3D Printed, Raspberry Pi Powered, Doctor Who Tardis

3d printed Tardis pi

Doctor Who’s Tardis is iconic. I love the various 3d prints I have made of it over the years, I have a couple of smaller Arduino versions of the Tardis that light up and make sounds right here, but this one has to be my favourite Tardis, and 3d print for that matter (so far!).

When I shared to the 3d printing groups, so many people wanted to make one, I thought I would put together a quick guide :)

Check out how quick and easy it is to make your own, and please do share your creations with me! Let’s take a look now ….

First … See it in action!

Birth of a big-assed Tardis Pi

As mentioned, this is not my first light-up and make noises 3d printed Tardis. In the linked article, and the follow up, I use Arduino, and then Arduino + a sound board. For this one I had more ambitious plans that formulated as a few things came together …

First, I bought a Creality CR-10 and was blown away by the print capacity and quality of the output. That got me thinking of printing BIG, and not just anything, but an enclosure for my Raspberry Pi 3. You see, in our home we had upgraded from 25mbps cable internet to 150mbps, because my wife and I, and our teenage daughter, are using Kodi on Raspberry Pi way more than traditional TV. With summer coming around, we will spend more time in the basement to escape the heat, and that means building a new Kodi box.

You can see how for a nerd like me these things came together as Raspberry Pi + Huge Tardis enclosure = Awesome ;)

Of course it has to light up and make appropriate sounds, but that is easy with Raspberry Pi, as you will soon see.

You are going to need to gather a few things ….

Raspberry Pi Tardis Ingredients

  • Raspberry Pi — You can use most Pi, but I wouldn’t use a zero for this if you want the audio to come out of speakers because the zero has no audio jack. For Kodi, obviously, you will use HDMI.
  • 3D printed Tardis pieces — Get the excellent model from Countspatula here. I started modelling one myself, and still might, but out of all the 3d tardis models, that one is the best I have found. He even sells them printed on Etsy.
  • Large LED for the top — My large blue LED died by leaving it running over night, so I left it as a lamp and shoved an RGB LED up its butt to light it up, then realized an RGB LED affords me some options!
  • Hookup wires — I used one red for the 3v and one black for the ground.
  • PiBrella — Completely optional, but this gives you some easy extra options for making this thing do more cool stuff :)
  • Speakers or HDMI cable — I went with speakers basically to demonstrate that it can work standalone, but eventually as mentioned this is going to be a Kodi enclosure so I will go back to HDMI for sound.
  • Optional battery — Get one of those USB batteries if you need it to standalone. My Kodi box will get power from the TV or wall jack.

Assemble the Tardis Pi

I printed my Tardis on my Creality CR-10 3d printer at 220% scaled up. I used Iprint3d blue PLA that was generously provided for me to review (and was another inspiration for this project because when I saw that blue …)

Printing Tardis pieces

Printing Tardis pieces

The Tardis slots together

The Tardis slots together

Base is printed, plus walls

Base is printed, plus walls

Wall reprint with more dialled in settings

Wall reprint with more dialled in settings

Finished Iconic Tardis roof

Finished Iconic Tardis roof

tardis lit up!

Tardis lit up

For the Raspberry Pi, I used the same process as installing Octoprint that I outlined here, except instead of the Octoprint image I used a full Raspbian image, because I wanted desktop, VNC, and such.

To add lights I used a little HAT called PiBrella. This little guy adds a red, green and blue LED, a button, buzzer, and some inputs and outputs. Completely optional, just speed up setting up these kinds of quick projects. Into output E I added the wires for my lamp LED, the first slot takes the power (the long leg of the LED), the second takes the ground leg. I ended up using an RGB LED which means I could in fact use the other two outputs to change the colour — I am thinking make the lamp go green when my 3d prints finish :D

tardis pi lighting up

Setting up PiBrealla libraries is as easy as

sudo pip install pibrella

Then you can go into Python, interactively to start

sudo python -i

What can you do then? Well, remember the Pi is multi-tasking, right? While it is running Kodi, or RetroPie, or a web server, webcam, whatever, you can also do other things, first off being light up the lights of course!


Then we need to play sounds. Get these to start with! Much easier if you installed the desktop like I did, you can just use your web browser (after connecting to your wifi or wired ethernet network).

tardis.local (tardis) - VNC Viewer-1

In Raspi-Config you can tell your Pi to send the audio to HDMI, analog socket, or auto. As mentioned earlier, my pi is mostly going to run as a media centre, but for demo purposes I plugged in some speakers.

To play sounds from the command line you can simply enter

omxplayer SOUNDFILE.MP3

There is also an optional volume parameter, or you can increase and decrease volume using + and — keys while a sound is playing.

Tardis Pi Completed?

Well that is not where it ends, obviously. This guy is a Raspberry Pi! The opportunities are endless :)

Of course, Kodi is my next step. After that I will look at adding IFTTT integration so that I get notifications on the pi when prints complete, and slack messages come in. Maybe run WordPress. With Pi and a Tardis, the fun never needs to end ;)

Originally published at Maker Hacks.