Monday, March 27, 2017

Raspberry Pi Lunchbox Computer #MakerEd #Make52

I woke up Sunday and thought it would be cool to put a computer inside my lunchbox. I'm not sure the exact reason why I wanted to, but I wanted to. I'm sure I saw something on the Internet about doing this months ago and it worked its way through my subconscious and out of my brain on Sunday morning. 

So, I went downstairs to my basement and my Makerspace and got to work. I grabbed pieces from around my workshop area and realized I had everything I needed. Within a 90 minutes, I had a working Pi powered Lunchbox Computer. It is perfect for my #Make52 Challenge this year. Check out other posts I've made on Instagram for each week of #Make52.

Nerdy Guide:


Raspberry Pi 3
Raspberry Pi Monitor
Rechargeable Battery Pack
Wireless Keyboard
USB Extender
Small Speaker 


Raspberry Pi Camera


Soldering Iron

1.You need to find the right size lunchbox that can hold the screen you are going to use. The official Raspberry Pi touch screen is 7 inches. Your lunch box needs to be able to hold a screen that size. The Raspberry Pi is mounted to the back of the monitor and the Pi will be mounted to the inside of the lunchbox door. You need to make sure your screen and Pi connection are not too thick or you will not be able to close the lunchbox. 

2. Plug in the USB extender and mount on the back wall of the lunchbox. This gives you access to USB ports without having to reach into the back of the screen. You can use glue or double sided tape to mount the USB block.

3. Depending on the size of your portable battery, you can mount it just below the USB extender. Mine is long and then and was given to me at a conference. I mounted this with velcro so I can take it out for recharging as needed. Plug the Raspberry Pi directly into the battery and make sure your on button is accessible so you can turn on the Pi. 

4. The speaker is a small portable one I had around the house. It is short enough to give the screen the room it needs and it is charged using the battery. Plug it in to the Pi. I use velcro to keep it in place in the lunchbox. The velcro also allows me to take it out for charging as needed. 

5. The wireless keyboard using a small USB dongle that I plug into the USB extender. I use velcro on the keyboard. 

6. The rope is to keep the lid from falling backwards and the prop is something that can fold up and keep the lid from closing. It needs to be long and thing and have a hinge in the middle. I used Tinkercad to design one for the specific dimensions of my lunchbox. 

7. The tweezers are for loading and unloading the micro sd card. If you do not plan to change out the card, you are fine and can skip the tweezers. I like to swap out the card with a Gaming card to play retro games. 

After that, you now have a Pi powered lunchbox computer. 


Before you attach the screen and Pi to the lunchbox, you can add a Raspberry Pi camera and mount it to the top of the screen. This will give you your own selfie station. 


The two wires that I added to the Pi are connected to small button. I ran some code that allows for the button to shutdown the entire system. I tucked it behind the handle of the Raspberry Pi preventing any accidental pushes while working. You need to solder the two wires to the button to the lunchbox, I used glue, and then run the wires along the bottom and then up to the top of the Pi and attach them to the GPIO and GRN pins on the Raspberry Pi. 

If you have any questions, please send me a tweet at @TheNerdyTeacher. If you create your own, please share them on Social and tag me so I can see your cool lunchbox too!

Hugs and High Fives, 


1 comment:

  1. This is a really creative and (not so) out of the box idea! I think that a project like this could be enough to get a student thinking about other things that they could create within the classroom setting. I know it has done enough to get me looking into raspberry pi.


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