Decided to build my own PDA - from "scratch"

Discussion in 'General Smartphone/Handheld/Wearable Discussion' started by Konrad Pierce, Sep 14, 2007.

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  1. Konrad Pierce

    Konrad Pierce Village Idiot 2.0

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    Ha. Finished? No, probably never will be.

    I keep getting distracted by all the other ideas and projects involving my (newfound but rapidly improving) microcontroller parts ... yes, I do sometimes tinker with some new approach on one of the many incomplete parts of my PDA-kludge-thing. It probably represents about 10% of my total tinkering, which varies from "lots" to hardly a couple hours per week.

    It's probably a lot easier than building a 1950s-era radio ... at least there's little worry about vacuum tubes and high voltages.

    Update: the entire mess has been shifted onto linux (a modified version of the Angstrom distribution, sorta). I decided to completely abandon WinCE and WM and never look back - much simpler in many little ways for a guy like me to shape the OS and develop his own hardware/device drivers and such. Those who prefer a WM toy must either buy or build one, I have no interest in the OS family at all.

    The Triton board works much as it was designed to; I've installed 256MB SDRAM (works normally, no slow/inefficient/troublesome "user persistent" NVRAM crap) and a permanent "ATA Class" 4GB chunk to help with USB transfers; I've left the main ROM areas alone. Both VGAs work, no touchscreen/digitizer support (yet), though doing any heavy 3D stuff on both together can hardly output maybe 10fps - still looking for another 2700Gx component (already got one) so I can try some sort of twin GPU approach.

    I use a hacked up USB client model (and some external hardware) to "share" my USB keyboard from another device. I'm still learning about how to program a USB host (client is easy, host is hard) so that the PDA's ports will support USB "properly". I've got a DTMF-style keypad that I use as the "buttons" ... maybe I'll actually have 16 buttons on the final product, probably not. Lots of LEDs of course, indicating the status of pretty much everything I could imagine wanting to know about. ;)

    SDx works; I can currently use any FAT32 SD or SDHC card, I haven't really tested the SDIO functions, an my big focus was trying to increase read speeds from the current lowly 3.5Mbps to my target (theoretical max) of 120Mbps.

    I've decided not to waste any time working on CF/CFIO until I'm satisfied both SD slots work. Yeah, all the DMM and Scope functions work well, too - but these have largely been unaltered (PCBs were reshaped and re-organized a little to reduce size/weight).

    To anyone wishing to build their own PDA I can only advise:
    - Either purchase your modules and a development kit and do it the same way the PDA-makers do, or
    - Expect to do all the electronics, programming, architecture, etc yourself. I initially avoided the scary world of embedded microcontrollers; it's absolutely unavoidable (and in fact, determines the final capabilities of the device perhaps more than the processor specs do).

    Couldn't find any DIY PDA kits, Israeli or otherwise. There are, however, plenty of little consumer modules which can add various radio or cellular hardware to any existing device ... building a phone from scratch could be as easy as rebuilding your PDA with a few extra parts. (Although awesome, I'm avoiding all things cellular because I don't want to taint my creation with some cellphone provider's arbitrary legal/billing garbage.)
     
  2. purpleshirt

    purpleshirt Newbie

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    Intriguing, Geo.
     
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