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Build a Raspberry Pi-Powered Linux

Laptop That Fits in YourPocket
By Chris Robinson Difculty: Difcult

I made this little Nintendo DS sized

computer using a Raspberry Pi and a bunch
of off-the-shelf parts. It is a fully functional
linux computer that can do most things a
full system can (games, web stuff, videos,
music etc).

More Raspberry Pi Projects

Use Raspberry Pi to Measure
Broadband Speeds to Hold Your
ISP Accountable
Use Raspberry Pi for an IoT
Command Center
Bypass Your Monitor with a
Headless Raspberry Pi Interface

You can also output the video to an external monitor, transforming it into a desktop-ish
I make other stuff like this on my youtube channel.

Estimated Cost ~$120

Raspberry Pi 2 (900MHz CPU, 1GB RAM)
3x USB ports
1x Ethernet
Fully QWERTY keyboard
backlit 3.5inch Touchscreen
1000mAh battery Clamshell case (made from 2x hard drive enclosures)
Full Linux OS (Raspbian, using i3 window manager)
Audio/Video out

How to build it

Heres everything broken down into steps for easier following.

The rst thing to do is remove some components from the Raspberry Pi board to make
it as thin as possible. This includes: The 2x USB sockets, ethernet plug, GPIO pins, 2x
camera connectors, composite audio/video jack, and HDMI port. You can use a
soldering iron in conjunction with a solder sucker or solder wick

Not everything is easy to desolder from the board, and I made good use of the mini
hacksaw blade and cutters too. Just be careful not to damage components or scratch
the board, and youll be ne.

You should be left with a really thin Raspberry Pi 2 board

Desolder the pins from the PiTFT board. This frees up lots of space, and make it super
thin. Again use the soldering iron to heat up the solder and the pins come off easily.

Cut and prep some wires and create extensions for the USB, ethernet and audio/video
Its much easier if you tin the end of the wires, as well as the contacts on the
components, and it makes bond together. If youre having trouble, use a helping hands
stand to free up your hands.

I modied the keyboard, allowing it to be powered by the Pi instead of its own battery.
All you need to do is snip the red and black wires on the battery, being careful not to
damage or puncture anything else. Be very careful with these lipo batteries, since they
are volatile. Do not puncture or squash them.

I just added a 5v to 3.3v step down regulator to the battery contacts. Just add the red
(voltage) and black (ground) wires to where they were for the battery. Again, tinning the
end of the wires makes the soldering much quicker.

I also added a button switch to turn the backlight on and off. It doesnt matter what
colors you use for this, just solder both ends of the button to each contact.
All this does is momentarily connects the contacts together once the button is pressed.

Now we need to prepare the case. I used two 2.5 hard drive enclosures. Theyre super
cheap and available on ebay and amazon

Again, this is pretty straight forward, but takes quite a bit of time. I measured and cut
the top and bottom halves of the case, mostly with the hacksaw blade, then nished it
with plastic sheeting and vinyl tape. If you have a Dremel, you can save a lot of time.

I added the piano hinge at the back and drilled a few holes for the wires. I afxed the
hinge using a couple really small nuts and bolts.
I also glued on some rubber nubs to stop the screen overextending.

To reduce the height of the powerboost, cut the top of the JST battery connector off
using the hacksaw or cutters.

Place everything in the case, and feed the wires between the bottom and top halves

Now you can solder everything together. I made sure the 2 battery wires went through
different holes to minimize the risk of shorting if they break in the future.
It might seem like a lot of wires, but all youre doing is basically soldering the extensions
onto where the components used to be on the board.

Close the case up, cross your ngers, and power the computer on.

You can output the video from it to a TVor monitor. Not the best resolution, but works
nice for videos.
You now have a handheld Linux terminal ts in your back pocket. The i3 window
manager, coupled with the touchscreen really helps free up space for multitasking.


Raspberry Pi 2 (1)
Adafruit PiTFT Plus 3.5 inch touch
screen (1)
Laptop Hard Drive Case (2)
3.5mm 4 pole Audio/Video jack
Low Prole Ethernet Socket (1)
Adafruit Powerboost 1000c (1)

Mini Wireless keyboard (1)

Power Switch (1)
Tactile Momentary Switch (1)
5v to 3.3v Step Down Converter
1000mah Lipo Battery (1)
Piano Hinge (1)

Chris is a designer and tinkerer based in the UK. He runs N-O-D-E.net

Jack H

This looks like a really awesome project. Thanks for posting it. Can you describe how
you wire the PiTFT to the Pi? I assume, since you removed all the pins, that you have
to wire from each GPIO to each pad on the PiTFT. Also, is there any chance you can
give a little more detail on the power connections?

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Matt Falcon

The PiTFT just uses SPI interface pins, so you dont need to route every GPIO, I
think. Saves quite a number of pins

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Nice build, Chris! I saw this on hackaday (I think) when they gave you some props the
other day.
That keyboard is the tricky thing. I couldnt nd it sourced in the states. Is it branded
under a different name or anything?

Some issue here!


Maybe something like this??

Could be a substitute?
Or any of the tiny BT keyboards that are thumb style.
Jan Zumwalt

How long does the battery last?

David Philipe Gil

Hows thescreen resoltuion with text? I wonder if there is a GNU/Linux distro with
bitmap fonts

Not hard at all congure linux to use bitmap fonts for everything; the exception
maybe being the TTY (Havent looked into that.)
Therese Shellabarger

I use a heat gun at work, I was wondering if it would be possible to heatshrink plastic
on the outside, that is, if you could do it without damaging the computer. It would be
a slightly more durable coat than using tape. I suppose some kind of lacquer nish
might work too. I would want to be able to take it apart if it needed xing or for more
mods later.


Couldnt you t the 2Ah LiPo battery? Looks similar size


Bravo! Id love to see something like this, made professionally with an extremely
polished case design. I love how it has a form factor like the old Sharp Zaurus
handheld. I have an old Sony Clie clamshell type PDA in storage that would be a
wicked design to pair with a Pi-Zero board, or maybe even a stripped down RPi3,
running Ubuntu-Mate. ;)

Is there enough space left for a 3G or LTE modem?