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Pocket Popcorn Computer: Linux in Your Pocket (popcorncomputer.com)
301 points by miles 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 151 comments

A similar device that exists, has a 'real' keyboard, 4G/Wifi/BLE and a metal clamshell case is the https://store.planetcom.co.uk/products/gemini-pda-1

I've been running Android on it, but it also runs Debian apparently very well.

400dpi screen, enough to have 2 / 3 consoles open at the same time. It's most definitely saved my bacon a few times.

That's cool, but it's also several hundred dollars more expensive. I feel like the $200US price point really brings thing like this down to another level. Not exactly 'disposable', but more like a small appliance rather than something you've got to really look after.

With obscure form factors, you’re lucky if anything fits your needs. I simply want a tablet with Linux pre-installed, I’d pay iPad price for one if it existed. Pine 64 is nice and I’ll probably buy a few when they come out to play with. But it’s too underpowered to be a daily driver.

This project, well I can’t imagine why they spent all that time cramming a keyboard into it.

I completely agree. I'll be jumping on the PineTab as soon as it's available, but I'd love to get one with >= 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB storage.

I think it's the LoRa version for $300 that is unique.

If you want a linux PC in your pocket, you can just install Debian on many Android phones.

I assume you mean via chroot on Android? I would argue that that is still inferior because it's using the Android kernel (which in many cases isn't going to get things like security patches) where this claims to ship with mainline support.

Two years ago I was looking for somoething highly portable with a physical keyboard. Found the Gemini on Indiegogo.

I backed it there, travelled for almost a year on a bicycle with the Gemini in a bag and it's still running.

The Debian distro has its issues, though...

I was really interested in that and so very nearly backed it but was wary of the software support. Can you elaborate on the Debian issues? Would you still recommend one? (I don't care about telephone features)

It's mostly minor things

+ settings for screen-lock-on-idle aren't saved - sometimes I want the screen to be always on, but it doesn't work

+ screen brightness goes to 100% every time you unlock the screen (and to lower it again, you have to increase it first)

+ and a few other things in that ballpark

Maybe they fixed it, but a while ago the whole update process broke because of a bad Open Office package. I'll switch to Android / Kali Linux (which wasn't supported in the beginning) soon.

EDIT: But yea, I would still recommend it if you want something super portable with an actual keyboard. I don't know if I would pay the retail price, though.

> + settings for screen-lock-on-idle aren't saved - sometimes I want the screen to be always on, but it doesn't work

Depends on the window manager/desktop environment you’re using, but there’s dozens of Gnome3 extensions that do exactly this. “Caffeine”, for example.

In other news, somebody is still running Open Office?

Thanks, very helpful. I'm going to keep my eyes open on ebay for one then, I could live with that level of issue.

Very reminiscent of the Psion.

Edit: no wonder, Martin Riddiford, who worked on Psion 5 Series worked on Gemini as well.

I have one. It is, indeed, like the Second Coming of the Psion 5 ... only it got released a bit too early: the Gemini feels a bit public beta to me.

I am eagerly awaiting the successor, the Cosmo Communicator (which is locked for shipping via Indiegogo: some are already trickling out). Faster, better, more refined by all accounts. But it's not a $200 toy, even at the early bird kickstarter price: all the smartphone features added overheads.

I have the GPD Pocket 1 for these purposes; it's fast, it runs Windows, Linux and Android. I run Linux (Ubuntu/i3) on it. It has phenomenal battery life and it's fast enough to do reasonable .NET Core development on in cramped spaces or when my laptop is empty.

I owned the Gemini as well, but, before it got stolen, I was going to sell it because Linux on that device did not really work for me while Android was not productive (for me).

Yeah, GPD's handheld PCs are IMO better than these ARM-based computers since they are (mostly) regular x86 PCs in tiny size and i can run my existing x86/x64 applications and games with them (of which i have thousands). Though when it comes to games i prefer the GPD Win.

Honestly every time i learn about any handheld computer or gaming device i do a quick comparison in my mind with GPD's computers and outside of price the latter pretty much always come out winners (largely because they have zero competition in the real-PC-in-your-pocket space).

