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

Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The 200% Typewriter

Image by [jefmer] via Hackaday.IO
You know, the really sad truth about cyberdecks and cyberdeck-adjacent builds is that many of them just end up on the shelf, collecting dust while waiting for the dystopian future. Well, not this one. No, [jefmer] says their Portable Pi sees daily use, and even comes along on the go.

Since [jefmer] is “temperamentally unsuited to 3D printing”, the Pi 4B and its accessories are nestled in a rugged, splash-proof case under some acrylic sheets. One of those accessories, the keyboard, is a KPrepublic BM40 with Gateron Yellows. In order to get used to the number and symbols layer, [jefmer] laid down some great-looking labels above the keyboard.

Although the build started with an SD card for storage, [jefmer] has since upgraded to a 120 GB SSD. This required a beefy battery pack, but the difference is that it gets around four hours of power versus five hours when using an SD card.

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Altoids Tin Keyboard Is A Breath Of Fresh Air

Well, here’s a fresh idea! [flurpyflurples] is back from hiatus with the Mintboard, a 40% that fits inside of an Altoids tin. Who could ask for more than a rugged little Bluetooth keyboard with a built-in cover that fits in your pocket?

This build started with meticulously measuring the tin to figure out what kind of switches could be used. At first, this was going to be a 60% keyboard, but after a lot of design decisions and switch comparisons, [flurpyflurples] settled on a certain micro switch spaced at 7.3mm for a 40% layout. Then it was time to design a PCB.

Although [flurpyflurples] tends to use Arduino Pro Micros in their builds, they went with the Nice! Nano this time for the Bluetooth capabilities. This means that they had to program it with ZMK instead of QMK, but found that QMK knowledge transfers rather nicely.

Let’s talk about those lovely legends. The keycaps are 3D printed of course, and the legends were cut out on a Cricut machine. The best part is that sealant — [flurpyflurples] used a few drops of UV nail polish top coat and cured it with light.

We think this looks and sounds fantastic, and would really like to know how to get such clean cutouts. According to [flurpyflurples] and the end of the build/demo video you’ll find below the break, the action is a lot like a Blackberry keyboard.

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