A Fantastic Raspberry Pi Handheld Just Got Better

Last year, we brought you word of the MutantC by [rahmanshaber]. The Raspberry Pi handheld was more than a little inspired by the classic T-Mobile Sidekick, with a sliding display and physical QWERTY keyboard. The design was a little rough around the edges and missing a few key features, but it was clear the project had a lot of potential.

Today, we’re happy to report that [rahmanshaber] has officially released MutantC_v2. It looks like the new version of this handheld, perhaps more properly categorized as a ultra-mobile PC (UMPC), successfully addresses a number of the shortcomings found in the original; so if you held off on building one last year, you might want to start warming up the 3D printer now.

The major improvement over the original is the inclusion of a battery, which makes the device truly mobile. This was something that we mentioned [rahmanshaber] was working on back when he released the first version, as it was easily the most requested feature from the community. We certainly wouldn’t say a miniature handheld computer is completely useless if it has to stay tethered, but there’s no arguing that being able to take it on the go is ideal.

This upgraded version of the design now officially supports the Raspberry Pi 4 as well, which previously [rahmanshaber] was advising against due to overheating concerns. Slotting in the latest-and-greatest edition of every hacker’s favorite Linux single board computer will definitely kick things up a notch, though we imagine the older and less power hungry iterations of the Pi will be plenty for the sort of tasks you’re likely to be doing on a gadget like this.

If you like the idea of having a diminutive Linux computer within arm’s reach of your bench but aren’t necessarily committed enough to build something like the MutantC, there are certainly simpler designs you can get started with.

23 thoughts on “A Fantastic Raspberry Pi Handheld Just Got Better

  1. I create mobile Pis for grandchildren and friend’s grandchildren and children. I use a Lite or Desktop Raspbian, add Samba Services, miniDLNA, turn on VNC (for Desktop) and SSH access. Install Access Point services.
    They can then access them with Tablets, phones, and laptops for music, movies and e-books kept on USB thumb or hard drives, powered by cigarette lighter, battery bank or wall wart, while traveling. As they live in one state because their parents are in the military and try to travel ‘home’ to visit family often, it gives them hours of entertainment.
    Headless, they draw a lot less power, but can be accessed via VNC or SSH as needed.
    Being the Pi, they can also do homework, and work on their own projects, just by swapping the Media system USB boot drive for a Full image (with all the Office and learning packages) installed, then switch back in less than 5 minutes.
    Still waiting for USB boot for Pi4 to upgrade them.

      1. Hi. i am working to have clean shutdown with HID. But i need help with it.
        As for “interfacing with vehicle entertainment systems.” i am working a docking system. A 3d printed dock. So you can keep the printed dock in your car and keep one on your desk, just put mutantC there all are connected.

        You can also use the Extension port for any custom thing you want like the interfacing with vehicle entertainment systems.

        Please give it a try to make one.


    1. Rhamen, this is awesome, I flew by a screenshot of this (or predecessor) last week and have been looking for it ever since. I’ve been building my own 10″ tablet/book for the past few months, but your case design is far superior than anything I could come up with.



    1. I gots an old HP 320LX, lasts 48 hours on a couple of good NiMh… unless you plug a wifi card in then it’s an hour. That’s ye olde prism 2 beast though. IDK if you could give it an ESP-8266 “modem” and get better numbers. Maybe the old prism is a bit of a flamethrower, socking out a couple of watts or so.

  2. Hi. If you use original LG, Samsung battery with 3500 mAh, then you will get minimum 6 hours of battery.
    mutantC uses 650mAh with high brightness,WiFi. If you use only text mode, 40-200Mhz CPU and Ethernet/WiFi then 8 hours is easily possible. Remember Original battery.

    As for keyboard it works better then it looks. if you are concerned then there are some soft silicon button from Adafruit, you can use them. Those will be better of writing essay in mutantC.
    So i think it meets your requirement.

  3. Nice!

    Just add a cellular module, GPS and the ability to run Android apps and you have this former Zaurus user’s ideal cellphone. None of that sounds impossible. Something like that has been on my project list forever now. Maybe it will happen….

    1. I don’t think the performance would satisfy you. A better way might be a slide out keyboard case for an Android phone. If the phone supports USB power delivery you could have the case work like a dock, having it’s own USB-C port and passing power to the phone if plugged in, since the phone’s port would always be used by the case. Now that I wrote all of this out I kind of want to make one :)

  4. I’ve been looking into making a mobile raspberry pi myself, but I have been quite disappointed when I discovered that they don’t seem to support a sleep mode (or a low power standby state at least). I wouldn’t consider it a very good mobile device then. Are there other well supported ARM-based SBCs out there that I can use instead?

  5. Very nice work rahmanshaber! These sorts of UMPCs seem to be neglected in the market right now, or crippled by Windows or Android instead of proper Linux.

    Are you happy with the keyboard? Does it work for thumb typing? No extra keystrokes or accidental double-taps? You mentioned soft silicon buttons from Adafruit, do these go ove the top of the same tactile switches you used? Do you have a link for these?

    Again, nice build. If I can find a high resolution screen in the correct form factor I ‘m very keen to give it a go.

    1. Thanks.
      I never missed typed. Even I type without watching the keys as they are separateable by touching.

      Those silicon buttons have same footprint as what I used. I can’t post the link as it might get banned. You can find the link in parts list in the website.

      As for screen you won’t notice that much as size is small. My 4 inch one is pretty good. I think you should go with normal one and upgrade in future. Don’t wait for a single thing.

      1. These switches? https://www.adafruit.com/product/4183

        They look nice, and the difference between their silicone button and the hard plastic on the top two rows would probably help with touch typing. Well, not really touch typing, but it would still make it easier :-)

        Adafruit do a high-resolution 4 inch screen called the HyperPixel which is 800*480. This should be good enough resolution for me! Have you tried this screen? I ask because according to Adafruit it uses the DPI interface instead of SPI. This is much faster but uses more pins on the Pi’s GPIO. There’s also a capacitive touch version which might be fun…

        1. Yes. i was talking about those buttons. And yes those buttons will improve the typing.

          Hyperpixel display won’t work as it is not SPI display, and i designed the Display PCB only use SPI displays.
          Go with any PiTFT from Adafruit, those are all SPI displays and LCD panels are far better then Clone ones. Any display with SPI interface will work with mutantC.

  6. Yes. i was talking about those buttons. And yes those buttons will improve the typing.

    Hyperpixel display won’t work as it is not SPI display, and i designed the Display PCB only use SPI displays.
    Go with any PiTFT from Adafruit, those are all SPI displays and LCD panels are far better then Clone ones. Any display with SPI interface will work with mutantC.

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