Introduction: The Ultimate Raspberry Pi Laptop!

I have been searching and looking around the varius raspberry pi laptops for quite some time now, almost 1 year! And I wanted to make my own! So here it is! I hope you guys like it!

Ok lets begin!

This raspberry pi laptop is made out of aluminum sheets. You dont need any special tools to make it work. You just need to get creative with the tools you got!

As for the laptop itself, it uses the new Raspberry Pi 2, it has a 720p, 9 inch LCD screen, 4x li-ion 18650 batteries totaling 10400mah at 3.7v, Wifi module, Stereo speakers with a dual channel 5watt amp, a 4port usb hub and a SD Card reader.

As a laptop it works really well. Its actually practical.

Because this whole project took me more than a year to complete, I lost some photos and I dont have an easy way to show you some things, so I will do my best explaining it.

Step 1: What You Will Need.

Now when I first started making this project, I had other plans incuding way more complex electronics and designs. But in the end it all came down to these components

1x Raspberry Pi 2 1Gb

1x 9" LCD Screen with lcd adapter.

1x 10400mah USB Power bank (You can use anything you like, but make sure it has quality batteries inside as well as protection and is able to output 2A at 5V AND be able to charge with 5V at 2A for faster charging.)

1x 4 Port USB hub

1x WiFi module

2x Old laptop speakers.

1x 3W Audio Amplifier

1x Small USB keyboard

1x Old Laptop Trackpad

1x PS/2 to usb active adapter (for the trackpad)

Couple of tactile switches

3x low power switches

1x 3.5mm audio jack

1x Potentiometer from old volume controller

1x Cheap card reader

2x Male HDMI Connector

You will need to build a small circuit board for the power on/off control. It works with a relay so when the laptop is turned off, there is no power anywhere in the components)

1x 5V relay

1x Generic NPN transistor

1x 1NI4001 diode

1x1.2K resistor.

1x breadboard

As far as tools go, this is what you will need:

Soldering iron

Desoldering pump

Hot glue

Epoxy or super glue

Drill

Dremal( I didnt use one, but it would have been really usefull If I had one)

Aluminum scissors

File and sandpaper

General wire cutters and all the basic stuff

Step 2: Design Time!

Picture of Design Time!

First things first, We got to desing the case. BUT In order to do that, we first need to know what components we will use. You can use free 3d modeling software to experiment a bit with your design depending on what components and design choices you make. Personally I used Tinkercad. Its an online 3D modeling software that is fearly easy to learn and use. I began by mesuring every components diamentions and replicating then inside the CAD software. Then I played around with the arendement making sure I had space for everithing I wwould need and in the end it looked like this. After that, I stared to build a case around it. If you have a 3D printer, you can download the casing desing and actually 3D print it! But I dont have that comfort. So I used aluminum sheets.

Step 3: The Screen-Pi Combo!

Picture of The Screen-Pi Combo!

Now we have to find a way to connect the raspberry pi to the lcd screen. If you dont want to do much work, you can use the composite conection on the screen and the raspberry pi, but the quality will be horrible!

So what I desided to do, was to make my own custom HDMI cable. It had to be small and short as well as not be too bulky. I began by buying some male HDMI connectors. Next it was time for wiring it up! It looked like an easy job at first. But it actually was not! Here is how I finally did it:

Before you start soldering your cable, you have to understand how everything is connected. There are some paterns you have to follow. Here are 2 diagrams of the hdmi specifications to get some idea of how it works
You dont have to solder every cable for it to work. Some of the pins are used for ground and shielding. We dont need any of that for such a short cable.

In my first attempt I used some ultra thin wire from an old IDE cable. It sort of worked but when I run at full 720p resolution, I had artifacts.

So for my second attepmt, I used some thicker cables from an old vga cable. This cable was a lot harder to manage and solder but after it was done, it worked beautifully! So now we have a connection between our screen and our raspberry pi! Lets move on

Step 4: Making the Power Board!

Picture of Making the Power Board!

Its time now to make ourselfs a power on/off board! As mou probably know, there is no power switch on the Raspberry pi. So we have to make our own. This design will allow us to fully power on and off the entire raspberry pi laptop with a tactile switch. Like a real laptop! It also acts as a protection because if there are any sort circuits or anything, the power gets completely cut to the entire laptop.

This circuit is not mine. I found it online a Bloag that doesnt exist anymore. So all the credit goes to the original maker of this circuit.

Now let me exaplain how it works. We are going to use the raspberry pi TXD pin. This pin goes at 3.3v when you power on the raspberry pi, so it will be responsible for keeping the relay on. When you shut down the raspberry pi from inside the OS, after it has fully shut down from its software side, this pin goes to 0v, and because of that, the relay turns off. So everything is turned off. Its a pretty good design!

Here is the circuit. In my desing, I didn use the led indicator. You can use it if you want.

Step 5: Desoldering Fun!

Picture of Desoldering Fun!

