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Zero Terminal Raspberry Pi device is a DIY handheld Linux PC in a 3D printed case

Coders and homemade tech enthusiasts will be excited to see the latest work from n-o-d-e.net, which is now demonstrated on its website and Youtube channel. It’s a modified Raspberry Pi device, featuring a body case made using 3D printing technology. Dubbed the Zero Terminal, the portable computer is part of an ongoing project to make the ultimate handheld Linux device.

Originally released back in February 2011, the Raspberry Pi was a single board computer made by a team in the UK for computer science education. It was a straightforward computing system intended for use in schools, as well as in developing countries, but it grew in popularity until it was eventually being used for other professional applications, such as robotics. The motherboard has been tinkered with in various ways over the years and the latest version is known as the Raspberry Pi Zero W. This was the version used as the basis for n-o-d-e.com’s impressive Zero Terminal.

The Zero Terminal is one of a number of products, mostly designed by amateur hobbyists, that offer portable use of the Linux operating system. As well as the Raspberry Pi Zero W, it makes use of an Adafruit PiTFT Plus, an Adafruit Powerboost 1000c charge controller, a 1500mAh battery, and some micro SD breakout boards. An iPhone 5 sliding keyboard case was used to simplify the construction process, as making little hinges or sliders from scratch would have been prohibitively tricky. The keyboard is backlit, and the case was relatively inexpensive. Everything is kept together with a plastic frame, which was made with a 3D printer. A 3D model of the frame was specifically designed to allow the finished project to house all the constituent parts, so everything fits snugly inside the resulting 3D printed housing.

The Zero Terminal has a number of improved features compared to some of n-o-d-e.com’s projects in this same series. Battery life has been improved by 50 percent, and the device has built-in wi-fi and Bluetooth, as well as an HDMI out port. This makes it incredibly easy to hook up to other devices. A full graphical interface is possible if the Zero Terminal, which is designed to be used as a text console, is plugged into an external computer.

The Zero Terminal’s limitations mean that functions like advanced web browsing might be a little slower than on bigger budget products, but word processing and coding can be handled with ease, as can most emulator games.Experienced Linux users in particular will be unfazed by the relatively low key set-up and mostly impressed by the economy of design and the efficiency that has been achieved with this third iteration of n-o-d-e.com’s handheld Linux device.

Improvements that have been suggested are mostly related to the 3D printed housing which, while fitting perfectly around the components, could be a little more robust. The thickness of the case is also not ideal, and the 3D design files will eventually be released in the hope that interested users might be able to make their own adjustments, for a thinner and stronger machine. Work is already underway for a new, more powerful version of the Zero Terminal, and n-o-d-e.com is welcoming feedback on this current iteration.

Specifications for the Zero Terminal are as follows:

  • 1GHz 32-bit single-core ARM-compatible Broadcom BCM2835 CPU

  • 512MB RAM

  • Mini HDMI Out

  • 1x USB Port

  • Micro USB Charging Port

  • Accessible Micro SD Slot

  • 3.5" Screen (480x320)

  • Full QWERTY Keyboard

  • Wifi

  • Bluetooth

  • 1500mAh Battery


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