Nestled in a custom laser-cut housing is a touch screen LCD module that connects directly to the GPIO header of a Pi Zero. Combined with some Python code, this provides a very slick multipurpose interface for pretty much anything [Ryan] wants. Right now he’s got it hooked up to a GPS receiver so he can figure out things like speed and acceleration, but the only real limit on what this little drop-in upgrade can do is how much code you want to sit down and write.
[Ryan] says he’s also working on some code to better integrate the Pi into the vehicle’s systems by way of a Bluetooth OBD2 adapter. In the most basic application that would allow you to throw various bits of engine data up on the screen, but on more modern cars, you could potentially tap into the CAN bus and bend it to your will.
While the physical size and shape of this particular modification is clearly focused on this model and year of BMW, the general concepts could be applied to any car on the road. [Ryan] has recently started a GitHub repository for the project and hopes to connect with others who are interested in adding a little modern complexity convenience to their classic rides.
With many folks continuing to work from home for far longer than they ever thought, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing the rise of small DIY devices to make that video call or virtual presentation a little easier. [Dustin Watts] was interested in the functionality of the Elgato Stream Deck — a macro keyboard where each key is its own screen. But that kind of fancy hardware comes with a formidable price tag. So he built his own, and made it open source!
His first iteration — FreeTouchDeck — was built using commonly available modules but has since evolved into the ESP32 Touchdown which does it all with a single PCB. It’s a highly-customizable touchscreen macro keyboard which provide easy access shortcuts and macros for quick actions. Need a quick mute button, want to switch camera views on OBS, or maybe you want smarter shortcut keys for your CAD of choice. This will can get you there.
There a few key differences from the first version (FreeTouchDeck). The ESP32 dev board was ditched for a tidy PCB the directly integrates the module. This one has a capacitive touch controller (FT6236) rather than a resistive one as the capacitive screens deliver a far nicer user experience. A built-in battery and charger circuit (which the FreeTouchDesk didn’t have) allows for the extra bit of flexibility to stream from anywhere (within wireless range of course). Multiple case designs are available in STL form that allows it to be placed on a wall or desk with ease.
Datasheets, gerbers, kicad files, BOMs, and example firmware is provided on GitHub. The software is easily configurable so it can be set up to do any sort of macro, key combination, or action. This isn’t just limited to emulating a Bluetooth keyboard as there are examples showing how to connect to Home Assistant. All in all, this is a wonderful example of continued iteration on a project.
The idea of a reconfigurable macro keyboard is a concept that has been iterated on by many all the way from custom DIY keypads to the polarizing TouchBar on MacBooks. The continual rise of cheap powerful microcontrollers with Wi-Fi and 3D printers makes rolling your own macro keyboard easier every year. [Dustin Watts] has joined the proverbial club and built a beautiful macro pad called FreeTouchDeck.
We’ve seen macro keyboards that use rotary encoders to cycle through different mappings for the keys. FreeTouchDeck has taken the display approach and incorporates a touch screen to offer different buttons. [Dustin] was inspired by a similar project called FreeDeck, which offers six buttons each with a small screen. FreeTouchDeck is powered by an ESP32 and drives an ILI9488 touch screen with an XPT2046 touch controller. This means that FreeTouchDeck can offer six buttons with submenus and all sorts of bells and whistles. A connection to the computer is done by emulating a Bluetooth keyboard. By adding a configuration mode that starts a web server, FreeTouchDeck allows easy customization on the fly.
This might seem like a tall order, but he wasn’t starting from zero. It was already known that you could plug an external display into it if you used a USB to DVI/HDMI adapter; but without the touch overlay it wasn’t a particularly useful trick. He pondered adding an external connector for the device’s built-in touch screen overlay, but that broke his no modifications rule. Considering how much one of these things cost, we can’t blame him for not wanting to put a hole in the side.
So he started to look for a software solution to get him the rest of the way. Luckily the MODX runs Linux, and Yamaha has made good on their GPL responsibilities and released the source code for anyone who’s interested. While poking around, he figured out that the device uses tslib to talk to the touch screen, which [sn00zerman] had worked with on previous projects. He realized that the solution might be as simple as finding a USB touch screen controller that’s compatible with the version of tslib running on the MODX.
In the end, a trip through his parts bin uncovered a stand-alone touch screen controller that he knew from experience would work with the library. Sure enough, when plugged into the MODX, the OS accepted it as an input device. With the addition of a USB hub, he was able to combine this with an existing display and finally have a more comfortable user-interface for his synthesizer.
