How to install pi-topOS to a microSD card

A simple guide for anyone who wants to install pi-topOS to a microSD card.


You will need:

  • MicroSD card
  • A computer with microSD card slot, or an adapter to connect microSD to your computer (e.g. SD or USB adapter)

Next steps are to:

Step 1Download pi-topOS from our website.

Note: Please make sure that you are always using the latest release (you can check this by comparing the date in the filename to the date in the release on our OS download page).

Step 2 – Insert the microSD card that you want to write to into your laptop or PC.

Hint: all of our microSD cards ship with an SD card adapter, and you will likely need to use this (or a microSD-to-USB adapter) to connect to your computer.

Let’s get started!

There’s a great tool called Etcher, created by an Internet of Things company called This software has been specifically designed to write operating systems to SD cards and USB drives.

It works the same on Windows, Linux and OS X (trust us – we’ve tried!) and is incredibly easy – with only 3 steps!

1) Select the zip file that you just downloaded. You could extract the image onto your hard drive first, but Etcher is clever and extracts the file whilst it writes, so why bother?ūüôā
2) Select the SD card from the list. If there are multiple drives that are available, make sure that the drive you select is the correct size, to prevent writing to the wrong drive. If you are not sure which drive to write to, then remove all other drives until only the SD card is in the list.
3) Click ‘Flash’!

That’s it! Etcher will install pi-topOS for you (AND it also verifies that it was 100% correctly written).¬†Then all you need to do is plug the microSD card into your Raspberry Pi, and switch on the device.

If, for some reason, this is not working for you, then check out this blog post for another way to get it working or reach out to us via

All the best,



New pi-topOS update October 2016!

Firstly, we want to say a huge thank you for all of the great feedback from our community that we’ve been receiving. It is with their¬†help that we were able to make this update possible. ¬†Our software team have been busy making some brilliant improvements to our operating system (OS) pi-topOS!

What has changed? 

There are a large number of new features and improvements to the new pi-topOS. Some of the key features are as follows:

  • Includes all of the benefits of the brand new Raspbian release (2016-09-23) (Raspberry Pi Foundation blog post here)
  • Smoother transitions between dashboard and desktop modes
  • Improved configuration wizard and dashboard tour
  • pi-topCODER now fetches online worksheets (which will be updated and expanded) – these can be stored locally, so you can access them anywhere!
  • Updated pi-top hardware interaction
  • OS stability and usability improvements
  • CEEDUniverse has lots of new features – the whole world and menus have been redesigned and there are several new mini-games to check out!

Overall, you should feel it running more smoothly.

We have done our best to ensure that updating your current SD card is as smooth as possible; however, due to the large number of updates (particularly those coming from the latest Raspbian release), we highlyrecommend downloading the image from our website (as described below).

How do I update? 

You can download the latest pi-top SD card image from the link below:

To install the OS, we recommend Etcher by It is the easiest and safest way we’ve found to install any operating system to your (micro)SD card! Plus, you can install directly from a zip file.

Once you’ve flashed your microSD card with pi-topOS, you can simply plug it back into your Raspberry Pi and go!

What happens after you download it?

You will be taken to the Welcome screen, where it will take you through the setup, show you around the dashboard, and that’s it –¬†you’re ready to go.
Need some help? 

If you are having troubles downloading or the new pi-topOS please don’t hesitate to email us via – thanks!ūüôā

Heart Rate Monitor

Keep to the beat! – Heart Rate Monitor Tutorial

Last tutorial in our LED trilogy! If you haven’t – then check out our Light It Up!-LED Tutorial and CEED Universe Compass Tutorial.

Components needed: 

  1. ADS1115 x 1
  2. LDR x  1
  3. LED x 1
  4. Resistor (100ő©) x 2
  5. Wires x 11
  6. pi-topPROTO board x 1

Background: This project was created with hearts in mind. It demonstrates and reveals a technique to measure the heart rate by sensing the change in blood volume in a finger artery while your heart is pumping! Compared to our last two tutorials, it is a bit more complex; however, it is perfect for an inter-curricular class or a fun family project for the weekend.  

