Raspberry Pi Laptop




Introduction: Raspberry Pi Laptop

About: Hi there! I am a student living in the UK in senior school or what Americans would call High School. I am completely obsessed with electronics and space flight and one day I hope to be a aerospace engineer. ...

In this instructable I will show u how I built my raspberry laptop and subsequently you will learn how to build your own. I hope you enjoy this instructable.

P.S if you liked this instructable please don't forget to vote for me in the raspberry pi competition.

List of tools and parts + links


  • screwdrivers
  • superglue
  • access to a laser cutter/cnc mill or a saw ( although a saw will take longer)
  • file/bench grinder
  • drill
  • stationary

Here are the download links for the designs I used for my laptop

(N.B these designs are all in .dtd format as I used 2d design. If you want the files in a specific format email me and I will try to export them for you.)

Step 1: Building the Case

First you will need your aluminium case and you will need to strip out everything inside so all the foam. We need to do this so that we have enough space to fit all the components inside. After you have done this, it's time to get out your ruler and start measuring your case to the millimetre. This part needs to be precise so that you get a good fit. When I did this, I transferred the measurements to a cad program so that I could use the laser cutter at my school to cut it out easily but if you don't have a laser cutter or cnc mill one easier way of doing this is to simply trace out the shape of the inside of your case on tracing paper and then transferring the shape onto your material ( in my case the mdf ). You will need 2 of these shapes cut for the top and bottom of the box. If they don't come out accurate enough don't be scared to use a file or a bench grinder to make it fit. Remember we need it snug, bordering on hard to get in, so that the friction hold the covers onto the box also if you're inaccurate at cutting try to cut a too big shape rather than a too small shape as with a too big shape you can always file it down.

Step 2: Shaping the Covers

We will now move on to cutting out the holes in your covers so that we can fit the peripherals, screen and keyboard. First let's start off with he holds for the HDMI cable. First place both covers on top of each other so that when we drill the hole, they are in the same position on both the top and bottom cover the hole will need to be 10mm in diameter. Next we will work on the top cover and the screen hole. Here you need to first get the measurements of the whole of the black part of the screen. We only want the black part of the screen and not the silver lining to show. To cut this hole if you don't have access to a laser cutter or a cnc mill, I suggest you first draw the hole on your cover, then drill a 5mm hole in the middle, take a junior hacksaw, detach the blade and reconnect the blade in the middle of the wood. If you find this part hard then I recommend you look up on Google laser cutting services and see if you can get someone to cut it for you. After you have cut this hole, the top cover is done. Next we will cut the holes for the keyboard, Ethernet port and USB ports. Let's look at the Ethernet port and USB ports first as they are fairly easy. For the Ethernet port essentially it is the same process as the screen but on a smaller scale. So measure your Ethernet port and cut it out. For the USB ports all you have to do is to trace out where your USB ports will go, transfer this onto the wood, then drill a 3mm hole in each placement and finally file out the hole so that a female USB port will fit in it. Simples!!

Finally you need to drill a 5mm hole for the power jack. After drilling the hole file it out so that the power jack will fit. Then super glue it in.

Now for the keyboard. For the keyboard measure the length and width and cut out the rectangle in your bottom cover. This hole should be near the edge of your cover but not too close. Remember to leave about 2mm on each side so that you can take the keyboard out if you need to. Now because we want the keyboard flush to the top of the cover, we will need to take in account the depth of the keyboard and the depth of your material. My keyboard's depth was 10mm and my material had a depth of 3mm. 10/3= 3 and a bit so I will need 4 layers. To build the layers we need to take the shape of the hole that we cut for the keyboard, add 20mm on each side then cut them out. For 3 of the pieces you will need to cut out the keyboard shape as well so that when we stick all the pieces together we get a recess where the keyboard will fit nicely. Use the diagram to help u.

Finally you will need to make a 1.5mm hole and file it until you can fit the switch in and turn it on and off. Then stick it on with super glue.

Step 3: Installing the Lcd Controller Board

After you have installed the lcd you now need to install the controller board for the lcd. The various connectors are listed in the diagram above. To install this first connect your display to the display connector, flip it so the populated side is facing the lcd then either glue it in or use some spacers to create a friction fit. The friction fit is achieved by placing spacers closely around each corner so that it is held in place by friction. To secure this more, attach some electrical tape. This is useful as you can now easily remove the controller board if it were to fail. Next you will need to install the buttons. You can do this using the same technique as described earlier. The buttons are not crucial for the laptop but you will need to use it to select the display input and configure a few of the display settings.

Step 4: Installing the Raspberry Pi and Battery

First you will need to install the battery. Because I didn't want to ruin the bottom of my battery, I wrapped it in electrical tape before sticking it down in the case with superglue. Remember to stick the battery in so that you leave as much space as possible for the ports. To do this line up the side without the ports as close as possible to the wall of the case.

Next you need to install the Raspberry pi. First take 4 stand-offs and screw them to the mounting holes of the Pi Next stick the Raspberry pi with super glue to the bottom of the case. You need to stick the Pi in so that you leave enough room so that you can change the (micro) sd card and so that you have enough space for all the wiring.

Step 5: Ethernet, HDMI and the Usb Hub


First lets work on the Ethernet link. The easiest way to do this without soldering is to stick in the inline coupler to the case. Next get the shortest Ethernet cable and plug one end into the coupler while plugging the other into the Raspberry pi. As I have mentioned earlier this is the easiest way to do this. I have also provided a pin out of the female Ethernet jack so that you can also solder this if you want to do this another way.


