Introduction: Pi-Berry Laptop-- the Classic DIY Laptop

About: Brain of an Engineer, Heart of an Artist. I love building creative tech!

The laptop I made “The Pi-Berry Laptop” is built around the Raspberry Pi 2. It has 1GB RAM, Quad core CPU, 4 USB Ports and One Ethernet port. The laptop meets daily life needs and smoothly runs programs like VLC media player , Mozilla Firefox , Arduino IDE, Libre Office, Libre CAD etc… For convenience of using and reading the Display of the laptop was chosen to be 10.1 Inch (IPS technology) HD Display with parameters control (Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, and Color). Weighing only 1547 Grams in weight, it is perfect to carry around in schools and colleges.

The 16000mAh battery pack (10000+6000) provides the power to the laptop. Once fully charged the laptop runs for about 4-5 hrs . The laptop is even equipped with battery level meter which shows the charge status of the laptop. The Body (Chassis) of the laptop is made using MDF(Medium Density Fiber) Sheet and covered in Italian Leather to give it a elegant look.

The “Passive ventilation system” (Cooling without any fan) design of the laptop is so efficient that it eliminates the need of a cooling fan to cool the CPU thus conserving energy and increasing the battery time.

My design also offers full access to the SD card (for changing Operating systems) and the GPIO pins. This means you can use the raspberry pi 2 for your future projects (good news for Raspberry pi enthusiasts). The access to the GPIO pins also means that the whole system can be converted into a portable mobile programming workstation !

The project was inspired by SilverJimmy's Instructable : LapPi- Raspberry Pi netbook.


Why Do I need a Laser Cutter? (Judges Question)

This project was successfully accomplished using few basic building tools. I have plans to use Hi-tech technology (Laser cutting and 3D printing) and take this project (and my future ones) to a very next level.My future plans are to add RFID access, Fingerprint passwords reading, Inbuilt Web-Camera etc to the laptop. The Epilog Laser cutter can help me achieving this. I also plan to develop kits (using computer aided designing "CAD") of the laptop to help everyone learn about technology and the enjoy the DIY heaven.


Snapchat and Instagram: @chitlangesahas

I'd love to connect with you guys on Snapchat and Instagram, I document the experience, learning lessons and also answer questions on those platforms. Looking forward to connect! Here is my username for both: @chitlangesahas


If you like this project you can reward me by using your shutter clicking skills by sharing my work to all your friends. In return, I'll cook up more Instructables to share with you. Any suggestions or queries are welcome in the comments. Thanks for your support!

Step 1: Watch the Video !

Here's the HD video to take a overview tour of the laptop.

Step 2: Bill of Materials

Here's the list of materials you need to build the PI-Berry laptop:

1) Raspberry pi 2

2) 10.1 inch IPS HD display (or any custom size LCD according to your choice)

3) HDMI Cable (Shorter the better)

4) One 6000 mAh Power-bank

5) A 10000 mAh Power-bank

6) Transistor fitting Kit (for the small screws in the kit) [see pics later]

7) MDF Sheet

8) Black and white Italian Leather

9) OTG cable (2 cables) for charging ports.... The male header fits in the powerbank's charging port.

10) 7 inch keyboard (I took out from a tablet case)

11) A friction hinge (click here)

12) Basic making skills and tools like Jigsaw , solder gun, Drill, files etc...

Step 3: The Plan and Designing...

The photo above shows the working of the Pi-Berry Laptop. At the early designing stage I made cut-outs of individual components on a chart paper to figure out how they should be placed inside the body (chassis) of the laptop. here is the best possible design I came up with. The components are strategically placed to allow the minimum space consumption.

Note: I couldn't find a HDMI cable shorter than 1 meter, so i had to end up with coiling up the cable between the Display Driver and the raspberry Pi. I tried making a cable myself by soldering the male to male connectors but with no success.

Step 4: Some Important Points About the Materials

So ... First question may strike your mind, where to get the materials. More often you may wont get the exact same materials. So here's important features you should look for while searching for the equivalent part or component.

