DIY Tiny Handheld Computer Puts BASIC in the Palm of Your Hand

It may not be practical, but it's at least functional!

Cabe Atwell
a month agoCommunication / Debugging

This project puts the power of BASIC in your hands, literally. Designed by Anders Mygind, this tiny handheld computer runs a modified version of TinyBasic and is built around the ATmega328-PU, a chip similar to the ones used in the Arduino Uno. Though it's not exactly user-friendly, both the keyboard and screen actually work. The device utilizes 12C-communication with the display and a button-matrix for the keyboard.

The small computer can be powered either from the battery charging board soldered to the PCB or through the six-pin jumper. The pins also allow you to upload code to the device without removing the IC. There's a GPIO that can be programmed via BASIC as well.

So, what is the unit good for? Mainly for looks. Mygind describes the computer as fun to play with, but nearly useless. Not only is the keyboard difficult to use, but it also has a lot of bugs to fix. During testing, Mygind ran into problems with the firmware, difficulty reading keyboard characters, lack of a proper backspace, and lack of memory.

Though the pocket-sized gadget isn't exactly usable, it's still a fun and impressive project. If you want to build your own (purely for show), check out the step-by-step guide.

Specs:

  • SSD1306 128x96 OLED display
  • Four-pin female jumper for display
  • ATmega 328P-PU
  • 28-pin IC-socket for Atmega
  • Six-pin angled male jumper pins
  • 260mAh 3.7V battery
  • Tiny nylon strips for the battery
  • Battery charging board
  • 50x 3x4mm SMD buttons (I couldn't find any Eagle library online for these.)
  • Small three-pin toggle switch
  • Eight 10K resistors (Although one wasn't needed after all.)
  • 22pf ceramic capacitor
  • 16MHz crystal
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