Are there alternative companies to GPD with similar x86 platforms? They look pretty great, but like to shop around a bit

There are. Check out Liliputing[0] for example, to get an overview (No affiliation)

[0] https://liliputing.com/tag/mini-laptop

Perfect, thanks very much

How many hours is phenomenal?

Last I checked no 4g/SMS/calls with debian. Same old driver story of why we only have android phones and not Linux phones. Fixing that was/is the big promise of the librem 5.

Do you know how good the quality is when doing the phone calls?

Can it dual boot?

It can triple boot :)

Any of the following, if I'm not mistaken:

Android / Android rooted / Debian / Sailfish / Kali

Very tempting. Having it as an Android phone most of the time, but rebooting into Debian to mount other peoples' devices or do video out sounds like the kind of device that might finally make me switch from my iPhone 4S. I don't need the physical keyboard though, and I'd want a USB-A port and HDMI port instead of USB-C for everything. So perhaps there are other devices that might suit me better. Still, it looks very attractive. Kind of like the OQO Model 2 I used for a few months before it died on me.

>my iPhone 4S

That hasn't been secure to use on the internet in a long time.

It's certainly listed on that webpage as a feature.

I was eager to hear more about the Popcorn, but after reading the specs, it doesn't really meet my needs. However, if I can install Linux on the Gemini, that looks like a perfect fit! Thanks for reminding me of that.

I like the fact that it has an escape key.

Those are super, super cool, but try as I might I just can't justify one. But I'm glad they exist.

Their Cosmo follow up is just starting to ship, as well. Even nicer, though more pricey

Yeah, too pricey, otherwise I would've ordered one already. Maybe I'll be able to pick one up used in a year or two.

Cosmo doesn't support Linux at the moment. Otherwise would be a no-brainer for me.

I have one as well. Highly recommended - coupled with Termux and a VPN connection it has been a lifesaver for me as well.

I loved my PocketCHIP, right up to when the software stopped getting updates, and the company ghosted everyone with hundreds of waiting orders.

I still have it, but getting it working again is a couple weekend's of work. (Which makes me somewhat doubt the simultaneous claims of mainline Debian _and_ based on the same underlying hardware as the CHIP.)

I love the form factor that these kinds of computers present. However, the promise of a decent production line will always ring hollow. Many of these companies have popped out, had a small run, and vanished, leaving the customer with a paperweight or a security risk.

Upon seeing this project I immediately searched the HN thread for fellow PocketCHIP owners. Mine's still on my shelf next to a few other handheld Linux portables that showed promise, but ended up with poor support and no updates. The real clincher for me is eMMC storage - with no way to back up or modify the storage other than their web-based flasher, the CHIP was a headache and a half to deal with, compared to other microSD-card-based SBCs, which are simple to backup and restore when needed.

I'd love to have a device like this with the longevity of a Thinkpad (still using mine from 2012) or at least my Nexus 5 (2013, and still in use!) but it seems after a year or so these all just get abandoned.

Mine's lying half dead in my drawer. It needs to be reflashed. It really was exactly what I wanted - apart from the terrible support which turns it into a dreaded chore. I used it enough I had to repair the ctrl+shift keys (well, the caps) from clear overuse.

Though, one of these weekends I'll get around to using these [0][1] to make it work again.

The web-based flasher really was the pits to deal with (forced to flash via Chrome was such a terrible experience). Thank goodness someone got a hold of the actual flasher before it all went up in smoke.

[0] https://archive.org/details/C.h.i.p.FlashCollection

[1] https://github.com/SaltyCybernaut/PocketCHIP-flash-utils

The big problem with mainline support for the CHIP is that it uses raw flash directly connected to the SoC - and to make matters worse, on many boards that's MLC flash which is particularly nasty and is very firmly not supported by mainline Linux. This seems to dodge that problem by using eMMC with a built-in controller.

Not quite a pocket pc, but famously and recently, the librem 5[0]. My comment below wishing them luck hinted at this, it's almost expected for them to falter during delivery, ghost everyone and disappear because it has become a sadly familiar pattern around these open source electronics in small factor (phones, pocket pcs and the like).