Next lets work on the HDMI cable. This part is a bit difficult to explain so i have provided a video so that it makes is easier for you to understand. For this part you need to first solder all the wires to one HDMI connector, thread all the wires through the holes in the covers you made earlier, then solder all the cables to the other HDMI connector. The wires must be soldered to the exact same pin as on the other connector. This is because HDMI is digital. To make sure you have soldered the right wire to the right pin you can easily test this by using a led and a button cell battery (3v). In order to do this you have to hook the positive terminal of the battery to the anode, run a wire from the negative terminal and another wire from the cathode on the led (so the longer one). To test if you have connected the right pins up simply attach the wire from the negative terminal to one side of the HDMI connector and connect the wire from the cathode to the corresponding pin ( the same pin but on the other connector). If the led lights up then you are good. Click here for the video.


This part is not as difficult. First insert all the USB female ports into the holes you created in the bottom cover and stick them in with super glue. Next de solder all the USB connections on the hub. This part isn't necessary and you can directly solder onto the pads but I highly recommend it as it reduces the difficulty and the risk of short circuiting your USB hub. Next solder wires from the USB ports to the hub. Make sure you connect the right pin to right pad on the USB hub. If it helps colour code the wiring according to the USB pin out diagram. Finally plug in your USB hub with the provided cable and voilà it should work. Although before plugging in all you peripherals I recommend you try out each port with a disposable USB drive if you smell burning then you know that your ports are not wired properly :). After verifying that all the ports work you can stick the port onto the top of the cover.

Step 6: Wiring Up Power

Wiring the battery

The battery has 2 USB ports which will supply the power and a micro USB port for charging. On one of the ports there is 2 lightning symbols. This is the port we will use. Get a USB cable with a type A connector and a micro USB plug and cut the cable in half. Plug the type A connector into the battery strip the ends and solder the positive wire to the either pin on the ends of the switch. Take another red wire and solder this one to the middle pin of the switch. Keep the other half of the cable as we will use it later.

Powering the display

To power the display you will need to use a DC jack. Solder a black ground wire to the larger solder pad and the positive red wire to the smaller pad. Plug in the DC jack into the socket and thread the wires through the holes that you used to thread the HDMI wires so that the power wires are now in the bottom cover. Next solder the the positive wire from the display to the positive wire coming off the middle pin of the switch and solder the negative wire to the negative wire coming from the battery connector.

Powering the Pi

Take the other half of the USB cable with the micro USB connection, strip the ends, plug it into the raspberry pi and solder the positive to the same positive wire you soldered the display power to and the negative to the other negative wire.

Charging the Battery

Hook up the DC power jack using the diagram above and solder a micro USB plug on the end and plug the micro USB plug into the charging point on the battery. Remember that the first charge of the battery will take longer than usual with a 2A charger and with a lower amperage charger considerably longer. Finally you must use a 5v charger with a max output of 2A otherwise you risk damaging the charging circuit in the battery.

Step 7: Adding the Adapters

This step is simple. Just plug'n play :)

Literally plug in each adapter and you should be good.

Just make sure you have the correct drivers for each adapter.

Step 8: System Startup

Before you power up make sure you have insulated all the connections to prevent short circuiting. Insert the (micro) sd card and power up. If everything was done right, after a few seconds you should be presented with login. YAY!!


  • Also don't forget to vote this project in the raspberry pi contest if you enjoyed it :)
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    32 Discussions

    I purchased a switch that has four prongs, two on each side. When talking about how to wire the power you say to connect another red wire to the middle prong but I don't have a "middle prong." Any help would be appreciated. The end result looks really nice!

    3 replies

    could you send a link or a photo so i can see the switch.

    This is what it looks like:


    This is waht the back of your switch should look like.


    Can you supply more information on the

    1x 7 inch tft lcd + controller board ? I went to the link and it said that the sale of the item had ended due to an incorrect description. It did not elaborate on what the incorrect description was, however. Is there another tft lcd and controller board that you could suggest/recommend for this project? Any/all help much appreciated. I really like your Raspberry pi laptop build.

    2 replies

    I'm considering buying a raspberry pi for this purpose, one question though does this work like a laptop? I only need it to run iTunes through and transfer files to an external hard drive. Will this work?

    1 reply

    Im not too sure about Itunes running on a raspberry pi, I don't think apple has actually made a version for it... That being said there is a package which can be used to read files and communicate with apple i-devices, it is called libimobiledevice which I believe you can install using the command "Sudo apt-get install libimobiledevice".

    When I first saw this, it reminded me of "Apollo 13", when the astronauts had to make a CO2 scrubber with material within their space pods. Has that feel to me. Really like it!


    I have a Portable Pi running Emulation Station, I thought of getting another and putting it into a safe I own and using that as a robust laptop (or maybe I can swap out the micro SD on my Pi gaming console).

    Thanks for sharing! - Sam

    Hey, it looks like you have some black borders around your screen's edges. You can fix this by putting the SD card into your computer, then find the txt file called "config". Then, you can uncomment the things that say stuff like, "overscan_left=16". I don't remember what they say exactly, but you get the idea. Also, I like the project.

    1 reply

    "I have just been made aware of a very similar project on instructable" ... there's a few portable Pis about :) -- I'm about to release the next phase of mine. I'm sure there's space for all of them!

    2 replies

    I said that because I am entering into a competition and I just don't want any confusion that I plagiarised or copied the other guy :)

    Also send me the link to yours I'd loved to see it ???