You can build an Astrolab for less than $100 in parts.

Astrolab Completed Assembly

Bill of Materials

Quantity Description Price Link
1 3D-printed Astrolab case $0.00 CAD
1 3D-printed Astrolab cable stress relief $0.00 CAD
1 3D-printed Raspberry Pi backshield $0.00 CAD
1 3D-printed Raspberry Pi fan mount $0.00 CAD
1 Raspberry Pi 3 B $34.99 Amazon
1 30x30x7mm brushless cooling fan $5.99 Amazon
1/5 10-piece Aluminum heatsink cooling kit for Raspberry Pi $5.99 Amazon
1 Samsung 32GB U3 EVO Select Micro SD card $11.49 Amazon
1 10’ Micro USB cable $3.99 Amazon
1 RJ45 ethernet cable $4.49 Amazon

Instructions

Download the Astrolab OS image

  1. Download the latest Astrolab OS image.
  2. Download and install Etcher.
  3. Open Etcher, select the Astrolab OS image, select your SD card, and click “Flash!”
  4. Eject the SD card, and insert it into your Raspberry Pi:

Astrolab with Micro SD Card

Printing the CAD parts

Astrolab Printed Parts

All CAD parts are designed for easy FDM 3D printing:

  • No supports are required.
  • Any material will work. We use PLA.
  • Any layer height will work. We use 0.38mm.
  • Any shell thickness will work. We use 1mm.
  • Any infill of 10% or greater will work. We use 10%. Most pieces don’t consume any infill.

Assembly

Mount two of the heatsinks onto the Raspberry Pi CPU and GPU, respectively. Orient the heatsinks so that their protruding surface area is parallel with the board:

Astrolab with Heatsinks

Mount a cooling fan onto the fan mount, oriented for the fan to blow air downward (label faces away from cross section):

Astrolab with Fan

Press the fan mount into the PCB, aligning it with the two holes closest to the USB ports:

Astrolab with Mounted Fan

Connect the fan’s red and black wires to pins 1 and 3, respectively:

Astrolab with Fan Wiring

Mount the backshield to the underside of the Raspberry Pi, by inserting it into the other two holes in the Pi board:

Astrolab with Backshield

Slide the Raspberry Pi up into the Astrolab case, port-side down, and fix it in place with the clips. You may need to apply slight force to the clips as you mount it:

Astrolab with Raspberry PI Inside

Plug the USB cable into the power port through the access hole up top. It’s helpful to hold the Rasperry Pi in place with one hand as you push the power cable in with the other:

Astrolab with Power Cord

Plug the access hole with the stress relief plug. The Raspberry Pi board will shift a bit while you anchor the cable in place:

Astrolab with Stress Relief

Notes

  1. Prices listed are as of August 20, 2018.
  2. Don’t skip the heatsink or fan – we burned out a CPU in testing.
  3. The Astrolab case is designed for air cooling, weather resistance, flexibility of placement (freestanding or hanging with fishing line), and ease of 3D printing. You can use an alternate case, but be sure it has good ventilation and won’t short out if it picks up a little rain or condensation.
  4. Samsung EVO is the only supported MicroSD card. It has great performance and reliability at a very reasonable price. A 32GB card is required (bigger than 32GB is fine).
  5. The Astrolab plugs into any 2.4A USB power supply.
  6. You must connect the Astrolab via Ethernet on its first boot in order to configure wifi. After that, no ethernet cable is needed if you connect over wifi.