[0] https://jaylittle.com/post/view/2019/10/the-sad-saga-of-puri...

HN comments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21369733

I bought a couple of these and installed nes and SNES emulators with a full library of roms for my nephews. They loved it.

Smartphones solved the portable monitor problem. What humanity needs now is a truly portable keyboard. Something that you can carry as easily as a smartphone and that lets you type as conveniently as on a good laptop keyboard.

Are there any promising attempts at this?

If you were talking about yourself only, I'd agree. But since you name humanity, one thing must be very clear: most people don't like keyboards. That's something that holds in "the developed world". Outside of the ASCII-world, that might be even more so.

Smartphone keyboards with glide typing function very well for language (i.e., no passwords and no programming). They have an important feature: they provide the input you want, not exactly characters for the keypresses you did.

If you consider the Chinese language, many people use the input either by drawing (elderly people) or with Pinyin, a phonetics script. In both cases there's a lot of software involved to figure out what people want.

The point is: programmers are a tiny minority who need exactly the characters for the keys they presses. Most other people just need text in their native language.

Google wrote about reaching "the next billion users": https://www.blog.google/technology/next-billion-users/next-b...

> Smartphone keyboards with glide typing function very well for language (i.e., no passwords and no programming). They have an important feature: they provide the input you want, not exactly characters for the keypresses you did.

If only. Because when people write nonsensical sentences and you ask what’s going on, the reply is usually "sorry, on mobile".

Indeed, I have been caught out so many times with the word I want initially appearing on screen, and then auto-"corrected" to something else when I input the next word and I am no longer looking.

First thing I do is disabling autocorrect. It introduces more errors than it fixes. Also it's changing a correct word in language A to another correct word in language B. But I need the language A word.

Not claiming it's foolproof, but after years of using GBoard, the multilingual keyboard mode now feels like it corrects far more than it corrupts. Or maybe I'm just too accustomed to it.

On the other hand you will never get my proper keyboard for work away from me.

Have you tried using the Google Keyboard on Android recently? It will distinguish between several languages.

I'm going to want a source on this claim.

While mobile keyboards are "alright" for messaging where you can get away with errors, they're not the kind of thing you want to be using for prolonged periods, ie. writing documents or long emails. They're slow, error prone, and tiring because of the unnatural thumb movements.

For any significant amount of typing and where accuracy is needed (a single letter wrong is more understandable than being replace with a similar dictionary word), keyboards are still preferred.

Have a look at the Google article. I presume they do some research when claiming that keyboards aren't what a significant portion of humankind needs.

But indeed not only programmers rely on keyboards.

> Smartphone keyboards with glide typing function very well for language

I have literally never been able to make those work acceptably well.

I have found the [iClever keyboard][1] to be a great portable solution while programming on my iPhone (via [Blink SSH][2] app)

[1]: https://www.iclever.com/products/BK05-Tri-Folding-Bluetooth-... [2]: http://www.blink.sh/

That's awesome, think I might get that and stash it in my car.

Now all I'd need is to figure out how I wanted access to my env. Eg, being able to ssh into a home machine and then work in emergencies seems valuable. But, that would involve exposing my machine. Hmm

I've used openVPN for this in the past. It's nice because you only have to secure one point of access, and than you have all of your local devices easily accessible. It also allows you to tunnel through your home if you're on an insecure network, which is nice

Yea I was thinking something like that. At first I thought SSH would be plenty secure on its own, but then I thought what if I'm devving and want to see the server page? Or maybe a DB hosted on the machine? Etc etc.

Though I think I'd use Wireguard, but still. Some type of easy to manage VPN, with a Dynamic IP domain thing.

Any recommendations on the dynamic domain? Self hosting something might be neat

I don't bother with dynamic DNS- my home IP has never changed, and if it does change- I don't host anything where some downtime would matter much.

But this site has been recommended to me before- https://freedns.afraid.org/

My concern with the IP changing is if I was on vacation and my IP changes, I'd have no clue how to get back to it.

I use a dynamic DNS service for safety, but my IP address has literally never changed yet.