We know the classic Mac fans in the audience won’t be happy about this one, but the final results are simply too clean to ignore. With a laser-cut adapter and a little custom wiring, [Travis DeRose] has come up with a repeatable way to modernize a Compact Macintosh (Plus, SE, etc) by swapping out all of its internals for an iPad mini.
He goes over the whole process in the video after the break, while being kind enough to spare our sensitive eyes from having to see the Mac’s enclosure stripped of its original electronics. We’ll just pretend hope that the computer was so damaged that repair simply wasn’t an option.
Anyway, with a hollow Mac in your possession, you can install the adapter that allows the iPad to get bolted in place of the original CRT monitor. You won’t be able to hit the Home button anymore, but otherwise it’s a very nice fit.
Those with some first hand iPad experience might be wondering how you wake the tablet up once the Mac is all buttoned back up. That’s an excellent question, and one that [Travis] wrestled with for awhile. In the end he came up with a very clever solution: he cuts into a charging cable and splices in a normally-closed momentary push button. Pushing the button essentially “unplugs” the iPad for a second, which just so happens to wake it up. It’s an elegant solution that keeps you from having to make any modifications to that expensive piece of Apple hardware.
If there’s one thing we’re not thrilled with, it’s the empty holes left behind where the ports, switches, and floppy drive were removed. As we’ve seen in the past, you can simply cut the ports off of a motherboard and glue them in place to make one of these conversions look a little more convincing. If you’re going to do it, might as well go all the way.
Inspired by films such as The Matrix, where hackers are surrounded by displays and keyboards on articulated arms, [Jay Doscher] created this cyberpunk “floating” terminal so your favorite Linux single board computer is always close at hand. Do you actually need such a thing mounted to the wall next to the workbench? Probably not. But when has that ever stopped a Hackaday reader?
[Jay] has come up with a modular design for the “A.R.M. Terminal” that allows the user to easily augment it with additional hardware. The 3D printed frame of the terminal has hardpoints to bolt on new modules, which thanks to threaded metal inserts, will have no problem surviving multiple configurations.
This initial version features a panel on the left side that holds various buttons and switches attached to the Pi’s GPIO pins. With a bit of code, it’s easy to pick up the status of these controls and use them to fire off whatever tasks your imagination can come up with. On the bottom [Jay] has mounted a stand-alone VFD audio spectrum display that’s hooked up to the Pi’s 3.5 mm jack. It’s totally unnecessary and costs as much as the Raspberry Pi itself, but it sure is pretty.
If there’s a downside to the design, it’s that the only display currently supported is the official Raspberry Pi touchscreen which is only 800×480 and a bit pricey compared to more modern panels. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for the standardized bolt pattern on the back of the official screen; so if you want to use a higher resolution display, be prepared to design your own mounting bracket. Extra points if you share your changes with the rest of the class.
For anyone who likes the look of the A.R.M. Terminal but isn’t too keen on being tethered to the wall, you’re in luck. [Jay] previously created the Raspberry Pi Recovery Kit which shares many of the same design principles but puts them into a ruggedized case that’s ready for life in the field.
Today, computers are separated into basically two categories: desktops and laptops. But back in the early 1980s, when this ideological line in the sand was still a bit blurry, consumer’s had a third choice. Known as “portable computers” at the time, and often lovingly referred to as luggables by modern collectors, these machines were technically small enough to take with you on a plane or in the car.
In the video after the break, [Dave] walks us through some of the highlights of his luggable build, such as the fold-down mechanical keyboard, gloriously clunky mechanical power switches, and the integrated touch screen. We also really like the side-mounted touch pad, which actually looks perfectly usable given the largely keyboard driven software environment [Dave] has going on the internal Raspberry Pi 4. With a removable 30,000 mAh battery pack slotted into the back of the machine, he’ll have plenty of juice for his faux-retro adventures.
[Dave] mentions that eventually he’s looking to add support for “cartridges” which will allow the user to easily slot in new hardware that connects to the Pi’s GPIO pins. This would allow for a lot of interesting expansion possibilities, and fits in perfectly with the Reviiser’s vintage aesthetic. It would also go a long way towards justifying the considerable bulk of the machine; perhaps even ushering in a revival of sorts for the luggable computer thanks to hardware hackers who want a mobile workstation with all the bells and whistles.