Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Raspberry Pi netbook for £100(ish) !

I have had my Raspberry Pi for a while now and after getting XBMC running on it, I have not really used it for much. I recently saw on YouTube that people have been connecting the Pi to the Motorola lapdock accessory for the Motorola Atrix 4G smartphone (really smart, RRP was over £300 but now reduced to £70 on eBay due to the phone being discontinued by Motorola!).

If instead of the Atrix 4G (which is no longer made), you plug in your Raspberry Pi and you now have a Raspberry Pi netbook with an 11.5" screen, internal battery, speakers, touchpad, keyboard and 3 spare USB ports all for about £100! Add a wifi dongle and you have a wireless Pi.

I have written a few notes on this here. There seem to be many YouTube videos describing how to split and solder special cables for the Pi<->lapdock connections, but this is not necessary. You can power the Pi straight from the USB cable if you have a later revision of the Pi. If you have an earlier Pi, simply solder two wires across the two 500mA fuses F1 and F2 (these are not fitted on later versions anyway, so you are actually upgrading your Pi!):
Pi mod. - Click to enlarge.

This bypasses the 700mA fuse in the mini-usb power in connector on the Pi, but the lapdock has it's own protection built into the USB ports.

BTW - Fuses should be used safety reasons and not for limiting the current; why the Pi has a 700mA fuse in the supply power input to supply power to the Pi circuitry + two 500mA USB ports baffles me - the main fuse in the Pi should be 1.5A at least! There also should be larger reservoir capacitors to allow hot-plug of USB devices!

After doing this mod to F1 and F2, I had a nice working Pi netbook. Unfortunately, I discovered that the brand new lapdock I got from Mobilepartz on eBay had a faulty trackpad button and so I have had to return the lapdock for a replacement, which they kindly agreed to, without any fuss or problem.

When I get the new one back, I will add some pictures of my setup and probably a few more notes/tutorials on the Pi.

Update: Steve of Mobilepartz sent me a replacement on the same day that he received it and rang me to confirm. The new one works perfectly and is now running raspbmc and playing live TV nicely - it seems I was just unlucky with the first one (both were brand new). Great service Steve, thanks!

My WiFi-enabled PiDock!