What makes the (lack of a) dynamic DNS a safety issue?

By "safety" I mean the ability to reach my machines even if the external IP address changes.

This keyboard looks amazing. Thanks for sharing.

I’ve recently installed Codeserver on a digital ocean server - https://github.com/cdr/code-server

I do almost all of my programming on it now. I think if I upgrade my phone to a bigger screen then this keyboard could mean I ditch the laptop when I travel

The twiddler is a chording keyboard that leaves one hand free and with the strap, can be used while walking.


Nice - I like the idea of chording keyboards. Especially handheld.

> 200 bucks


Niche, somewhat complex to make, hardware product.

I still love my Thinkoutside keyboard https://www.cnet.com/reviews/think-outside-stowaway-universa... had it since my Nokia E61 and use it weekly. Only issue I've had so far has been that the photo support finally broke, other than that it works like new. Really great size to type on, decent travel and folds down to a great size.

Real shame they stopped making them ages ago.

I still have my Thinkoutside keyboard from the Dell Axim days as well. I’ve tried a few more recent folding keyboards, but nothing has met the rigidity, compactness, and key feel of that old thing. It was truly a magical product for its time.

Not as portable as you might like, but I carry a vortex core[0] with me to program on my phone. It weights around 440g and is very programmable.

[0]: http://www.vortexgear.tw/vortex2_2.asp?kind=47&kind2=224&kin...

These people know what they are doing. Even while optimizing for size, they kept the full set of control keys on both sides of the space key(s).

I just wish they offered bluetooth and AA batteries in these portable mechanical keyboards. The K380 is good for these reasons.

I am tired of having peripherals with built in proprietary batteries :(

I’ve been watching Tap a long time, but haven’t tried it yet. Previous HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11933956

I have a Tap keyboard. The mouse is phenomenal. The tapping keyboard takes some getting used to. With a full keyboard nearby, there's no justification for the cost in speed. But I'm working on a wearable computer now that I expect the Tap to be perfect for.

For a literal definition of promising Kickstarter is busy seperating fools from their money, most seem to falter at moving past the concept video stage though. Tap apparently nearly works: https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/3/8/17096786/ta...

Of course one of the big problems is that our portable monitors still need at least one of our finite set of hands, so it seems like we'll need AR/VR monitors before they become practical. But then if we have the free hands something more like a traditional keyboard would probably work.

The TextBlade from WayTools (https://waytools.com) looks promising but they never seem to ship anything. I've been waiting for most of a year.

Unless you are deGoogling.


Anyone interested in this might consider the GPD MicroPC. It has become my go-to "fits in a cargo pocket" computer.

They had a battery controller issue initially with the Indiegogo batch, but that has been solved on the ones you can get from Amazon now.

Was looking at these micro pc's and one of the more annoying things is that `|' is not in its usual location. I was hoping to install linux on one and having the pipe in a nonstandard place might take getting used to.

I feel the keyboard on these kind of computers in general need much work. They feel very low effort and look bad in comparison to many 90s palmtops.

What also bothers me is the high price of these kind of computers. While I am sure there are people who appreciate that kind of power, I rather have something much more low spec but at a massively reduced price. Having a command line and simple tools for writing/coding does not need much horse power and a sub $200 would be much easier to justify on a second or third computer as $500+

I have a GPD Pocket. The keyboard does take some getting used to. More problematically it's essentially unusable if you have chunky fingers due to the small key size. It's fine for me, but about 1 in 3 of my male friends really struggle with it.

It's perfect for travelling for me. I just wish it was slightly speedier and that it had a better trackpoint (which later models have sadly removed entirely).

The GPD win2 looks quite fun, if you're into that sort of thing. Looks like the same sort of keyboard as the Nokia n900.

I have an issue with the ";" key not being in the correct location. I type dvorak, and that's my "s" key.

USB-C headphones? Why not throw in a real 3.5 mm port? For me it's not just about having to use a dongle: USB-C doesn't provide a reliable enough connection for a wearable device.

Keeping component count low? To do a 3.5mm jack you have to include a DAC of some sort. USB-C headphones come with their own.

