LILYGO's Watch-Keyboard-C3 Turns a T-Watch Into a Tiny Little Terminal with Physical Keyboard

Built around a RISC-V chip, this adapter converts a BlackBerry Q10 keyboard for use with a T-Watch — or can act as a standalone device.

Gareth Halfacree
9 days agoRetro Tech / HW101

LILYGO has launched an unusual kit, based around its existing Espressif ESP32-based T-Watch smartwatch development board design — turning the gadget into a tiny yet functional personal computer with physical, if somewhat cramped, keyboard.

"[The] Watch-Keyboard-C3 V1.0 is equipped with [an] ESP32-C3 chip, supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth function, and uses a mini-pin Keyboard with QWERTY layout," LILYGO explains of its latest, somewhat unusual, product, which was brought to our attention by CNX Software. "It is very good for use with T-Watch or as a decoration."

The kit is designed for use with the latest version of LILYGO's TTGO T-Watch family of smartwatches, which uses an Espressif ESP32-D0WDQ6 chip with dual-core 240MHz Tensilica Xtensa LX6 microcontroller with single-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. There's 520kB of static RAM (SRAM), 8MB of pseudo-static RAM (PSRAM), and 16MB of flash hidden behind a compact 1.54" LCD display.

The heart of the new kit is the Watch-Keyboard-C3 board itself, designed to act as an adapter for a recycled BlackBerry Q10 smartphone keyboard. The adapter board includes a microcontroller of its own: the newer ESP32-C3, with a 160MHz 32-bit RISC-V core and its own Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 radios.

A plastic chassis completes the kit, positioning the T-Watch on top as a pseudo-CRT "monitor" and the keyboard below — turning the two into a miniaturized device evoking the personal computers and terminals of the 1980s and 1990s. Interestingly, there's also an optional small expansion board providing a vibration motor, SD Card slot, microphone, and speaker — though, at the time of writing, there did not appear to be any software to drive them available on LILYGO's GitHub repository.

Three versions of the kit are available on the LILYGO AliExpress store: one with just the Watch-Keyboard-C3 board, a connecting cable, and header pins at $8.17; one with the board, keyboard, case, and expansion board for $18.18; and a full kit including the adapter, the T-Watch, and keyboard all pre-installed in the housing at $51.85.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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