BOOTLICKER

An e-Paper Screen Portable Terminal: The Kindleberry Pi

2018-05-16

I have been putting some effort into developing a portable device that I can use to replace my phone. My smart phone has many poor features:

  1. Poor battery life.
  2. Awful touch screen ‘soft’ keyboard
  3. Full of ‘Google Services’ CPU processes that the operating system requires to function.
  4. Poor cell data reception.
  5. Weak construction that is difficult to repair: I dropped it, and the glass screen smashed. The audio jack has also now failed, making it useless for listening to music.
  6. Illogical file system structure.

The phone does have some benefits -

  1. Its ability to act as a USB gateway makes it useful for internet in remote locations.
  2. It does possess a terminal emulator, making it great for interfacing with my VPS.
  3. The GPS module is very convenient for getting around new places.
  4. The front-facing camera is great for making vlogs because you get a live preview of the footage being filmed.

Overall, the issues of poor text input and lack of ability to hack the device push me towards finding a solution for portable computing. I also want to start using less HTTP and more of other protocols for my communication.

I believe there is a command line mastodon client, NNTP is a convenient text based communication protocol, and email has long used the command line.

The Kindleberry Pi

The Kindleberry Pi presents itself as an excellent candidate for replacing my phone. It is the combination of a Raspberry Pi ssh’ed into a jailbroken Amazon kindle. The combination of two low power computers and an e-paper screen makes for a device which is excellent on power performance.

The Raspberry Pi is also compatible with GPS modules, and one can combine the Kindleberry with a cell data router in order to allow you to use the net in public. As you can see below, the cell data router can be used to connect the Raspberry Pi and the Kindle together for the SSH session as well.

The Three Previous Kindleberry Builds

Here are the three previous separate attempts at the Kindleberry:

The First version

Second version, a wireless version

Third version, using the Zero W Raspberry Pi model

The Cigar Box and the Mechanical Keyboard

I will build the Kindleberry with a 40% mechanical keyboard. 40% sized keyboards are roughly 3 inches long, and this suits the combined length of the cigar box I will be fitting the entire project into.

The cigar box I have is 292mm wide, and 189mm long, across the lid. Any longer and wider out, and the components would be cutting into the housing of the box.

I will use a Kindle 3, AKA a Kindle Keyboard, because it is easy to jailbreak, and it has a 6 inch screen. That makes for a 120mm wide screen. The length, however, is 96mm. A 3 inch long mechanical keyboard is approximately 76.2mm long, so these two major components will definitely fit into this housing.

I want to have passthrough charging for this device, so I will find a board from Adafruit or somewhere which will allow this.