Typically, USB-C headphones don't have a DAC, they just pass analog audio through the USB-C connector.

That depends a lot on the headphones and phone you're using there's annoyingly no real way to know exactly what usb-c audio method your phone and headphones are using and there are some annoying incompatibilities.

Either way they can use the USB-C jack to send digital data to headphones and cheaper ones just won't work because they're built for the analog passthrough version of usb-c audio.

Yeah for me this instantly kills any possibility of seriously considering buying one.

I've acquired a Hyperkeyboardpi[0] kit, not yet built. But essentially its a keyboard add on for a raspberry pi which when paired with a Hyperpixel 4.0 touchscreen from Pimoroni makes a little handheld terminal. It's designed for a Pi 3 but I'm trying a Pi 4. I'll see how I get on. The keyboard kit is only available in Japan but there are shipping companies that will forward it for you.

[0] https://www.telnet.jp/~mia/sb/log/eid317.html

[1] https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/hyperpixel-4?variant=1256...

This looks quite nice. Are you outside of Japan? If so how did you acquire the kit?

In the UK. I got a friend to fetch one and bring it back.

Something I'm interested in is a knock-about computer for child with a text editor and a programming language. Robust enough to put in a pocket. A hinge, or larger machine, or something more expensive, would be too risky. A Raspberry Pi is great and cheap but a bit fiddly.

Of course the 'computer' experience should be more diverse thant this, but having a dedicated machine feels like the equivalent of having book without distractions.

When I was a child I had a second-hand BBC Micro for distraction-free programming. We had a Mac for other fun stuff, but I kept coming back to the BBC. I'd love to be able to provide that experience.

The keyboard looks unsuitable for programming (even though it has the squishy lineage of the ZX Spectrum), but I'm very tempted.

I also desire the ideal of education for children, so am perhaps biased, but genuinely I believe it is an underserved market. Look at the cash flowing at Makeblock and similar startups. It's definitely something that could work, if the ecosystem / materials are substantial enough. Consider BASIC era: C64, etc. It's workable. There will always be a need for low level comprehension. ASM is a thought process, not a skill per se. Co-develop an oldies interface as a replacement for Sodoku, with Zachtronics to broaden the market. AFAIK this would really gel with: eg. Jaron Lanier, Alak Kay.

If there’s any object in human experience that’s a precedent for what a computer should be like, it’s a musical instrument: a device where you can explore a huge range of possibilities through an interface that connects your mind and your body, allowing you to be emotionally authentic and expressive. - Jaron Lanier

Inverse vandalism: Making things just because you can. - Alan Kay

Adults think that the best thing you can do for a child is to turn the child out like them. Think about that, that's got to be one of the dumbest ideas ever. - Alan Kay

By far the best way to invent a healthy future is to invent the children who will invent it. - Alan Kay

I made up these slogans because I discovered most adults couldn't deal with paragraphs. - Alan Kay

... from https://github.com/globalcitizen/taoup

These quotes are gold. Thank you!

Can this or any similar device also be used as an external monitor? I built a new home server the other day, and as I didn't want to lug around a 40" desktop monitor to the small nook at the other end of the house, I ended up using an old 480p projector as a screen, despite having so many laptops, phones, tablets etc lying around with perfectly fine screens (with built in battery power to boot!). Is this not a feature anyone else would like? I've been looking at portable screens, and they're starting to appear (Asus Zenscreen), but I just wish I could jack into the screen of another device temporarily at times.

Cool device, and would be even cooler if I could use just the monitor on it.

Why cant you remote login to the server? From your phone?

At first you need to get far enough that you have an sshd running. Down the line you might need to make BIOS changes, fiddle with the storage controller card, or unbork GRUB.

99% of the time remote is fine though, which again is why it's stashed away in a nook at the other end of the house.

Gotta be honest, wish they had stuck with the clamshell design, this will not fit in my pocket, and if it doesn’t then what’s the point I could just carry another device then.

Is there any history of the product development?

