The dream setup for many Raspberry Pi enthusiasts is a laptop chassis, and there have been many attempts since the Raspberry Pi debuted in 2012. The latest attempt for a portable Pi comes from READY! as the Model 100 single-board computer expansion system, compatible with the Raspberry Pi 4 and set to be available as a kit for around $400, or an x86 Founders Edition for $899.
Made from extruded aluminum, the Model 100 is large enough to accommodate any single board computer (SBC). The chassis has space for three small 1920 x 480 resolution HDMI touchscreens and an obligatory RGB mechanical keyboard. The aesthetic of the Model 100 screams "hacker," and it will come in two colors: "Cyberpunk Black" and "Retropunk Silver."
Moving around the back, we can see the ports of the SBC broken out into what appears to be industrial-style connectors, but as the only images available are renders, this could change on release. Common ports for HDMI, USB, Ethernet are present, along with four SMA antenna ports. However, the Raspberry Pi uses an internal PCB antenna, so it is unclear how these ports will be used. To power the Model 100, we can use a 5V supply for boards such as the Raspberry Pi. For other boards we can use a 12V supply.
In a Reddit thread, the project creator explains more about the open standards employed to create the Model 100:
"The design uses only existing open standards like d panel mounts, sma antenna ports and cherry mx key switch holes. The extreme modularity of the design insists upon open standards like usb connections for power (battery!) and data devices (keyboard or any USB device) and all the mounting holes on the bottom plate are for commercially available motherboard standard sizes. Even the touch screen uses USB and HDMI to connect with whatever SBC you want to use!" - ready100computer
The READY! Model 100 claims to be the perfect board for many, but perfection comes with a hefty price tag. The Founders Edition, which will come with an unspecified quad-core x86 based SBC with 16GB RAM and 1TB solid state storage, will retail for $899. That is a serious investment for what is really an aluminum chassis, a keyboard and screens. Kits to add your own SBC will be available at around half the price of the Founder's Edition.
The project looks interesting, but with a $400 price tag, how many will see this as the device to fulfill their needs remains to be seen.
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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".
This is a neat retro device! Basically a TRS-80 or Apple II like system. Unfortunately outside of my budget.Reply