A widescreen slate-style cyberdeck with a small keyboard sits in front of a cassette deck stereo. Headphones sit to the left of the deck and an old Casio calculator watch is to the right.

2022 Cyberdeck Contest: QAZ Personal Terminal

The slabtop form factor has had a resurgence in the cyberdeck community, and [Greg Leo] has designed the QAZ Personal Terminal to be about as small as a slabtop could be while still having full-sized keys.

Since the device is using a 35% QAZ keyboard as its primary input device, [Leo] has helpfully given a quick overview of how text is input in the video below. Coupled with that surprisingly popular 4:1 LCD screen we’ve seen elsewhere, this cyberdeck looks like a modern interpretation of a TRS-80 Model 100. The Banana Pi powering the QAZ Personal Terminal is running Debian with spectrwm, a tiling window manager making arranging windows a breeze with either a mouse or keyboard. The integrated mouse layer on the keyboard means you don’t need a separate mouse at all if you don’t want to spoil the 1980s mobile chic.

[Leo] has another video all about doing calculus on this cyberdeck with the math shortcuts integrated into the keyboard. Fractions, exponents, and common Greek letters are demonstrated. We can see this being a really great note-taking device for engineering and math courses if you wanted something more portable than a laptop.

It’s hard to get very far hacking without a little math. For more math-focused input devices, check out the Mathboard or the MCM/70.

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Custom Macro Pad Helps Deliver Winning Formulas

For those of us with science and engineering backgrounds, opening the character map or memorizing the Unicode shortcuts for various symbols is a tedious but familiar part of writing reports or presentations. [Magne Lauritzen] thought there had to be a better way and developed the Mathboard.

With more than 80 “of the most commonly used mathematical operators” and the entire Greek alphabet, the Mathboard could prove very useful to a wide number of disciplines. Hardware-wise, the Mathboard is a 4×4 macro pad, but the special sauce is in the key set implementation firmware. While the most straightforward approach would be to pick 16 or 32 symbols for the board, [Magne] felt that didn’t do the wide range of Unicode symbols justice. By implementing a system of columns and layers, he was able to get 6+ symbols per key, giving a much greater breadth of symbols than just 16 keys and a shift layer. The symbols with a dot next to them unlock variants of that symbol by double or triple-tapping the key. For instance, a lower or capital case of a Greek letter.

The Mathboard currently works in Microsoft Office’s equation editor and as a plain-text Unicode board. [Magne] is currently working on LaTeX support and hopes to add Open Office support in the future. This device was an honorable mention in our Odd Inputs and Peculiar Peripherals Contest. If you’d like to see another interesting math-themed board, check out the one on the MCM/70 from 1974.

Eureqa Discovers Equations

While “Software to discover equations and mathematical relationships in data” isn’t at the top of our christmas wish list, we have to admit that Eureqa is pretty cool. Developed at Cornell University, Eureqa uses machine learning algorithms to determine the underlying math behind data sets. It derived Newton’s second law of motion in a few hours on a standard desktop computer, which isn’t bad at all for a cold unfeeling robot mind. There probably aren’t many applications for this in most hacks, but what hacker wouldn’t want Sir Issac Newton’s brain in their toolbox? The software can be downloaded for free from their website.

[Via Wired]