This is very close to the netbook product category, such as the Eee PC by Asus or the Lenovo IdeaPad S10 or similar. Slightly larger than that popcorn thingy, but still very portable and could actually fit a larger pocket. I still own my IdeaPad S10 from 2008 and it runs just fine.

Why not Pyra? https://www.dragonbox.de/en/pyra

I've been waiting years but you new to the queue have less wait, preorder now!

As for Gemini PDA, err.. battery life, and US keyboard mapping :-(

Is 'US keyboard mapping' a different thing to a US English keyboard layout? The webpage offers the latter.

Yeah it comes with a ton of different keyboard layouts.

I like the idea of these tiny computers, but really anything with a blackberry-style thumb keyboard is just a non-starter for me. It looks cool, but if I sit and think about actually using it for even a second I know I wouldn't like it. It's a shame I don't see more of these kinds of products that utilize a foldout keyboard like the thinkpad 701C and instead roll with the thumb keyboard, but then again maybe the moving parts of having the pop-out bits is failure-prone and not worth doing either.

I personally miss the slide-out keyboard of my old G1 phone (that, and the trackball).

While technically still a "thumb keyboard" - which you probably wouldn't like - it was still wide enough to not make my thumbs cramp while composing emails and text messages, which I find anything narrower to do to me.

Plus - it was easy to access when you needed it - then slide it back, and there's your phone again.

Anyone else getting TRS80 Model 100 vibes from those renders?

That was my first thought. Followed by this is a smaller Pi-Top


Looking at the rest of the landscape, I wish them luck.

Yeah. Same sentiment.

If I wanted to buy a hackable mobile Linux device, I don't see why I would buy this instead of a PineBook Pro (when it comes out).

I would really hate typing on a silicone keyboard.

The pinebook is a laptop with a 14" screen, this is aiming to be far more portable with a 4.5" screen (can we even get phones that size anymore?), so they're not really in the same category. It's competitors are more like the GPD pocket (https://www.gpd.hk/gpdpocket2) which I've been umming and ahhing over getting for a while as a machine I can do some coding on while commuting or laying in bed.

The silicon keyboard probably allows it to be smaller without fat fingers becoming an issue and this looks like a better form factor for my usage than the clam shell of the gdp. My big issue would be whether or not it allows for multiple keys to be pressed at once.

I agree about the silicone keyboard.

I can understand many mechanical keys types will not be feasible in a small form factor. But there are good mechanical key designs that are small to choose from. For example, the ones on HP calculators (ie HP48GX...) The DM42 (a modern HP42S clone) has nice mechanical keys.


This is really cool. I'm building a linux machine myself, but it's a hacky one. Like most people I'm using a raspberry pi with a touch screen and power bank to power the screen and the raspberry, all in a 3D printed case. I'd like like to see picture of the final product, so I can check out the quality.

They don't say who makes the SOC, just "1.2 GHz Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU", which is a lot higher spec than the GR8[1] used in the prototype. This has implications for mainline kernel support etc.

[1] http://linux-sunxi.org/GR8

Sounds like Allwinner: "Our tools will allow you to flash, backup and clone any Allwinner-based device including but not limited to C.H.I.P., C.H.I.P. Pro, PocketC.H.I.P., Popcorn Computer, Kettlepop and various Banana Pi or Orange Pi devices" [0]

So, maybe something like the Allwinner H5?

[0] https://community.popcorncomputer.com/t/popcorn-web-tools/10...

Wouldn't that most likely be the Snapdragon 410?

My pockets are already full, but I'm still interested in adding new features. Video and mains power are my current challenge, and I'd like to know more about whether the Kettlepop module inside the Pocket Popcorn computer has HDMI or VGA support. Right now this is what I carry.

Right belt clip (from a scrapyard, looks like it was designed for the Nokia 3650):

1. Third Rail smart battery, integrates well with my iPhone 4S case and has microUSB out for other devices.

2. microUSB male to USB male, 3D rotating adaptor wire.

