Illustrated Kristina with an IBM Model M keyboard floating between her hands.

Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Pocket Cyberdeck

When you find something you love doing, you want to do it everywhere, all the time. Such is the case with [jefmer] and programming. The trouble is, there is not a single laptop or tablet out there that really deals well with direct sunlight. So, what’s a hacker to do during the day? Stay indoors and suffer?

Image by [jefmer] via Hackaday.IO
The answer is a project like Pocket Pad. This purpose-built PDA uses a Nice! Nano and a pair of two very low-power ST7302-driven monochrome displays. They have no backlight, but they update much faster than e-paper displays. According to [jefmer], the brighter the ambient light, the more readable the displays become. What more could you want? (Besides a backlight?)

The miniature PocketType 40% is a little small for touch typing, but facilitates thumbs well. [jefmer] added those nice vinyl transfer legends and sealed them with clear nail polish.

All of the software including the keyboard scanner is written in Espruino, which is an implementation of JavaScript that targets embedded devices. Since it’s an interpreted language, [jefmer] can both write and execute programs directly on the Pocket Pad, using the bottom screen for the REPL. I’d sure like to have one of these in my pocket!
Continue reading “Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Pocket Cyberdeck”

Unusual Port Combines DisplayPort And HDMI

Everyone knows you can’t plug an HDMI cable into a DisplayPort… port, and yet a recent video from [Jon Bringus] challenges that seemingly obvious assumption. The hardware in question is a variant of the 2013-era Xi3 X7A mini PC, code-named ‘Piston’ and also known as a ‘Steambox’, from back when that was still something that Valve was working on. Although the physical format here is definitely quaint, it might be implementing DisplayPort Dual-Mode (DP++), which was introduced around the same time.

With DP++ the DP port can detect when a DVI or HDMI adapter is connected and then transmit DVI/HDMI TMDS signals rather than DP signals. Since DP and HDMI/DVI use a different signaling scheme, normally an active adapter would be required. One disadvantage of DP++ is that the HDMI signal will be limited to e.g. 1920×1080 @ 120 Hz and 4K only at 30 Hz.

Normally a DP++ port is marked as such, and requires an adapter that works with the DP++ port. What Xi3 did in this case to make regular DP and HDMI connectors work seems to be somewhat of a mystery, with any information on this type of port being rather scarce. [Jon] thinks he may have found the part itself listed on Mouser, but isn’t completely sure.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and any information you have on this oddity in the comments.

Continue reading “Unusual Port Combines DisplayPort And HDMI”

Stressless Shortwave Reviewed

[Dan Robinson] picked up a shortwave receiver known as the “stressless” receiver kit. We aren’t sure if the stress is from building a more complicated kit or operating a more complicated receiver. Either way, it is an attractive kit that looks easy to build.

Presumably to reduce stress, the VFO and receiver boards are already built, so assembly is just a few hours connecting large components and boards. As kits go, this is a fairly simple one. We were surprised to read that the supplier says you can’t upgrade the firmware. We, of course, wonder if that’s true.

For technical specs, the receiver is AM only and can operate from 100 kHz to 30 MHz. It uses a double conversion with intermediate frequencies of 21.4 MHz and 455 kHz. There’s a BNC connector on the back, and the radio requires 11 to 15V on the input. Apparently, the frequency generator inside is an SI5351. The sensitivity and selectivity numbers look very good for an AM radio.

We were surprised to see the radio didn’t have provisions for SSB since AM-only makes it not as useful for hams or others interested in non-broadcast transmissions. If we are doing our conversions correctly, the kit is fairly pricey, too, especially considering that it is AM only.

Still, we like that you could easily assemble a nice-looking radio kit. We were interested in hearing it perform, and [Dan’s] video lets us virtually try it out without the effort. We’ve seen the SI5351 on a carrier if you want to roll your own. Come to think of it, we’ve seen several.

Continue reading “Stressless Shortwave Reviewed”