Laptop project


Hi all,

The more than I look into it the more it seems that a raspberry pi-based laptop should be something that I can build myself for less than a few hundred $. Has anyone in this forum contemplated this type of project? Besides the circuitry the main issue seems to be constructing a decent enclosure.
but for instance consider that Pimoroni and many others sell viable LCD displays-- Pimoroni’s is 12 inches. Adafruit sells batteries and charger. And a very decent keyboard can be bought that is worth typing on such as the Poker 3 that can be taken out of this enclosure and put into a laptop.


I’ve just seen this - if you’re still interested:

I have designed many, and built some, RPi-powered laptops. They can be great. Historically, the LCDs have been the issue, but as soon as HDMIPi came out (which I have one of and is ideal for laptops), there has been a host of other displays, even the official one.

I often buy the rechargeable power banks for mobile phones to use for power - they give out a straight 5v (ideal for a Pi), often at up to 2.1A, last for a long time and have built in charging. One of the biggest issues for me is the hinges - I can never find stiff-enough ones, so that the display doesn’t fall backwards a full 180 degrees - you can steal them out of a laptop, but they all have screw holes in silly places. I am working on a 3D-Printed stiff hinge for projects like this.

The enclosure is an issue - I’ve designed a Pibow-style acrylic layer one, which I didn’t make because I’m not an acrylic millionaire. I still have the DXF files if anyone wants. If you have access to a CNC router, which I don’t, then using that would help. I’m currently building a 5-inch laptop in a big altoids-style mint tin I got whilst on holiday - so using things that you have already could work well. Another cool option is to rip out the guts of an old, nasty laptop and put your bits in - that’s worked well for me in the past. The circuitry isn’t really hard - it can be solder-free if you want it to be, you just have to plug in all your USBs, etc.

Hope this helps,


One of the easiest project to start with.
Do it.

  • Connor


It is indeed - particularly considering yesterday’s developments in the world of pi…


Honestly, I watch ebay, and have purchased two lapdocks both under $40, I then bought a Y otg female to 2 male otg usb cord, cut the red (&black wire) on one arm that goes to the Pi Zero’s USB, and the untouched one goes to the power. Then with 2 hdmi adapters connect the HDMI. It need a Micro female HDMI to male standard then female standard to mini male. Now I can connect any Pi, but really set up for a Zero. The Zero will power from the Lapdock easy, but Pi2 or 3 requires a better power source. NOOBs will turn the screen off after boot, but a normal Jessie, or wheezy OS works good. This will also add speakers and 2+ USB ports depending on the lapdock you purchased. Mine are model Lapdock 100, others are more pricey. I wouldn’t pay more then $50 for one with power source, since if you just watch ebay long enough some do as low as $25-$35 and some with a power source for it.


Lapdocks are certainly a good option, but if you want to learn about LCDs, user input, or laptop design then plugging a pi into a ready-made solution isn’t a great option.

Sure, for a functional laptop, a Lapdock is a great idea, but for the experience and learning side of things, building your own is a much better and more educational option.


you do have a point.I have been looking at the LVDS boards. I am a bit hesitant on buying one for a LCD screen because I am not super familar which will work best for which screen I will use. One of my lapdocks has a fried motherboard. I like the idea of replacing that with a LVDS board and a rPi.


Yes… LCDs are mystical and strange beasts! If you can find the model number of the LCD and google that and ‘LVDS’ you might be able to get somewhere. You could always message eBay sellers (although their info might be a bit biased). Alternatively, even if you could just find some info on the LCD you might be able to get one on eBay with the same dimensions, or failing that get a similar one and hack it to fit.

If you did go down that route, then you might be able to use a pi zero to fit inside and it could actually look pretty good.

This hackaday forums post has some info on the bits involved. It seems that the keyboard and trackpad are I2C devices, so if you could reverse engineer the chips used then you’d be able to use them natively! I think that some lapdocks have touchscreens, so you might be able to use this adafruit breakout to get access to that. It might even be able to do something with the raw trackpad signals (but may very well not).

In terms of LVDS boards for LCDs, if you’re buying both new then I really reccomend buying them together so that you know they’ll work. But again, some googling of model numbers will get you far. Keep us posted!

That reminds me, I still keep meaning to put a Pi inside that iMac G5…