Raspberry Pi Laptop DIY





Introduction: Raspberry Pi Laptop DIY

When first released, the raspberry pi took the world by storm. The idea of having a $35 full fledged desktop PC in your pocket with which you could program, modify, and basically satisfy any technological need your heart desires, was in a sense, mind blowing. Unfortunately one of the main drawbacks of a raspberry pi, is its portability, not because it is hard to carry (obviously) but because it-like any desktop PC-needs a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and a Ethernet cable to achieve its networking capabilities. So our goal was to address the limitation. During our research, we came upon a project from adafruit called "The Raspberry Pi Notebook". It solved all of the portability issues by using an LCD screen that connects using the i/o pins, a mini-wireless keyboard, a wifi dongle, and a 3D printed case.

Step 1: Parts and Tools

I included some links from amazon, so you guys can go purchase the correct parts. If you do not have access to a 3D printer, you can send the files to a service or a local hackerspace/library.

Step 2: Software

One of the most confusing parts of DIY raspberry pi projects is configuring software properly. It can be intimidating to newbies (us a few months ago) but don't worry we have some very helpful links and tips to make the process easier.

In our project we use a special touchscreen made specifically for the raspberry pi. Despite its unique specifications, its just like any other peripheral, it needs kernel support and drivers to function properly.

Adafruit created a specific version of raspbian that provides kernel support to the screen. You can find it here. To load it on your raspberry pi just follow the classic SD card burning tutorial, except instead of burning NOOBS onto the SD card you have to burn in the special disk image given by adafruit.

Step 3: 3D Printing

3D printing can either be frustrating or extremely exciting. Well at least thats how it was for us. We had many failed prints, and had to constantly mess with the settings and details to be successful. Thanks to our teacher Mrs.Berbawy, we were able to emerge victorious. So a quick word of advice, always consult with someone who is experienced with 3D printing before printing, it saves so much time and will prevent you from making mistakes.

So for this project you need to 3D print four things:

  • Case
  • 4 Hinges
  • Keyboard Case
  • Back Cover

You can download all the STL Files here. There is a total of five files. The recommended settings for all the parts are:

  • 230 Celsius Extruder Temperature
  • 3 shells
  • 3 top/bottom
  • 50mms print speed
  • 10% infill

Feel Free to tweak the settings depending on your situation and results. Be patient!

We used PLA filament for our prints. That does not mean you cannot use materials like ABS or bamboo etc.

Step 4: Soldering and Circuit

Ready to get your hands dirty? Here comes the fun part: connecting all your electrical components.

After scouring through the web looking for a simple circuit diagram, we found this beautiful illustration. This is all guidance you need for 95% of the soldering.

  • The PAM8302 amplifier connects to the + and - sides of the mini speaker. Route power byconnecting VIN to 5V on the PowerBoost 1000C and then Gnd to G.
  • PowerBoost 1000C hooks up to pins #2(5V) and #6(ground) on the Pi. Unfortunately the diagram failed to show the average person where the #2 and #6 wires must be soldered and it is really vague. After some looking into raspberry pi circuits we discovered that the powerBoost 1000C hooks up to pins #2(5V) and #6(ground) on the Pi. We provided you guys with another diagram that gives you the specifications for each pin.
  • The slide switch will need to connect to Ground and Enable on the powerboost.
  • Finally the Battery connects to the JST port next to the USB port on the Powerboost 1000C.

Extra Tips:

  • Add heat shrink to any exposed wire to prevent short circuits.
  • MAKE SURE YOUR SOLDERING CONNECTIONS ARE SOLID AND STRONG. I cannot stress this enough, our connections broke a few times since we did not check them properly at first. It is very annoying to fix a disconnected wire after you have everything assembled.

Step 5: Final Assembly

The first thing you want to do before you start putting all the components into the enclosure is to bend the header pins on the raspberry pi touchscreen. The small space created by this action lets you store the lithium ion battery, allowing you to fit all the components into the enclosure. For an extra precaution, you could also wrap the battery with gaffers tape to protect it.

