No expertise necessary, just $300 or so for a kit to construct a machine all your own
The creators say one evening of tinkering will be enough to get the low-cost laptop ready-to-go.
People who enjoy building their stuff from the ground up will really enjoy the Pi-Top. The kit contains an injection molded casing, trackpad and keyboard components, a 13.3″ HD screen, the circuit boards, battery and a few chords for a complete set-up. The kit sells for $285 (future retail price will be $300). If you already have a Pi board, you can get one for $209. The design is very straightforward. The USB ports, audio interface and power source all have their dedicated holes in the case. Except for the odd positioning of the trackpad and a sliding transparent panel to quickly access the inner workings, it looks just like any other laptop. With a purchase, you will also gain access to STL files to print your own case and add any customizations you might come up with.
Watch the IndieGoGo video:
The Pi-Top runs Raspberry Pi, an OS that makes developer-friendly boards affordable, especially to educators. The Raspberry Pi’s home is a credit card-sized circuit, a motherboard with impressive capabilities such as word processing, spreadsheets and games.
The creators of Pi-Top have created three modular attachments for greater functionality. Using the Raspberry Pi’s HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) capabilities, the add-on boards will give interesting capabilities to your laptop.
These HATs are the LCD HAT which allow you to use external displays with an HDMI connector. The Robot HAT does what the name says. It falls on top of the Pi board and gives the board control over servo motors, proximity sensors and more. The Home Automation HAT adds a lot of input sources to the laptop. This add-on board comes with sensors for pressure, humidity, temperature, touch, IR proximity and sound.
The Pi-Top, at press time, is already fully funded clocking in about 120% of its original goal of $80,000, 25 full days before the campaign ends on IndieGoGo.
The Raspberry Pi OS and small board really shine in terms of accommodating creative pursuits. The conveniently small but powerful board is a hit with kids and serves as a teaching tool for computer programming . Kid-oriented projects with downloadable worksheets and guides include a fart detector (teaches about air quality sensors and “fart potency”) and a stuffed bear that takes photos and tweets them (formerly Abuse Bear that does the same when punched–not really classroom material).
Despite Raspberry Pi’s child-friendliness, the Pi-Top won’t be a toy. The creators share:
Pi-Top focuses on teaching you the key skills to start making real hardware products. By combining Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design and 3D Printing we give you the knowledge to create any hardware product you want to make – by giving you the skills to create you are only limited by your imagination!