With the miniramp done (or at least skateable), I have bandwidth for newer and dumber projects than ever! I’ve started cobbling together one of what folks are in the habit of calling “cyberdecks”, although I can’t really endorse the term as they’re usually tiny screens and tiny keyboards that aren’t usable by a nerd of my EXTREMELY HIGH STANDARDS for actual programming.
Read on for details about what I’ve bought so far and how the project is coming.
My goal here is to produce something that I would be proud to call a “cyberdeck”, perhaps call it the Ono-Sendai 0.1.0. Ideally it would have a keyboard with power in and display out and maybe some additional USB 3 or C ports, and a pointing device. It would fold together for stable storage in a bag, separate from the glasses product (since I expect Moore to make the displays radically better over the next few years, and we wouldn’t want to couple ourselves unnecessarily. Bonus points if the interior of the cyberdeck is laid out in such a way that end users can hot swap in new computers or power banks as technology changes on those fronts as well.
I recently picked up a set of Xreal Air “AR goggles”, a term I find loathsome in the extreme so henceforth I’m just going to call them “display glasses” or “display goggles”. In the last 3 years, display tech miniaturization has marched on so darn far that they’re now cramming an astonishing 3840×1080 pixels into each eye. That size of display is entirely usable for computing! I’m extremely curious to see what the future of ultraportable compute tech looks like, so I’ve cobbled together a base v0.0.1 out of the following components (some of which I had to buy, some of which I had lying around).
- Xreal Air display glasses
- Ergodox EZ
- Logitech MX ERGO
- Latte Panda 3 single-board computer
- Xreal HDMI adapter
- EasyLonger 100W power brick
This thing is an utter ratfuck nightmare of cabling and unusability. The primary usability problem is the keyboard. While I’ve loved and used my Ergodox in other contexts, I’ve since moved on to the Model F reproduction, and handling a split keyboard in a mountain cabin is utterly untenable.
Here’s a photo of how gnarly just the base wiring setup is:
- too many wires
- boots into Windows
- the HDMI -> USB C adapter is too bulky, and has an internal battery to power the glasses. That should really be done via USB C, but I don’t have a hub that’s capable of both powering the computer and providing video out downstream.
- get a new tenkeyless keyboard
- figure out how to power the computer and drive video over a single USB-C port
- start designing a unified housing for all the gear and cabling
I am tentatively excited about this technology front! For the first time in perhaps a decade, actually excited about technology. Or maybe I’m depressed. As we like to joke, “how do you tell if a software engineer is depressed? They start installing Linux on things”.