking maybe one was bad) no difference.
I do not have a USB-3 to USB-3 adapter cable to test against the use a Dongle.

The solution:
I strongly suspect a defect in the manufacture of the Bridge Dongle.
  • This is evidenced when a USB-3 External drive is attached to top USB-3 port on Raspberry and it works fine.
  • The USB-3 to M.2 Interface card works fine when installed into an external USB-3 to SATA adapter.
  • Process of elimination leaves only ONE SUSPECT The Dongle.
  • Solution 1: Replace Dongle
  • Solution 2: Use a manually made bridge adapter / cable ?
  • Solution 3: Redesign ! You are 95% there to a Great Product, redesign is not an option.
I have now spent in excess of 24 hours tinkering with this product.
x-x-x redacted x-x-x
This should NOT have occurred with a properly tested & consumer ready product.
Above and beyond the cost of the product, I’ve bought 2 M2.SATA drives, adapters and even a new keyboard & mouse to make sure everything starts from a fresh baseline.

Lastly, these issues have had a direct impact on development work which was partially wrapped around using your product for a finished end result. This will now not be happening due to the issues.

IF & WHEN you have completely tested & verified your product, that is when you should advertise it for sale. I suspect I am NOT the only one having these issues. It is not conceivable that I received two defective units and no one else has. Having tested with .5” Sata-III Quality Name Brand drives & with Quality Sandisk M2.SATA resulting in identical issues eliminates the suspicion of one product being troublesome over the other.

Finally, the defective USB ports on the front on the unit is also a big red flag that something is seriously wrong.

I do not anticipate a positive response from 52.pi. I in fact expect more from the Book of 101 Excuses used by junior tech support staff who do not know anything about what they are doing. This entire experience is being documented and posted. I would love to see this product Take OFF.. I do believe you are onto a very good thing which could seriously impact the Raspberry Market space not only for makers but for general home users as the Raspberry Pi 4 has matured to that point now.

Please take the time to correct the defects and send replacement components as needed to the people like myself who pre-ordered and got this batch. Heads Up is being sent to those who previously reviewed your Alpha & Beta product. BTW: This should be considered BETA – it is not public ready !

Good Luck and I hope you get around to making a Good Working product soon.
---- end of email sent ----

In closing for our membership here... Wait these guys out IF you are considering these Raspi Cases. Great Idea but lousy execution. It really is a shame too and a Huge Disappointment. IF looking for a Raspi Case that can accommodate an HDD, SSD or M2.SATA / M2.NVMe (DespkPi does not support NvMe), look elsewhere or DIY it with external connectors & adapters into your own box...

I was hoping to get a nice clean simple solution and failed by getting this stuff. So, I suppose now I have to start looking for connectors, harnesses and what not and DIY my own... Could have saved a Months Waiting time & a pile of dough by just DIYing it....

Ruckus Stuckus Frickus Fruckus ala Fred Flintstone.
 
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