DUO Portable: A Homebrew Computer With Keyboard And Display


[Jack] is famous ’round these parts for his modern reinterpretations of very early computers. He’s created a computer entirely out of logic chips, a microcontroller-powered multicore box, and even a very odd one-instruction computer. For his latest project, he’s stepped up his game and made something that’s actually fairly useful: a microcontroller-powered system with an integrated keyboard and display.

The DUO Portable, as [Jack] calls his new toy, is built around an ATMega1284P microcontroller. Also on this board is a serial EEPROM that acts as a very small drive, a 102×64 pixel graphic display, and enough tact switches to create a QWERTY keyboard.

The DUO Portable boots to a primitive operating system where files can be created, edited, and saved. The programming language for this computer  is called DCPL – the DUO Portable Command Language – and can be used to create anything from a simple ‘Hello World’ program to a block-building game.

Like all of [Jack]‘s homebrew computer projects, he’s written an emulator that can be run in a browser. There’s also video of [Jack] playing around with the DUO Portable available below.

If you’re wondering what music [Jack] is using for this video, I found it. It’s an Atari POKEY.


  1. Matt says:

    Quick one, it’s DPCL. If it was DCPL, it’d be one of those acronyms like php.

  2. truthspew says:

    I wonder how much this one will cost. I’ve got the DuoBASIC but would love to buiild this one too.

  3. Figureitout says:

    Damn, very cool. Lol’d at block-dude (TI-calc people will understand).

  4. fartface says:

    Utterly elegant PCB layout as well, I love it when someone hand routes a board instead of being lazy and use autoroute.

  5. bobfeg says:

    I’d add a Parallax Propeller to give me a capable sound chip and VGA/Composite
    video. You would still have processor cores left over for something else as well.

  6. RunnerPack says:

    Great build! The PCB even has a “vintage” feel to it (and I mean that in the best possible way :).

    Too bad there was only enough room for the Sinclair/Mac-esque single-row arrow keys… I guess with time and practice they’re probably okay, but I’ve been using an “inverted-T” for too long (and I’ve never been that good with my pinkies).

  7. Alan says:

    What a great design – the low complexity and long straight lines along with the full keyboard make it very aesthetically pleasing.

    We need to get this guy a 3D printer so he can print out a case and bring it with him on the go. It’s great because it’s already battery-powered.

  8. zuul says:

    pretty cool

  9. vu2aeo says:

    this is an amazing project!!!! super job!!!

  10. George Johnson says:

    looks a lot like the old Sinclair or Timex computers.

  11. Andy7 says:

    This IS lovely. I wonder if the design might be improved by having the screen in a central position?

  12. Very good but
    can you go on-line and view the hackaday.com web site with this computer?

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