ShaRPiKeebo handheld Linux computer based on Raspberry Pi Zero (2) W ships with a LoRa radio (Crowdfunding)

Morpheans ShaRPiKeebo is a portable Linux computer based on Raspberry Pi Zero W or Zero 2 W SBC that reminds me of the Allwinner R8 powered PocketCHIP handheld computer that was introduced in 2016, and was quite popular (for a niche product) at the time.

The ShaRPiKeebo comes with a physical QWERTY keyboard, a daylight-readable screen, and Wi-Fi & Bluetooth connectivity, but also adds a 433 MHz LoRa radio that should make it usable as an off-the-grid communicator. Just like PocketCHIP, the ShaRPiKeebo can be used for system administration, retro-gaming, pen testing, STEM education, and all sort of maker projects.

ShaRPiKeebo specifications:

  • Supported SBCs via 40-pin GPIO header – Raspberry Pi Zero W, Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, and (maybe) compatible SBCs like Radxa Zero or Banana Pi M2 Zero
  • Display – 2.7- inch SHARP memory display (LS027B7DH01) with 400×240 resolution, low-latency, low-power
  • Connectivity
    • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi 4, Bluetooth 4.2 LE (part of Raspberry Pi Zero (2) W board)
    • Long-range, 433-MHz RFM95 LoRa radio transceiver (but it should be replaced by CE-marked RakWireless chip upon shipping)
  • User input
    • QMK-compatible USB QWERTY keyboard with 56 keys based on Microchip ATMEGA32U4 MCU and that can also be used as an external USB keyboard
    • 2x four-button D-pads for gaming
    • 5x user buttons
  • Expansion – UART and I2C available through GPIO for external 3.3 V modules (GPS, a 4G or 5G modem, etc.)
  • Debugging/Programming – ISP programming port available for QMK-keyboard flashing or upgrades
  • Misc – 4x user LEDs
  • Power
    • 5V via USB Type-C port
    • 2-pin JST connector for LiPo battery plus on-board battery management and charging module
  • Dimensions – 115 x 60 x 20 mm
  • Weight – Under 100 grams

ShaRPiKeebo is open-source hardware with KiCAD schematics and PCB layout, as well as the DXF, STL, and Solidworks files available on Github. I’m unable to locate the firmware running on the ATMega MCU, and I suppose the Raspberry Pi Zero W/2 W would run a custom version of Raspberry Pi OS.

What I did not realize when I started to write about ShaRPiKeebo is that it’s also quite smaller than the PocketCHIP with its 4.25-inch display, as can be seen in the comparison table below also including Keyboard FeatherWing and Morpheans Blak RPi, an earlier model from ShaRPiKeebo developers.

Morpheans has just launched the ShaRPiKeebo on Crowd Supply with a $45,000 funding target. Rewards start at $150 for the bare portable Linux computer without Raspberry Pi SBC or battery. US backers can purchase the latrer separately for $15 (3,000 mAh LiPo battery) or $22 (6,000 mAh LiPo battery), but people outside of the US will have to purchase their own locally. The enclosure is somehow not offered as an option either, so you’d have to print it out yourself if you need it. Shipping adds $8 to the US, and $18 to the rest of the world, and backers should expect their rewards to ship by the end of November 2022.

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4 Replies to “ShaRPiKeebo handheld Linux computer based on Raspberry Pi Zero (2) W ships with a LoRa radio (Crowdfunding)”

  1. I like the idea of an outdoor text comms device using lora (alternative to walkie talkies for hiking etc.), but 1) raspberry pi cpu is way overkill, a midrange cortex-m or esp32 mcu is fine; 2) instead of yet another special lithium pack, it would have been better to take the form factor hit and use AA’s or 18650; 3) there should be a mesh/repeater config so you can put one at a high spot and it can forward messages around; 4) it’s unclear if it’s there but there should be some provision for an external antenna; 5) $150 is pretty expensive considering what is in there.

    I have been thinking of DIYing something like it using an Adafruit Feather board which is around $25 with ESP32-S2 or S3, and built in TFT display. The small qwerty keyboard is harder to find but they exist. Since the ESP32* has wifi and BLE, you can also use a mobile phone as a UI. But, I think it is best to have an independent UI.

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