Raspberry Pi 3 Model B - HiRes 3D Model

Short Description

You can download, completely free, a CC0 highly detailed 3D model of the Raspberry Pi Model B 3 in .blend format. (using Blender you can export to a number of common file formats such as .obj, .fbx etc)


DOWNLOAD FROM BLENDSWAP (free account required)
37mb, 89k Verts, 83.5k Faces, 160k Tris

Showcase Video

2:38 min


Background story

Once upon a time I needed a Raspberry Pi 2 3D model to use in a VR project. There were lots for sale or for free but with very low detail. In the end I found two that expicitly stated I could not distribute anything I made with the models (although they were free to use). Luckily the VR work was for demonstratoin purposes only and got shown to HRH Princess Anne(really!). I decided that, as no one else seemed to be interested in doing it, I would create a highly detailed and completely free model. That was back in October 2016. To be fair, this is not my day job and I was unable to do much more than a few hours a week, not to mention all the other distractions.



I really thought this was going to be easy. Take a few shots with a 12 Mega pixel camera, stitch them together and move on... bit more involved than that. First up to do this sort of project in a serious way you need a rig including a light-box and an expensive camera. I had neither and was balancing the camera in one hand and a LED torch in the other. The real world does not create neat overlapping photos. You will always have some mismatch through rotation, perspective, lighting, shadows, refelections or colour.

Perspective and shadows were the worst. You do not realise it, but even something as small as the USB ports on the Pi will occlude considerable chunks of the areas around them. As my light source was a hand held LED torch there was no soft global illumination. Instead harsh shadows and bright reflections blighted every image. I discovered some little GIMP tricks to aid me ( History trick Select Paths trick Clone tool trick) But really it was just time going through each photo and trying to pull all the best bits into a single unified result.

Collection of thumbnails taken of different parts of the Raspberry Pi at close range Collection of thumbnails taken of the Raspberry Pi with different light sources

Modeling and Texturing

Got my hands dirty and ended up learning and using all sorts of Blender tricks. Like getting the corners and holes correct on the circuit board.

rendering of badly modelled raspberry pi circuit board rendering of badly modelled raspberry pi circuit board subserf'd rendering of modelled raspberry pi circuit board extreme close up rendering of modelled raspberry pi circuit board extreme close up show fixing holes

For instance the USB Power connector took about 1.5hrs to model. Started with a plane and Mirror Modifier and then just went to town extruding edges. Once the flat shape was complete I added a Solidify Modifier and the metal sheets had some depth. The Mirror Modifier is my new best friend after using it for the CSI connectors. It really is the best way to deal with symmetrical models. Autosmooth makes everything look good.

rendering of raspberry pi circuit board highlighting the USB power connector x2 3d render highlighting flat shading 3d render highlighting auto smooth shading set to 30

Another fun one that required learning a new technique was the fin cuts in the USB components and the side decal. The cuts were created with the Knife Project and the decal used a UV map of only the relevent faces.

renderings of raspberry pi circuit board highlighting the USB connectors rendering of raspberry pi circuit board highlighting the ethernet connector and its logo

With almost 200 components to create or at least place I had to create a map of where there were still components to add/review. I had to come back to the circuit board texture many times to remove a shadow or reveal behind a fat component. Your brain cannot handle it when a 3D object that has realtime shadows from correct geometry also has static shadows from the oringating photography. Having a graphical check list provided a great incentive to just do one-more update.

texture map for raspberry pi 3D model augmented with grid and work markers grid of pi components tracking current state p2 tracking component creation for 3d raspberry pi model


To show off the building of the model I wrote a set of scripts to render the different versions I had saved periodically as I had worked. It does not look bad but it also does not give the Wow! result I had hoped for. Learnt a lot about Python and Blender. The great thing about scripting for Blender is that Blender will write most of the code for you. Just perform the steps for your script once manually and then copy and tweak the Python code output. Overview, Material library script and how I got Blender to write for me, Setup script, handling command line arguments and logic, Camera and tracking script, Render settings script and how to run it all togther As well as all that Python I did need to do a little shell scripting to splice the final animations together with ffmpeg. (video-sequence-splicer script at github)

Old Pi Animation

The Raspberry Pi Foundation have now released the Raspberry Pi Model B 3+ (sucessor of the Raspberry Pi Model B 3) and have created a sales video. I used my model to create a spoof response video playing up to all the changes. It took too long to finish and the hype was gone by the time I had finished it, meaning I did not promote it. But the result was pretty impressive. All the text and effects was done directly in Blender's VSE(Video Sequence Editor). (Videos), (Sequencer setup) The main result of the Foundation releasing the new model was to spur me on to make my model good enough for the spoof video and then drive me to complete the project!

