Will you print your next laptop with the Raspberry Pi?

Posted by on Monday, May 7, 2012 in Uncategorized
Raspberry Pi Diagram

Raspberry Pi Diagram

For those of you who don’t know, the Raspberry Pi is a “credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard.”   While “underpowered” compared to full sized traditional computers, there are some ground-breaking distinctions.  The Raspberry Pi Model B comes as a small computer motherboard with RCA video, audio, HDMI, LAN, two USB connections, and a small USB micro power connector on board – all for just $35.1

After reading a review and setup guide article on the Raspberry Pi I couldn’t help but thinking back to a news piece about students working on a modular laptop that could easily be disassembled, repaired, and recycled by users without the use of any tools.  With a few minor changes, a Raspberry Pi could be easily adapted for use in a modular laptop.  As one MakerBot commentor, Scott Watkins noted, “A compact motherboard like that is really all that’s needed to make [the modular laptop] dream a reality.”

Between the just-released open source Raspberry Pi and printable Raspberry Pi cases on Thingiverse, there’s nothing to stop you from creating their very own custom laptop.  All it would really take to create your very own laptop would be a USB hub, a USB keyboard, USB LCD monitor, power supply and/or battery pack, connectors, and a 3D printed case to hold it all in.  I’d be willing to bet all the parts could be sourced for less than $250 plus a 3D printed case.

  1. The Model A has only one USB port and no LAN ethernet port for $25! []
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5 Comments so far

  • Joe Larson
    May 7, 2012 at 10:13 am

    The pi is so underpowered that asside from “as a (thankfully cheap) toy” I don’t know what I’d use a pi computer for. I mean you can’t do any 3D modeling with it, I’m not sure Replicator G would work, and maybe it could be nused to capture videos from a webcam but I doubt it could edit them.

    I guess you get what you pay for, tho.

  • Randall "Texrat" Arnold
    May 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Joe, others have found many places to use Raspberry Pi computers and surely many, many more uses are coming. The lack of power is not a universal constraint– it all depends on context.

    Now, if by “pi computer” you specifically mean the sort of project described in the article, then I’m with you. I’d be curious to know if these things can be arrayed to increased power. Imagine that same laptop with, say, FOUR Raspberry Pi motherboards in parallel…

  • Ryan
    May 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    “Cheap” phone and tablets make them a natural extension of this idea. I’d love for someone to come up with a homemade laptop that you plug your phone into via HDMI and sits in a pocket. Much simpler too because you don’t need a power supply (I think there are monitors with their own battery) and can work with bluetooth. Or a printable version of the keyboard adapter for a tablet/ipad that are all the rage on kickstarter.

    Sounding like a ben heck project…

  • Timmytool
    May 17, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I’d like to see this used for home automation and disability support products, cheep small low power usage and NETWORKABLE.
    Using this to distribute lighting/sound/motor control and limit the km’s of wiring in new homes and/or reducing the headache for converting old houses that disables/old people likely have.
    I’m sure it would have the juice to power “sights of life” sensors and automate emergency services calls.
    BTW all printed with a Makerbot. 🙂

  • Rowdy Ratts
    May 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    I wouldn’t build a laptop with one since I can already buy a netbook for about the same cost. It’s definitely a great learning tool for students and I suppose if you want a truly unique laptop, that’s the way to go. Aside from academic uses though, I don’t think anyone has false notions of doing any 3D modeling or the like, but lots of new doors will be opened.

    As mentioned by Timmytool, I agree that home automation will put lots of Raspberry Pi computers to work. Tie that in with an advanced alarm clock as one of the controllers and you’ve got a winner.

    I won’t use one as my main computer, no way. But a single Raspberry Pi could be tasked for a specific function and do that one function well (and inexpensively). One other simple use could be a small computer built into the kitchen somewhere to look up and view recipes etc. There are really limit uses which we’ll all witness as more and more people get their hands on one.


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