Mount the touch screen onto the raspberry pi by aligning the the i/o pins on the raspberry pi with the i/o pin connector on the touch screen. Some people suggested using an extension cord but that would only add onto the price and take up valuable space in the case.

Now comes the last and final part. Mount the raspberry pi screen and raspberry pi into the enclosure. Align the screw holes (mounting tabs) with the standoffs in the enclosure and then screw it in. Also make sure the hdmi, audio, and power ports align with the cutoffs in the enclosure. Next snap in the speaker in the designated area. If it feels tight don't worry, the fit has to be snug.

Finally, mount the powerboost onto the lid of the enclosure using the standoffs, and then mount the audio amplifier on the vertical standoffs right next to the raspberry pi. Screw them all in, and mount the lid onto the exclosure. Now, the moment of truth, screw in the lid with the screws you bought. Now stand back and marvel at your creation.

Step 6: Random Pictures

We dedicate this awesome project to our beautiful teacher Ms.Berbawy for guiding us in the process of making.If you want to learn more about our Robotics class check out berbawy.com/makers .

Thank You,

Kathirvel Gounder

Shobhit Asthana

Mehtab Randhawa

Kireeti Jana



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    Could I get a link for the speaker


    Could this work with RPi model B and with a touch screen?

    I Have a question, does the raspberry pi work like a normal computer or laptop? Like does their version of a browser work like other browsers (Steam Chrome Google Explorer ETC,) and is it able to download (like lets say its powerful enough to download something like fusion 360 or Minecraft or the Roblox run tool) could it download and save onto its drive/card?

    1 reply

    I use my Pi 3 as a personal computer. If you get Raspbian, it comes with Chromium, which is the exact same thing as Chrome except it is built for ARM and is open source. It can get very slow if you have too many tasks going on all at once, but it's not too bad of a PC. Go for it! But unfortunately the Pi isn't powerful enough to do Roblox and stuff like that. Raspbian comes with a version of Minecraft, but it is based on the Pocket Edition demo so it is very limited. But if you want to make it your PC, no one's stopping you.

    Yes. The Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 Model B are very very similar. The only difference is that 3 Model B has a wifi, bluetooth, a better processor (more processing power), and more max voltage.

    See more here: https://www.element14.com/community/community/raspberry-pi?ICID=menubar_topics_rpi

    Can you adapt this to work with a Raspberry Pi model B?

    this looks awesome, thanks for sharing it. i hope to refactor this to put the RPi under the keyboard instead of behind the display myself. looking forward to this project :)

    1 reply

    Glad that you liked it. That would be an interesting modification. Do not forget to link us too the instructable after you finish the project. Cheers.

    these instructions are also in the adafruit learning system

    I was thinking about swapping the adafruit tft with a cheaper one without the gpio headers. This would prevent the chance of me messing up when bending the pins. It would also make the project slightly cheaper as the adafruit tfts are expensive

    seem you can use 18650 in the middle of join, then you can make it slimer.

    4 replies

    Having the battery out could help to prevent overheating too.

    Heat is the problem I find here, too compact sandwich and no ventilation.

    Anyways its a great instructable, and i wish i could have one of this XD

    The Pi (and presumably the other components also) use such a low draw that

    as long as the li-po battery chosen has a large enough capacity and discharge rating, there shouldn't be any heat issues. MOST cell phones use these batteries all the time, without overheating. But if it is an issue, a slight modification of the case back could be made, to add some vent holes. I think the opening for the USB ports should be plenty to keep it cool though.

    Just the 18650 would be almost as thick as the finished Pi-Top.

    Unless you are talking about running it from an 18650 powerbank. Then you do get a thinner Pi-Top, but have the extra problems of needing a cord and charged power bank to USE it.

    Just the 18650 would be almost as thick as the finished Pi-Top.

    Unless you are talking about running it from an 18650 powerbank. Then you do get a thinner Pi-Top, but have the extra problems of needing a cord and charged power bank to USE it.