Step 1: In this tutorial you will learn to make a heart-rate-monitor with an LED circuit on the pi-topPROTO board.

Step 2: The diagram below illustrates how the components should be soldered onto the pi-topPROTO board:





Step 3: To build this circuit on the pi-topPROTO board, solder the LED to the board.


Step 4: Next solder in the resistor and complete the circuit using a wire.


Step 5: Now solder in the LDR (Light Dependent Resistor), its accompanying resistor and complete the circuit using another wire.


Step 6: The next step is to solder in the analogue to digital signal converter (ads1115) into the pi-topPROTO board.



Step 7: Connect the ads1115 to the 5V power supply.




Step 8: Connect I2C connections (SCL and SDA) on the ads1115 to pin 5 and pin 3 on the board respectively.



Step 9: Connect the ADDR pin to the GND pin on the ads1115 so as to define the I2C address on the ads1115 as 0x48.



Step 10: The next step is to move onto the python code! This can be done on your pi-topCEED. After you have booted your pi-topCEED up: click on the Main Menu, accessories and then open up a terminal window as seen in the screenshot below.



Step 11: Type in ‚Äúsudo idle &‚ÄĚ into the terminal to open up idle 2 which will allow you to create a run python scripts on the Raspberry Pi!



Step 12: Once the python shell environment has opened up, click File and then New to open up a new text editor. This text editor is where you will type your code, save and run the project! Once you run the project on the text editor the results will be displayed on the python shell environment that was previously mentioned.



Step 13: The next step is to now copy the code below in the python text editor:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

import matplotlib.animation as animation

import time

import Adafruit_ADS1x15

import pylab

import numpy as np

from scipy.interpolate import interp1d

from scipy.signal import butter, lfilter, filtfilt

# from scipy.interpolate import spline

#get plot and draw axes

fig = plt.figure()

ax1 = fig.add_subplot(1,1,1)

moving_y = []

xaxisthings = []

startTime = time.time()

secondsShown = 5

secondsCalc = 5

plotHz = 20                        

totalWidth = plotHz*secondsShown

Oversample = 5

allY = [0]*plotHz*secondsShown

allX = [0]*plotHz*secondsShown


#function to set the next y value

def new_y_value():

   time.sleep(1/(plotHz * Oversample))

   return Adafruit_ADS1x15.ADS1115().read_adc(0, gain=16)


def animate(i):

   #add a new y value, and remove the first

   totaly = 0

   totalx = 0

   count = 0

   for j in range(secondsCalc * plotHz * Oversample)

       totaly +=new_y_value()

       totalx +=time.time()-startTime


       if count == Oversample:



           count = 0

           totalx = 0

           totaly = 0

   while len(allY) > (secondsShown*plotHz):






ani = animation.FuncAnimation(fig, animate, interval=1)



Step 14: After creating your code, click on ‚ÄúFile‚ÄĚ and then ‚ÄúSave as‚ÄĚ to save the code that you have written so that you can come back to it and run the code whenever you want!

Step 15: After saving your code, put you finger in between the LED and the LDR and press F5 to run your code and see your heartbeat displayed across the screen as seen in the image below!

Heart Rate Monitor.png

CEED Universe Compass Tutorial

This is the second tutorial in our trilogy. If you missed the first – please check out our Light It Up! – LED Tutorial for pi-topCEED.

Components needed: 

  1. LED x 4
  2. Resistor(100ő©) x 1
  3. Wires x 8
  4. pi-topPROTO board x 1


Background: Now that you know how to build one LED, we can step it up to the next level and build an LED compass. This can be useful when you are travelling or lost your way through the vast CEED Universe. Check your direction by using your own LED compass to guide you

Step 1: In this tutorial you will learn to make a compass on an LED circuit on the pi-topPROTO board.

Step 2: Below is a image of how the circuit should be connected with the LED soldered in place first (please follow the link here to take you to our video showing you how to solder onto a pi-topPROTO board).

led_compass_schem 1.png

Step 3: The next step is to solder the resistor in place.


