Lean, Green, Raspberry Pi Handheld Machine

A Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W powered handheld computer
(Image credit: pdrift https://twitter.com/pdrift)

The halcyon days of the PDA and Blackberry are now firmly behind us, but the form factor is still desirable. This Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W handheld from pdrift is an exceptional piece of work that blends electronics and 3D printing into one mean, green machine!

Raspberry pi zero 2 handheld PC"

The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W was released in 2021, right in the middle of the global supply shortage. It hasn't enjoyed the best stock levels in its short life, but this $15 board brings Raspberry Pi 3 level of performance to the Zero form factor and pdrift is using it to their advantage. 

Lets work from the outside in. The green 3D printed case was designed using Tinkercad and printed in PLA, hopefully using one of the best 3D printers as the print quality looks great. In the images we can see threaded inserts have been strategically placed around the case. This is a smart move. PLA plastic is fairly robust, but continually screwing and unscrewing the case will wear down the plastic and cause damage. To mitigate this issue a threaded insert is inserted using a soldering iron, so the brass fitting heats up and melts the PLA. Flanges on the outer perimeter of the insert latch on to the plastic and when cooled offer resistance to overtightening. 

The screen is from Pimoroni, the HyperPixel 4.0 Square. This 4 inch square of IPS goodness packs a 720 x 720 resolution and a full 60fps. Oh and its also a touch screen! Under the screen is a removable Blackberry keyboard. To be specific it is a BBQ20KBD from Solder Party, aka Arturo182. The keyboard connects to the Pi via a USB-C interface using a USB breakout board. The keyboard also features a Stemma QT connector, in case you fancy adding sensors or additional components. If gaming is more your thing, then pdrift is working on a gamepad that takes the place of the keyboard. 

A recent addition is a USB soundcard and 6W amp, providing sound via speakers taken from a broken Amazon Fire tablet. Pdrift ably demonstrates this new feature by playing Warioware, a Game Boy Advance game using an emulator.

Around the back is a Raspberry Pi camera, enabling pdrift to take pics using Picamera2 or libcamera. Adapting this project to use the new Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3 with autofocus would be a trivial, but excellent process.

Powering everything is a 5000mAh Li-Po cell which has a dedicated charge control circuit. We're not sure which circuit this is. It looks like an off-the-shelf component rather than a custom chip.

This is an awesome and well documented project. Get a drink / snack and scroll through pdrift's detailed imgur gallery to get more inspiration for your next build.

Les Pounder

Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".

  • pdrift
    Wow i can't believe my project got featured on here!!! You should check out my latest tweet with a video. It now has sound. The charge board is off the shelf from Amazon. I printed this on my modded Creality CR10S.