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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    Sharp Zaurus ZR-3000. Good suggestion ... it looks kinda "primitive", but that's probably only because of the old monocrystal screen. It does have a clamshell keyboard and 4.0x2.6" screen mount. I can't seem to find any vendors who carry parts for this model, though.

    Here's a few others that caught my eye: CyberBank PC-EPhone III, HTC Omni.

    I'm also thinking about UMPC cases (maybe). The greater dimensions would give a lot more space and surface area to plug into - I don't know a lot about what's out there.

    There's also the option <sigh> of scaling down to a smaller screen (say, 2.8") and crunching down on hardware; but hugely broadening my options to hundreds of cellphone cases, like the HTC Kaiser 100 or the HTC Hermes 200. I don't really like this option, but it is viable. I suppose I could even trick out an iPod Nano case ... heehee, what a way to dominate your music and pwn that iTechno yuppy jerk at work.

    Any thoughts on Treo cases? Or any thoughts on cases that are solid, flimsy, worth checking, worth avoiding? Anything *small?* with a 4" display (or at least 4" overall facing) and a folding, slide, or clamshell QWERTY on it? I don't care about any specs for the device, screen, buttons ... I just want to steal the case for my own nefarious needs.
     
  2. Phenomenon101

    Phenomenon101 Mobile Evangelist

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    wow, never even knew this was the sort of project you could take on yourself without some sort of high tech machines and a group of people working on it. Not to sound negative, but how likely is it that this device will be full of bugs and malfunctions? Since the hardware and software have to both work together then doesn't the software have to, not exactly be written FOR the device, but tweaked for the devices rom, ram, power usage, etc.?
     
  3. Adama D. Brown

    Adama D. Brown Brighthand Reviewer

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    In theory, he should get around that by using a single pre-constructed motherboard with all of the major internal components already on it. That way, it's already tweaked.
     
  4. Konrad Pierce

    Konrad Pierce Village Idiot 2.0

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    This board is effectively a full PDA sans screen, buttons, slots/connectors, and battery. From what I gather at the Toradex and similar industrial sites, boards such as these are intended to be sold in quantity to people that make stuff like cameras, barcode scanners, "kiosk" handhelds, all sorts of gizmos with displays, automotive/navigation/autopilot systems, surveillance and monitoring, musical instruments ... the list goes on and on (and is actually shown on the link). Basically any tiny high-tech computer device that has a display and needs to think can use a logic board such as this; ergo the target market for this board's manufacturer.

    Anyhow - the core specs are easily as capable as (or better than) the logic boards used in most PDAs and phones, and it integrates a massive "swiss-army" array of interfaces, processing, and support so you can pretty much take it out of the box and connect it to anything. The main difficulty in such a project is just assembling the parts you want, figuring out where the wires go, and stuffing it into a box.

    There's no way I could build a full PDA mainboard from scratch. It takes me hours to manually (de)solder a BGA package, and I couldn't possibly create a working 16-layer copper-traced PCB by hand ... the scale is impossible to work without using automated industrial-grade production tools. What I am attempting to do is well within the grasp of anyone who's good with hand tools, doesn't mind sweating over a soldering iron, and can use basic instruments to troubleshoot the problems away.
     
  5. Tam Hanna

    Tam Hanna Mobile Deity

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    Hi Konrad,
    not sure if it helps you, but I can offer you a photograph from a Windows CE book that exactly shows how the Windows CE .NET is modularized and WHO is responsible for WHICH modules.

    Just tell me if you need it(an email to Tamog AT gmx DOT at will work best :)).
     
  6. Konrad Pierce

    Konrad Pierce Village Idiot 2.0

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    Thanx, Tam ... it seems (so far) that all the firmware/software resources I could ever possibly want or need are available (for free, to those who purchase a WinCE-licensed Toradex Colibri) at the Toradex site. Colibri Windows CE Features (Board Support Package), Colibri WinCE Downloads, many others - there are, in fact, even Colibri-dedicated developer groups who create and port open-source WinCE, Linux, and driver code. I've even found dozens of "DIY" demonstration videos on youtube, like this one.

    I've discovered Colibri developer groups. One guy upgraded his Sony PSP by ripping out it's guts and sticking a Colibri PXA270 inside. Another did the same with his Motorola phone. Another is trying to wire a number of these modules into a notebook to simultaneously display different presentations on multiple monitors. There are an half-dozen others who are attempting to upgrade a variety of PDAs (including a LifeDrive and an X51v) with these boards. It's all very encouraging - and my project is quite "simple" in comparison with some of these.
     
  7. Konrad Pierce

    Konrad Pierce Village Idiot 2.0

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    @ Gen, thought you'd be interested in this:

    I've also found the Triton-320 module, quite similar to the Colibri I ordered. This Triton is pin-compatible with the (earlier) Triton-270 used in the Sharp EM ONE. There are even assorted videos on youtube showing how to swap the 320 and 270 to gain massive performance upgrades in your EM ONE.
     
  8. mszv

    mszv Mobile Consultant

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    Wow - this is seriously wonderful Konrad! I can't wait to see pictures!
     
  9. DragonHunter

    DragonHunter Bow, bow, bow, bow

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    Very interesting stuff......
     
  10. RedFox

    RedFox Handheld junkie

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    How about a Sharp Zaurus SL5xxxx? Those babies have a slide keyboard and both CF and SD slots, so plenty of room for your inputs. Only a 3.5in screen though...

    http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT2134869242.html
     
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