Jun 12, 2015 | By Simon

Although there are more options for how we choose to compute now more than ever - be it via a laptop, smartphone or tablet - many of these options can actually be built from scratch in much simpler forms.  

While we’ve previously seen a range of projects that utilize the computing power of Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards, only a select few have actually focused on using the boards for creating actual, usable computer experiences.  

Now, Adafruit has recently put together one of the most simple and straight-forward guides for building a DIY computer that we’ve seen that's even capable of wirelessly monitoring your 3D printer.

Called the Mini Raspberry Pi Handheld Notebook, the mini computer was created by Adafruit’s Ruiz brothers who have also been responsible for creating everything from the company’s portable Apple Watch charger to a portable trellis sound board and a DIY bluetooth gamepad to even a ray gun blaster.  Needless to say, we’ve always been in good hands when building with the Ruiz brothers - and the Mini Raspberry Pi Handheld Notebook is no exception.


“The handheld notebook doesn’t require a ton of effort to put together and you can build it for under a $100 if you hunt down deals on the parts,” explain the brothers.   

“You’ll need to have a 3D printed case made, but otherwise it’s a pretty simple project all things considered.”

Although the project requires 3D printed parts for creating the housing, users don’t necessarily need to have access to a 3D printer to be able to print the parts; the brothers have made it easy to download the STL files which can then be uploaded to a local 3D Hubs 3D printer provider if needed.

Of course, a Mini Raspberry Pi Handheld Notebook wouldn’t be a Mini Raspberry Pi Handheld Notebook without a Raspberry Pi, so while the 3D printed housing is among the most vital components of the projects, so is the Raspberry Pi.  Additionally, the following parts are needed to create the Mini Raspberry Pi Handheld Notebook:

  • Powerboost 1000C
  • Raspberry Pi 2
  • 3.5" PiTFT
  • Miniature Keyboard
  • 3D Printer
  • Filament
  • #2-56 machine screws
  • #4-40 machine screws

Thankfully, the brothers have supplied us with a ready-to-go disk image for the Raspberry Pi - so no pre-existing programming knowledge is needed.  For those who do have programming experience, the brothers have created a detailed step-by-step setup guide for hackers who want to tweak, customize or understand the PiTFT setup.

As for the 3D printed parts, a total of seven are needed to get up and running with the rest of the project.  These include the screen casing, four hinges, a keyboard case and a back cover.  The brothers have set up the STL files so they should be ready to print without needing to modify anything.  While they printed their own parts in PLA, they state that the parts should be able to print without any problems in ABS or other materials like bamboo and metal filaments.

Once all of the parts have been sourced, the assembly process is relatively straightforward and the brothers have done an exceptional job of outlining each of the necessary steps with clear pictures and the necessary links towards any additional files.

Among other design features of the finished design include USB ports that are tucked inside of the enclosure so that USB dongles are nicely hidden and out of the away.  Additionally, the mini keyboard is wireless and the screen itself uses touchscreen controls for easy interactions.

“So now you can monitor your printers and remotely kick off a printer or check up on your baby and make sure they’re OK.  You can even jam out for your favorite stream on SoundCloud,” add the Brothers.  

“If you’re looking to play some games, you can easily turn this into a Z Machine and play your favorite retro text adventure games!”

For the full build instructions head over to Adafruit.  


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Brendan wrote at 4/2/2017 5:25:09 AM:

For the Raspberry Pi notebook is there anything I'd have to do differently if instead I added a Raspberry Pi 3?

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