DIY Modular Laptop Runs on Raspberry Pi SBC
The crowd funded LapPi 2.0 laptop offering could give the DIY community a new way to learn about personal computers.
Today is one of the best times in history to be an aspiring electrical engineer. Between the availability of open-source hardware, such as RISC-V and Arduino, and easy-to-use modular electronics like Raspberry Pi, access to tools and learning has never been easier.
Looking to add to the list of available DIY electronics tools, SB Components has gone to Kickstarter to fund its LapPi 2.0—a modular, do-it-yourself (DIY) laptop based on single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi. Although its Kickstarter page lists the project’s goal deadline as January 15, the LapPi 2.0 has already well exceeded its funding goal.
The LapPi 2.0. Image used courtesy of SB Components via Kickstarter
In this article, we'll discuss the details of the LapPi 2.0 and examine in general the value of DIY for aspiring engineers.
LapPi 2.0: a Modular DIY Laptop
To add to the DIY ecosystem, SB Components is currently developing LapPi 2.0. As described on the product’s Kickstarter page, LapPi 2.0 is a modular DIY laptop that is based around a number of off-the-shelf components in the hobbyist ecosystem.
Although it comes with a Raspberry Pi SBC, the LapPi 2.0 can be based around “any” single-board computer, including the RockPi, Asus Tinker, or BananaPI. The LapPi 20 is meant to provide users with insight into the different components within a conventional production laptop, says the company.
Alongside the single-board computer, the LapPi 2.0 includes a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen LCD, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), dual 8Ω 5W speakers, a wireless keyboard with a touchpad, and a Raspberry Pi NOIR camera. Including an acrylic casing, the whole device weighs 1.52 kg and comes in either unassembled or fully assembled variants.
The LapPi 2.0 is available in unassembled or fully assembled versions. Image used courtesy of SB Components via Kickstarter
With the unassembled variant starting at 199€ (~$213), LapPi 2.0 is a relatively affordable project that can then act as a full-functioning, albeit resource-constrained, Linux laptop. As a whole, the LapPi 2.0 aims to provide all of the standard functions of a normal laptop, in a more transparent and modular way.
The Value of DIY for Engineers
When it comes to learning engineering, one of the most difficult challenges can be translating the knowledge we learn in the classroom into real technical skills. For many, the distinction between these two things comes simply from hands-on experience, where aspiring engineers get to apply their fundamentals to real-world problems.
Yet, for students or aspiring engineers, access to real-world technical problems may not always be available. For this reason, many turn to DIY electronics and projects as the perfect way to gain experience without the need to be in a professional setting.
An example Arduino project. Image used courtesy of Arduino Project Hub
By completing DIY projects, such as building a computer, creating an Arduino project, or even repairing an electronic device, aspiring engineers are able to gain hands-on experience with various tools and techniques, as well as the opportunity to apply their knowledge of engineering principles.
For example, DIY projects may provide an opportunity for engineers to familiarize themselves with lab tools such as multimeters and oscilloscopes, giving them the opportunity to practice real-world problem-solving and debugging.
The value of DIY can be equally as valuable to the professional engineer as well, regardless of experience level. Professional engineers who are interested in expanding their skillset and learning about a new area of engineering can use DIY projects as a way to explore that area in more depth and start to hone those skills. In this way, DIY projects can also be a great way for engineers to learn about new technologies and stay up-to-date with industry developments.
A Great Way to Learn
All things considered, whether just starting out or experienced professionals, DIY projects are a great option for developing skills and gaining experience. The LapPi 2.0 perhaps exemplifies the kind of resources available to do just that.