LattePanda Alpha is a quite powerful and versatile small SBC computer for its class. It has an interesting DIY modular project. In a few moves it can become a MiniPC, a portable console or a stationary gaming station.
LattePanda Alpha. Powerful SBC in its class with connectors like Arduino
Let's first explain what LattePanda Alpha is. This is the second edition of the LattePanda single board computer (the first got the Intel Atom processor). The most powerful Alpha has at its disposal the Intel m3-8100y CPU (two cores and four threads, 1.1 GHz, 3.4 GHz in turbo) with integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 graphics and 8 GB RAM LPDDR3. Slim air cooling is mounted on the plate.
Depending on the option, it can be supplied with 64 GB eMMC. But it always has two M.2 slots (one x4 for SATA and PCIe NVMe drives, the other x2 for USB 2.0, UART, PCM cards). Connectivity is included in WiFi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.2 and Gigabit Ethernet. The ports used are 3 x USB A 3.0, 1 x USB C 3.0 (supporting PD and DP), HDMI. We even have an Arduino Leonardo coprocessor and GPIO connectors (including I2C, I2S, USB, RS232, UART, RTC). Works with Windows and Linux.
Modules for quick replacement with magnets
One of the LattePanda Alpha enthusiasts created the concept of modular housing. He made everything on a 3D printer and according to DIY philosophy. The elements are connected with magnets, so flipping the panda between different applications does not require the use of tools. What can you do with her? The simplest output is simply a miniPC in a slim housing. By removing the sidewall, the author of the Project-SBC YouTube channel can attach the disc to other components.
This connection gives birth to a tablet, a small gaming PC with an additional desktop graphics card, a portable console with Switch joycons, or a laptop with two touch screens. Assembly to subsequent elements is simple and quick. The author also presents on his corner of YouTube a handful of videos with guides on how to make the basic modular housing and other elements yourself.
The project is not definitively finished yet. What could be next? The last update was the aforementioned two-screen laptop. And in the future? There are a few more clues to follow. It's worth following the next channel projects.