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Unlock Your Inner Computer Scientist With Pi-Top – The DIY Laptop

Posted by Jess on April 8, 2015

Making a DIY computer using a Raspberry Pi circuit board is nothing new. People have been making their own single-board computers with them since their debut in 2012.  Heck, a friend of mine built a RaspberryPi tablet (the PiPad) and there’s even tutorials on how to build your own Raspberry Pi-powered smartphone!

So when Raspberry Pi debuted their new laptop, Pi-Top, it wasn’t the novelty that garnered my interest – it was its overwhelming educational potential.

pi-top-featuresRaspberry Pi, for those that don’t run in embedded circles, is a low-cost, credit card-sized computer. Its operating system is a hardware-optimized version of Debian (more colloquially referred to as Linux), called Raspbian.

What always excited me about the Raspberry Pi was its potential to impact technical education. After all, it’s one thing to abstractly learn about the things inside your computer; it’s quite another to actually get your hands on the hardware and modify things at will. However, while there are amazing tutorials out there from companies like Adafruit, we’ve yet to see a learning system that puts the Raspberry Pi in a laptop shell. Sure, you can hook up a monitor and keyboard to the board directly and it acts like a laptop, but the practical, portable, every-day usefulness of a laptop can’t be beat.

Pi-Top is a build-it-yourself Raspberry Pi-powered laptop. The system will run you $299.99 (or $264.99 if you already have a Raspberry Pi), and gets you all the components you need to build your own computer.

pi-top-hardwareBut what’s most exciting about the Pi-Top is how it goes beyond assembling hardware – once you turn it on, your hands-on experience has only just begun.  Their system boasts tutorials on computer architecture, electronics, designing circuit boards, and even 3D printing, designed so anyone can master them. Plus these tutorials don’t look like sleep-inducing homework assignments, as shown on their website, all the instruction appears to be gamified.

If Pi-Top delivers on their promises, their laptops will behave one of the most comprehensive teaching tools for engineers and makers alike. Check out this preview of the Pi-Top learning world:

Any learning environment where I can play in a Minecraft version of the worlds in Meridian while learning about computers and electronics is something I can 100% get behind.

Pi-Top is available for pre-order now on

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About Jess

She's is just your average cat-herding, world-traveling, tech-loving otaku. She'll brazenly defend her love of Harry Potter and Sailor Moon to any who challenge it, and can usually be found under a stack of unread books and graphic novels.

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