If you want to learn coding, there are any number of ways to go about it. Pick up a book, find a class, or even take courses online. However, if you find yourself craving a more practical – or even fun – application of the code you write, then your choices are a bit more limited, in terms of pre-built kits to help you along the path. There’s one going on Kickstarter right now that may be of interest to you, the pi-top.
At the heart of the pi-top is a Raspberry Pi 4, the tiny and super-customizable computer. While you could certainly pick up your own Pi, this one comes with a rather clever little enclosure for it. The case has a small screen, programable buttons, a 5-hour battery life (nice to not need to be tied to a wall socket) and a cooling fan, along with the Raspberry Pi tucked inside with it’s CPU and 4 GB of RAM.
More than just another tiny computer, the pi-top also packages in a case with 14 electronic components. – sensors, buttons, LEDs, and the like. All o the components are magnetic, so they’re easy to mount onto whatever you’re building. Prefer Lego creations? Well, they’ve got you covered there as well.
This is enough to get you going with creating interesting little gadgets for the pi-top, and start learning how to code. At some point, you may want a bigger screen and a keyboard to do the coding (provided you don’t have a computer handy already). To that end, the project also has a portable screen and bluetooth keyboard (so the combo looks like a small laptop) that you can hook up to the pi-top via HDMI. Then, the screen can become part of what you build.
You want to build a rover instead? Well, wouldn’t know, the pi-top also has a vehicle kit as well. Think of it like an R/C car, but on steroids. Actually, building in a remote control system would be pretty sweet…
There’s also a social component to the pi-top called Further. More than just a gimmick, they’re using Further to help you learn about the components in the kit, and build up a community of user-created creations and code.
The Kickstarter campaign for the pi-top is running now, ending on August 8th. Funding sits at about 200% and you can jump in at $199 for the pi-top kit, $249 for the pi-top with the screen and keyboard, or $349 for the pi-top and vehicle kit. This looks to be a solid way to introduce someone (be it yourself or a young one in your life) that wants to learn to code and apply it something physically present in the world. campaign page or pi-top.com