Portable "fullpower" LINUX Pocket Computer for on the go programming

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Just a fun project to create a portable full feature linux computer for JavaScript (Node.js), Python and C programming on the go.

Device is essentially composed of 3 simple components:

- A VT100 Terminal emulator running on the onboard ATmega128RFA developed using the Arduino IDE and OpenSource gold library

- A powerfull Single Board Computer named NanoPi Neo Air capable of running the latest debian distro with WiFi support

- An ordinary USB PowerSupply to replace the 4 AAA Batteries with something more powerfull

  • 1 × SMART Response XE
  • 1 × NanoPi Neo Air The main computer
  • 1 × USB PowerBank

  • Source is PUBLIC

    chmod77508/05/2021 at 12:49 0 comments

    Hello there,

    just pushed the, still raw, source code to a public repository on GitHub.

    Be free to have a ride also on other public repos I've done.

    Stay tuned,

    schematic and cleaner code coming!

  • How the project evolved?

    chmod77507/27/2021 at 12:02 0 comments

    Started with the idea to fit a small single board computer with WiFi into the SMART Response XE.

    A Raspberry Zero W would have fitted it perfectly, but unfortunately I had any available in the lab (and delivery times were too long).

    After some trial and error I managed to find and fit a NanoPi Neo Air in the battery compartment.

    Unfortunately that raised another problem, how to power the device?

    The immediate idea was to fit a USB power bank inside to retain the important feature of recharging and powering down the device.

    That didn’t work as smoothing as I thought. Battery size like 14335 and over where too big for the case.

    So I disassembled a small 2S battery for a micro drone and used both cells.

    About the software, it was pretty straightforward. Replicate a VT100 terminal running on the onboard ATMega and comunicate with the single board computer using serial.

    I’m planning to release the source code and some schematics soon.

    Keep update on my GitHub account

  • Booting video

    chmod77507/23/2021 at 14:44 0 comments

    Simple video about the device booting.

View all 3 project logs

Enjoy this project?



harzi wrote 08/28/2021 at 17:44 point

Nice project! I hope the schematics how to connect the to the ISP to program the terminal emulation and the pinout how to connect the Raspi/whatever to the onboard serial follows soon. ;)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Odel wrote 08/30/2021 at 01:57 point

The ISP pads are in a standard 6 pin layout:

As for the serial connection, CL_FLASH is your TX, and the right leg of the power switch on the smart response is your RX.

  Are you sure? yes | no

harzi wrote 08/30/2021 at 05:59 point

Thank you Odel. I've soldered the ISP connector. I used as the "board" to compile it with the Arduino IDE, exported the compiled binary and programed with

avrdude -p atmega128rfa1 -c usbasp-clone -U flash:w:sketch_jul16a.ino.rf128.hex:i

The via left to "CS_Flash" outputs serial TX at 9600bps and the RX pin is the "lower" right leg of the power switch that accepts 9600bps serial input.

  Are you sure? yes | no

zerocool1014a wrote 08/23/2021 at 20:40 point

Is anyone that has gotten this working figured out how to get ubuntu to properly scale the terminal at boot time?  Using a Banana Pi M2 Zero with uBoot and my cursor ends up all over the place.

  Are you sure? yes | no

zerocool1014a wrote 08/23/2021 at 20:38 point

Odel, you need to connect serial to the Serial 1 header which is the CS_Flash VIA and the right foot of the on/off switch for rx and tx.. don't remember off the top of my head which is which right now..

  Are you sure? yes | no

Odel wrote 08/24/2021 at 17:55 point

That did the trick, thanks!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Odel wrote 08/16/2021 at 03:44 point

I've got the code flashed and working.  Eagerly awaiting schematics, can't seem to get serial data from a pi zero to display, even with what I believe are the correct pins bridged.

  Are you sure? yes | no

brainrecall wrote 07/31/2021 at 00:06 point

I hope you release your code for the VT100 emulator. I just picked one up off ebay and I'm looking to put a pi zero in it as well. Turning this into a simple text-only console to the Pi, with a USB port to connect things like serial adapters, would be super handy.

