OpenMoko WikiReader: Now With Programming

localrogerlocalroger Posts: 3,052
Well Erco ridiculed it...

...but I got mine today. For $20 I couldn't buy the parts to build this thing. $20 with shipping.

The core function is cute and it is quite a bit of fun to hit the random button and see the wide diversity of pages that pop up. But the real deal here is that it's a totally open general purpose computing device. Inside the battery compartment is a debug header which brings out a 3v3 serial port as well as regulated 3v3 power and some other signals. You'll have to open the case to make permanent connections; I'll probably install a phone jack as one blogger I found did.

What you get is a very clean little gizmo with a 200 x 240 pixel LCD display, a very good capacitive touchscreen, three buttons, a micro-SD socket, and 100 hours battery life on 2 AAA alkalines. I am given to understand that the thing is self-supporting for programming in Forth, and the development chain (and several hacked versions) are available online to recompile the core application.

It doesn't have a backlight or wireless because the designers were aiming for long battery life. It also has no built-in provision for recharging or powering from external power, because the intent is to use it in places where it's easier to carry in batteries than to find recharging power.

Although it's single-core there are some similarities between the who ever heard of it CPU and the Propeller. It's static and low power (180 um process) and like the Prop, and probably for the same reason, boots from a serial EEPROM. The real firmware is on the uSD card so there is no danger of bricking the device; you can mess with the EEPROM image if you want to, but there's no reason.

All in all it's one of the best starting points for a low power handheld project I've ever seen, and I'm looking forward to installing the serial jack and getting into the firmware.

-- LATER --

I opened my unit and broke out the serial port. A 3/32 stereo jack (the kind without a switch) fits nicely in the corner opposite the power switch once the tabs are cut down. (Note: Test before reassembling, it is VERY hard to open the case without damaging it.)

After closing up, it almost looks factory.

Now all I need is a 3v3 serial port. Wherever shall I find one of those? Oh...

Looks like my propplug is being unfaithful. I won't tell it that's not a propeller if you don't. And what do you find when you start the debug console by holding down random while you turn it on? Go FORTH and see...
Some of those words look positively dangerous. In a fun way. Time to back up the uSD card before continuing...
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  • 7 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • mindrobotsmindrobots Posts: 6,489
    edited December 2011 Vote Up0Vote Down

    I'm so glad I ordered two! Mine showed up yesterday but I haven't opened them up yet....I guess they need to move up on my list!

    Thanks for the initial positive feedback!
    MOV OUTA, PEACE <div>Rick </div><div>"I've stopped using programming languages with Garbage Collection, they keep deleting my source code!!"</div>
  • ercoerco Posts: 18,935
    edited December 2011 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Well, I, oops THEY sold out of them on Ebay, so that's all that counts! :)

    Glad you are pleased with yours. One man's yucks are another man's treasure. I get the same feeling when I find my favorite music & movies on the clearance aisle.
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • localrogerlocalroger Posts: 3,052
    edited December 2011 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Here's a seller who has them for $35 with free shipping, which IMO is still not a bad deal (if not the steal of the other dealer):

    I wouldn't have bought the first one but now that I've held it in my hand, if I had a need for another I'd buy a second at this price in a flash. I wonder what truck the $20 units fell off of.

    Edit: There seem to be a couple of vendors offering around $40 buy it now with free shipping. The cheapest starting bids seem to be $25 and when you figure in shipping, you might as well find a free shipping buy it now. I consider that a fair price for the hardware, and it's a hard package to find; I've made several false starts at building this exact functionality for myself. Now all I need is a 3v3 serial keyboard -- and my now unused TI keyboard is looking very Propellerizable to this purpose.
  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 20,549
    edited December 2011 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Amazing gadget. I love the minimalist approach. And it runs of "normal" batteries. Such refreshing change compared to the "must have all features and flashing things" world of smart phones and such.
  • localrogerlocalroger Posts: 3,052
    edited December 2011 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Kicking thread -- I added pictures of the serial port hack to the first post.
  • gnuarmgnuarm Posts: 3
    edited November 2012 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I'm interested in making similar mods, but I want to solder a connector to the pads so I can also pick up the debug signals. Any idea what the pin spacing is? I'm guessing 2 mm, but I haven't taken my unit apart to measure it yet. I did remove the cover for the pads area and I'm not sure a mating connector will fit in the space provided. I'll have to check that out first.

    Oh yeah, they are down to $15 with free shipping at Amazon if you spend $25 on an order.
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