New build-it-yourself Raspberry Pi computer offers all-in-one kit for hardware hackers

The Raspberry Pi-based Piper Computer Kit 2 increases the screen size and improves the battery life of the build-it-yourself computer, which it is claimed can be built in no more than four hours.

Raspberry Pi: The inside story of the $35 computer The co-creators of the credit-card-sized board tell the inside story of how the breakthrough computer was born.

Want to learn how to build your own gadgets but don't know where to start? Then check out the new Piper Computer Kit 2.

The latest release of the Raspberry Pi-based Piper Computer Kit increases the screen size and improves the battery life of the build-it-yourself computer, which it is claimed can be built in no more than four hours.

Aimed at children aged seven-plus, the kit walks users through how to piece together the wooden case and the bundled electronics, which includes a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B as the main computer; a nine-inch 1024x600 resolution screen; 20+ electronic components including breadboards, buttons, switches, buzzers and LEDs for experimenting with hacking hardware; a 7800mah Lithium-ion battery; and USB mouse. It also includes a reusable carry case.

SEE: Raspberry Pi: The inside story of the $35 computer

Once built the computer runs a variety of software designed to teach kids the principles of programming and introduce them to coding and controlling electronics, both via custom story mode levels for Minecraft Raspberry Pi Edition and the PiperCode software, which offers step-by-step guidance on how to interact with LED lights, buzzers and games using Google Blockly, a drag-and-drop coding tool. Once users are more comfortable with programming concepts, they can view Python versions of their code.

There are some odd choices, the specs for the $299 — $249 for a limited time — Piper Computer Kit 2 list a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B as the main computer, rather than the newer and slightly faster Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+.

That choice puts the specs at a slight disadvantage compared to the pi-top 3, a self-build Raspberry Pi-based laptop, which also has a 14-inch 1920x1080 screen and includes a keyboard.

That said, the pi-top 3 is also slightly more expensive, at $319, and lacks the bundled electronics that allow kids to experiment with hacking hardware out of the box, such as the buttons, buzzers, LEDs, breadboard, and the speaker.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation's official MagPi magazine also has this guide to building your own Pi-based laptop, although you'll need access to a 3D printer to build the case.

Piper Computer Kits are used in more than 600 schools, and like its predecessor, Piper Computer Kit 2 will also be made available in the US and select international markets.

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The Piper Computer Kit 2.

Image: Piper

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