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Raspberry Pi 3 based laptop features DIY hacking bay

Oct 14, 2017 — by Eric Brown 7,086 views

Pi-top has revised its RPi based laptop with a 14-inch HD screen and a slide-off keyboard that reveals a cooling unit and DIY space for a breadboard kit.

Pi-top’s Raspberry Pi driven laptop has received a major upgrade with a new model with a slightly larger 14-inch, HD screen and a 6 to 8 hour battery. The 2017 edition of the education-focused Pi-top features a modular design with a larger keyboard that slides forward to reveal a Raspberry Pi 3 with a new heatsink. It also includes an empty bay for DIY hacking, which can be filled with components from a free Inventor’s Kit. This DIY kit includes a breadboard, a motion sensor, LEDs, and a microphone, all mounted on a magnetic sliding rail.

Pi-top (left) and with open compartment for Raspberry Pi 3 and new cooling unit. Inventor’s Kit components snap onto the modular slide next to the Pi.
(click images to enlarge)

The $320 Pi-top revises the original, 13.3-inch product, which won Indiegogo funding back in 2014. The laptop was popular despite some design flaws, including an off-center touchpad and a hard to access Raspberry Pi SBC that was prone to occasional overheating. Since then, the company has released a 14-inch, Raspberry Pi 3 based Pi-topCEED model without a keyboard. The $150 Pi-topCEED includes a stand and a modular DIY bay that inspired the 2017 Pi-top’s design.

Inventor’s Kit (left) and earlier Pi-topCEED with exposed DIY bay
(click images to enlarge)

The new Pi-top design provides an easier to build kit with snap-on magnetic components. The 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen now has a 180 degree tilt rather than the previous 125 degrees, and the larger keyboard now provides a centrally positioned, gesture control trackpad.

Pi-top side and back views
(click images to enlarge)

Exposed ports include the 10/100 Ethernet port, 3x USB 2.0 ports, and 3.5mm audio and power jacks. When the keyboard is slid open –– with continuing functionality — you can access the quad-core, Cortex-A53 Raspberry Pi 3’s other features like the HDMI port, two more USB ports, microSD slot, camera and display interfaces, and 40-pin GPIO. The WiFi and Bluetooth radios are also available.

The new Pi-top ships with an 8GB microSD card loaded with the Raspbian based Pi-topOS Polaris. The stack includes a Pi-topCoder Python programming environment, as well as Scratch and a CEEDuniverse coding game. Other software includes the Google Chromium browser, LibraOffice, Minecraft Pi Edition, 3D printing software, and more. Instructions are provided for using the Inventor’s Kit to create a tiny robot, music maker, and a “Space Race” game.

Olimex Teres-A64 in black and white
(click images to enlarge)

The Pi-top revision is part of a recent wave of modular Linux laptops, including Olimex’s newly released, open source Teres-A64. The $284 laptop, which is built on a quad- A53 Allwinner A64 SoC, has 2GB of RAM and 16GB eMMC compared to the Pi-top’s 1GB RAM and 8GB microSD storage.

Kano kit 2017 (left) and new 10.1-inch screen in Complete kit
(click images to enlarge)

The Pi-top’s biggest competitor, however, is Kano’s newly revised Raspberry Pi 3 based Kano Computer Kit, which upgrades the original and highly popular Kano kit. The base kit, which provides a Raspberry Pi in an acrylic enclosure, as well as a keyboard, stays at $150. A $250 Complete kit adds a detached 10.1-inch screen, battery pack, and USB hub.


As with the Pi-top, there’s a comprehensive educational stack and visual programming interface. The educational software runs on a Debian based Kano OS.

Further information

The Pi-top 2017 edition is available now for $320, or $285 if you bring your own Pi. More information may be found on the Pi-top website.

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2 responses to “Raspberry Pi 3 based laptop features DIY hacking bay”

  1. Privacy Dude says:

    PiTop needs a touchscreen and the Kano kit is just too expensive. Compare to Waveshare 10.1″ IPS screen running PELinux64.

  2. William Hart says:

    I just want something like this that works with 96boards ce sbc .

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