The PiPad is a homemade wooden tablet, powered by Raspberry Pi


Meet Michael Castor – a DIY enthusiast, who thinks that tablets are unnecessarily overpriced, don't provide a lot of customization options to the user, and actually "look about the same and accomplish roughly the same thing". So, he decided to create something unusual and different – his own homemade tablet.

Called the PiPad, Michael Castor's homebrewed creation is one of a kind tablet prototype. The device is powered by the minimalistic Raspberry Pi, a $35, credit-card-sized, fully-functioning computer that is very popular among DIY fanatics. However, the Raspberry Pi SoC is not very powerful (it comes with a 700MHz ARM11 CPU and 512MB of RAM on board), so the PiPad doesn't offer stellar performance and can't rival the iPad or the Galaxy Note 10.1, for example. But, according to Castor, the device does everything he needs it to do. The PiPad runs Raspbmc – a custom Linux distribution for the Raspberry Pi. Although minimalistic, Raspbmc is quite multimedia-oriented and supports both 1080p video playback and HTML5. Thanks to Raspbmc, the PiPad can also access the Raspberry Pi Store, which has a small number of open-source apps and games.

According to Castor, it was very difficult to find a display for the PiPad, because it had to run at 5V, just like the Raspberry Pi SoC. Eventually, the enthusiast laid his hands on a 10-inch capacitive touchscreen, which met the important requirement. Due to the excessive thickness of the PiPad, Castor has managed to fit a large 10,000mAh external battery pack in his tablet. This battery provides roughly 6 hours of life and can be charged via a cell phone charger. The insides of the tablet also house a bunch of Raspberry Pi heat sinks, a Wi-Fi adapter, a Bluetooth dongle, several USB ports, a microSD card slot, a headphone amplifier and an audio jack.

But the most interesting thing about the PiPad is its enclosure. Michael Castor says that he wanted to use the homemade tablet during flights without attracting unnecessary attention from the TSA, so the PiPad had to look like it came out of a factory The sides of the PiPad are made of polished baltic birch plywood, while the back is actually a large sheet of scrap carbon fiber. Thanks to two hinges on one of the sides, the tablet can be opened just like a chess box, exposing the inner layout and providing easy access to the tablet's hardware. The PiPad is significantly bulkier than most tablets – the device is 10.75 inches long, 7.5 inches wide, and 1 inch thick.

Castor says that the whole project cost him about $350. He claims that he "could have bought an iPad or an Android tablet for that (or less) but what’s the fun in that?”. Of course, the PiPad is not for sale, but Michael Castor has provided a full step-by-step guide for people who want to create a similar gadget on their own. The guide can be found here.

source: MKCastor via BGR

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