Build a Portable Android-based Raspberry Pi Station

Dmitri Popov

Productivity Sauce

May 28, 2013 GMT
Dmitri Popov

Transforming a bare-bones Raspberry Pi into a fully-functional portable station is a popular pastime among enterprising users, and you can easily find instructions on how to build a Kindleberry Pi, a Kindleberry Wireless, and even a Raspberry Pi Linux laptop. But if you happen to use an Android device, you can opt for a less complicated and more modular solution devised by yours truly.

The Android device in this setup acts both as a wireless hotspot and a display for Raspberry Pi. The latter is configured to automatically connect to the Wi-Fi network created by the Android device. And an SSH client app (e.g., VX ConnectBot) running on the Android device is used to access Raspberry Pi via an SSH connection. Here is what you need for this project:

  • Android device with wireless hotspot functionality
  • An SSH client app like VX ConnectBox installed on the Android device
  • OTG (On-The-Go) micro-USB cable (not required for use with a Bluetooth keyboard)
  • Wireless mini keyboard with integrated touchpad like the one from Rii
  • Wi-Fi USB dongle known to work with Raspberry Pi (e.g., Edimax EW-7811Un)
  • Optional external battery pack for powering Raspbery Pi

Start with connecting the keyboard to the Android device using the OTG micro-USB cable. Alternatively, you can use a Bluetooth keyboard which eliminates the need for the cable and makes the entire setup even more elegant. Enable then the wireless hotspot feature. Configure Raspberry Pi to automatically connect to the wireless hotspot. You can do this using the graphical network configuration utility supplied with the Raspbian Linux distribution, or by editing network configuration files by hand. Once you've done that, Raspberry Pi should automatically connect to the wireless hotspot on every boot. On the Android device, find out Raspberry Pi's IP address, then use the SSH client app to establish an SSH connection to it. That's all there is to it. It's also possible to install a VNC server on Raspberry Pi and access its graphical desktop environment using a VNC client on the Android device.

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