Wouldn't it be awesome to have a full Raspberry Pi based computer in your pocket?
The Raspberry Pi has revolutionized the maker community and the world of DIY computing. But once you add on all the other pieces needed to turn it into a usable computer, you usually end up with either a bunch of separate components connected with cables and wires, or a rather big and clunky box (for most integrated solutions).
What's been missing is a compact, integrated Raspberry Pi based handheld computer, comparable to a modern mobile phone.
I've been thinking about such a device for a while, and started working on one last year. After many designs, redesigns and prototypes, the Noodle Pi is finally ready to bring computing freedom to your pocket!
Say Hello to Noodle Pi
Noodle Pi integrates a Raspberry Pi Zero, a high-resolution multi-touch screen, a battery, a power management system, and a camera, all in a super compact device that's good to go anywhere.
Noodle Pi uses the recently released Pimoroni HyperPixel 3.5" display. This is a high speed, high resolution (800x480 pixels at ~270 PPI) touchscreen display with 18-bit color (262,144 colors) and a 60 FPS frame rate.
Noodle Pi also integrates the Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2, for up to 8MP still photos, and 1080p30 / 720p60 / VGA90 video.
Noodle Pi is powered by an internal 500mAh battery. It can be charged via a regular micro-USB charging socket, and there's a red LED to provide a low battery warning.
Strong, Slim, Unibody Design
Noodle Pi's unibody shell is strong and light, with an innovative design that leverages the unique capabilities of 3D printing.
This enables Noodle Pi to pack six separate components, plus connecting wires, into a tiny 93mm x 60mm x 10mm/19mm package. Yes, part of it is only 10mm thick! (The iPhone SE, in comparison, is 7.6mm; the official Pi Zero case is 13mm).
Noodle Pi puts those extra few millimeters to good use. It provides full access to the Pi Zero's USB-OTG and Mini-HDMI ports, so it can be used both as a pocket computer and as a desktop computer. As well as in other configurations. The possibilities are endless!
Despite its super compact size, Noodle Pi is surprisingly strong and sturdy. It feels like a solid, integrated device when you hold it in your hand, not very different from a CA$ 1000 iPhone.
And, it's available in Jet Black! ;-)
Escape The Walled Garden
Unlike iOS and Android devices, which force you to develop apps in only specific programming languages in a restrictive environment, a Noodle Pi is a full GNU/Linux computer. So you can write apps for it in any language you like.
And once you've written an app for Noodle Pi, you can just release it to the world right away. No need to wait weeks or months for approval to be listed in an app store.
Noodle Pi offers a long overdue escape from the walled gardens mobile computing has been stuck in. It's the mobile device built on free software, reusable components and open platforms. The way computing was meant to be!
One More Thing: It's Unsnoopable!
Noodle Pi can be built in two configurations - either using a Pi Zero W, in which case it's a fully connected computer with WiFi and Bluetooth, or using a plain old Pi Zero (without the "W" - which indicates wireless networking capability).
When built using a non-W Pi Zero, it's a Noodle Unsnoopable, because whatever you store or do on it is effectively immune to snooping or attack over the Internet, as the device doesn't (and cannot, without external hardware) connect to any networks.
In these days of pervasive surveillance and malware, an indispensable piece of kit everyone needs is an air-gapped computer that is never connected to any networks. Noodle Unsnoopable is that computer.
A Noodle Unsnoopable enables easy and cost-effective air-gapped security for password storage, crypto-currency cold-storage, secure backups, private notes and photos, and so on. Just be sure never to connect it to any networks, and to keep your MicroSD card physically secure at all times.
One Device, Unlimited Users
In fact, because the Noodle Pi runs entirely off the MicroSD card, a single Noodle Pi or Noodle Unsnoopable can easily be securely shared by any number of people. Everyone just keeps their own private system on their own MicroSD card.
This enables libraries, schools, etc. to provide shared access to devices that many people can use without compromising privacy or security.
I've set a fairly low funding goal for this project, because much of the work is already done, although the development process did have high costs, in time, parts, equipment, etc.
However, I do hope this Kickstarter generates quite a bit more than the minimum funding goal. Achieving a good level of funding on this campaign will help recover the investments already made into this project, as well as to build up capability to produce Noodle Pi kits in larger quantities.
I'm also looking into a number of 3D printers that can print parts using materials other than PLA plastic, which is what Noodle Pi's 3D printed parts are currently printed with.
PLA is sensitive to heat. So you'd want to avoid exposing the Noodle Pi to very high temperature situations, such as leaving it close to a a fire, or even for a long time in direct sunlight under a car windshield on a hot day. I've read that can make PLA parts warp, though I haven't had any trouble at all with heat with PLA prototypes in use for over a year (and I do leave them in direct sunlight just to see if they warp).
