Putting Linux on the Vtech InnoTab

The Vtech InnoTab is a child-sized tablet computer built for kids. Apart from being the ideal solution to keeping the grubby, sticky hands of nieces and nephews away from proper ‘adult sized’ tablets, it can also serve as a Linux tablet perfect for a few homebrew apps. [Mick] picked up an InnoTab for his son, but after getting BusyBox working, we’re thinking it has become a toy for the father and not the son.

[Mick] cracked open the InnoTab and soldered a few wires to a pair of pins that connect to a TTL level converter and then to a TV. There’s a full Linux shell running on [Mick]‘s new tablet, encouragement enough for him to start porting  ScummVM, the engine behind famous LucasArts point-and-click adventure games of the early 90s.

Right now, it’s still very much a work in progress, but [Mick] has full screen support and a virtual keyboard working; more than enough to enjoy Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max Hit the RoadAfter the break you can see the video of [Mick]‘s InnoTab running the much more child-friendly SCUMM adventure Putt Putt Goes to the Moon, something we’re sure his son will love.

Comments

  1. Lord_NT says:

    I searched and found more info about this article here.

    http://www.wizardmods.net/f446/vtech-innotab-hack-hacking-130417/

  2. David Anders says:

    Great start to hacking this device!

    [Mick] it would be great if you started a project page over on http://www.elinux.org . we already have a wide range of devices such as ones from LeapFrom and FisherPrice that have been documented there.

  3. Lars Friend says:

    I wonder what electrical interface the cartridge uses (and whether it could be abused to add peripherals to the bus like on many consoles).

  4. is0-mick says:

    What is it you want to know mate?

    They got the article wrong a little, basically the unit already runs linux and busybox. Just connect those two pins in my photograph to a ttl>rs232 converter and run up minicom or hyperterminal depending on your OS, settings are 115200,8,n,1 are the settings.

    Or

    If you just want to run your own code you can do the following.

    Download SQLLite manager extension for firefox, use it to open innotab.db which is on the SD card.

    Go to the “games” section, and create a duplicate entry of one that already exists..

    Change the filename on the new entry to something like /vp_mnt/sd/LLN/APPS/myapp

    create a folder called on the as card /LLN/APPS/myapp

    in that folder create a file called _Run
    and put shell commands in there :) and the innotab will execute them.

    for instance try ls -aR / >/vp_mnt/sd/LLN/APPS/myapp/dir.txt

    Mick

  5. justice099 says:

    This hardware is still a bit expensive for what it is, but I will be keeping my eyes on the bargain bins for one :)

  6. is0-mick says:

    I think vtech may also be in breach of GPL, as I can’t find any source code downloads for the device.

    There is a slight mention of it in the manual that you can download online, but the website pages they mention don’t exist on the Vtech site!

    Any one have any thought’s on that?

    Also if anyone want’s any more information on the hack, feel free to contact me on
    is0mick at yahoo.com

    Mick

  7. dr memals says:

    wow and here it is
    http://elinux.org/InnoTab

  8. prpplague says:

    info on adding an external 3.5mm uart to the InnoTab

    http://elinux.org/InnoTab_3.5mm_Uart

  9. David Anders says:

    info on adding an external 3.5mm uart connection is now up on the wiki:

    http://elinux.org/InnoTab_3.5mm_Uart

  10. is0-mick says:

    Looks like the innotab is Doomed!

    Would be a bit hard to control though..

    Mick

  11. is0-mick says:

    Doom, now with accelerometer support!!

    Not really suitable for 3yr olds though..

    Mick

  12. Mikey says:

    OMG, Mick, you have renewed my faith in this device. I bought 2 last Christmas, and was just talking to my wife about Craigslisting them. However, I see that the mod community has finally had some time with it and is starting to play!!! I hope that you keep it up, let me know if I can help!

  13. k3spice says:

    I have tried to compile multiple binaries for the Innotab, even a simple hello
    world C app and have had no luck getting them to launch on the innotab. I have
    it setup through SD and in the Database it’s set to launch ./testapp (testapp is
    the binary name) It says “Loading..” on the Innotab screen.

    What command line options did you guys use to compile doom and the emulator?

    I have tried armv6 using Yagato and GNU Tools ARM Embedded 4.6 2012q4

    Anything you can think of I am doing wrong? I would love to start porting things
    just need a kick in the right direction

    -Sitedude

  14. Ron M says:

    OMG someone please tell me how to get into it, I can only see two small screws one is for the lithium battery cover the other seems to open one side. The rubber corner covers seem to hold it together, do I have to force it apart at that point?
    It will not switch on, be it on the adaptor or batteries the screen flashes once then that’s it.
    I would like to see inside to see if it’s the on/off switch or the screen that’s failed!

    Ron M

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