Put Feet on your Google Home Mini

by | Nov 6, 2017 | 3D Printing | 0 comments

I spend quite a lot of time around Google’s smart speaker products, the Google Home, Home Mini, and Home Max. At my job each day I talk to the Google Homes a lot and play music from the bigger two most of the time. In my house I use several Google Homes to control my lights, the temperature, and a whole host of gadgets. The Google Home is also my sous chef in the kitchen.

If you spend much time at all around the Google Homes like I do, you probably have one burning question about the product line. I often ask myself the same question. Why did Google design the Google Homes without legs? Every time I look at a Google Home I can’t help but think the aesthetics of the device would be massively improved if it had posable legs and big feet.

Well the time has come for us, the Google Home user base, to pick up the slack and remedy the mistakes the Google Home engineers made when designing their products. Today we will 3D print a set of parts and equip a Google Home Mini with legs and feet.

Step 1: 3D Print Your Parts

The first thing to do is get your 3D printed parts made. If you have your own 3D printer, the parts should take a few hours to print. If you don’t have a 3D printer or if, like me, you are a little short on free time for printing the parts, 3D Hubs is a fantastic service that allows to pay 3D printer operators in your area to make the parts for you. The service is really fast and very affordable.

The 3D printed parts below are needed for this build. We will need a few bits of hardware as well, but that is the subject of the next step.

All of the design files for this project can be found in its GitHub repository.

GoogleFoot

You will need two feet for the Google Home to stand on.

GoogleLeg

You will also need two legs. The legs attach the feet to the hip. The legs interface with the feet and hips using ball and socket joints, allowing the Google Home Mini to be posed into any position you would like.

GoogleHip

The hip attaches to the bracket which in turns holds the Google Home Mini. The legs connect to the hip via a ball and socket joint.

Google Bracket

The last part is a bracket for holding the Google Home Mini onto the Google Hip.

Step 2: Gather Your Hardware

In addition to the 3D printed parts detailed in the previous step, a few bits of hardware will also be required for this project. In fact, two bits of hardware will be needed.

  • M3 Heat-Set Inserts:  The GoogleBracket part will be affixed to the GoogleHip part using three M3 screws. Rather than threading the screws directly into the 3D printed plastic, which would be weak and unprofessional (like Google’s decision not to put legs on the Google Home Mini in the first place) we will install threaded inserts into the GoogleHip to create a strong connection. Furthermore, the use of threaded inserts will allow the components to be disassembled in case you want to make any modifications to the design.
  • M3 x 4mm Screws:  Then, to actually attach the GoogleBracket to the GoogleHip using the threaded inserts we will install, we will need the screws themselves. For this project we will use three M3 x 4mm screws with low-profile heads. The thinner-than-normal heads will allow the screws to be countersunk flush with the GoogleBracket for a polished, professional look.

Step 2: Install Threaded Inserts into GoogleHip

It is time for the assembly process to begin! The first step is to install the heat-set inserts into the Google Hip part. The threaded inserts will allow the GoogleBracket to be installed onto the GoogleHip securely. Heat-set inserts are a convenient and fast way to add threads to holes in a 3D printed part. Once pressed into place using a heat source, the brass inserts can be used to fasten together different parts to create strong connections.

To install the heat-set inserts, we will need a soldering iron, a pair of hemostats, and a way to hold the 3D printed covers steady. For this last piece of equipment, I am using a great helping hands tool from QuadHands.

To install the heat set inserts, warm your soldering iron to 230oC. Then, with the 3D printed part clamped in place, hold the heat-set insert with the hemostats just over the hole. Press the heat-set insert into the plastic part with the soldering iron. The heat from the soldering iron should melt the plastic, allowing the heat-set insert to set into the part. Try to work quickly to avoid applying too much heat and deforming the plastic surrounding the holes.

Install the threaded inserts using gentle heat from a soldering iron.

Step 4: Attach GoogleBracket to GoogleHip

With the three threaded inserts installed in the GoogleHip part, we can now attach the GoogleBracket to the GoogleHip. The bracket part will hold the Google Home Mini without requiring us to use any permanent attachment methods like adhesives, or drill holes into the Google Home Mini.

The orientation with which the GoogleBracket attaches to the GoogleHip is important. If you take a look at the slender arms on the GoogleBracket part, you will notice that they are arranged in a rectangular shape. The long axis of the rectangle should be oriented parallel to an imaginary line drawn through the hip ball sockets. That sentence might be a little confusing, so check out the picture below for clarification.

Attaching the GoogleBracket to the GoogleHip is really easy. Using an Allen key, connect the two parts using three M3 x 4mm low-profile screws. Tighten down the screws until the top of the screw heads are flush with the top of the GoogleBracket part.

Step 5: Attach GoogleFoot to GoogleLeg

There would be very little point in giving the Google Home Mini legs and feet of those extremities could not be posed in different ways to make the Google Home Mini stand, sit, stand on one foot, do a cartwheel, and so on. The legs therefore provide a posable linkage with the feet and the hip using ball-and-socket joints to connect with those other parts. We will make the first of those connections in this step.

Attaching the feet to the legs is easy. The legs are symmetrical so it does not matter which side of each leg connects to the GoogleFoot versus the GoogleHip. To attach the feet to the legs, simply press the ball end of the legs into the sockets on the top of each foot. It will take a bit of force to get the ball to engage in the socket but it should pop into place when you press hard enough.

Attach the feet to the legs using firm pressure until the ball slips into the socket.

The ball and socket joint connecting the feet to the legs (and also the legs to the hips) allow the parts to be moved and the Google Home Mini to be placed into different poses.

Step 6: Attach GoogleHip to GoogleLeg

The GoogleHip attaches to the two GoogleLegs just like the feet attached to the legs in the previous step. Using firm pressure, press each leg into the sockets on the underside of the GoogleHip until the balls on the ends of the legs snap into the sockets on the hip. This will again require a bit of force, but, provided your 3D printed parts were made with tight dimensional tolerances, the balls should slip into the sockets.

Step 7: Mount the Google Home Mini

Finally, with the entire leg assembly completed, we just need to introduce the Google Home Mini to its new set of legs that it was almost certainly missing when it left the Google Home factory. The Google Home Mini ships into the bracket on top of the legs. The USB plug for power and the mute switch should be positioned facing the back (heels) of the assembly. The Google Home Mini will slip easily into the bracket; the 3D printed arms on the bracket should be flexible enough to allow the Google Home Mini to be slipped into the bracket without damaging the device.

Now that your Google Home Mini finally has the legs it so rightly deserves, you can place your Google Home Mini anywhere you want and also pose the legs in different ways.