Turn Raspberry Pi Zero W into BlackBerry-style Linux PC with this $10 board

The SnapOnAir PCB is one for makers who revel in creating something from nothing.

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Owners of the tiny $5 Raspberry Pi Zero or the $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W with Wi-Fi can now turn the developer board more easily  into a small Linux PC thanks to the new SnapOnAir printed circuit board (PCB). 

The SnapOnAir PCB fills in some missing gaps that prevent the Raspberry Pi device from being a computer – namely input and output mechanisms like a keyboard and screen. 

Raspberry Pi Zero is a smaller and cheaper version of the better known credit-card sized $35 Raspberry Pi 3. The even smaller Zero includes a 1GHz single core CPU, 512MB RAM, and a range of ports and pins to connect to other components. 

With specs like these it's not exactly an ideal computer to use as a PC. But the SnapOnAir makes it simpler for those who want to experiment with it and create something that resembles a classic BlackBerry phone with a physical Qwerty board.   

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The add-on includes 2.8 Color ILI9341 TFT display and a TCA8418 I2C chip-based keyboard.

The product listing on Tindie notes that users can add a buzzer and mono audio source on the 3.5mm audio jack.  

The addition of the SnapOnAir doesn't quite turn the Raspberry Pi Zero into a smartphone as it still requires a wired power source plus there's no 4G. However, as Liliputing notes, the developer of SnapOnAir suggests the it can be connected to a portable 1,800mAh battery. 

While the SnapOnAir does make it easier to convert a Raspberry Pi Zero into a more usable computer, it is just a PCB that requires a lot of extra work to make it a functional computer, such as adding keys and the screen. But the PCB is ideal for makers who enjoy a good technical challenge for the sake of it.  

snaponairc.jpg

The SnapOnAir makes it simpler for those who want to use the Raspberry Pi Zero to create something that resembles a classic BlackBerry phone with a physical Qwerty board.   

Image: SnapOnAir

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