Over the weekend there was a flurry of PocketC.H.I.P. hardware hacks on social media. From keyboard modding to building a secret stylus holder to soldering in a microSD card reader, people are taking the PocketC.H.I.P. hardware and customizing it to be their own.
The best place to spot new hacks in the wild or show off your own is over on our forums. It’s a great place to meet fellow Pocketeers, ask questions, and learn from others. Now onto the hardware hacks.
NTC’s in-house hacker extraordinaire, Andrew Langley, decided he wanted a more traditional D-pad for PocketC.H.I.P.. The custom button he made consists of two 3D printable parts that snap together and attach to PocketC.H.I.P.. The bezel –shown above in teal– fits around the screen and holds the D-pad securely in place. The D-pad –in red– rests inside the bezel and contacts the direction keys. No glue or screws required for this mod!
Fun fact, this arrangement of keys has been around since at least the Atari joystick. But the plus-shape button found on PocketC.H.I.P. wasn’t made popular until Gunpei Yokoi’s used the design on the Nintendo Donkey Kong Game & Watch in the early 1980s.
Langley’s 3D files are open source and available for download on Thingiverse and GitHub. You’ll need a 3D printer and about 1.5 hours to complete the print. If you don’t have access to a 3D printer, see if there’s a local hackerspace or look into one of the many online printing services.
Nicholas Anthony is ambitious. He didn’t just change a few keys, Anthony created a bezel-keyboard combination that covers every single key. Currently the file for this design are unavailable, but that appears to be because Anthony is tweaking his design and working on a second version.
We were lucky enough to snag the files and print one in the office. Keep an eye on Anthony’s project in this forum thread for updates.
Because PocketC.H.I.P.’s touch screen is resistive, some folks prefer the use of a stylus to their finger –especially if their fingers are on the larger side like mine.
Levi Wilson, Levi5885 on the forums, took the next step and modified his PocketC.H.I.P. to include a holder for his stylus. While there are no exact steps, feel free to join the thread and ask him about the build. It’s great if you want to have a stylus at the ready and wisely keeps the ‘hidden’ prototyping area free for future hacks, like adding a speaker or microSD card reader.
Adding extra storage to PocketC.H.I.P. is something people have typically done by attaching a USB thumbdrive. Keith, d4rkc00d3r, wanted something a bit more permanent. He soldered a micoSD card module to the inside of PocketC.H.I.P. and wired it to the SPI bus exposed at the top of PocketC.H.I.P.. The hack takes advantage of the prototyping area inside PocketC.H.I.P. and since it uses the SPI pins, but keeps the USB port available for other accessories.
Jose, a Hardware Engineer at NTC, also added a microSD card reader to his PocketC.H.I.P., though his approach was to keep all the wires inside PocketC.H.I.P. and solder wires to the side of the header pins where C.H.I.P. attaches.
In order for either of these hardware hacks to work, a modified version of the Linux kernel with SPI support is required. Jose is working on a custom kernel for his build, but it’s unclear from the forum post if Keith has tackled the software side yet. Stay tuned to the forum thread for more developments on both projects.