Now that the main components work, its time to slim down the raspberry pi and the screen controller a bit. We are going to remove every port and every connector we dont need to make them as slim as possible. If you dont have experience desoldeing small board, I recommend doing some expirimenting on other test boards first. You dont want to ruin your brand new Pi and controller ;)

ALSO. As I said in the begining. I dont have all the footage and photos of my work. The following photo from my slimmed down raspberry pi 1 model B. The new raspberry pi 2 looks about the same.
Same for the LCD controller. You can see that I have removed almost all the connectors from it. The video show me removing the usb ports from the raspberry pi 2.

Step 6: Making the Case!

Picture of Making the Case!

The case is made completely out of aluminium sheets. Its a really fun and easy material to work with! This is my desing. I also glued small stand offs so I could screw the raspberry pi and the lcd controller insdead of just gluing it. BE CAREFULL when you start puting your electronics in it. Its a full conductive surface and can kill your electronics. Always use some sort of protection between the casing and the electronics.

Step 7: Placing Everything IN the Casing!

Picture of Placing Everything IN the Casing!

Now that we have a full case, We are going to start placing everything inside! Somethings that I didnt notice earlier is the usb hub, the wifi module, and the speakers. These will depend on how you configure yours. My basic desing was to have a main 5v power that every power hungry compenect would connect to, and the data lines that got connected directly to the pi. The usb hub for example had its 5V and GND pins connected directly to the main 5V output while only the data lines got connected to the pi. It it the same case with every othe component. The keyboard is connected directly to the pi via usb. The touchpad is a PS/2 touchpad that get converted to USB by a small adapter and then its also connected to the pi. How you make the the buttons for the touchpad or the power buttons its up to you! Get creative! :D

Step 8: Adding the Batteries.

Picture of Adding the Batteries.

Now that we have a working computer, we need to add some batteries to it to make it portable. I dissasembled the XIAOMI 1040mah battery and desoldered the batteries from the board. BE REALLY CAREFULL when working with these batteries. they are super powerfull and dangerous if you dont take good care! Treat them like small bombs.!
After you have done all that, dont connect them to the laptop just yet! Just make sure they fit. Installing the batteries is going to be the final step.

Step 9: Making the Lcd Frame.

Picture of Making the Lcd Frame.

The LCD needs its own frame. So I made one! You can use aluminum or anything for that matter. make sure you center the screen before marking and making cuts. Also I decided to add an illuminated raspberry pi logo at the back. You dont need any fancy leds for it to work. We are going to use the backlight from the LCD panel itself! This is not an easy thing, as you have to completelly dissasemble the panel, cut a hole at the back of its protective aluminum back and reasebmle it back together. But if you decide to do so, its totally worth it!

Step 10: Everything Comes Together!

Picture of Everything Comes Together!

Finally. The Pi Laptop is almost done! Its fully usable and works like a small laptop. I hope you guys liked it! I also want to apologise for not being able to provide photos of how I did some things. I was nto supposed to make it into a full instructable, But after looking at my photos, I desiced to do so and maybe help some other people that want to build a similar laptop or portable.

I will soon upload a full video showing exactly what it can do and how it really works. More to come soon!

Comments

Andrew_48 (author)2016-03-31

Small headsup. The video will come in the summer, so around june. Sorry but its my last school year and I need to study.

DubMonster (author)Andrew_482016-04-02

i understand you, i have to study too

docman100 (author)2017-04-26

Ok thx for the info

docman100 (author)2017-04-20

And is the sd a micro or normal sd card?

Andrew_48 (author)docman1002017-04-21

The raspberry pi takes a microSD card. The card reader at the front of the laptop to read SD cards like a normal laptop is a normal SD card

docman100 (author)2017-04-19

Can this play minecraft and/or roblox?

Andrew_48 (author)2017-03-02

First part of the video is up. I am aware that I am almost 1 year late.....Bad things happen and things like that become less of a priority.

MarkY47 (author)Andrew_482017-03-21

Thanks for the guide, I'm hoping to recreate your work as soon as I can. I'm in need of a new laptop :]

BenjaminB10 (author)2016-11-01

How thick is the Aluminum and how did you cut it?

Andrew_48 (author)BenjaminB102017-02-24

its 1mm thick. Cut using a dremmel and thick scisors

ChandanJyoti (author)2017-01-02

really cool project

JacobR4 (author)2016-11-14

WOW!!! this is awesome and it looks GREAT!

roberts481 (author)2016-08-15

can you run steam, minecraft or roblox on it without any trouble

zeydybug (author)2016-08-11

This is a really cool laptop

AfshaanLondhe (author)2016-05-08

I am making a pi laptop myself, so what are the dimensions of your pi laptop

DubMonster (author)2016-04-02

Nice laptop, i will gonna try to make same

Yonatan24 (author)2016-03-29

Hi, I've added your project to the "8 Impressive Raspberry Pi Laptops" Collection

This is the link If you are interested:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Awesome-DIY-Raspbe...

