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NP1: The Homebrewed, Linux Based Tablet

An Odroid C1 powered, Linux based, (somewhat) open source, fully featured tablet.

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About a year ago, my Samsung tablet was stolen. After living tablet free, I stumbled across information about the Raspberry Pi. That's when the idea hit me: although I've always been a tinkerer, I had no explicit electronics experience, but in the RPi, I saw the possibility of building my own tablet. So, I bought a RPi B+, and started hacking. Subsequently, I learned about the Odroid line of products, and have supplanted the B+ with an Odroid C1. I would've loved for this project to be comprised of 100% open source components, but that's prohibitive, as not even the RPi is totally open source. After a few hurdles, which I will get around to detailing, the project is rolling along nicely. I'll document the steps leading up to where I am, and where I go in the future.

One of the great aspects of this project is the degree of modularity -- since every piece of hardware involved is some sort of 'break out' unit, as things develop and improvements are released, individual components can be replaced. So, for instance, if/when Hard Kernel releases an updated version of the C1 (C2?), it can be easily slipped in, to upgrade the main unit in the tablet. It will be noticeably thicker than a normal tablet, but this benefit offsets any concerns I have about thickness.

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  • Getting There

    M4tt0ck10/11/2015 at 16:50 0 comments

    An update on this project is long overdue, but the good news is that there's not really a lot left to do! Everything is wired up and running fine on the hardware side of things, with the only two chores left to figure out are getting the capacitive touch feature of the screen to work, and to cut some holes in the case I've chosen to accommodate the screen and the various switches and ports required. On the software side of things, I decided to ditch Lubuntu in favor of Arch Linux, partly because I wanted to run XFCE, and also because I like the idea of a more ground up approach to my operating system.

    I'm honestly at a bit of a loss as to how to get the touch input working on the screen. It plugs in via USB, and when I run lsusb in the terminal, it recognizes it as being plugged in, but it doesn't recognize any touches. It shows up as an NTrig screen according to lsusb; I'm still exploring options as to how to get it to work. I don't know if I need to update the firmware on the screen (not something I've been able to find for that particular board on the manufacturer's website) or if I just need to recompile the kernel with altered options. When I plug the screen into my x86 devices (a Mac Pro and a laptop running Ubuntu) they both immediately work, so those are the only two options that I know of to try.

    As for the enclosure, that's just a matter of buying a router or a dremel with a blade, which I haven't done yet.

  • “The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.”

    M4tt0ck05/04/2015 at 20:12 0 comments

    After a small amount of soldering to convert the jack that the speakers natively used to a more standard, 1/8 inch jack, I now have sound working on the tablet! One major hurdle down. Check it out!



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Jordi Mora wrote 10/06/2015 at 23:21 point

What version of Chromium browser are you using? I can't find any good ARM build of the latest version. thks!

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M4tt0ck wrote 10/11/2015 at 16:51 point

I honestly don't have a clue what version I was using, as I don't have Chromium installed anymore. I was running graphically modified but otherwise stock version of Lubuntu downloaded from Hard Kernel at the time, but I've since switched to Arch Linux, and I haven't yet tried to install Chromium.

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jaromir.sukuba wrote 10/06/2015 at 21:32 point

Oh, I see you updated the components list, thanks. Is the odroid board modified, somehow? It seems to be relatively high. What is the overall thickness of the tablet?

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M4tt0ck wrote 10/06/2015 at 21:40 point

It is fairly thick. I'm not next to it right now, but I'd say it's ~1.75 inches thick. I could desolder a lot of the extraneous surface mount components to make it thinner, but I'm reluctant to do so for the sake of modularity and the ability to reuse the Odroid in a future project. I like the idea of being able to unplug it and drop in a future model to update it at some point. I really need to do a proper update with photos and what-not. There's really only two tasks to complete and the whole project will be finished.

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jaromir.sukuba wrote 10/06/2015 at 22:42 point

Yep, I understand. In fact, those universal Linux/Android boards are often too tall, so it is not suitable for integration in such as applications. I've seen application - I believe it was in one of Ben Heck videos - where raspberry pi was shaved off all tall connectors - USB ports, ethernet connector, HDMI, pinheaders etc. This way he could decrease the height to a few milimeters.

I'd love to see such as boards ready-to-go without heavy modifications, see me crying about it here http://hackaday.com/2015/10/02/a-third-scale-mini-powermac/#comment-2737670

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jaromir.sukuba wrote 09/22/2015 at 14:26 point

Any news about this project?

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M4tt0ck wrote 09/22/2015 at 18:54 point

Yeah! I need to make an update in the next few days. Undergrad work has been consuming my life for the past few weeks, but I should have some time to work on the project and post about it this weekend. Just to put an arbitrary number on my progress, I'd say I'm ~80% finished with it.

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jaromir.sukuba wrote 09/22/2015 at 21:52 point
Thumbs up! 80% sounds good ;-) Looking forward to see the progress.

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