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How to build a girlfriend-approved download box with a BBB – part 3/3

It took more than 2 years since the first post, and the second one, but here it is: the final one!

The result

After moving to Switzerland, I didn’t have access to my tools anymore. So a little trip homewards, made me decide to finalize this project! The 2 main jobs: Fix the power jack and solder the USB cables to the USB hub to save some space.

Note to self: If you’re attaching USB 3 drives to a USB 2 hub, you might as well use USB 2 cables which have less connections and are therefore easier to manage.

The door mechanism

Making a box this small came with its challenges. I’ve grown to admire Product Designers (like my cousin Robbe who helped out), because you really need to think of the full product life cycle: from raw material, to assembly and usability.

Gluing everything shut was one option, but not very convenient if I ever need to fix something. So I needed some kind of access door. Not wanting more external latches and bolts, we went for a sliding door that would sit into place (the notches in the bottom hold the door). This turned out to be a pretty nice way to go! But, in all honesty we also left the top plate unglued because it makes life easier. Since the box sits still the majority of the time, we could live with this!

Even with the sliding door, the middle panel still needs to be able to slide out of the box…

The electronics

Everything snugly into place, keeping each other warm in the dark box!

What did we learn?

2 years gives a person the time to evaluate the mistakes made. Here’s my summary:

  • DIY is more expensive than buying (count your hours), but much more fun
  • Get a Single Board PC with S-ATA and gigabit Ethernet. The current setup is sufficient, but S-ATA would have made my life much easier (no USB cables to manage)
  • If you want to go small, you better make a PCB that holds all the accessories. Keeping the boards and cables together required a lot of glue. I’d never sell this box commercially
  • A laser cutter is great and more satisfying than a 3D printer, but you have to think a little harder too
  • Don’t try to upgrade Ubuntu distributions on embedded devices. Clean install is the way to go (if only I would have scripted all the dependencies and tools)
  • Some embedded binaries aren’t available for every kernel version. You might get stuck on an older version
  • (Electronics) projects and girlfriends do unite! This one received the seal of approval!


Not only Robbe provided his knowledge, but also my father Eddy and my girlfriend Nikki helped out assembling, painting, drilling and sawing. Thanks everyone!

Its final resting place, in Switzerland

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