The Raspberry Pi microcomputer has seen a great deal of use by hardware hackers to kickstart all sorts of creative projects. The microcomputer, which is priced in the range of $25 (Rs 1,300) and $35 (Rs 1,900), is now being used to make a Raspberry Pi-powered laptop. The brain child of developer Eric Chou, the system basically does this by tying in to a Motorola Atrix laptop dock, according to a report by Techcrunch.
While the smartphone that the dock was intended for has been discontinued, Adafruit Industry, one of the companies that are making low-cost solutions around the Raspberry Pi, point out in its “how to” video that the laptop dock can still be picked up through various online outlets. Its Micro USB and Micro HDMI jacks give a clean, pretty straightforward method to make a Pi into a laptop. The video has clear instructions on which connectors to get and how to put them together to plug in the Pi and get the DIY laptop working.
The low-cost platform, according to Chou, who did the costing, will set people back around $125 (Rs 6,900 approx). The developer has also included an optional AirLink Wi-Fi module. The costing also included the cost of the Pi itself. The costing makes this platform cheaper than the build costs for XO “One laptop per child”, which cost around $200 (Rs 11,000 approx) to make.
This kind of a platform will be a lot more accessible to individuals and small groups, because the XO has to be ordered by the thousand and the scale generally restricts it to government-backed mass education projects. But with the Pi-powered DIY, as long as users are willing to do some hacking, it is possible for much smaller batches of low-cost laptops to be put together and then put to work in the areas where they are the most needed.
The potential in developing countries for the Raspberry Pi is immense. While the Pi has already seen some use while powering a school computing lab in rural Cameroon, thanks to efforts that were reported by a Belgian volunteer project, the surface has only been scratched so far. While the Raspberry Pi is a good fixed-location learning solution, with a device like the Atrix dock, the portability of the platform can definitely be extended. This in turn will extend the usefulness of the device.
The Raspberry Pi can now be used to make a low-cost laptop using an Atrix dock (image credt: techcrunch)
From what the developer has to say, a Pi-powered laptop need not be limited to a classroom location either. The Atrix dock also contains a battery, ensuring that even without electricity at home, the laptop can offer some hours of use. According to reports, the not-for-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation created the Pi in the hope of getting more U.K. kids learning to code. However, the foundation is also keen to find ways to get more Pis out to developing countries this year, where the need for a low-cost computing solution is even greater.