Step 4: The next step is to solder the wires that connect the LEDs to the GPIO (General Purpose Input Output) port pins that will detect the signals being sent from the code when the CEEDUniverse game is being played so that you can see if you are getting closer or further away from your target destination. To learn more about GPIO pins please follow the link here.


Step 5: Once the circuit has been soldered in place (please follow the link here to take you to our video showing you how to solder onto a pi-topPROTO board,) all you have to do is slide the pi-topPROTO board into the HUB and run the CEEDUniverse game to use the compass! You can watch a short video showing you the final product below. 





Light It Up! – LED Tutorial

Today we are ecstatic to announce that we have started shipping out our pi-topCEED. To get you started we’ve prepared a trilogy of projects. Let’s start the plug & play!

Components needed: 

  1. LED x 1
  2. 100ő© Resistor x 1
  3. Wire x 1
  4. pi-topPROTO board x 1

Background: LEDs are a particular type of diode that convert electrical energy into light. In fact, LED stands for “Light Emitting Diode”. They are all around us in daily life: in our phones, our cars and even our homes. It is highly likely that when something electrical lights up – there’s an LED behind it. For more on LEDs check out this link here.
Step 1: In this tutorial you will learn to make your first LED circuit on the pi-topPROTO board, that can be found by following the link here.
Step 2: This image below shows you diagram of the LED circuit and an empty pi-topPROTO board onto which the projects can be built!


led circuit_schem  1


Step 3:

  • Below is an image of how the circuit should be connected, with an LED, 100ő© resistor and a wire to complete the circuit.
  • The resistor is connected to ground and the negative terminal of the LED; a wire is connected to the 3V3 power source and the positive terminal of the LED. The longer of the two LED terminals is the positive terminal.


Step 4: Once the circuit has been soldered in place (please follow the link here  or watch it belwo, to take you to our video showing you how to solder onto a pi-topPROTO board,) all you have to do is slide the pi-topPROTO board into the HUB!

We would warn you to be very careful with soldering and take the necessary precautions!ūüôā
If you are interested in learning more about LEDS please follow the link here. Or, continue with the next Tutorial: CEEDUniverse Compass Tutorial.


Intern project: The impact of game-based learning on classroom teaching

Hi all,

One of our interns is currently working on his final project ‚ÄúThe impact of game-based learning on classroom teaching‚ÄĚ, he has designed a questionnaire on CEED Universe – our educational game. The aim of his¬†study is to assess the way lessons are currently taught in the classroom, and see if games such as CEED Universe can benefit students. For more information on the subject he recommends checking out this e-Book called Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal.

The optimization¬†of learning is very important to us; and so is supporting our pi-top Family members! Therefore, if you have some spare time to¬†support him and fill in the questionnaire by clicking here¬†(should only take a few minutes) – we would all be ecstatic.ūüôā

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Hi All,

As mentioned in our latest Indiegogo update: we have a software update for you all!

In the pi-topCEED video you likely noticed our learning game CEEDUniverse and we hope you are excited about the concept of an engaging game that intertwines real learning in a fun adventure. We are now ready to give you a sneak peak of how far CEEDUniverse has come since we launched the campaignūüôā We have also integrated sound into the game! Look out next week for our video update on the pi-topSPEAKER!


Apologies for the delay in shipping emails we will be sending them out today and we have made our big website update where amongst other things you will have a login portal where you can update and finalise your shipping as a pi-topCEED Indiegogo backer. The email you receive will have instructions on how to go through the process.

Our next updates will focus on the general pi-topOS improvements and our brand new Raspberry Pi lesson plan integrated code editor. We have kept it slightly under wraps so far but we are very excited to show you this new feature bundled in pi-topOS!

As a side note – we have improved our freight shipping boxes – don’t they look pretty!


Importantly the rigid corner design and honeycomb panels are recyclable and will reduce shipping damage to a minimumūüôā whilst also reducing the amount of EPE Foam we have to use to protect the devices in transit by 90%. Part of why we design as much as possible that goes into all of pi-top is so we can reflect our company values on our supply chain.

