Here is a Gross Guide to Build DIY UMPC/PDA With Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone and Install Your Favourite Real Time OS or Desktop OS or Embedded Linux. It is a gross guide, not a step by step guide. As we pointed out before on another article listing Raspberry Pi alternatives – not all of these Single-Board Computers are Libre Hardware, neither Raspberry Pi is cheapest now. We use the phrase Raspberry Pi to indicate the small Single-Board Computer segment. BeagleBone is Free Software Foundation listed Libre Hardware with some issues. Also Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS etc are not Libre Software. You should understand you need, capability and current possibilities of 100% Libre Software-Libre combination. If you use plain Raspberry Pi with their OS, it is just easy but that is not 100% Libre Software-Libre combination. First, Ben NanoNote exists :
Second, there is Pyra :
Last, we are not talking about them because we are building our own.
Porting Stolen Idea to DIY UMPC/PDA With Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone
Psion Series 5 almost a standard from PDA era. Commercial PDA and UMPC segment almost died now out of tablets, smartphones. Psion Series 5 was correct for the users who needed advanced usage, so were many HP to Nokia devices. Here is a nice list with images of them :
With time, 4G/LTE almost blasted wired internet, 5G is knocking the door. With the comeback of Single-Board Computers as Raspberry Pi to whatever, a QWERTY keyboard, a touchpad like device to control mouse pointer if needed, a display and battery completes the goal within $200 budget. In this situation, using a Libre Software with text-based user interface should serve the best possible purpose for office, SSH to day to day works. Sadly there is no GNU/Linux distro which has text-based User Interface (TUI) as default OS desktop window management. That is the funny reason we need to use full command line interface on SSH. The operating systems which had such full TUI were not Libre Software or no way possible to use on modern ARM systems. But there is a package named Twin for TUI :
Installing the server OS on Single-Board Computer and attaching the display-keyboard to work with a KVM switch should be the easiest way to restrict resources and battery. But sadly such easy way does not exist. Because without Libre Hardware, Libre Software you can not expect source code. For that reason we have guides like how to develop TUI applications. There are embedded GNU/Linux which are Libre Software :
There are extensive guides on the web for installing embedded GNU/Linux on these single-board computers :
In the same way there is Real Time GNU/Linux OS, which is Libre Software. We have to make the thing like Psion Series 5’s interface. Anyone can add those keyboard, display and run Raspberry Pi. You’ll get such on Adafruit like websites.
Building the Chassis of DIY UMPC/PDA With Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone
We have an extensive guide on building DIY enclosure for Arduino. In that guide we have talked about how to use wood to aluminium to build enclosure. In our this DIY UMPC/PDA with Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone etc board project, the basic thing is same. Two 2.5″ hard drive enclosures with hinge will make a new box – one is for the board, keyboard and touchpad one is for display and battery. You have cut the areas for keyboard, display, ports etc. For such easy
List of stuffs to buy:
- Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone or other single-board computer
- Three Female USB ports with wire end
- One Ethernet port with wire end
- Full QWERTY keyboard
- 3.5″ display with 480×320 16-bit color pixels
- 1000mAh battery and charger circuit
- Case – two 2.5″ hard drive enclosures
- A/V out with wire end
- Mini qwerty keyboard for raspberry pi
- Mini Metal Speaker w/ Wires – 8 ohm 0.5W (optional)
Joining them, cutting them demands skill and practical idea. Obviously if you use your 3D printer or any 3D printing service, you can make thing exactly like Psion Series 5. I think this a good guide :
I know what you’ll dislike! With the heading DIY UMPC/PDA with Raspberry Pi, pathetic, I am offering finishing with two plastic 2.5″ hard drive enclosures. First build the thing. As long Sony, Apple, HP does not sell ONLY the UMPC/PDA casing, good finishing means you have to find some article like this :
to get some idea of near perfect 3.5″ aluminium hard drive enclosure with lid system. Perform web search with phrases like –
aluminium wallet for banknotes, mini aluminium briefcase, mini aluminium suitcase, aluminium casting service, Aluminium Alloy Case Enclosure Box for Raspberry PI, iPad notebook with keyboard etc on Google images to get idea.
Here is one made with wood :
Making mini laptop like aluminium box is not big matter. The hinge assembly is difficult to make without good moulding. If you think like Apple, you can cut the boom part of aluminium credit card hold like thing screw fix with slightly bigger sized aluminium box. If the prototype with plastic is made, it is fully DIY work.
Obviously you can use a rubber gasket for fitting the display. That is the reason I gave you that guide on building DIY enclosure for Arduino link. Pelican 1200 case is infamous for testing anything.
Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone are for prototyping. They will be thick. If you custom build everything with PCB service, they will be slim with mini USB ports.