Picture of LapPi - A Raspberry Pi Netbook
The Raspberry Pi is a remarkable machine. Lightweight, powerful, and until now it was completely tethered to a wall socket. The LapPi is built to free the Pi! It's made from a mixture of spare parts, unallocated electronics, and scrapped components & cables I have built it in response to the Raspberry Pi Challenge. The challenge was picked up on the 15th of October via retweet from @raspberry_pi, and by the end of the day I knew what I wanted to do....

The basic idea is simple. Put a Raspberry Pi inside an aluminum case, wire it up to a screen, keyboard, mouse & batteries. Then plug in a USB hub, connect Wifi, Bluetooth, and the receiver for a wireless keyboard. We will also need to extend the Network port, add a headphone socket & speakers, fit in a battery pack, and then wire it all together! Simples.

The LapPi made joint second in the Raspberry Pi Challenge! Congratulations to the other winners, and well done to everyone who entered.

Step 1: Materials & Preparations

I have used a 7" LCD panel & logic board. It has HDMI, VGA, Composite & 2 AV inputs. For the purposes of the LapPi we will only be using the HDMI connection. The logic board also has a menu board with buttons to select inputs, & configure the LCD panel. The panel is 800x480 with LED backlights, it requires a 12v feed.

Before I began work I checked that the Raspberry Pi worked with the screen. I also configured the display's resolution, and made a funky desktop picture.

Components used;

1 x Raspberry Pi.
1 x 8gb SD Card.
1 x Raspy Juice Expansion Board.
1 x LCD with Logic Board & Menu Board.
1 x Aluminum Case.
1 x 4-Port USB Hub (powered).
1 x +5v 1a LDO from Flytron*
1 x USB GPS Dongle.
1 x USB WiFi.
1 x USB Bluetooth Dongle.
1 x Mini USB 2.4ghz Wireless Keyboard & Track-pad.
2 x Mini Speakers.
1 x Microphone Socket.
1 x Ten AA Battery Holder.
10 x NiMh 1.2v AA Cells | or | 8 x Alkaline 1.5v AA Cells.
1 x Panel Mount USB Socket.
1 x Panel Mount RJ45 Socket.
1 x Panel Mount 2.1mm DC Socket.
1 x Double Pole Double Throw (DPDT) Slide Switch.
1 x HDMI Cable.
1 x IDE Cable.
1 x Network Cable.
2 x Metal Mesh.
1 x Passive Heat-sink.
3 x Sticky Foam Strips.
1 x Ringed Tie-Wrap.
1 x Standard Tie-Wrap.
1 x Tie-Wrap Sticky Block.

I have removed the casings from the USB dongles, the USB HUB, and de-soldered the USB dongle plugs.

The battery pack will provide 12v if used with 10 1.2v NiMh Rechargeable batteries. To get 12v from standard alkaline batteries you will need only 8 cells, as Alkaline non-Rechargeable cells provide a higher output of 1.5v. The LapPi is designed to operate on 12v.

It is worth noting that not all USB devices are compatible with the Raspberry Pi. The elinux.org wiki contains a list of verified compatible peripherals.

UPDATE: In Step 14 I replace the underpowered LDO with a 15w DC-DC Converter & fit a 2x1watt Stereo Amplifier.

Additional parts used for the update;

1 x DC-DC 15w 12v-5v 3A Converter.
1 x RK Education Stereo Amplifier.
1 x Switch (DPDT).
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Doc Avo2 years ago
Great project
Could someone please email pdf instructions as I am not a Pro memeber
tybow992 years ago
Very nice! I have just ordered my Pi, and am interested in a laptop build. I like the fact that this one requires no 3d printing. I think i might give something like this a try!
your doing it right.
nephilim2k2 years ago
One other thing came to mind...have you considered a solar panel for additional charge (small marine ones should have enough to keep it going and charge it for a good while).
nephilim2k2 years ago
Have you thought of adding a portable CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drive and cutting out a section of the case to mount and hold it?
SilverJimny (author)  nephilim2k2 years ago
There isn't any room left. It might be possible to sqeaze something into the top lid, but that's pretty chocker too.
davidbraith2 years ago
schmitta2 years ago
What hobby store / web site did you use to get the boat stuff. I like model boats and much enjoyed building a $3 danish kit (wood) about 47 years ago. I think those danish kits are now in the $700 range. Thanks. Alvin....
SilverJimny (author)  schmitta2 years ago
Hello Alvin,

All the parts I bought, including the hull, are linked on step 1;


nerd74732 years ago
I agree with "oldmechanic" it is a good idea
SilverJimny (author)  nerd74732 years ago
Thanks to you both, I wish I had a larger screen it looks a bit overwhelmed by the frame.
your welcome
Oh man, I love this! Amazing work
Where did you get all the components? I can't even find this stuff on ebay!