Andrew_48 (author)Yonatan242016-03-29

Hey! Thank you very much! :)

EvanR11 (author)2015-12-12

Can you add a internal webcam?

Andrew_48 (author)EvanR112015-12-13

You can use the raspberry pi camera and connect it using an extension cable. but I dont think there are any webcam chatting apps for the raspberry pi at the moment

kisik21 (author)Andrew_482016-01-24

I heard of a app (don't remember it's name) which can make Pi Camera work with Video4Linux subsystem, so you can use something opensource compiled for armhf.

CelsoC3 (author)2016-01-22

Very nice work!
I am trying to make this power switch circuit but I don't understand the wire that comes from 5v becomes the coil then connect with the transistor, could you help?
Do you have any photos of the soldered side of this circuit?

EvanR11 (author)2015-12-26

Would it work
with a nine inch touch screen

Winston 8 (author)2015-12-24

Andrew may you please go more into detail with the relay circuit and switching this thing on and off.

sipek (author)2015-12-13

I support DIY when its cost effective.. This thing costs more than Atom based 2in1 laptops :( But it gave me inspiration to convert my tablet to a laptop

Winston 8 (author)sipek2015-12-24

This is not just a DIY project. Raspberry projects are not used if you want a proper functioning computer but for educational purposes.

Andrew_48 (author)sipek2015-12-13

Maybe thats true. But remember that there are milion of these 2 in 1 laptops out there and only one raspberry pi laptop like the one I build. That along is what makes me feel awesome about these projects.

Winston 8 (author)2015-12-22

Hello

When can we be expecting a video review of this laptop?

Andrew_48 (author)Winston 82015-12-22

Does *really soon* count as an answer? :) Lets just say that i am working on it. My native language is greek so i am still not sure if i want to do it in english or not.

EvanR11 (author)2015-12-18

Oh and also, how meany volts is the power charging cord

akki5230 (author)2015-12-12

Hi, can I use a old laptop battery for power instead of buying a new power bank? I have this old laptop whose battery is good and can also be charged by the laptop when AC plugged in. The laptop won't start though.

Andrew_48 (author)akki52302015-12-13

If you have the knowledge to dissasemble the battery, build your own charging and load balancing circuit and make it output a steady 5v then yes

MikB (author)2015-12-12

"... raspberry pi
TXD pin. This pin goes at 3.3v when you power on the raspberry pi, so it
will be responsible for keeping the relay on. When you shut down the
raspberry pi from inside the OS, after it has fully shut down from its
software side, this pin goes to 0v, "

Nice project, and a nice shortcut, but I must point out that the TXD pin also goes low whenever the RPi outputs some serial data. That could be either a login prompt, if the Pi is configured for a serial TTY port, or syslog output, if you have logging set to go to the serial port, or a user program opening the serial port /dev/AMsomething ...

If you get unexpected power offs using this technique, you'll now know why :)

I understand your comment about "I had a load of complicated electronics", I do too, but I kept most of mine - keeping the power on, and knowing when it's due to fail is really important :)

https://www.instructables.com/id/Pinebox-Electronics-Design/

Andrew_48 (author)MikB2015-12-13

yup. I figured that out too but as of right now I dont intend to do any of that with my current setup, and thats why I left it this way. But for anyone who follows my instructable and wants to use the serial interface yea it could be a problem

tarkan_ (author)2015-12-13

Wow ! I must admit I'm really really amazed by your great work ! Keep it up :D !

juan232 (author)2015-12-09

NOOOOooooo!!! Why did I read this? Now I have to build one.

Andrew_48 (author)juan2322015-12-09

:D :D :D YEAAAHHH!!!!....um...I mean I am so sorry!....... :D

NoseyNick (author)2015-12-08

SWEEEEET, I want one :-)

EvanR11 (author)2015-12-08

Wow thanks!

gearup500 (author)2015-12-08

This is awesome the the tenth power

JosephChanceWatkins (author)2015-12-08

Awesomeness. Thanks for sharing this with us; Jesus Christ Bless! ?

picassox (author)2015-12-08

Genius!!

stefanocarlesso (author)2015-12-08

Thanks for sharing your build! You were brave to do such a complex project.

AfshaanLondhe (author)2015-12-07

awesome project

Fe Hessel (author)2015-12-07

Hi! Really nice job!

How much does it weight? How is the user experience for the basic stuff like web bowser and OpenOffice?

Andrew_48 (author)Fe Hessel2015-12-07

it weights about 1 kilo

It actually works good! office programs run smooth and nice. web browsing can get a little slow and messy but overall its ok.

EvanR11 (author)2015-12-06

Dose it have enthernet?

Andrew_48 (author)EvanR112015-12-07

yes the ethernet port was desolderend and extended so its still usable.

li james (author)2015-12-06

great tips

samern (author)2015-12-06

Is it possible to share your TinkerCAD designs? I am considering refactoring the case to be 3D printed instead of made of Aluminum. i am comfortable with Aluminum but wanted to go with an all plastic solution.

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