Gadgets

Pi-Top: The 3D-printable Raspberry Pi laptop anyone can build

In the interests of making computer-building -- and computers -- accessible to all comes the Pi-Top, a do-it-yourself, 3D-printable Raspberry Pi laptop.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

People have done some pretty creative things with the Raspberry Pi -- and some pretty creative things with 3D printing, sometimes even putting the two together. But this is the first time we've seen a 3D-printed, Raspberry Pi-powered laptop -- AKA the Pi-Top.

The aim, according to its creators, is to launch a kit at an accessible price point that will allow anyone to build and then use their very own fully functional laptop computer -- whether they 3D print the cast themselves (for those who have access to a 3D printer), or whether they use pre-fabricated case parts (for those who do not).

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

This, in turn, will not just provide the user with a highly affordable laptop -- but teach them about how to build one.

"The Pi-Top Kit provides a basis to expand your knowledge in hardware and software innovation. Build and understand your own Raspberry Pi Model B+ powered laptop. We take you through each component and its functionality, so that you can use the Pi-Top as a tool for your own build projects in the future," the official website reads.

"The Pi-Top kit is just the start. Our future projects will see you modifying the Pi-Top using everything you've learnt and gaining the skills to create your own products. At this stage, you will be designing your own components and products."

As well as the Pi-Top kit -- shortly to launch on Kickstarter -- the Pi-Top team will also provide free lessons for all skill levels (beginner to advanced) in both hardware and software innovations, so that users can learn, for instance, how to design PCBs and create their own products.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The laptop kit doesn't just include the Raspberry Pi board and case. It also includes a battery with over six hours worth of power on a single charge, Wi-Fi antenna for connectivity out of the box, a fully integrated laptop keyboard with track-pad, a 13.3" 1366x768 HD TFT LCD screen and the latest Raspbian OS.

The prototype of the 3D-printed case was printed in three separate parts, which took around 160 hours to print all told. The team used a Rostock Max V2 printer, printing in PLA from a 1.75mm extruder at a rate of 77mm per second.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

"Pi-Top is built to be used by anyone. Starting off you will learn the basics and as time goes on you will become more advanced. For example recently we taught students in Birmingham, UK how to create a basic LED circuit, then code that circuit to turn on using the Pi-Top - using that knowledge students were then able to code a basic robot using the transferable skills they gained earlier from LEDs. This was all done in 3 hours," the team wrote on Reddit.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

"We have used these experiences and met hundreds of people in the maker community to help form the lesson topics, and make Pi-Top accessible for everyone."

To keep an eye out for Kickstarter launch, you can sign up for email updates on the official Pi-Top website, or follow the official Pi-Top Facebook page.