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RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE:ECM), the global distributor for engineers, has announced that it is extending its portfolio of high-quality processor board development kits with the addition of the competitively priced pi-top ‘build your own laptop’ kit, which offers opportunities in the maker and educational arena helping users to ‘learn, play and create’. pi-top has now scaled up production of its crowd-funded kit, enabling RS to offer it for the first time.

The pi-top concept is essentially a Raspberry Pi powered laptop that is ideal for students to learn about programming, computing and hardware creation including electronics fabrication. It also teaches students transferable skills that will help them to create their own hacker and maker hardware projects. With no need for a soldering iron, the pi-top concept allows users to quickly start to experiment with electronics, create PCBs and produce 3D printing projects such as a pi-top case. This is facilitated through step-by-step online tutorials and lesson plans, and provides for collaborative learning and sharing with others in a cloud-based learning model.

The kit allows the building of a customised laptop with the addition of a Raspberry Pi board to provide the computing power. The kit comprises: a 13.3-inch HD LCD screen with eDP interface and 1366 x 768 resolution; a smart battery with more than 10 hours run time; a two-Wire SMBus V2.0 interface; a trackpad and fully programmable keyboard; an 8GB SD card with pre-installed pi-topOS; power supply; acrylic slice; and an image-based build manual.

The pi-top comes bundled with pi-top OS – the pi-top maker-based operating system – and other engaging educational software. The OS makes it easy to connect to Wi-Fi, monitor battery life and also personalise the OS. Also included on pi-topOS is CEEDUniverse, a game that teaches users how to code, build circuits and make hardware with their Raspberry Pi. Other features include: pi-topDASHBOARD - a real time code editor and lesson plan guide, which will have over 100 hours of tutorial content by summer 2016; kit component guide; plus all the features on Raspbian and other software including Python, Scratch, and Microsoft Office compatible software suite (Minecraft, Libre Writer, Libre Impress, and Libre Calc, Chromium, and 3D Slash).

The pi-top has been designed to be upgradeable and will work with all current and future versions of the Raspberry Pi. It is easy to swap out older boards for newer ones when released, meaning that users can upgrade their pi-top laptop for the price of a new Pi board. The pi-top laptop design was initially developed using the DesignSpark PCB and DesignSpark Mechanical design tools from RS. In particular, the use of DesignSpark PCB helped pi-top overcome the challenge of enabling the Raspberry Pi to use a 13.3in high-definition laptop screen.

The pi-top is available from RS in grey and green variants.