Most newer laptops have ditched the optical drive in order to save space and keep the body thin, but they were quite common for many years. If you have a laptop with an optical drive, you’ve liked noticed that it pretty much never gets used. That’s a lot of space that could be put to a better use, like housing a Raspberry Pi! If that sounds good to you, then check out Olli242’s tutorial.
For this project, Ollie is using a Lenovo ThinkPad T420, but it should work for other models as well. IBM and Lenovo designed the optical drive bay specifically so that users could swap between secondary hard drives and optical drives, and the physical design of the bay was the same for many models. If your laptop comes from another manufacturer, however, you’ll likely need to do some 3D modeling to get the fit right.
If you’re lucky enough to have a ThinkPad with a compatible drive bay, you can simply 3D print Ollie’s model. It’s designed for a Raspberry Pi Zero W, which fits snugly into a cavity on the new 3D-printed “drive.” A modified SATA cable is used to pull power from the laptop for the Raspberry Pi, and a small 28x132 OLED I2C display show’s the Pi’s current IP address to make it easy to connect via SSH or VNC. There is even enough room leftover for a mini breadboard that you can use for prototyping projects — but keep in mind that the Pi is only powered when the drive is in the laptop, so you’ll need to power it separately when you use that breadboard.