Turn a Raspberry Pi into laptop with a $70 Motorola Lapdock

The Raspberry Pi is a tiny, low power computer which sells for just $35. If you want to use the little guy you’ll need to add a keyboard, mouse, and display — which drives up the cost. Or you can just pick up a cheap Motorola Lapdock.

Motorola’s Lapdock is designed to be a laptop docking station for select Android phones. It’s basically the shell of a thin and light laptop with a keyboard, touchpad, and 1366 x 768 pixel display — but no processor or storage.

While Lapdock’s originally hit the market with price tags of $150 or higher, you can pick up a Motorola Atrix 4G Laptop from Amazon for about $77. Similar models are going for even less on eBay.

Raspberry Pi with Motorola Lapdock

In order to connect a Raspberry Pi to a Lapdock, you’ll need a handful of USB and HDMi cables and adapters. You can find a good list of necessary accessories at rpidock.blogspot.com, as well as instructions for connecting the two devices and configuring the Lapdock to receive audio over an HDMI signal.

You’ll also need a USB WiFi adapter if you want to connect to wireless networks, since the Raspberry Pi only includes an Ethernet adapter.

The Raspberry Pi can also be modified to receive power over a USB cable — which means you can use the Lapdock’s battery to power the little computer.

To be honest, a Motorola Atrix 4G or most modern smartphones have faster processors than a Raspberry Pi, which has a 700 MHz ARM11 processor. But at $35, the Pi is cheaper than any modern smartphone.

It’s also a lot geekier and easier to modify. The little computer ships as a developer board without a protective cover. It uses an SD card for storage and can run a number of Linux-based operating systems including Debian and Fedora.

While this might not be the most portable laptop around (do you really want an exposed board and a jumble of wires sitting next to your laptop at a coffee shop?), the Lapdock might be one of the cheapest solutions for turning the Raspberry Pi into a fully functional computer.

You can find more details and further discussion about using the Lapdock as a Raspberry Pi laptop at the Raspberry Pi forums.

Fun fact: You can also use the Lapdock as a laptop accessory for the MK802 PC on a stick. The folks at the Rikomagic forum have already managed to hook up a system and demonstrate it running both Android 4.0 and Ubuntu 12.04.

I might just have to pick up a Lapdock myself.

  • digi_owl

    Makes me consider a Motorola lapdock as some kind of universal portable IO device…

  • http://twitter.com/segadc segadc

    Wow yeah I might want to pick it up too. Was already planning on getting the MK802…

  • Boone Simpson

    damn, they beat me to it. I was planning on doing this whenever the hell my raspi ships.

  • http://the-nerds.org/ Jeff Del Papa

    Obvious answer: fabricate a new bottom panel for the lapdock that has enough room to mount the Pi, and some more battery. Who knows, there might be enough room in the existing case to fit it already.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mrbill Bill Bradford

    Did this myself a couple of weeks ago; the lapdock also works as a great console for a BeagleBone with DVI cape or a BeagleBoard.
    http://weblog.mrbill.net/archives/2012/06/03/update-on-the-atrix-lapdock-as-an-arm-system-console/

  • Joe Totten

    “do you really want an exposed board and a jumble of wires sitting next to your laptop at a coffee shop?”

    No, you will have to duct tape the pi to the Lapdock before going into Starbucks :D

    • guy

      Yes exactly the problem I am facing

    • sandprickle

      “do you really want an exposed board and a jumble of wires sitting next to your laptop at a coffee shop?”

      Yes. Yes I do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nitin-J-Sawant/100001059702343 Nitin J Sawant

    Raspberry Pi must be enclosed in a box after deploying

  • http://www.facebook.com/MrWareWolf Ware Wolf

    sweeeet.

  • guy

    Can anyone tell me a way to encase the raspberry pi on the lapdock. And keeping it there

    • sandprickle

      You can buy plastic cases. And velcro?

  • Maizein

    I have an old eee pc 701 that I just burned (used the wrong power adapter). I was thinking about getting a Rasp Pi and mount it inside the eee pc. Have anyone else tried that?

  • Brian Cerveny

    Motorola has cancelled the webtop/lapdock so you can now buy a Lapdock on clearance for $50 new at Verizon stores!

  • strider_mt2k

    I just ordered a Bionic Lapdock in expectation of the ICS update now rolling out for my Droid Bionic, but being a hardware hacker in the past I did some broader searches regarding the Lapdocks that led me here.

    I didn’t count on the versatility of this thing until I read a couple of articles like this one. I’m going to scrounge up/build some adapters when mine arrives to take advantage of these capabilities!

    Excellent project! Thank you for posting it!

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  • MatthewJohnRitchie

    I have a direct connect cable being manufactured for this, basic drawing of what to expect pic.twitter.com/qvctQ5SNNm