Feb 12, 2016

CodeBug Gets a 3D Printed Box with Personality

If you've never seen CodeBug - let me introduce you.
CodeBug is "a cute, programmable and wearable device designed to introduce simple programming and electronic concepts to anyone". I first saw it at the BETT Educational Technology conference in London, where I met one of the founders, Tom Macpherson-Pope. As soon as I saw CodeBug, I new I must create a 3D Printed enclosure for it.

Design Goals

When I met CodeBug, I had just finished making my Raspberry Pi box, and brought some to the conference to show the Pi people. Now I had a similar target in the CodegBug - but what really excited me was the small size! I knew I could experiment and make variations without waiting 6 hours for the thing to print, as was the case with the Pi box.

What I really wanted in this first attempt, was just something that maintained some of the "cute" character of the CodeBug microprocessor board, but also made it easy to access the connectors (plugs and conductive "legs").

I also wanted the 5 x 5 led array to be exposed in a way which made it more fun to program - something like the mouth of a creature or a face of a robot or something similar.

Of course, I also wanted to have it stand up so it could be proudly displayed once it had a program loaded up.

Design Details

I decided that keeping with the original design meant that the buttons would be modeled to look like eyes and the 5 x 5 LED array to look like a mouth. While the CodeBug is called a bug, I saw more of a frog, so I called this first design the "CodeFrog".

I used a two-part design and gave it a clear shape to match the original board, but without every detail on each conductive leg. I also gave it clear eye-shaped sockets and gave it feet which both added to it's ability to stand up and helped to hold the two-part design together with the CodeBug board sandwiched in-between.

For design effect, I used parts of my prior 3D BitBot robot design to add a flexible arm - using the sockets attached to the body and then just using previously printed arms and hands to make it look cool.

Design Process

The most important thing was to make sure the face plate fit over the 5 x 5 LED array and the protruding buttons really well so that there was little movement and a strong connection. I measured and experimented with probably 5 or 6 prints before getting that right.

The base was also important to have a strong fit, and while the CodeBug board doesn't have screw holes to match, there is a battery protrusion on the back that was critical to fit into the base. I again played with that design until getting it just right, starting with a simple square base, and eventually shaping the base to match the face plate once I had the general position of the battery receptacle right.

I added a slit in the top of the feet to accept the bottom of the face plate and added small nubs inside the eye sockets to allow the face plate to click in and lock into the base. I only needed slight adjustments to make the face plate, CodeBug board and base work as a snap-together set.

Design Results

While this is really just a first attempt, I'm overall very satisfied with the result! My measure, of course, is whether this design inspires kids to want to code things on CodeBug which make this 3D Printed CodeFrog come to life. So far, I've gotten great reactions from my own kids, and I'll post follow ups once we have some programs to show beyond my own "mouth which opens and closes" program ;)

The Model

Look back here soon for the model - as I'll post it as soon as I do a bit of clean up on it.

1 comment:

  1. I just ordered one! I'll have to keep an eye out for your case. Will you post it on Thingiverse as well?