  Are you sure? yes | no

chmod775 wrote 07/31/2021 at 09:36 point

I'm planning to release the source code on the end of next week! :)

Keep updated on my GitHub account

  Are you sure? yes | no

ej0rge wrote 07/30/2021 at 01:16 point

Pretty interested in duplicating this at least partially. I actually have a Neo Air as well but i wonder about fitting more flat lithium batteries in it and using a say a banana pi m2 zero, which is the same formfactor as the rpi zero w. Though of course the zero w would probably have the best battery life.

The first funny thought i had was to turn it into a Rogueboy - a portable device for playing roguelike games. Unfortunately, i think most of them depend on an 80x25 character display so probably most if not all of them would require some coding to allow them to slide around in a smaller terminal. 

I guess the minimum application would be your vt100 emulator + an esp32 running an ssh client. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

ej0rge wrote 08/04/2021 at 18:38 point

My measurements suggest that it might be possible to fit two of these inside the XE, on either side of the battery compartment after removing the internal ribs:

and i found this boost converter + charge controller that maybe can be tied to the same power button as the main board:

I placed orders, so in 2-10 weeks we shall see.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Boxerbomb wrote 07/29/2021 at 15:11 point

This is a pretty cool project. I am always excited to see what people do with these things. Pretty cool devices and it looks like the perfect size for a handheld. I loved programming on my TI-84, and this seems like it would feel similar.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Starhawk wrote 07/29/2021 at 03:22 point

When will the VT100 Emu code, at least, be released (if you know)...?

Also, I'd love to see something that could operate as a serial X11 terminal from a RasPi Zero 1.3 or Zero W -- I realize that the screen size is extremely limited (not to mention just plain weird!) at 384*160, but the ST75686S LCD controller in there at least purportedly has support for a 4-shade grayscale mode; I'm not sure if that's enabled in the hardware tho (actually, it looks like that's a software enable/disable thing only). The X Window System, historically, was actually *designed* to work over a network -- hence the client/server architecture and nomenclature -- although I'm told that a lot of the functionality that was originally in place for that was eventually removed.

But if there's somehow a way to get a bare-bones X11 Server (yeah, the *Server* is the display! It's crazy...), with at least limited graphics capability, running on this kind of hardware, I'd love to see that.

  Are you sure? yes | no

ej0rge wrote 07/30/2021 at 22:50 point

X11 seems unlikely to me, due to the ram limitations, but a VNC viewer with x11vnc on the other end is probably very doable. 

Nano-X aka Microwindows i guess is an outside possibility since it has been ported to some pretty minimal systems. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

chmod775 wrote 07/31/2021 at 09:35 point

I'm planning to release the source code on the end of next week! :)

Unfortunately X11 seems unlikely to run on a simple ATmega128RFA.

The best plan would be to develop a custom PCB and a custom kernel driver to drive the ST75686S controlled LCD.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Eric Hertz wrote 08/09/2021 at 22:51 point

!!! How do you fit all that text on that screen?!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Starhawk wrote 08/10/2021 at 06:29 point

I mean, Nano-X / MicroWindows is listed as running on m68k architecture, which is 16bit... sort of (it's uhm complicated, it's a hybrid architecture)... and not much better at its bottom end (remember the 68008!) than that ATMega, if at all.

I think it's worth a shot... but I'm all hardware, no software. Do you have time to give it a shot?

  Are you sure? yes | no

ej0rge wrote 08/19/2021 at 22:51 point

Perhaps the AVR could be dedicated to just drawing on the screen, while an esp32 handles the network connection and the x11 protocol with a port of nano-x. Since x11 needs a socket anyway, and without some additional hardware somewhere you don't have ip access in this device anyway. 

But I'm just spitballing. Way beyond my ability. 

fwiw, someone has released an esp32 ssh client/server library. Could build a wifi dumb terminal maybe. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

davedarko wrote 07/25/2021 at 18:49 point

This was recently tweeted about by microchip, in case you've missed it :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

chmod775 wrote 07/25/2021 at 21:04 point

Thanks man! Totally missed it :)

Love your projects!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dusan Petrovic wrote 07/29/2021 at 17:05 point

Also, It's featured on

  Are you sure? yes | no

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