(entry for the 'Raspberry Pi Model B 512MB Challenge')


We have this old Underwood typewriter lying around the house.  It has a beautiful typing sound and weighs in at 29 pounds.  One of my many projects is to turn this baby into a “portable” computer that would mix current technologies like the Raspberry Pi and the classic look and feel of that old cast iron monster.




The general idea would be to individually link all the key striker arms into the Raspberry Pi GPIO through a separate homemade circuit board.  The display was initially going to be a small TFT display.  Thanks to this challenge,  I think that I could also support a simple HID-type USB output.  In that case the PiWriter would act as a plugged in keyboard for the Samsung Galaxy Tab2 7” Tablet... a 30lb ginormous keyboard.


One of the goals of this project is to not interfere with the typewriter's normal behavior.  This way it would always be possible to unplug the screen and type on a piece of paper.  I also want the typewriter to look normal and incorporate all the added components by making them follow the typewriter's shapes or by covering them into cases that I will paint to look like the cast iron frame.  Yes, the added cases will be black and have rounded corners. Why? Because my middle name is 'Danger'.

A subtle but important addition would be to have a way to control the mouse.  For that I will add a game controller analog stick and incorporate it into the typewriter's frame.  It could be used in that position or moved to a more ergonomic place on the side of the keys.


I can already see myself in a meeting typing my notes or answering an SMS at the mall's food court. This would clearly be the coolest “mobile” device I own.


Phillipe Cantin

(blog, twitter, LinkedIn)