The RPi Palmtop

I made this thing a while back, and I keep telling myself that I’m going to write a longer article. Well, it probably won’t happen, so at least here’s a summary of my impressions on the build.

When I saw this article on the Adafruit website, I was all geeked out about the prospect of a portable Raspberry Pi computer.  Sure, the RPi is the size of a credit card, which raises the question “how much more portable do you want it?”  Well, it didn’t come with a keyboard, monitor, battery back or thumping sound.  Plus, have you tried to put a bare RPi in your pants pocket?  Those darn GPIO pins keep sticking me in the leg.  So, I bought all the parts and waited impatiently for them to arrive and lo and behold, I bought the wrong Powerboost charger.  Or so I thought.  I don’t mind admitting my stupid mistakes (OK, I do) and I’ll say that I didn’t realize that I had bought the correct one until I bought another and noticed that it looked exactly like the first!  The problem?  I hadn’t recognized that the USB connector was not soldered on the board, and could be easily removed.  The silver lining here is that now I have another powerboost card, because I am definitely building another one.

So, I built a MakerFarm Prusa i3v this past summer and will little difficulty was able to build the case using the STL files provided by Ruiz Brothers (who authored the Adafruit article).  The print took a good portion of the day, and I the first thing I learned is that I’m pretty sure that Mr. Brothers has never used Legos in his life.  The hinge pieces are supposed to snap together; however, I was not able to get them to stick without the assistance of super glue.

I will say that while I really appreciate the build design, I am less than impressed with the instructions, and I think there are a fair number of flaws in the design.  The recommended fasteners are not ideal for connecting the Adafruit boards to the plastic case and a number of design decisions limit some of the functionality (for example, the audio amplifier interferes with the LAN connector, and there is virtually no hope of accessing the GPIO pins).  That said, the build is workable and makes a pretty neat end product.

Just make sure you purchase the correct TFT screen – unlike me.  (Again, I’m glad I have lots of project ideas, since I clearly can’t read a bill of materials.)

Now that I’ve got my RPi Palm top, it’s time to start playing with it.  I’ll post another article when I have some useful pictures and code, but to give a hint, I was able to download and install the software development kit for Vernier sensors and create some simple Mathematica programs to visualize the sensor readings.

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