Turning a Raspberry Pi into a tiny Linux notebook

The Raspberry Pi is a $35 computer board with a built-in processor, memory, and input and output. But if you want to use it as a full-fledged computer you need to connect some storage, a keyboard, display, and other peripherals.

Most people probably do that by plugging in a monitor and USB keyboard and mouse. But hacker Nathan Morgan decided to use the Raspberry Pi as the guts of a tiny laptop computer with a 3.5 inch display, a thumb-keyboard, solid state disk, and rechargeable batteries.

Pi-to-Go

He calls it the Pi-To-Go, and it’s a fully functional computer running Raspbian Linux. It gets up to 10 hours of battery life thanks to the low-power ARM-based processor and a reasonably large battery pack.

The end product includes more than $400 in parts… so if you’re really just looking for a cheap Linux laptop, you’re probably better off buying an old netbook and installing Ubuntu on it. Not only is that a cheaper way to go, but you’ll end up with a speedier system.

But there’s something incredibly cool about Morgan’s little computer, which features a 64GB solid state disk, a mini keyboard with an integrated touch area, a powered 7-port USB hub, and a 3D printed case.

Morgan’s design also includes an LED which illuminates a Raspberry Pi logo on the back of the case when the computer’s in use.

You can find a parts list, 3D printer files, and instructions for assembling the system at Nathan Morgan’s blog.

via Raspberry Pi

  • Renee Auclair

    I hope this will spur the development of a D-I-Y tablet, particularly for 7″ versions. I don’t like the designs that mfrs are putting out. Too often, they use mini ports with dongles that are too easily misplaced. I’d like to see Intel and AMD low power motherboards with full size ports, and accessible storage and RAM locations. That way, I don’t have to put up with puny 32 or 64GB SSDs. An attachable keyboard (USB and bluetooth) can also be standardized. A standardized battery will also be nice.

    • buzz86us

      I agree I am really ticked off that there are all these awesome designs on cellphones and the most commonly overlooked feature in all but one tablet something as simple as a easily replaceable very available battery that you don’t have to order from hong Kong.. The sad part is hat most tablets are just giant cellphone s.

    • Joe

      I don’t expect DIY tablets would much better. With all those options, I wouldn’t be surprised a DIY tablet bein 1 inch thick with large bezels.

      • Renee Auclair

        There are people who don’t mind a 1 inch thick tablet, just as there are people who don’t think women should be as skinny as some female fashion models. 10 inch tablets manage to have full size ports without being 1 inch thick.

      • Alan

        The reason for the thinness and light-weight is because they don’t do what your asking for. Those are the trade-offs with current technology. To make something modular and with no mini-ports today will result in a tablet that many probably wouldn’t buy. At least not enough for a company to make a profit.

    • Renee Auclair

      My idea is to make tablets as modular as white box PCs, where you can mix and match motherboards, cases, mass storage, RAM, etc. I find the 7″ tablet shells a bit too small, they lack places to put your hands without touching the display. So a slightly larger tablet shell with a bigger bezel all around would be in order.

  • boober95

    Why not get one of these http://en.qi-hardware.com/wiki/Ben_NanoNote ?

    An *open* platform, both hardware and software stack, in a real mini-notebook.

  • http://twitter.com/kdude63 Keith Gadberry

    Screw the price. Screw the speed.
    I want one just so I can say I have one.

  • http://k0nsl.org/blog k0nsl

    Nice modification :)
    Kudos to Mr. Morgan for doing it with style.

  • asdf

    I had all kids of weird USB problems with the Raspberry Pi
    version 2 board.

    I stumbled across a site (RPiPS.com) that has an add on
    power supply for the Pi. I plugged that bad boy in and now I have zero power
    problems. I am even running a USB passport drive, USB hub, wireless mouse, USB
    wireless adapter and keyboard all off of the PI’s USB ports. This is awesome!!!