SilverJimny (author)  GrimRipper10802 years ago
nerd74732 years ago
cool i was thinking about making a raspberry pi laptop but i don't have the pi yet it comes back in stock on 2/6/13 :(
oldmechanic2 years ago
wow! what a nice idea! i might try it out myself with my pi. well done!
kchapman82 years ago
I'm curious what kind of battery life you get
SilverJimny (author)  kchapman82 years ago
I had a run of about 3 hours from it, but that was with it just sat there not doing anything. I expect a run-time under load of maybe 2 hours.
DoctorWoo2 years ago
I do have two quick, and slightly silly, questions (and apoglizes if they have been answered or addressed prior) but I'm a little concerned about the battery set up:
-If you have the system on, and change over the switch to charge the battery pack, will you damage the system?
-What's the battery life like?
SilverJimny (author)  DoctorWoo2 years ago
yes it will damage the system. the LapPi needs to be properly shutdown before changing power sources. Given more time, and a more advanted power system this would not have been an issue, but i was working against the clock so some compromises were made. My next endevour will rectify this problem.

The battery life is between 2 & three hours depending on use.
iApple guy2 years ago
Can you send me a link to the following:
Bluetooth dongle
USB GPS Dongle
SilverJimny (author)  iApple guy2 years ago
The keyboard/mouse is an iPazzPort 2.4ghz wireless keyboard. I bought it via amazon but they don't seem to list it anymore. Check eBay, they are listed on there.

The bluetooth is from a handheld terminal and this particular version is not sold seperatley. It is bluetooth 2, just about any bluetooth dongle is good.

The speakers came from an old LCD monitor.

the GPS is from maplin; http://www.maplin.co.uk/usb-gps-dongle-476503

if you're looking for raspberry pi compliant peripherals check the verfied list at http://elinux.org/RPi_VerifiedPeripherals
TFreds2 years ago
I was wondering if you can make one and sell it directly to me? i will pay you about 150 pounds.
SilverJimny (author)  TFreds2 years ago
Sure, but I'll need to add the cost of parts to the £150.
wise_guy422 years ago
I'm interested in what display you used and its associated controller. Been trying to locate displays for several projects and haven't found a good source. Perhaps you could recommend one?
SilverJimny (author)  wise_guy422 years ago
as was mentioned earlier in the comments....

eBay, search for an AT070TN92 LCD. There are plenty of sellers & shops listing the LCDs with controller boards, a few even supply them with touchpanels.
joshuabrand2 years ago
Hi there! Great project, I've been trying to follow what you've said but I've no idea about any of this stuff. I'm creating a REALLY simplified version of yours using the normal raspberry pi, a USB hub, a monitor, a trackball and a keyboard. I just want to know how do you power the computer and screen via batteries. PLEASE REPLY! And please be simple, I'm not knowledgeable on hardware. Thanks!
SilverJimny (author)  joshuabrand2 years ago

You need to find out what voltage your screen runs at first. Then adapt the batteries to give that voltage, and 5v for the raspberry pi & hub. a DC-DC converter will be the best method of conversion.
james.m.k2 years ago
Very nice!

Was there a reason you didn't use a full-size USB keyboard?
SilverJimny (author)  james.m.k2 years ago
I searched for ages to find a keyboard that would one; include a mousepad/trackball, and two; fit in the available space. Thats why I don't fit the keyboard into the LapPi until quite late in the build, I was still searching. In the end the keyboard I used was a compromise, but I think its wireless capabilities make up for its size.

The other option I looked into was fitting a seperate trackpad, or trackball, but there wasn't really anything suitable. I could find a keyboard that would work, but no trackpad or trackball. I even considered an optical finger mouse, but ultimatley the wireless keyboard/trackpad combo seemed the best suited.
I was thinking that you could either use:

1) A separate trackpad (I've got one lying around), and / or

2) Make a foam filled cubbyhole (a little larger than a wireless mouse) in one of the wooden panels.

Another idea that you might use instead of buying a larger power supply, use a sunken rotary switch (or even radio buttons) to select which wireless option to use, GPS, Wireless, or Bluetooth.

You could even have a switch to alternate between powering the wired and wireless ethernet devices so to turn them off when it's not used.

I was originally thinking that you could include a little shelf that you could pull out of the right side of the case, but the more I think about it, the more complex supporting it becomes. Besides, I often use my wireless mouse on the arm of my chair without a problem.)

I'm glad you included both wired and wireless networking. I was afraid from the quick description that you didn't include wired. :)
SilverJimny (author)  james.m.k2 years ago
Separate track-pads are good, and if the LapPi was a bit larger I would have used one, but space was very restricted. Don't forget I also need room under the keyboard for the Raspberry Pi et al.
Actually, did you consider using a virtual keyboard via a touch panel?

I noticed that they have them for the AT070TN92 on ebay for about $10.

Then you could use the upper part of the case for storage or something.

Maybe keep the foam in the top and add a couple of straps with snaps.
SilverJimny (author)  james.m.k2 years ago
Yes, and really I wanted a larger screen, but given the two week deadline for the challenge there was little I could do in time.
kmiller292 years ago
SilverJimny here is something to look in to and as a thought that will increase run time only add a small amount of weight offset by the swap should be nominal.
Consider swapping out the 10 NiMh batteries for a Sealed Lead-acid type a small to midsize 12v 6ah batt will give you lots of power and not be overly heavy. also a charge/ run circuit would be simple to build that will allow you to run the system and charge the battery at he same time. just food for thought
Edgar2 years ago
Great Instructable! :)
Lots more rugged than any Commercial Laptop, too...
A note about it went into my Gizmo blog:


Raspi runs on Ubuntu Linux, and with this other Instructable, you install Google Earth in just one step!

oblina2 years ago
It looks like it has potential to be steampunked.
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