Netbook Laptop Build for $ 160 - Raspberry Pi Powered.

About: It's a me a, Mario!

Hey Everyone! I'm 13, and I was inspired by online projects and cool computer builds to see if I could build a laptop. This may not be the greatest tutorial ever, but this laptop has 512 mb of ram, a 1ghz processor, with wifi, around 4 gb of space. but it's only 160!

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Step 1: Overview of Parts

Ok, so here we go
these are the general list of parts needed, I'll list what I used and the general object too. I found all my supplies except the casement on Amazon

1 portable battery
I used an Opteka 6000 mah solar

2 usb hubs, 1 large, 1 small
I used a 4 port generic usb hub seen in pic and a 4 port travel mini one by HDE

hdmi input screen
I used a tontec 7" raspberry pi screen, non touchscreen

power cords
you need a usb to microusb cord for the computer, which is very common, just search it. for the screen, the tontec screen took a 2.1mm usb to DC power cable

hdmi cable - any brand just normal hdmi

keyboard and mouse
I used a gearhead mini sub keyboard and a wireless mouse I had lying around.

paneling to hide the wires - I cut up an old 3 ring folder binder

raspberry pi
I bought one off Amazon, use the b or b+ for full power

micro sd card
I'd recommend 8 gb and a class 4, if you have a type a pi make sure it has a ad card adapter

wifi adapter
just a mini wifi adapter, usb and small.
edimax has one on Amazon ideal for this
and the laptop case
I'll get to this at step 5

that's it!

Step 2: Step 1 - Do a First Time Assemble

don't worry about the case yet, well just do a first time assembly

if you used the tontec screen, Google how to attach the screen to the driver board

ok so connect the mini usb hub to your battery, which should be off, then plug the microusb cord and the usb to (whatever power input your screen takes, in my case usb to dc) cord into the mini usb hub

set down your raspberry pi and plug the micro usb cable into it, and set down your screen and plug it it's power source cord

connect the hdmi cable from the screen to the raspberry pi

then connect your larger usb hub and wifi adapter and mouse and keyboard to the raspberry pi.

now before we power it on, you need an OS, so here's that step

Step 3: Add an OS to the Computer

Ok so here we go
your laptop is not going to run Windows or Mac. there, I said it.

But this computer will be able to run multiple other OSES, including android, Linux, and Risc Is

I recommend Debian Linux Wheezy, as seen in the picture above. a special version for this laptop is avaliable, Google Raspbian OS

This is how to install wheezy

you need a windows for this
ok so download Wheezy from the Raspbian source, it should be a zip or img file, if it's a zip extract the img file inside of it.

install Win32DiskImager from online and run it. plug your microsd card into the computer using an sd card adapter, and check the drive letter. select the drive letter in win32, and browse and select the img file - should be called something like

then click write in win32, and when it finished eject the sd card and remove the microsd from it

Step 4: Easiest Part! Boot Your Computer for the First Time

Ok so

take your microsd card and insert it into the slot on the bottom of your raspberry pi. then hit the power button on the battery. Moment of truth! if your screen turns on and shows something like above, you did it all right

Commen Problems
Your Battery output is too low, it needs to be at least 5v 2a for my setup

You screwed up attaching everything! so common. just re read my directions
you installed the wrong OS or installed it wrong

I can't really help you here, as you already wrote the card. Sorry?

Step 5: Mount the Screen


so I don't really know how you want to mount your screen, but here's the best way for the tontec screen

ok, you need a hot glue gun for this step. I hate tutorials that require soldering, so I promise this needs none of it

ok so use the little button board, not the driver board, to set the screen orientation to upside down

then hot glue the driver board to the back of the screen near the top, MAKE SURE the screen connector is on the same side

then plug the screen in to the driver board and use the mini screen button connector thingy to make final edits to the brightness, ect

now we are going to mount this to the back. as you can see in the picture above, you can't just glue it as is because of the irregular shape of the back. My DIY solution was to cut up popsicle sticks and build them into supports so I can glue it

when you glue it be sure to plug in the hdmi and DC cable first, and have them facing down

for the casing, I don't have any link for you, because I used an old card case, but cases by source on Amazon has good ones and you can pick a size ideal for your parts

Step 6: Mount the Battery, Computer, and Usb Ports


so if you haven't already, plug in your wifi adapter to one of the usb ports

stick everything inside your case and make sure everything's connected
stick everything in and hot glue whatever you need down, and panel it over with your material, plastic or cardboard, etc

use an exactoknife or a drill bit to make holes for connections, decide what connections you want to be a valuable, I didn't show any usb ports and just showed the usb hub.

then cut a 2 by 2 cm hole in the side for proper airflow

attach a mouse and keyboard, or a keyboard trackpad to it

make sure that the button to start the battery and the charge for the battery is exposed

and your done! you now have a Linux laptop for only 160 bucks

1 Person Made This Project!


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17 Discussions


3 years ago

It dose not look pretty


4 years ago on Introduction

Also 13, and I'm trying to do this as a school project. What 11-13'' LCDs could this support? Links?

Will the Raspberry Pi 2 work with this?

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago

Yes, the PI 2 will work for this. Also, the screen was made for the pi, but any hdmi screen will work, as long as it has a power source.


Yes i am also 13! I am tech nerd too, yes yes. (SciFi Mode, Yes Yes!) I believe if you can insert in a 24 gb flash drive, you can get more storage. (yes, yes!)

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago

you could also add a ssd and perform a partition swap for more ram and extended memory


4 years ago

Nice to meet a tech nerd my age! Very cool design. I've been trying to build a laptop of my own.


Reply 4 years ago

yep, the screen and Raspberry pi run on 5V 2A, and the white thing is the battery pack


ah cool they dident have these screens when i first had a pi i modded mine into an old game boy but in end give up as the screans were just not clear enogth to read text


4 years ago on Introduction

Not a 1/2 bad build. I'm working on something similar, but my case and screen are salvaged from an old Acer aspire one... but thats just me being a cheapo lol

3 replies

Reply 4 years ago

Nice, I never considered that, but if you don't have all old one don't you think it would cost more?


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

If I didnt have an old laptop to salvage for it, I'd have had to buy a screen and case, so it would have cost more. I'm actually impressed that you managed it in $160 :) I've spent almost that on mine lol


Reply 4 years ago

thanks! I was surprised how much an hdmi screen costed