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The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is a tiny powerhouse Computer

The Penkesu Computer is features a 7.9 inch widescreen display, a 48-key ortholinear mechanical keyboard and it uses a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W as its brains. You can’t buy one yet, but you can find everything you need to build your own at Penk’s GitHub page.

The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is a tiny powerhouse of a computer that punches far, far above its weight and cost. The latest Raspberry Pi is suitable for running some desktop applications, let down only by its 512MB of RAM. Keep within that limitation, however, and it’s a very capable basis for projects such as handheld computers, epitomised by this excellent retro-style sub-notebook cooked up by GitHub user Penk.

The parts list includes a 7.9 inch, 1280 x 400 pixel IPS LCD display with support for capacitive touch input), a 3D printed case (which uses Gameboy Advance SP replacement hinges to hold the lid and body together), a 3.7V Li-Po battery and power supply, and a custom keyboard that includes:

  • 48 x Kailh low profile Choc V1 switches
  • 48 x MBK Choc low profile keycaps
  • 48 x 1N4148 diodes
  • 1 x Arduino Pro Micro
  • 1 x custom printed circuit board

Penk provides the gerber file for the keyboard PCB and a QMK firmware file and there are assembly instructions at GitHub. But since everything is open source, you can modify the designs or use different parts that better meet your needs.

Powering the whole thing is Raspberry Pi’s $15 computer with a 1 GHz ARM quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor and 512MB of RAM. That means the little computer should support most operating systems and software compatible with running on Raspberry Pi devices matching those specs.

Penk says there are “no immediate plans on selling kits or making Penkesu Computer mass producible,” but that doesn’t rule out the possibility that you might be able to buy one at some point in the future rather than making your own.

The Penkesu Computer is designed around its display, and re-purposes the hinges from a Game Boy Advance SP to help keep it compact. The display is a Waveshare 7.9 inch capacitive touchscreen, 400 x 1280 resolution, connected via a ribbon cable adapter to the Zero 2 W’s mini HDMI output.

The rest of the case is bespoke 3D printed, to better accommodate the 48-key low profile keyboard that connects via an Arduino Pro Micro that feeds its signals to the Pi’s second micro-USB port. The switches are Kailh Low Profile Choc V1 models, with Choc low-profile keycaps on top. As is common with 48-key keyboards, there are additional modifier keys that allow a large number of functions to be performed.

Inside, you’ll find a 3.7V Li-Po battery pack hooked up to an Adafruit Powerboost 1000C to act as a load-sharing charge controller and to feed power to the Pi, keyboard and screen. It’s the 1000C that exposes its micro-USB port to the outside of the case for charging, and not the Pi itself. Otherwise, if it weren’t for the keyboard, the case would be kind of empty, such are the tiny dimensions of the Pi Zero 2 W (65mm x 30mm).

Software isn’t mentioned, though in photos it can be seen running the desktop GUI of Raspberry Pi OS, and there’s also a neat Matrix-style trickling green text background going on. “I feel the need to work on a new project, something I don’t need to worry too much about commercial viability, and to remind myself why I started tinkering,” writes Penk, who is also behind the CutiePi tablet that runs on a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. “Since there are no immediate plans on selling kits or making Penkesu Computer mass producible, I’d like to publish all the designs and plans so there’s enough information for anyone interested in making one.”

Penk’s GitHub page is filled with details, including a complete bill of materials (BoM), and the design is open-source. All components are either off-the-shelf or 3D printable.

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Ajmal Solangi is a Tech writer specializing in the intersection of tech and reviews. He likes tech news, mobile unboxing, reviews, gadgets, and more.

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