Thursday, August 27, 2020

Raspberry pi 4 Laptop / SBC Mobile Workstation

Lots more photos

  • Goals:
    • Build a dirt cheap raspberry pi 4 laptop or really just a mobile workstation for any sort of single board computer (SBC).
    • No permanent modification to any of the parts so it can be easily disassembled and used for other purposes or projects.
    • Completely battery powered.
    • Large screen.
    • Use as many parts as I could that I already had lying around.
  • Parts:
  • Details:
    • It took forever to find a box the right size.  It is 14X9X2 which pretty much fits everything perfectly.
    • I had already owned everything else on the parts list before starting this project except for the plastic box, monitor, and the dremel.  I wanted a new dremel and monitor anyways.  So I'd say I dedicated $12 specifically to this project.  The monitor makes a nice secondary monitor for a regular laptop or a bigger screen for Nintendo Switch.
    • It weighs about 5.5 lbs total.  
    • I wanted a large 15.6 screen.  Portability was secondary.  I'm getting old and small screens are much harder on the eyes for me.
    • My dremel skills are horrible, and the cuts are really rough.  I didn't really care about looks that much.
    • I cut the corners off the velcro dots so they fit better on the corners of the lid.
    • Make sure you put the soft side of the dots on the monitor cover (both the side to attach to the box and the inside for the keyboard)
    • You can open the box with the monitor still attached.  Just be careful it doesn't flop backwards hard.
    • I used elastic cord to keep everything together when moving it around.  You could just as easily add some more velcro dots instead.
    • Cutout on the left for easy access to ethernet and usb ports.  Cutout on the right to get to the battery so I can unplug the monitor and rpi 4 to save battery.  I had a little usb-c power switch dongle that worked great with an ac adapter but doesn't seem to work with this battery.  So I just unplug everything from the battery on the right side when not in use.  I can also easily charge the battery through the cutout.
    • I have 2 dividers attached together with duct tape and cut down half height.  I use it to separate the rpi 4 and the battery so I can plug cables into the battery without pushing it into the case.  It's half height so cables can still be laid on top.
    • I routed the cables out and back in the back side of the case for micro hdmi and usb-c power to the rpi 4 to prevent bending the cable so much.
    • Temps stay under 60c under load.
    • Lots of room for improvements.  I need to find a better way to stabilize the monitor cover hinge.  Still, it works pretty well on your lap for the most part.
    • Typing is a little cumbersome mostly because of how thick it is.
    • Totally NOT worth building from scratch.  You can easily get a real laptop that is a lot more portable and usable for the money.

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