A Raspberry Pi Laptop, the easy way.




After seeing the brilliant article from the Adafruit Blog describing in detail how to build a Raspberry Pi laptop, I decided I had to have one !
For those that might not have seen the article, take a look here …

Some of the parts are a little tricky to find, mainly the female micro hdmi coupler, as they are usually embedded in the equipment itself.  Due to this I found myself waiting for what seemed like an age for bits to turn up from Hong Kong.
But there was an upside, in the meantime the Raspberry Pi revision was announced.  This brought about many changes to the board, but the one we’re most interested in relates to the USB interface.

This means that by using a Revision 2 (004) board, we can actually do away with all the soldering previously required to get this modification up and running.
To build your own Raspberry Pi laptop, you’ll need the following items …

Shopping List :

1 x Raspberry Pi Revision 2 ( 004 ) ( although I hear a revision 003 may work )
1 x Motorola Atrix LapDock (UK , US)
1 x Female USB Micro to Male USB A connector  (UK , US)
1 x Micro USB Female to Male extension cable  (UK , US)
1 x Female Micro HDMI to HDMI Male connector  (UK , US)
1 x HDMI coupler  (UK , US)
1 x 30cm HDMI cable  (UK , US)
1 x SKPang Raspberry Pi Starter Kit    ( Optional )
1 x Self Adhesive Velcro for attaching the SKPang Breadboard area ( Optional )
1 x Edimax EW-7811UN Wireless 802.11 b/g/n USb Adaptor ( Optional )  (UK , US)
The original video used a female to female micro usb coupler, but I found it very difficult to track down.  After finding a single ebay supplier selling them out of Hong Kong, I’m still waiting for it to turn up nearly 4 weeks later.  Hence the alternatives listed above.A Raspberry Pi Laptop, the easy way.

The Step By Step :

 Step 1 – Making a bit more space to play

The LapDock arrives with a neatly fitted panel, which I’m sure fits wonderfully when used with the intended Motorola Atrix phone, but for our purposes it just makes things more awkward to fit.

If you look at the right hand end of the dock, you’ll notice a little cut out.  If you insert a flat blade screw driver here and gently pry, you’ll find the insert separates and can be lifted out.

Without the insert you’ll find things are a little more spacious around the connectors, which will help greatly in a few moments.

Step 2 – Persuading the adaptors to fit

When you see the Female Micro HDMI to HDMI Male connector you’ll realise that its a little large to take up residence in the dock, and will need some minor modification before it’ll fit.  I did mine with a knife, but I would suggest using a small file.  As you can see in the picture below the female connector is offset to one side.  You’ll need to file down the plastic till its possible to insert the connector into the dock without it binding.

You will find that now we’ve removed the insert from the dock, the connector will not insert all the way in.  Don’t push it, its in, you’ll just be left with about 1-2mm showing when inserted.  We’ll return to this adaptor shortly, but first we need to get our USB connectivity attached …

Step 3 – Assembling our USB connectivity

One of the great things about using a revision 2 board for this is the simplicity of the USB connectivity, and the lack of any soldering.
To connect up your USB side, simply take your  Micro USB Female to Male extension cable, and connect it to the dock.  Now connect the Female USB Micro to Male USB A connector to the free end and your USB chain is done.

Step 4 – A little more persuading

Now we’ve got our USB side connected up, you’ll find that we need to do another little bit of work, as the HDMI connector now binds on the USB connector.  This is easily rectified using our trusty file / knife.
As you can see from the photo above, we need to file it down until we can just see the inner casing liner.  Once you get to this stage you should find everything will connect up with minimal binding.

Step 5 – Connect up your HDMI side

You should now be able to connect your HDMI coupler to your installed Female Micro HDMI to HDMI Male connector.  And then attach your 30cm HDMI cable to the other end of your coupler.

Step 6 – Connect the HDMI to the Pi

The Atrix LapDock appears to wake up when it senses a connection on the HDMI cable, so with the lid open, connect your HDMI lead to the raspberry pi.  At this point your LapDock should awaken, and tell you it can’t detect a signal on the HDMI input.A Raspberry Pi Laptop, the easy way. schematic

Step 7 – Connect up your USB ‘et Voila’

‘Cautionary Note :- Do not connect anything else to the Raspberry Pi’s USB ports at this
stage,  excessive current draw may result !’
If you now connect your USB cable to one of the USB ports on your Raspberry Pi, you’ll see the power light illuminate, and the ‘ACT’ light begin to flash.  If you now look to your display you should see your Raspberry Pi’s startup output.
Congratulations, you now have a Raspberry Pi Laptop !!

Step 8 – Attaching our SKPang start kit. ( Optional )

Once you’ve assembled the SKPang case around your Raspberry Pi, and attached your bread board, flip the whole thing over and peel off the film on the hook side of your velcro.

 

For more detail: A Raspberry Pi Laptop, the easy way.




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