Friday, 21 May 2010

Microwriter revisited

I'm taking a break from Test Equipment, and resuming a project that has been on hold for a couple of years.

It's a home brewed compact one-hand chorded keyboard inspired by the Microwriter.

I started the project using an Atmel ATMega8 hosted on SimmStick hardware. My tools for software development were primitive. WinAVR was still in its infancy, so like most Atmel developers I used AVR Studio and programmed in assembler or programmed in BASIC using Bascom from MCS Electronics.

I decided to use I2C to connect the micro controller to the keypad and LCD display. Driving I2C in assembler was a pain, and writing the keyboard handling in Basic was positively soul-destroying. I decided to wait until technology had improved enough to make the project enjoyable.

Fast forward two years. The Arduino offers an affordable hardware platform and an easy-to-use IDE. The main challenge is the keyboard itself; I'm going to experiment with QTC pills which look perfect for this sort of application.

Once I've put together a prototype keyboard I can drive it using an I2C board, an Arduino and an I2C LCD display. I'll use the I2C data logger to hold text.