3. Thin microUSB male to USB female, to get power out of the Third Rail.

4. MicroUSB female to Mini USB male.

5. MicroUSB female to USB C male.

6. MicroUSB female to iPod dock connector male.

7. Lightning female to microUSB male.

8. Dock connector female to Lightning male (Apple OEM because smaller ones stopped working after iOS 8).

9. Kokkia i10s Dock male to Bluetooth, with track info and controls.

10. USB C male to HDMI female.

11. Headphones.

12. Bluetooth remote and FM radio with headphone port (Sony Ericsson MW600).

13. Triple retractable chopsticks (I use these more than you'd think!)

14. Mini pen (Zebra T-3)

Left belt clip (Speck Canvas sport):

15. iPod Video 5.5G, with DIY Converse sticker on the clickwheel.

16. Victorinox SwissCard (the scissors are so useful, though the knife was confiscated in Kuala Lumpur airport while transiting before).

I changed the iPod's hard drive for a Kingspec 128GB SSD, which gave me a lot of internal physical space. That's where I put the Linux computer, and more.

17. Toothpick (for lifting the iPod battery connector, fixing lost screws in friends' glasses, etc)

18. SD female to microSD male x2

19. 512GB SD with a backup of my laptop

20. PQI Air Card (shares SD over WiFi to my phone, so I can read camera cards).

21. MiniDP to HDMI adaptor (with the plastic case removed to make it smaller).

22. EspUSB Tiny WiFi keyboard that fits inside a USB port (please message me if you want to talk about manufacturing these)

23. CoreWind WiFi G25. The Linux computer! It has WiFi, USB host, and can install imobiledevice and mtp-tools to mount phones.

"Technical difficulties" that I can solve:

a. Eating (13)

b. Writing (14)

c. Opening envelopes (16)

d. Listening to music (15 + 11)

e. Charging your phone (1 + 3 + 2 + 4/5/6/6+8)

f. Mac to HDMI (10 or 21)

g. Copying your files from a computer (iPod as a USB disk, 15 + 2 + 6).

h. Having a backup of my files if my bag (with both my laptop and external drive) gets stolen (19)

i. Using an iPhone as a wireless microphone (audioGraph software for iPhone mic -> line out, then 9 to 12 to audio line in)

j. Using iPhone as a clicker, mouse, or Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Arabic/Russian/Thai keyboard on a computer without the engravings (22)

k. Copying files from USB to WiFi (23 + 1 + 3 + 2)

l. Copying files from SD card to WiFi (18 to 20 to 18 to 23, and 1 + 3 + 2 for power)

What I can't do:

m. Mac to VGA (this was a problem at a church in Taiwan)

n. iPad Lightning to VGA (this was a problem at a church in Switzerland)

o. WiFi to VGA (might solve m + n). Raspberry Pi Zero W can be configured to use AirPlay, and can do VGA over GPIO. EspVGAX is also interesting, but I'd have to paste text into the browser for every slide.

p. WiFi to HDMI (maybe with the OrangePi Zero 2 mini, which also adds Ethernet)

q. Mains and/or 12V charging (plugs are just too big though)

Not to pry but I would love to see an image of the belt with all of these items contained inside. Is it not utterly uncomfortable to walk around with all this equipment on your waist?

Pictures are on my Google Drive. It's not uncomfortable at all; actually the full kit is pretty small.


Could we by any chance see a photo of it on your person? I'm really intrigued with how it fits around your waist (I assume that's where you keep it).

OK, I added another photo, cropped out of a group picture. I can't emphasise enough that compared to an iPhone X belt clip holder, these are small. Yes, I have two, but they balance out, and if I have my hands in my pockets, I can physically touch everything to make sure it's still there.

Hmm, it actually doesn't look as bulky as I thought it would. Thanks for uploading the pics, bud!

I'm imagining all this stuff on a single belt like you're some kind of nerd-Batman!

What do you mean with "p. WiFi to HDMI"?

It is all in my pocket/belt clips! Most of the adaptors are really tiny and plug into each other (2+3+4+5, 6+7+8+9, 15+17+18+19+20+21+22+23).

p. WiFi to HDMI would be something like a Mirascreen/Chromecast dongle. Anything that supports AirPlay so that it will work with Apple devices. The Egoman DT302 uses the same chip as the Raspberry Pi (BCM2835) and has USB host, but is a bit long to fit inside the iPod. If I could find something similar with the dimensions of the Corewind WiFi G25 (50 x 30 mm) then that would be perfect.

