News    The Project    Technology    RoboSpatium    Contribute    Subject index    Download    Responses    Games    Gadgets    Contact   

<<< Raspberry Pi         Physical computing >>>


About the device

pi-top[4] package
Figure 1:
The pi-top [4] is a Raspberry Pi in a cleverly designed housing that has some additional electronics implemented. Teaching and learning coding is made as simple as possible with this compact computing "brick". The coding samples about "Physical Computing" help to visualize the meaning of bits and bytes ...
pi-top[4] Foundation Kit
Figure 2:
...through the modules of the "Foudations Kit" that is included in the package. In a metal box you can find various modules, which can monitor or influence your environment via sensors, LEDs or a buzzer. All modules are connected via pluggable cables to a separate socket, you can connect through the " pi-top Maker Architecture (PMA) " interface with the pi-top [4].


Warning! To show you the inner components of the pi-top[4], I had to remove a coupple of "Warranty void if removed"-stickers!!!

pi-top[4] cooling fan
Figure 3:
A screwdriver isn't needed for normal operation of the pi-top[4]. I am a curious boy and so you can have a closer look at the interior of this great "black box" as well:
The fan is temperature controlled and the noise level - even when fully on - is definitely acceptable.
pi-top[4] GPIO header
Figure 4:
The GPIO header is routed to the outside via a separate circuit board. The bare pins of the Raspberry Pi are transformed into a plastic-covered socket. That clearly helps to avoid accidental short circuits between the GPIOs.
pi-top[4] battery
Figure 5:
The rechargeable battery has a capacity of 2600mAh at 7.4V. With that you can operate your pi-top4] for several hours.
pi-top[4] interfaces
Figure 6:
The interfaces for HDMI, audio and power supply as well as one of the USB sockets are connected to another board.
pi-top[4] internal interfaces
Figure 7:
Inernal interfacing with the Raspberry Pi.
pi-top[4] interior
Figure 8:
In order to completely expose the Raspberry Pi, a coupple of screws had to be removed. All in all it is a really solid build with a metal frame inside.


pi-top[4] top view
Figure 9:
On top there is an OLED monochrome screen with 128x64 pixels and 4 freely programmable buttons. The 40 GPIO pins of the Raspberry Pi are accessible through a 40 pin female header.
pi-top[4] bottom side
Figure 10:
On the bottom side you can see the "pi-top Maker Architecture (PMA)" interface. The 8 contacts to the left belong to the "Pogo Interface", which can be used to identify the plate connected to the pi-top[4].
pi-top[4] left side
Figure 11:
Slits for the cooling fan and the cover of the micro SD card with the operating system. Besides that are the LEDs for power and read/write operations on the SD card.
The pi-top[4] has an integrated 1W mono speaker whose openings can be seen to the right.
pi-top[4] right side
Figure 12:
3 USB sockets and the LAN socket lead directly from the Raspberry Pi to the outside. Indirectly, the audio connection, HDMI, a micro USB socket and the power supply are implemented. The ON/OFF switch, which the Raspberry Pi is otherwise missing, is a simple, but often helpful implementation.
pi-top[4] Docking Clasp
Figure 13:
With the green button you can release the pi-top[4] from docks and plates.


pi-top[4] as desktop computer
Figure 14:
If a monitor, keyboard and mouse are connected, you get a full desktop computer. I was pleasantly surprised by the computing power of the Raspberry Pi 4 (here in the version with 4GB RAM). Surfing and programming works without noteworthy delays and even constructing with OpenSCAD works sufficiently smoothly. The pi-top OS is based on Raspbian with changes to the graphical user interface. The underlaying Raspbiancan isn't slowed down noticeably by the add-ons. All in all, pi-top OS runs smoothly!


  • Very solid and clever Raspberry Pi "case"
  • Steep learning curve for studying "Physical Computing"
  • Protection of the GPIOs by plugable connections to electrically insulated modules
  • Rechargeable battery for mobile applications included

Sample applications

pi-top[4] Rover R14
Figure 15:
I am currently creating another Rover for my RoboSpatium with the pi-top[4]. Further sample projects are available on the pages of

<<< Raspberry Pi         Physical computing >>>

News    The Project    Technology    RoboSpatium    Contribute    Subject index    Archives    Download    Responses    Games    Links    Gadgets    Contact    Imprint   

Twitter YouTube Hackaday Patreon TPO