1) Power Bank (Battery of the Laptop): The power-bank we chose should have two important features: a) Pass-Through Charging (PTC) which means that we should be able to simultaneously charge and use the laptop at the same time. Some powebanks don't support this and we have to wait until the battery charges fully for using the laptop. One other option if the powerbank dosent have PTC is to charge the Li-Ion battery via TP4056 module. I did this. b) Charge status Indicator: Since raspberry pi doesn't have a feature to show up the battery status we need the power-bank to show the current status of the charge left in the battery. This indication can be digital (you need to make separate slot) or just 3 LED's(My preference).

2) Friction Hinge (for the tilt style display): The hinge i used was from a old Portable DVD player. If you dont have one lying around you will have to look for a friction hinge which is small enough to hide in. The hinge should support the counter torque applied by weight of the screen.

3) The Display: The display / screen I opted for was a 10.1 Inch IPS technology HD display. This Display was extremely thin and suited my design.

4) Key board : The keyboard was from a tablet PC case. This was the best and smallest Key Board I found in the local market. Though there is no track pad on the laptop, wireless mouse does the job well. There are keyboards specially with a track-pad, they could be also used for the project.

5) Transistor Fitting Kit screws: To screw the raspberry pi and other PCB's in the laptop, we need small screws. The best way to find them is the transistor fitting kit screws. You can buy small screws from market but this is easy, I think!

Step 5: Making the Base !

To begin with.. we will start the build by making the base of the laptop. This is the part where all the components will be screwed (or glued in some case). To make the base

1) Mark the locations of the components

2) mark the Drill Points (PCB)

3) Outline the border of the base while leaving a small space from each side so that everything remains spacious.

4) Now making sure every looks good as expected, cut the base using a jigsaw.

5) File the rough edges. Just to make them softer.

Take your time and cut it as clean as possible because this will affect the final result.

Note Be careful to get the corners at 90 degree angle. We want them to be as precise as possible.Using a laser cutter gives the best quality but I don't have one so I used the jigsaw .

Step 6: Build the Top of the Laptop!

After we have build a base, time to make the top section from where the Keyboard will be mounted. I have designed the plans for the cutting. Use them to ease the work.

1) Use the base as the template and cut another piece of rectangle MDF.

2) Take the dimensions of the keyboard and mark it on the top.

3) Mark the Small opening for ventilation and for access to the Raspberry Pi.(This allows us to swap SD cards easily and also access the GPIO pins on the pi for future projects)

4) Also mark the display control button size below the ventilation port.

5) Now using the jigsaw cut the Openings and also using the drill drill out the button holes(for Display control).

6) File the MDF sheet to get a soft finish.

7) I also gave the sharp edges an angle with a grinding bit to get a better look.

CAUTION : Be careful while using the jigsaw. Cut to appropriate measurements because there's no going back at this stage!.

"Prepare and prevent, don't repair and repent."

Step 7: Make the Tilt Display

A beautiful flower is incomplete without its leaves .... similarly Laptop is incomplete without a tilting or folding Screen. This step explains the Cutting plans for the tilt style display and the special Hinge used.

1) Using the base (we made in step 4) as the template cut 2 pieces of MDF.

2) mark a "rectangle" according to the size of the screen. This acts as the screen holder.

3) Using a Jigsaw cut along the trace.

4) As usual file the edges and give it the smooth look.

ABOUT the special hinge: For making a Folding Style screen we need a HINGE of the type shown in the Pictures. These hinges are type friction hinges specially made for the purpose. I got it from a old Portable Dvd player. This suits perfectly for the job. You can find the details at the link provided in the bill of materials.

NOTE Its important that you get a perfect size friction hinge for the laptop's tilt display because too small sized hinge will be unstable and bigger size will look awkward. Use the Screw and nut (transistor fitting kit) mechanism to attach the hinge to the cutting. Also be very precise while filing the parts, excess filing will let the display loose and fall out. "Every millimeter counts here!"

Step 8: Curve the Edges

Curve edges over cornered ones are a characteristic feature of a well designed laptop. For curving the edges, I used a compass and marked some "arcs". Then using the file, filing the excess wood gave the curved the edges.

A picture is worth a thousand words :)

Step 9: Making the Border Wall Frame : (The Outline)

We have built the base and the top of the laptop. The "Border wall frame" is the frame that sits between the top layer (keyboard one) and bottom (base) and acts as the "gap filler" and the Frame of the laptop.

I have used 10 mm thick veneer wood to make the border of the laptop. I hoped a smoother finish with this so i went with it. It actually met the expectations.!

