Recycle & Retrofit

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I have been collecting an assortment of old tablets from my kids and wife (as well as myself) as over the years we have upgraded.  The tablets of course still worked but the technology and android versions were outdated enough that they were not viable for up to date use.


For this E14 Project I will take an old Insignia 8" Flex tablet.  Back in the day it was quite the cool piece of hardware.  Model NS-15T8LTE.

With the following:

Offers on-the-go reliability.

With WXGA (1280 x 800) resolution showcases your favorite movies, games, photos and other media in crisp, striking clarity and lets you accurately navigate features.

Delivers ample storage space for your media files, documents, apps and other data.

Rockchip RK3188 Cortex A9 processor with a 1.6GHz processor speed and 1GB DDR3 RAM ensures fast, reliable performance.

Provides fast Web connection for downloading apps, streaming content and staying connected with social media.

Lets you easily pair with an enabled device.

With autofocus, as well as a 2.0MP front-facing camera, allows you to capture images while you're out and about.

Allows storage expansion up to 32GB with a compatible card (not included).

Helps you locate desired locations.

Support reproduction of dynamic, lifelike images.

For enhanced functionality.

Provide lush, robust sound. The 3.5mm stereo headphone jack lets you privately listen to your music through a connected pair of headphones (not included).

But considering we are currently running at Android ver 10 you can imagine that this beast is less then a powerhouse anymore.  If I remember correctly this model came out back in 2014.


Now it has also been awhile since I have played with anything new in regards to the Raspberry Pi and there has been a RPI ver 4 as well as a Pi400 released so this really made me excited on how to take something with the new technology and apply my outdated tablet to allow for Recycling/Retrofit and cutting edge Raspberry Pi!


Huge Thank You to tariq.ahmad and the others at Element 14 who were able to ship a shiny new Rpi4 Model B, 4GB out to me so I could use one of those instead of an older RPi Zero!  Ty, Ty!


I won't go into too many details on the basic setup for the RPi, it is well documented and I tried to stay as simple and non-custom as possible to allow for others to easily replicate.


After running out and buying a new 32 gb Memory card I went with the Raspberry Pi Imager to load the card.


This was quite simple and provided a solid base to work with.



Now to set up everything in a controlled environment I used a monitor, keyboard and mouse.  I had access to wired as well as wireless internet but for simplicities sake decided that using WiFi would be the smoothest process to use.  Both the Tablet and RPi4 were on the same WiFi AP using DHCP addresses.



Bootup and setup was very smooth and it went right into Updating Software for me.



Here is the basic setup, as you can see I changed the high res pic to a more Pi type look.


Changing Settings

Since I wanted to run VNC as the connecting application I did go into Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration > Configure Raspberry Pi system.


enable VNC and SSH

From there I switched over to Interfaces and clicked on VNC and SSH (I didn't actually use SSH but I did enable it), then clicked OK to have it all ready for my tablet.


Insignia Tablet with 2 applications VNC and PingDns

On the tablet I went to Google Playstore and downloaded the VNC Viewer and the Ping&DNS applications.  Both which can still be found and work with KitKat OS.

I should also state that prior to this I did a full factory reset to default for the Tablet to clear everything and start from a clean system.


PingDns 01

Why Ping&DNS app?  Since I am using DHCP for both systems and in the beginning I was trying to learn as much about the tablet as possible this application provided a good amount of various information.  This even will allow you to see all of the local network info if you are doing Bluetooth or tethering.


As you can see I entered the address range since that was what my AP was working with.


I do apologize for the pictures/video quality of the tablet in use.  The tablet has a very high reflective/gloss screen and makes it troublesome to cleanly gather pictures/video.


PingDns 02

Choosing the subnet scan option and having the defaults pop up I clicked OK.


PingDns 03

You can see my Tablet was running with the .25 address and I can see the RPi is currently running on .22 address since I noted the dc:a6:32 Mac notation.  This could be a problem if I had multiple RPis on the network but this is my only one.


So now we have a target IP address for VNC to connect to:  We could set the RPi4 to a static IP but I was once again going for simplest route with maximum flexibility if I were to move the system to another AP/area.


VNC RPi4 setup

Here you can see I have already setup my connection, but you would add to the address book providing the target IP with a name, and username/pw information.

We then click Connect...


VNC Connected

And quicker then I could snap a picture we connected over to the RPi4 via VNC and are mirroring the monitor!  Very fast.  I like it!



A quick navigation via browser and we can see our Friendly Neighborhood E14 website with the Recycle & Retrofit up to display!  All through the touchscreen tablet.



Both Systems

Here we can see both the Tablet and full monitor showing the game Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.



Here is my attempt at a video using the phone in one hand and the trying to navigate the game with the other.  Without a phone distracting and taking up a hand the operation through the tablet is very smooth and easy.



Overall I hope that this gives some members an idea how to take some of that old tech that you have been hating to toss and turn it into something useful pretty simply and quickly!


Thank you again to Element 14, this has been a lot of fun.  I have future expansion plans in mind and can't wait until I get my hands on one of the Pi400s to see if that is just as easy to add a screen to!