Thanks all and keep an eye on your inbox’s!


pi-top Team

All (8) - Kopie

Extra pi-topCEED acrylic slice colour vote results!

Hi all,

Thank you to all our Indiegogo backers¬†who participated in the latest pi-topCEED extra acrylic slice colour vote! We’ve now got the outcome for you and the results are…



As you can see in the screenshot of the Pie Chart above it was a very close call. However, the prevailing winner is: dark blue!

                                         All (3).jpgAll (6) - Kopie


There we go Рthe second official pi-topCEED acrylic slice colour voted in by you.

Again, we can’t thank you enough for all your amazing support in our quest to bring affordable hardware and accessible computing¬†to the world.

The new Raspberry Pi 3 is here!

Be the first to get yours from pi-top now!


We are celebrating the 4th Birthday of the Raspberry Pi and the launch of the Pi 3 by releasing a limited number of the brand new pi-topPROTO boards.


We are offering the new Raspberry Pi 3 in two amazing bundles:
1. Raspberry Pi 3 + 8GB SD card (pre-installed pi-topOS)
2. Raspberry Pi 3 + pi-topPROTO + 8GB SD card (pre-installed pi-topOS)

What is the pi-topPROTO board?

You can spruce up your pi-top with the pi-topPROTO! It is our first official add-on board for the pi-top. 

The pi-topPROTO provides full access to all 40 GPIO pins. These pins are the physical interface between the Pi and the outside world.  Additionally, there is a ton of prototyping space for adding cool gadgets (ADCs, real time clocks, motor drivers etc).


It is an add-on board for pi-top‘s PCB Rail that breaks out the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins unlocking unlimited possibilities!


Also, since it is powered from pi-top‘s Hub you have access to 18V, 5V, 3V and an always-on 3.3V (even when pi-top is powered down), with much higher current outputs than the Raspberry Pi alone can give. Here’s a link to an awesome gif!

What about the Pi 3? Key Features:

pi_angled_webThe new Raspberry Pi 3 is built on the latest¬†Quad Core¬†Broadcom 2837 ARMv8 64 bit processor which is faster¬†and more powerful than it’s predecessors! Some noteworthy additions include:

  • Improved power management
  • built-in wireless connectivity
  • built-in Bluetooth

Meaning you can now use all your USB ports freely! For more detailed information please head over to our interactive Infographic!

We are super excited about this beauty and to see what fun projects everyone comes up with in the near future.

Much love,
pi-top Team

Indiegogo update 9 for pi-topCEED

Hi All!

It has been a busy few weeks here at Pi-Top HQ, and we are excited to share these shots of the pi-topCEED and the new more space efficient pi-topCEED Hub. We have some final tweaks to make to the hinge mechanism and case before we pull the trigger and start CNCing the mould when Ryan goes back to Shenzhen on the 18th. We hope you are excited by the improved design!

All is going smoothly for April delivery and we are really happy about the way this product is going forward.

We have also chosen 5 complimentary Acrylic Slice colours which we will be showing off early next week and soon after we will hold the colour vote for the $130,000 stretch goal!

We will be checking back with you soon!

All the love,

Ryan, Jesse & the pi-topTEAM


The new design provides easy access to the ports on the Raspberry Pi.


You will be able to choose between green and grey closer to the shipping date.


The power button has been integrated into the case.


The case is 30% thinner than our original!


The modular rail is now made of steel! The big change here is that all the addon boards will have small magnets so they are super easy to swap in and swap out. We have tested this extensively and it’s a fantastic way to add whatever functionality you wish to your pi-topCEED.

Unfortunately Indiegogo doesn’t let us put gifs in these updates but you can go here to see our newest addon board (pi-topProto) magnetically connecting to the rail and easily sliding into the modular connector.


The hub size has been reduced by 17mm, which adds plenty of space for any addon boards to go into the rail.

Huge thank you to all our backers :) We are working hard to make pi-topCEED as great as it can be!