For making the frame / border of the "PI BERRY"

1) Using the base of laptop as the template cut the Appropriate length of veneer wood.

2) Trace same arcs on the corners as we did in the last step.

3) Using the file and sandpaper curve up the edges.

Take a look at the plan of placement and the outline Plan given in the pictures. We have to cut 2 slots (one for raspberry pi and charging slot).

NOTE : Its Important to check that the wooden stick is flawless. Flawless means that the two opposite edges are exactly "parallel" and also the stick is perfectly straight. If there even a small bend this will dramatically affect the final quality of the project.

Step 10: Cut Out the Audio Port

Using a 5mm Drill bit i made a strategic cutout to make room for the audio jack to accommodate. At the beginning I planned to use a traditional port, then solder the wires to the respective location on the Raspberry Pi 2. But later while purchasing my supplies I happened to come across a ready-made audio cable with one end male and other the female ("It’s best to just go with the flow."!) ..

NOTE : Look at the plan given in picture.

Step 11: Put the Base and Frame Together

To make a basic chassis to work with, Put together the frame we built (Veneer wood) and the base of the laptop.

1) Mark locations of the charging port and the raspberry pi on the base.

2) Using dabs of hot glue secure the frame on the base.

3) Drilling some pilot holes hammer some thin nails to secure the frame to the base.

4) Drill the holes in the base MDF for screwing the Display driver and the raspberry pi 2. This is important because we wont be able to do it later (after the leather working in the next step)

NOTE Check whether the Raspberry pi and charging port fits in the slots we left in the frame.We are using the small screws found in transistor fitting kits to fit the PCB's to the base.

Step 12: Some Leatherworking....

To add a elegant look to the PI-Berry I chose to add it a touch of leather-work. I used some Italian Leather for the purpose. The Display was covered with white and the bottom rest with black. (Just a personal favorite combination!)

1) Cut the leather pieces according to the measurements of the different pieces we made in earlier steps.

2) Use your leather-working skills and glue the pieces of leather to the body of the laptop.

I used rubber based adhesive to glue the pieces to the body. That's the best glue for the purpose in my experience!

Be patient while applying the leather. Avoid dull corner joints. Take your time and do this step at the best you can, because the final finish depends on this step.

Sorry not many photos :( My hands were messing with the glue and I couldn't press the shutter.!

Step 13: Assemble the Top

After we have covered the parts in Italian Leather we need to start putting everything together. To start with we assemble the top part, where the keyboard is fitted.

1) Using some 2.5mm MDF pieces, make the keyboard holder. the small pieces of MDF will prevent the Keyboard from sinking into the body.

2) Using small amount of glue to just hold the keyboard in place(Preventing it from prying up)

3) Cut a small opening near the top left (see the plan and pics) for the display connector wire to pass through.

4) Pass the display wires.. carefully not to break them while doing this.

5) Also hot glue the display controller PCB.

NOTE: The Display connector wires are too weak to resist jolts. They may break while working with them so be careful while handling them.

Step 14: Assemble the Components on the Base

Now we are starting to putting the laptop. To start with we start to assemble the PCB's and other components on the base.

1) Screw the raspberry pi 2, and the display driver on their appropriate locations.(SEE PLANS)

2) Hot Glue the batteries(Powebanks) to the base.

3) Coil the HDMI Cable to make it shortest and hot glue to secure it.

4) Hot glue the charging ports on the respective places.

5) Solder the connections of the Raspberry pi 2 and Display Driver to the switches.

NOTE: Pour appropriate amount of hot glue on the batteries. The glue is pretty hot and more glue will probably heat it up abnormally and affect the lithium battery cell inside. "Cells hate heat" !

Step 15: Charge Indicator LED's (charge Status Indicator)

Since raspberry pi doesn't have a feature to show up the battery status we need the external arrangement to add the indicator. My power-bank had LED's to show the current status of the charge left in the battery. This indication can be digital (you need to make separate slot) or just 3 LED's(My preference). I soldered extension wires to the led's and hot glued it to the frame. The wires passed through the gaps between the MDF and frame.This completes the arrangement of the Charge status Indicator LED's.

NOTE: This step is completely optional, but its better to know the current charging status while working. Most powerbanks shutoff the power output if the battery is below its critical level. We don't want this interruption so better add the charge indication.

