ELLO 3M Computer

The successor of ELLO 2M

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The ELLO 3M 'TROLL' is a new project in which I have tried to implement some new ideas and to fix some errors from the 2M.

The hardware is still in early stage and I am debugging it at the moment. The entire concept is new - smaller, cheaper, thinner (now 3.9mm!!), and now includes tactile keyboard as well.

3M is built around ESP32 as main processor. It uses FT813 as graphics, and the electronic prototyping space from 2M is moved on an external plug-in board which can now be directly accessed from the processor as well. The plug-in space may host other type of boards as well.

There is also a side expansion connector, as well as dedicated audio/video, USB, and audio/charger combined one.

There is only one microSD card, but also optional SPI RAM on board.

The screen is 4.3" 800x480 with capacitive touch.

I am thinking about a more modern programming environment as well. Still will be a shell similar to the 8-bit machines, but this time a better language

Enjoy this project?



pwintulich wrote 05/10/2019 at 06:50 point

Hi, I know this would not have tactile feedback but have you considered using a 10 point capacitive multi touch controller as a keyboard interface. A bonus is it could toggle between keyboard and mouse function. Also could allow for custom keyboard overlays. It may still be worth using a small processor to translate it to a ascii or keyscan link to the processor.

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Beauregard Slim wrote 04/14/2019 at 03:50 point

I am considering developing my own keyboard for projects, and I was fascinated by the technique used in the ello 2's keyboard.  Were there problems with it?  Did the pcb material end up cracking after 10000 cycles?  Did finger oils get underneath and trap dirt causing shorts and/or no contact? 

As far as environments go, MicroPython is goofy popular right now.  I believe ESP32 is the favorite processor for it.  There are quite a few boards out there using it, but I haven't seen anything with a proper keyboard, so it might be a hit. 

I always cringe when people suggest that BASIC is a great language to teach.  It wasn't in the early 80s when I learned it, and it certainly isn't now.  I think rosy nostalgia is coloring people's vision in that regard. 

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KnivD wrote 04/14/2019 at 09:03 point

No, there have not been any major issues with the 2M's keyboard design. If the top panel is not too soft or not too hard (mine, from memory, was 0.2mm in the final version), and the spacer panel is the right thickness too, everything works fine. The only problem is the cost of the solution. The 2M had 6 PCBs - top keyboard panel, spacer, main, two bottom spacers, and bottom lid. Those PCBs had different thickness each, and that made them a bit expensive as a pack. This here was an attempt to play with cheap tactile switches in order to optimise that part. I have not abandoned the PCB stacked solution and have designed something newer on that principle that once I make as physical board, will post here

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KnivD wrote 04/14/2019 at 09:04 point

Regarding Basic - you are absolutely right. I am working on something right now to take it straight on against the Python

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fabian wrote 04/03/2019 at 13:51 point

What You think about increase keyboard?

layout not important but number of keys is usefull. For french, japanese or korean.

Meybe add fpga? lokk this small fpga fit in USB

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Andrew Roach wrote 02/06/2019 at 02:01 point

I love this so much. Has it gone any further? 

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KnivD wrote 04/04/2019 at 10:29 point

Not in this current schematic, unfortunately :-(
Not yet due to a number of reasons, but I have not discarded it

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james wrote 09/11/2018 at 18:18 point

If you're still evaluating programming environments, I think Lua actually makes quite a good choice for applications like this. LIKO-12 is an example on GitHub of how one can have a command shell and Lua editor in the style of an 80s home (BASIC) computer. LuaROTS also exists and may give a good jumping off point for software. It's even supported on ESP32.

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James Hall wrote 08/02/2018 at 17:44 point

Would it be possible to find a supplier for a laptop style low profile keyboard that can easily be interfaced?

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Justin Davis wrote 06/22/2018 at 14:52 point

Is there a problem with the 2M keyboard?  Is it uncomfortable/difficult to use?  It seems like a simpler solution than many tactile buttons.

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