A Raspberry Pi Grimoire For The Command Line Wizard

Who says there’s no such thing as magic? Not anyone who knows what a Unix pipe is, that’s for sure. If you do some of your best incantations at a blinking cursor, this scratch-built Raspberry Pi Zero “Spellbook” laptop created by [Calvin] might be just what the apothecary ordered. Lucky for us, he was kind enough to document the design and construction of this penguin-powered tome for anyone else who wishes to dabble in the GNU Dark Arts.

In the series of videos after the break, viewers have the opportunity to watch a project go from idea to final product. The first video was uploaded nearly a month before the project was completed, and goes over some of the design elements of the project as well as different ideas [Calvin] had in terms of things like component placement. Throughout the video, he illustrates his ideas in TinkerCAD, which might not have been our first choice for a project this complex, but it does go to show what’s possible in the free web-based CAD package.

By the second video, [Calvin] has printed some parts and now has the hardware coming together. The general idea is that the outside panels of the “book” are made out of steel cut from the side panel of an old computer, with the 3D printed components taking the form of spacers between the electronic components. These plastic “pages” are not only easier and faster to print than a complete case, but help sell the appearance of the book when viewed from the sides.

[Calvin] has shared his TinkerCAD design so that others can print out the necessary components for the book, though you’ll have to source your own steel plates. He also breaks down all the principle components he used and gives links to where you can buy them, from the display and keyboard down to the screws and standoffs. He went with the Pi Zero and sticks to mainly console work, but if you want something with enough power to throw around a graphical environment, he says there’s room in the case for a Pi 3.

Hackers seem to enjoy hiding hardware inside of books, PLA or otherwise. We’ve recently seen an iPad nestled snugly into a notebook, and of course no house would be complete without a book doubling as a hidden switch.

23 thoughts on “A Raspberry Pi Grimoire For The Command Line Wizard

  1. This stuff makes me pretty happy to see people make. Sure, the Pi laptop has been done before. But as people keep at this, I hope we start progressing towards more capable and more open hardware that people without a ton of EE knowledge can tailor build portable systems for themselves.

    1. We’re getting close to that point. It takes a day to learn basic 3d modeling, and you can do it for free online. Many public libraries are starting to carry 3d printers, and even if that’s not available, there are plenty of maker shops that rent out printer time. Single board computers, batteries, screens are all relatively cheap and easy to come by.

      I can’t even imagine what it would have taken just 5 years ago to build a custom system.

      1. Seeing how the Pi keeps increasing in speed while staying the same price while also looking at the sub $100 SBCs learning from the Pi’s software model is very nice. I hope we’ll get to see stuff approaching top end SoC performance before too much longer.

        I also hope these projects can help get us back to, if not open hardware, things that are at least based on open standards. While a machine that is a collection of chips is hardly portable, there is something to be said for systems where you could mix and match parts rather than an SOC that has everything, but means you replace the board/SOC when you are after new or updated capabilities.

        1. A notebook that is only a host for wide wariety of SBC would be fantastic. You keep the housing and screen and replace only processing unit. PiTop is quite close to that. I know size limits dictated by scb size but keep dreaming.

  2. I really like this project. I think it’s pretty FN cool. Love the leather cover. I have some spare time, parts, old 8.9 inch acer screen just need a new controller board. And a raspberry pi zero w. Might give something similar a try.

    1. How, steal it?

      The pi-top is $330! These days you can get a brand new mid-range laptop for that price. Don’t get me wrong, I love the IDEA of the pi-top but I would NEVER buy one. The price is unrealistic! It’s like a full-priced laptop with the performance of a $35 computer. So some bundled educational software? Big deal! Educational software is a free download to a “regular” pc.

      Would you spend $660 on the parts for this project? Do you have any parts in your junk-bin at all? Do you have any shopping skills whatsoever? I just don’t see what you are thinking!

  3. Now I am not going to name names, but investigate who you buy from very carefully. I thought for sure that the raspi community should be a sure bet, but in the last year I have paid for 2 pi tablets from 2 different companies and have nothing to show for it. The pinebook on the other hand may have a strange order system but got it a week earlier than expected. I’m trying this soon, I really like this ideA


  4. Raspberry pis are so inexpensive, it baffles me why people pick pi zeros. Desperate to save 20 dollars? That extra speed and power is so cheap, pi 3 is always the way to go even if you’re going to exist in the command line.

      1. Completely agree. Using a Pi0 instead of a 3 essentially doubles battery life in most cases. For many, many projects, even the relatively underwhelming processing performance of a 3 is major overkill. If you’re just sshing into other boxes, there’s absolutely no need for more processing power.

  5. Very cool looking laptop! I also like the Pi Top but this has waaaaay more nerd street cred. I find myself wondering about a Pi 3 upgrade and how it would affect heat, power consumption, and battery life. I love the console font change, it reminds me of Gauntlet :) sakko303 needs a Pi laptop, badly!

  6. No written article? Do we really have to watch 3 video , even though already sped up?

    Where are the details?
    If the maker has no web skill, HaD has a website for this https://hackaday.io

    Stop wasting our time and global internet bandwidth with YouTube, please ;)

    Just a gentle rant.

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