SparkFun's Joshua Smith Turns a Briefcase Into a Luggable Raspberry Pi Test Bench

A display, wireless keyboard, breakout board, and power make an old Samsonite just the solution for robust on-the-go Pi-accessory testing.

Gareth Halfacree
a month agoHardware 101

SparkFun's Joshua Smith has written up a project which uses a Raspberry Pi to create a luggable computer for portable testing and development — housed in a repurposed Samsonite briefcase.

"I have had this Samsonite briefcase I've kept in the event I get a fancy job that requires me to carry files around," Smith explains. "I have seen some briefcase computer builds before and decided this was my shot. Opening a briefcase to reveal display and wires feels like it fell right off a page of Neuromancer to me. With 2020 right around the corner, there's a good chance the Penske file would be digital anyway."

The resulting build takes a Raspberry Pi single-board computer — any model, providing it has the 40-pin GPIO header and a DSI connector for an external display — and combines it with the official Raspberry Pi 7" Touchscreen Display, a SmartiPi LEGO-compatible case and stand, SparkFun's own Pi Wedge breakout GPIO adapter, and power supply plus wireless keyboard to create a compact means of transporting a ready-to-run system around safely.

"With everything assembled and mounted with screws, I have a protective case surrounding my Pi, display and all my peripherals," Smith explains. "We utilise Raspberry Pis in our testing and programming here at SparkFun, and they bring their own set of solutions and challenges. We typically utilise them in a 'headless' manner and rely on indicator LEDs to let our assembly technicians know the status of the test. This creates a challenge while doing test development or when repairing testing equipment, and involves bringing a large amount of equipment to check the onboard scripts and make changes. With this setup I can easily plug in a Pi and start working."

The full build, including links to all components bar the briefcase itself, can be found on the SparkFun blog.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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