Step 16: Assemble the Display

To assemble the display section

a) Mark holes for the hinge on the frame.

b) Drill holes on the frame, Be careful not to split the wood, because there is no going back at this stage.

c) Screw the hinges on the frame.

d) Put some Double tape adhesive on the display screen.

e) Attach the display connector to the display screen and check if it is working as expected.

f) Press the display screen into the slot we made in earlier steps.

Step 17: Put Everything Together..

After we have built everything to the mark, time to put everything together. Before doing this, check every connection and verify they are properly wired.

To bond the top MDF to the Frame, I used hot glue. Be careful not to use excess glue, because while pressing the two parts together the excess glue drips from the edges.

I had plans to make a screw-nut arrangement to fix the top and the frame. This comes handy when we need to open the case in case of maintenance. But I couldn't manage to get it right. So I went with the Hot glue..

Step 18: Chosing the Operating System

The choice of the operating system totally depends on the type of work you do. I wanted the functions of a desktop so I went with the Ubuntu Mate OS. There are a few other's to be considered:

1) Ubuntu Mate: Ubuntu MATE is a stable, easy-to-use operating system with a configurable
desktop environment. Ideal for those who want the most out of their computers and prefer a traditional desktop metaphor. You can download the image here: UBUNTU MATE

2) Raspbian: Raspbian is the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s official supported operating system. You can install it with NOOBS or download the image here : RASPBIAN. Raspbian comes pre-installed with plenty of software for education, programming and general use. It has Python, Scratch, Sonic Pi, Java, Mathematica and more.

3) OSMC (Open Source Media Center) is a free and open source media player based on Linux and founded in 2014 that lets you play back media from your local network, attached storage and the Internet. OSMC is the leading media center in terms of feature set and community and is based on the Kodi project. Download here: OSMC.

There are many other operating systems to play around. Check them out here :

Step 19: Installing the Operating System

Once you are decided with the operating system you want to go with, time to install it on the raspberry pi 2. Raspberry pi 2 boots from the SD card. So we have to get the image onto the SD card.

Which type of SD card is Best?
The recommendation of the size of the sd card depends on the Operating system we install. I used 16GB class 10 micro SD card. This gave me following advantages: a) I got more space for storage (i did have to manage partitions to get the remaining space on the card ). Class 10 cards are faster to boot and perform read write operations. This is how you chose the SD card.

Writing the IMAGE of the O.S to the SD card is done by Burning the image file using the Win32 Disc Imager.

1) Using the SD Formatter tool Format the SD card. (Format type : QUICK; Format size adjustment; ON)

2) Open the Win32 Disk Imager and locate the image you downloaded. Click on "Write" once ready.

3) Wait for the writing to complete. The speed of this process depends on the CLASS type of the SD card (Class 10 is faster than class 4)

4) Once the writing is finished, safely eject the SD card from the computer.

5) If you followed the steps correctly the raspberry pi should Boot successfully with the OS.

Step 20: Configuring Additional Hardwares (wifi, 3G Dongle, Bluetooth Etc )

Most of the USB hardware **(compatible with raspberry pi 2) will work out of the box. But some of the devices need the drivers to be installed. I prefer to use the following list of hardwares:

1) For WIFI : Realtek RTL8192cu or the Official One

2) Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 USB Module

3) USB 3G Dongles : There are a bunch of supported : Huawei: E1750 , E1820

ZTE ; MF190; SMF626; MF70

(i actually used a reliance net-connect+. I had to install the drivers.)

If you have a device that is not working out of the box. This means you need the drivers. First download the appropriate driver files from manufacturer's website and then install the drivers. Google it !

Check here to view a full list of supported peripherals for the raspberry pi :

Step 21: Time to Say Goodbye !

Hey friends , time to say goodbye to all of you. We had a great time. If you love this project perhaps you like some of my others. Do check them here . Also tell me what do you think of this project, Any suggestions or questions ? Post them in the comments , I will be glad to answer them. Good Bye !

Epilog Contest VII

Runner Up in the
Epilog Contest VII

Raspberry Pi Contest

Second Prize in the
Raspberry Pi Contest

Remix 2.0 Contest

First Prize in the
Remix 2.0 Contest