3 year old DIY keyboard design still works

I do a lot of DIY projects, and I really do mean a LOT. S0me of them span back years, and every now and then I find an old treasure that has been sitting around gathering dust. This time it was a tablet related accessory that has seen use since first being “invented” by yours truly in 2008.

Back in early 2008 I had a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. It’s probably the first real consumer tablet that is anything like the ones we have today, with its hour battery life and custom Linux Maemo OS. It was no walk in the park to use compared to current day’s iPad 2s and Blackberry Playbooks, but back then it was like a Ferrari.

One of the accessories I made for it was a keyboard dock. It used a Logitech Ultra Flat keyboard, a camera tripod and a windshield mount to make a combined keyboard/N800 holder. I also modified the standard USB cable into a mini-USB cable that worked with the N800, something that was a bit more work than you’d think as you needed a firth pin to trigger USB host mode to make it work. The resulting product is shown below in a few vintage 2008 photos I dug up.

Then, a year ago, I got a Viliv S5 Windows UMPC. I still had the N800 dock, but decided to start from scratch and use the same keyboard and the same concept to make one for the S5. It has a normal USB connection, so shortening the cable was all I needed. I also decided to drop the windshield mount piece and just use the tripod piece as a stand- that way it could be folded flat for storage.

Now, almost exactly one year later, I rediscovered the S5 version of the dock and decided to give it a shot with the iPad 2- as you can see in the picture at the beginning of the article. It works (using the USB adapter in the Camera Connection Kit) and is able to hold the iPad 2 (barely- not a weight issue but a size issue), but I don’t think I’ll be trading my Apple Bluetooth keyboard for this one anytime soon. Still, it’s fun to rediscover such DIY projects and take a trip down memory lane to see how I’ve used it with tablets over the last 3 yars (which in tablet years is more like 30 years)

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.