When browsing the web for Raspberry Pi projects I found a great hack on AdaFruit’s YouTube page. What they’ve done is brought Raspberry Pi mobility to a whole new level! From the moment I received my first slice of Pi, my primary issue has been the need to drag my spare monitor, keyboard and mouse around to where ever I was working on a project. The Motorola Atrix Lapdock eliminates that need.
To break it down, we are essentially looking to build a laptop using the Raspberry Pi or any other single board microcomputer as the brains of our project. The Motorola Atrix delivers all the peripherals in a nice neat package. It has a very sharp 11 .6 inch screen, keyboard, touchpad and a 36WH three cell battery.
The project is actually very simple, it requires minimal soldering and a little parts scavenging. You get a lot out of the little you put in with this project. So when I needed to get a laptop for my new internship, this proved to be an ideal candidate.
The biggest hurdle I saw people had with this setup is buying the proper cables. Here’s what I used.
- To power our Raspberry Pi from the Atrix male micro USB jack I bought this adapter. Female to Male Micro USB
- Unfortunately the Atrix sends data out of that same microUSB jack we are using for power, so I spliced in a standard USB end to allow us to use the mouse and keyboard with our Raspberry Pi – Male USB to Male USB
- To get video out from our Raspberry Pi, I used a short Female microHDMI to Male HDMI adapter.
This resulted in a nice tight package that allows me to freely open and close the monitor without interference. The splicing of the cables was a simple process, your biggest hurdle is the small size of the cables.
I chose to use a microUSB female to MicroUSB male cable as my foundation. By doing this I was not cutting and soldering my power line, I left that completely intact to insure power stability should, by some freak event, my solder joint break.
Red – +5V Power
Black – Ground
Green – Data +
White – Data –
(Always check your cable with a multimeter to verify!)
To make the splice I carefully cut into my microUSB cable. I made a 2 inch line in the cable and cut around 1/3 of the circumference of the cable. This allowed me the ability to push some of the shielding aside, and find my Green and White data cables. I cut them closer to the male end (which plugs into the Raspberry Pi) and stripped them. I prepared them for splicing by tinning the ends of the cable.
Next I prepared the male standard USB end. Our Raspberry Pi expects keyboard and mouse data to come over standard USB, so I cut my cable in half and stripped the outer sheath. Since this cable will not be utilizing the Red and Black power cables I cut them at staggered lengths and heat shrinked them to avoid any unwanted activity. I then prepared the standard USB’s Green and White data cables by stripping and tinning the ends. Each cable received heat shrink so that once they were soldered the joints were protected.
I then applied heat shrink and electrical tape to the whole cable in order to protect it from damage. And we have our working power and keyboard/mouse cable!
To mount the Rasberry Pi I simply used some extra strength velcro, this way I could remove the Pi if I needed to make adjustments or for a special project.
As simple as it is, this has been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve done recently because it has revived my Raspberry Pi from my desk drawer and put it into daily use again.