05 August 2016 / Last updated: 27 Jan 2017

Good, Better, Beast! #9

Execution time:
For all of you out there, following the development of Beast 2.0, I'd like to apologize for not having updates for a loooooong time (check out the last one) . It's not that there's nothing to say, rather the opposite, there's too much going on, and getting ahead with the Beast 2.0 was prioritized above talking about it. So here's an update with a bunch of new bits and pieces!

The Beast 2.0 Tile

We have a new, re-engineered Beast tile, which fits a router and power in the inside, and 6 Raspberry Pis on the front. Here's a rendering of the tile from the back:
Beast tile rendering, back
The new tiles are slightly rectangular so that we could simplify the structure and assembly (4 pieces were removed from the design), and make it more sturdy in the same time. Here's how it would fit together:
New chassis alignment
The laser cutting patterns for these times were done, front, back, power connectors, etc:
Beast tile patterns
A major change in the design (visible in the cut pattern if you look close enough) is that we made the tiles front-loaded, instead of back-loaded. The plate holding the Raspberry Pi (or other device) boards can be detached, and power and networking is on the back of that piece (hence the separate font plate, the lower left image on the cut pattern above). Here's the view of that front plate from the back (internal) side:
Tile front plate back view
The full assembly would look like this from the front, with the 6 Raspberry Pis mounted, cables arranged, and setting our renderer to "make it pretty" mode:
Beast tile front with devices
We got them cut out of acrylic, and started to test how all the pieces fit together: easy assembly and good wiring of cables are high on the list of priorities. Used small pieces of acrylic to simulate the Raspberry Pis for getting their power and Ethernet connectors right on the front plane:
Beast tile front assembly for testing
On the side, we have experimented with a couple of ways to get power to the boards, and the best seems to be using these Aukey CC-S1 Mini 24W Dual Port Car Chargers (a set of 4). They have their own mounting piece for ease of assembly and sturdiness.
Network power connectivity
Here we are testing their fit with the tile piece, and solder them up:
Power assembly for testing
Wiring the Ethernet cables is a much trickier matter, but seems like it's working out after some trial and error. Now the design uses the right amount of slots and routing to get around to all the on-tile computer boards. Here's how that back looks like, during the process of assembly:
Full assembly for testing including wiring
One other change we are experimenting with is the design of legs on the tiles to be able to stack them like this:
Stacked tiles
Stacking would be handy for transporting the setup in a more compact way, as well as being able to create a rack-like device cluster (where screens are not important, and can be hidden or not added at all).
Finally, now that things start to fall into place, we also put together a presumptive Bill of Materials, which is available on GitHub. As we figure out the good way to assemble the tiles (likely the hard way), we'll add that information to the documentation as well.

Teaser: OctoTower

The Beast tile can also be part of a larger assembly, that I'll mention just briefly here: the OctoTower (also in update #6):
OctoTower rendering, work in progress
Some of the issues at the moment include ensuring easy management of the boards and tiles of the tower (having good access to the right parts), including initial assembly and tear down. Nevertheless, it should be quite a sight to behold when we got this working, and can't wait to make it happen - then deploy some resin applications on the mounted boards! ;) More on this in upcoming posts!

Like what you see? Standby for further Beast 2.0 updates, or come chat with us on Gitter!

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