Elecrow has created a gadget that turns the legendary single-board Raspberry Pi into a full-fledged miniature laptop with a number of unique features. CrowPi L is aimed at novice developers who want to understand the basics of programming and creating simple electronic devices. The mass of training software pre-installed on the computer is designed to help with this.
“Magic” kit for beginner programmers
The Chinese company Elecrow has released a kit that allows you to turn the popular Raspberry Pi single-board computer into a compact laptop.
The device, called CrowPi L, looks like a miniature laptop with an 11.6-inch screen that includes all the peripherals. Its “heart” is the famous British single-board card-sized Raspberry Pi 4B.
CrowPi L is intended primarily for use in the educational field for teaching programming and designing simple electronic devices. Each laptop comes preinstalled with software and a selection of 96 courses to train beginners and advanced developers. In the materials, in particular, issues of game design, hardware management, syntax and application of the Python programming language are considered.
CrowPi L internals
The Raspberry Pi 4B is the latest full size version of the British Broadcom BCM2711 SoC based mini PC released in Summer 2019, featuring a quad-core ARM processor, 2-8GB of RAM, USB 3.0 support, HEVC video codec, and dual image output. 4K monitor.
Specifications CrowPi L by today’s standards is more than modest. “Native” display resolution based on IPS-matrix is 1366×768 pixels. The built-in 5000 mAh rechargeable battery ensures the operation of the device for three hours without recharging. The charger is connected via the USB Type-C interface.
The plastic case measuring 291x190x46 mm and weighing 1.1 kg has a built-in keyboard, touchpad, microphone, and a 2-megapixel webcam. Sound is output via a pair of integrated stereo speakers, and external devices can be connected via a 3.5 mm audio jack.
Internet connection is available through the Raspberry Pi’s built-in Wi-Fi wireless module or Ethernet port.
Simultaneous operation with two displays is supported – an additional monitor can be connected via HDMI.
In the basic configuration, along with the laptop itself, a network adapter (12V / 2A) is supplied; wireless mouse operating in the 2.4 GHz band; a special GPIO adapter with a built-in fan for active cooling of the Raspberry Pi board; adapter-splitter for two memory cards of the TransFlash (TF) standard and one 32-gigabyte TF card with pre-installed OS and software; a set of screws for installing the Raspberry Pi and a user manual.
CrowPi L in extended package
The extended package, which is $51 more expensive than the base package, includes a number of additional components for the development of various kinds of electronic devices. These include sensors (such as humidity), LED indicators, an infrared receiver and associated remote control, and a small LCD display. In addition, a kind of breadboard with a cable is supplied – for connecting the previously mentioned external elements to the computer.
Particular attention is drawn to the adapter included in the CrowPi L kit, which allows you to install two memory cards at once (with two operating systems) and quickly select the active one from them using a hardware switch that is displayed on the device case. This interesting design solution, of course, will not allow you to instantly switch between the two operating systems – each time you need to restart the computer – but it will eliminate the need to open the machine case and remove the Raspberry Pi to replace the memory card.
Also, against the background of ordinary laptops, CrowPi L stands out by the presence of a panel of indicators indicating the status of the Raspberry Pi GPIO contacts. It is located above the keyboard, next to the touchpad, and allows the user to better navigate which pins are used by external sensors or other devices.
Prices and delivery times
As for the retail price of the set, it can not be called cheap. In the most basic configuration, which does not include the “brains” of the system – the Raspberry Pi 4B board – it will be a little over $200 or almost 12 thousand rubles. at the exchange rate of the Central Bank on June 16, 2022
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A set of sensors for training in the development of simple devices will cost an additional $51 (about 3 thousand rubles). If you purchase a device with a pre-installed single-payer, then you will need to add another $150 (8.5 thousand rubles) for a model with 4 GB of RAM or $166 (9.5 thousand) for an 8-gigabyte version.
For comparison: the developers of the Raspberry Pi 4B themselves release a mini-computer for $55 and $75 apiece, respectively. However, in 2021, British single-boards became a scarce amid a shortage of chips around the world, which could not but affect their price.
As a result, in the top configuration CrowPi L will cost all $420 (24 thousand rubles). For a comparable amount in Russia, you can, for example, buy an Asus Laptop 14 L410MA laptop with a 14-inch FullHD screen, an x86 Intel Celeron processor of the Gemini Lake family (2019), 4 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD, a battery with a capacity of 42 Wh and pre-installed Windows 10.
However, comparing the CrowPi L with any other mainstream portable computer is not entirely appropriate. Unlike other manufacturers, Elecrow focuses primarily on beginner DIY enthusiasts, for whom the “adventures” begin with installing the board in the CrowPi L case, which is carried out in six simple steps.
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On its official website, Elecrow promises to start sending pre-ordered CrowPi L on June 30, 2022.
Continuation of the series
CrowPi L is not the first “laptop shell” for Raspberry Pi released by Elecrow. In 2018 and 2020 accordingly, the Chinese have run successful crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter. And if the first incarnation of CrowPi did not look much like a laptop, then the second one was structurally much closer to the current version of the device, but required much more assembly effort from the end user.
In the case of the CrowPi L model, the creators managed to do without a preliminary fundraising.
Attempts to offer an original “wrapper” for their own development were also made by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. In November 2020, the company released a full-fledged personal computer based on the Raspberry Pi 4 in a keyboard form factor, in the style of the legendary ZX Spectrum.