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B 3D model upended rendered in Blender

Conveyor animation

Early on in the project I imagined an animation sequence where the Raspberry Pi model would get built on a conveyor belt. I had a number of ideas in mind but paired them down to create something in a short amount of time. But this was not to be. As I demanded high resolution the per frame, this forced each tiny scene to take days to render. The big win was using simple cuboids in the physics calculations and then replacing them with Pi models after the calculations were baked. The way the board falls down the side of the bucket is pure luck. I also rendered a huge number of unnecessary frames that were cut for the final animation, more than half.

Montage of 10 frames of proxy block objects falling into a bin of Raspberry pis
Montage of 10 frames of a Raspberry pi 3d model falling into a bin of Raspberry pis
Blender partial screenshot of the Rigid Body setup, Raspberry Pis falling off a conveyor belt 3d rendering of a raspberry pi 3 model B inside a fictional manufacturing unit

Blueprints and Dali

Saw this cool Blueprint add-on SB_auto-blueprint for Blender and I wondered how it was done, as it didn't do a good job with my Pi model (worked great with test/simple meshes). Ended up creating my own freestyle settings and was very impressed. The longer this project was taking, the more crazy ideas I had for extras. When I created the initial Freestyle render it unmasked a few geometry issues that had not been apparent with exisiting lighting and setup. Came up with the Dali melting clock idea umungst many others that were dropped, but this one bore into my head as a Must-Have. I like how it turned out, but it is not perfect.

blueprints for raspberry pi 3 model b rendered in blender Rendered Raspberry pi blueprint unfurling frame 31

blender render of raspberry pi model bent by lattice modifier with some obvious modelling issues highlighted raspberry 3d model bent in Blender software Dali homage to the persistence of memory substituting clocks with raspberry pis

Putting it all together.

Each time I did work with the Pi model it got a little more cleaner and better optimised. I used various Python scripts to find flat shaded Meshes and then Autosmoothed them. This allowed me to Join all the Meshes in to the single Raspberry Pi model. Then I had to put all the videos together into the Showcase video. Found that I had created a title-screen ages ago when playing about with the Build Modifier. That is the Yellow text and the grey circle that grow after the Blueprints unfurl. Was seriously thinking of making my own sound track and recording sound effects, but as I have never tried that before, it was dropped.

rendering of modelled raspberry pi circuit board close up on SD card slot reworked sd card slot 3d model on a raspberry pi circuit board rendered in blender

Lessons learned and the future

Super post reference

At least the project gave me lots to blog about

November 2016

VR story
First look at a Pi texture with components removed
Pi photos
Gimp history trick
Gimp selection curve trick
Gimp clone tool trick

December 2016

Video of the VR reworked

March 2017

Empty check list

April 2017

Started work
Holy board
Fixed holy board
Solder meshes
SD card holder (version 1)

May 2017

CSI connectors
Power socket

September 2017

HDMI socket

October 2017

Ethernet ports
USB ports

Novemember 2017

Adding tiny components
SD card slot re cut
SD card comparison and component tracking

December 2017

Tracking update
Tracking update
Underside complete
Tracking and component view

Janurary 2018

Auto Smooth discovered
pi script overview
pi script materials
pi script setup
pi script main
pi script render

Feburary 2018

pi script splicer

March 2018

pi + launched, 1st counter render and freestyle
Spoof video launched
Spoof sequencer over view

April 2018


May 2018

Animation update
Animation update

July 2018

Conveyor animation
Animation update
Failed to denoise

August 2018

Physics cheat
pi bucket test
pi bucket details
Script to find problem meshes
Script to find smooth and auto smooth
Script information
First bend test
Knife and lattice
Persistence of pi with no pis

September 2018

Persistence of pi
Curling blueprints 1
Curling blueprints redone

October 2018

Project status update

October 2018

Project status update

November 2018

Limited Disolve cleanup
Video and Model released



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