We must get pictures! You could probably do a Show HN post.

I'd like to do a Show HN post, but I once made a web page with referral links to buy all these gadgets, and it never really got traction before the web host (rhcloud) closed down/removed their free tier. It's also still a work in progress, and I keep trying to find ways to squeeze in more. If I could get some short SD female sockets like on the original Raspberry Pi, I can free up a few more mm.


I recognize an eTrex case! :-)

Interesting, you use the inside of your iPod to store physical stuff as well.

You're right, maybe it's from an eTrex not a Nokia 3650! I found it in a scrapyard, and like it because of the metal clip. I had a few different ones before with plastic clips, but they broke eventually.

More details would be awesome. Maybe a post somewhere (github?) with pictures and ideas of what you can do with all of this stuff?

Many of the ideas are listed in the post above :). Pictures are here:


Have you considered getting a cheap tiny HDMI -> VGA adapter? This with an iPad Lightning to HDMI adapter would allow you to solve (m) and (n).

Yes, I have an HDMI to VGA adaptor in my backpack, but it doesn't fit in my pockets. See the photos to get an idea about the size limit. It also needs external power, so I'd need to carry a barrel jack to USB wire too.

I wish I could fit a Lightning to HDMI adaptor, but it's physically huge compared to the other adaptors, and I wonder whether Apple's likely to change to USB-C on future iPhones and iPads. Therefore I feel like WiFi is a more universal data source. Latency is slow, but that's not a problem for PPT slides.

I'm really sad to see the GR8 gone from the world.

A while ago I was building some cool products designed around it. It was just so neat and did all the tedious, not-fun things of board design.

Maybe I overlooked it, but I didn't see any dimensions. Anybody know the expected length/width?

It has 'a 4.95" 1080p LCD display' and it looks about 1.8x wider and maybe 1.2x as long, so... roughly 5" square?

Does anyone know the effective speed of the USB ports? Could they carry an SSD's output?

I've had a Sharp Zaurus C760 running Linux; beautiful machine. This reminds me of it.

Trying not to be ignorant here, but what is the use case?

Are there no Linux tablets (with a keyboard)? It kind of looks as though you would use this if you are a very tech savvy electrician...

To extended it further, what is the business case here?

Without a business case to service, would someone buy this only for the Company to be dead or to abandon the product?

The $300 LoRa model is what takes it from meh, to kinda cool, maybe even worth it for me. Might even be useful for high-end 'pager' or data capture apps perhaps.

I don't see this succeeding.

Silicon keyboard will be a pain to use.

Case is too bulky to carry on person.

LORA/GNSS seems like a solution looking for a problem.

Screen is too small for dev work.

This doesn't manage to sit comfortably in any of the popular portable computer categories and I don't really see a niche for it.

I've got a keyboard much like that one, and I thought it would be a pain for anything beyond simple character presses, but surprisingly it isn't that bad.

However I don't see it succeeding either simply on the price. It's too high for the specs. I wouldn't do that for anything less than 4 GB ram.

Screen is too small for dev work.

I use Termux on my phone with a bluetooth keyboard occasionally and it works really well for light dev work. I wouldn't want to work in it all day, but if you're just hacking a shell script or some nodejs stuff you don't need a massive monitor.

Termux with tmux and mosh to connect to a VPS can turn my phone into a valid substitute for most of my work

When I see such a device, I always wonder if it can work w/o battery using AC adapter.

Still waiting on several vaporware pocket computers. I'll add this to the list.

I recall some raspberry case projects that would be similar, imho.

I would prefer a bigger screen instead of a physical keyboard.

Wouldn't that just be a tablet?

The PINE64 projects has also a phone and a tablet coming iirc.

not even one prototype picture :/ yeah ....

what does this do that a smartphone doesn't? If anything, is it too niche?

Really can't see this taking off.

Not spy on your sexy time texts to your wife and recommend you buy condoms is a killer feature I could get behind.

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