Having an open-source communication device that is independent of any network and works without fees sounds like a hacker’s dream come true. Well, this is exactly what [bobricius]’ is aiming at with his Armawatch and Armachat devices.
Recently, [bobricius] built a LoRa based instant messaging device named Armachat. The gadget is controlled by a SAMD21 MCU with native USB and includes a QWERTY keyboard and an LCD display. Communication is based on an RFM95 LoRa transceiver which can reach a range of up to 2 km under ideal conditions. [bobricius] is a wiz when it comes to PCB design and one thing that makes his projects look so good is how he often uses PCBs as enclosures.
Armachat came in two form factors a large desktop and a smaller pocket version. The new Armawatch is another downsized version that perfectly fits on your arm by using a smaller display and keyboard. [bobricius] also did a lot of work on the firmware which now features a message delivery confirmation and the possibility to automatically resend undelivered messages. Future improvements will include message encryption, a store-and-forward function, and GPS position parsing. [bobricius] is also working on completing his portfolio of communicators with a credit-card-sized version.
Enshrined in the hacker hall of fame, the IM-Me was an instant messaging toy that turned out to be extremely hackable. You could easily ditch its instant messaging platform to turn it into a little spectrum analyser. Of course what’s old is new again, and in this age where we no longer have the Nokia 3110, the Sidekick, or even Blackberries, how shall we get our fix of those wireless gadgets with physical keyboards?
There are two versions of the device for hand and pocket, both of which come with QWERTY keyboards made with momentary-action switches, 18650 cell power, and LCD screens. The idea is that it could form a robust communication system when many others have failed.
As it stands they have a simple text messaging app in the firmware, but there are other features yet to come. Perhaps the most interesting is a possible store-and-forward meshing system in the future, which would make this a powerful comms tool in so many circumstances. Both of [Bobricius’] devices can be seen in the video below the break — no word from him on the possibility of a pink case option. Meanwhile [Bobricius] has appeared on these pages many times before. With so many to choose from it’s hard to pick one, but his Nixie-like LED display is quite memorable.