Peter "Bobricius" Misenko Unveils the "Very Experimental" Armachat & PICOmputer Touch

This latest "doomsday communicator" packs touch-sensitive buttons and a color display, powered by MicroPython on a Raspberry Pi Pico.

Peter "Bobricius" Misenko has shown off the latest entry in the Armachat and PICOmputer range of portable communications tools — using a Raspberry Pi Pico to drive a 30-button touch-sensitive PCB with room for an IPS display panel in the Armachat & PICOmputer TOUCH.

Following Misenko's earlier touch-sensitive gadget projects, the PicoTouch HMI and the WiziTouch, the Armachat & PICOmputer TOUCH — capitalization the creator's own — uses capacitive touch-sensitive "keys" built directly onto the PCB to reduce the bill of materials compared with earlier variants with physical switches. A cut-out at the top provides room for a 1.69" IPS display with a resolution of 280×240, while the back plays host to a Raspberry Pi Pico board to drive the device.

The work-in-progress Armachat & PICOmputer TOUCH is a touch-sensitive take on the Raspberry Pi Pico-powered pocket computer family. (📹: Bobricius)

Its exact capabilities depend on what you add. At its simplest, the board forms the PICOmputer — a standalone pocket-sized microcomputer. Add a LoRa modem module, though, and it becomes an Armachat — a "doomsday communication" device for peer-to-peer wireless chatting even in the event that most commercial communications services are unavailable.

While Misenko is showing the device off, though, he warns it's under "intensive development" — including a range of revisions planned for the new year, which will fix a flaw in the keyboard's backlight system, adjust the display cut-out, and alter the pin-out for both the keyboard and the LoRa module.

For those who don't mind the potential for the current version of the board to become obsolete following further development, Misenko is selling the bare PCBs on Tindie at $15 — "more as collectable [than] usable," he warms, describing them as "very experimental."

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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