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Build your own laptop, powered by Raspberry Pi

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Lily

Creative Technologist, maker, writer, geek. @Lily_2point0
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If you are among those disappointed by Apple’s Mac Book announcement; a single USB Type-C port, and an odd 12″ screen size, we have a solution. It might be time to build your own laptop. That is, if you are daring enough to switch from OSX to Raspbian (Linux) or Windows 10. The pi-top campaign has been successfully running for a few months, raising over $180,000. The project is not dissimilar to Kano, but adds 3D-printing into the mix, to make the computer portable.

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The first units will start shipping soon with the new Raspberry Pi 2 board, instead of the B+, originally advertised. It offers 1GB of RAM (twice as much as the previous model), a CPU 6 times more performant, and WiFi. Pi-top also comes with a 13.3″ LCD screen, a keyboard, a trackpad, and a Li-ion rechargeable battery that can last 6 to 8 hours. You will be able to assemble the laptop fully, using only connectors (no soldering), and finish the assembly with a 3D-printed case and a transparent laser-cut panel that leaves the hardware visible, but protected.

Behind pi-top is a team of engineers whose goal was to explore ways to make quick and affordable prototypes. After a wooden and a cardboard version of their first designs, they rapidly turned to 3D printing, which they learned to master. One of the most tedious parts of the process, according to Jesse Lozano, one of the inventors, is finding the right calibration and maintaining the printer.

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This calibration issue could soon be solved with a new printer unveiled at the iMakr store this week. The Cubicon, by the Korean firm HyVision System has a complex auto-calibration system, which means the required to perform any other task than providing filament and the file to be printed. It is a professional grade printer that will surely compete with consumer printers, at a price of £1,999.

Once built, pi-top offers online classes to learn electronics and 3D printing. In a few hours,you will know how to add new features to your laptop, design your own iteration of the case, and maybe get it printed at the iMakr store? Having reached their stretch goal, the team is also working on making the laptop compatible with other boards such as Beagle Bone Black and Udoo.

So, what will your next laptop be?

Posted 10th Apr 2015
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