HOT Raspberry Pi DIY Mini Desktop PC Build

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We recently set out to design a mini desktop computer with the wildly popular Raspberry Pi single board computer. The Raspberry Pi is a Linux-driven, ARM processor-based micro computer that is known for its low cost and small size. People use the device for a variety of projects, from micro-servers to low cost media players. Basically, our goal was to turn what is currently one of the cheapest bare-bones computer boards  into a fully enclosed mini desktop computer that could be taken anywhere without the need for cabling or setup. One of the high level goals of this project was also to learn about programming with Linux and get a good feel for it with the Debian distribution.

Raspberry Pi Model B Rev 2.0 with 512MB of RAM and 10/100 Ethernet

The Raspberry Pi desktop was an easy project to imagine, but keeping cost to a minimum and educating ourselves on the technology ended up being more time consuming than we initially projected.  Here's a quick list of components we used for our build.

Supply List:

The first step in realizing our design goals involved learning a little about the Raspberry Pi. We started by taking a week and doing some research about how most of the programming works and many of the common commands used in LXTerminal (code receiver and programming window). We then took our 16 GB SD card and downloaded the Debian Linux image to it (a very popular Linux distro that runs well on the Raspberry Pi); using a Win32 Disk Imager as host compiling software. A good tutorial for loading the OS onto an SD card can be found here; and the OS itself can be found on the Raspberry Pi website.

Our choice of plastic enclosure, or "project box"

After a successful load of the Operating System (OS) we plugged in our settings and used the code “StartX” to run the desktop interface. A standard computer monitor was suitable for working out all of the bugs on the big screen. After we were sure we had our OS running properly, we started to work on making it a portable system.

Step one was to use a high speed milling bit to cut ports in the plastic side walls of the enclosure, so that we could have access to the Raspberry Pi's USB, Ethernet and power ports.

The ports are placed up flush against the sidewall

The enclosure we picked was a four piece enclosure that has removable sides. This gave us the ability to remove each panel and mill in our ports, making the job a whole lot easier. Once that was done, we used a hot glue gun to seal off around the ports, create a tighter fit and get rid of the gaps between the ports themselves and the side of the enclosure.

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RWilliams one year ago

This is one of the coolest RPi stories I've ever seen, nice work! It's too common for people to just stop at shoving the device into a chassis and hooking it up to a monitor... this is another level entirely. Quite a brilliant use of that kind of display as well. It really does go to show how flexible our hardware really is, and not to mention Linux itself.

atreyu one year ago

What is the point of the battery pack, vs a standard 5v AC adapter?

Dave_HH one year ago

Adds a bit more portability to the device and fewer external connections needed. Next mod would be looking for a way to power the LCD off an internal source as well.

realneil one year ago

Good job Michael,.....looks like a fun project.

sadhuroura one year ago

where did you get the enclosure? I've ben looking for ages for a enclosure like that!!

Dave_HH one year ago

A local place called U-Do-It Electronics but I think you can find them on the web.

wael one year ago

very exciting project michael.

but i think if we purchase an ARM based mini computer that come with case will be better, to keep the size small.

thank you for sharing

TorMichael one year ago


how do you set up the display options?

what set up [/boot/config.txt] or other ...?

i have same monitor, but very bad view terminal mode....

best regards, Michael

LarsJansen 9 months ago

I'd love to know how you set up the display options in config.txt also. I also have the same screen and by god it hurts my eyes!!

NewZealandHaha one year ago

I like the idea but all in all.....the effort you put into making a portable pc im my opinion you would be better of just buying a laptop lol

MinahLObe one year ago

Did you connect a mouse and keyboard?

LarsJansen 9 months ago

What display resolution are you using?

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