Noodle Pi does have vent holes on the back and they seem to do a good job to help keep things cool. I've only ever felt it become slightly warm from the heat generated by the Pi Zero.
Here are the stretch goals. Would be great to hit some of them!
Stretch Goal 1: CA$ 2048 - ACHIEVED - Splash-Resistant Case for Noodle Pi
Stretch Goal 2: CA$ 4096 - ACHIEVED - Belt Holster for Noodle Pi
Each of the above accessories is a CA$ 15 add-on. If you'd like either or both of these, just add CA$ 15 or CA$ 30 (for both) to your pledge.
Stretch Goal 3: CA$ 8192 - ACHIEVED - Noodle Key Micro - Micro Keyboard+Touchpad Dock for Noodle Pi!
Enables docking the Noodle Pi with a tiny RF keyboard and touchpad. The Noodle Key Micro dock (but NOT the keyboard) will be INCLUDED FREE with all Noodle Pi kits!
I made sure to select a backlit mini-keyboard for the Noodle Key Micro, so you can keep working in low light conditions. The keyboard is readily available on Amazon.
The Noodle Key Micro docked with a micro-keyboard+touchpad makes all the difference when you don't want to waste precious screen space on an on-screen keyboard, and want to work fast. Perfect for writing code or articles on your Noodle Pi, or administering servers using ssh.
Noodle Key Micro holds the Noodle Pi secure while docked, and easily disconnects from the Noodle Pi and the keyboard when not needed. It's tiny, light, and easy to carry around in a pocket, just like the Noodle Pi and the mini keyboard.
Stretch Goal 4: CA$ 16384 - Colors! (White, Grey, Blue, Green, Red, Yellow)
You know you want a full Raspberry Pi mobile computer in your pocket! Back this project now and you should have one pretty soon!
Also remember to order the electronics needed for the build, listed below. Adafruit and Pimoroni run of stock on some of these sometimes, so order them asap and you should be all ready to go when your Noodle Pi kit arrives!
UPDATE: USA SHIPPING PRICE REDUCED! - I've been able to work out a way to ship Noodle Pi kits to US backers for CA$15 rather than the CA$30 listed in some of the rewards, but unfortunately I'm unable to update the shipping price in the rewards. So after the Kickstarter ends, I will refund CA$15 to US backers (of Noodle Pi kits, not complete Noodle Pis) who paid CA$30 for shipping.
After using a prototype Noodle Pi with the micro-keyboard Noodle Key Micro dock for a while, I realized that although it's perfect for quick on-the-go sysadmin things, it's not quite optimal when you want to write text or code really fast. So for that, there's now the Noodle Key Mini dock!
The Noodle Key Mini docks with a folding bluetooth keyboard+trackpad (readily available on Amazon) which, when folded, isn't much bigger than the smaller micro-keyboard+touchpad, yet folds out to a very reasonably sized keyboard that's perfectly suited for working at full speed.
How awesome is that?
But hey.. it's not all work in Noodle Pi land. When all the sysadmin stuff has been taken care of, and all the code, documentation and articles have been committed to their repositories, it's time to let the hair down and shoot up some aliens!
That's when we pop on the Noodlendo dock!
I had quite a blast testing this one out. Will be doing some more testing right after I finish writing about the new add-ons!
So how do you add these add-ons to your pledge?
One dock comes free with your kit, you'll be able to choose which one before your reward ships out. Note that that's just the dock. No keyboard or NES controller is included. You can get these from Amazon and other sites.
If you want one or more additional docks, just add CA$ 15 to your pledge for each additional dock you want. But you need to do this asap, before the campaign ends! I'm pretty sure you can't adjust your pledge after the campaign ends.
The same goes for the splash-resistant case and the belt holster add-ons. If you want either or both of these, add CA$ 15 per add-on to your pledge, before the end of the campaign.
There's also one more add-on, for CA$ 20: an HDMI Ribbon Cable. You'll need this if you want to use the HDMI output on Noodle Pi. The space around the connector is very restricted and regular HDMI cables will not fit there. So if you plan on using the HDMI output, add CA$ 20 your pledge for the HDMI ribbon cable.
And on the final day of the Kickstarter, here's one more FREE add-on: the Noodle Wrist watch strap dock! This will ship FREE with all kits! Just attach your favorite 22mm watch strap and wear Noodle Pi on your wrist!
Some Assembly Required
--- UPDATE: PRE-ASSEMBLED NOODLE PI REWARDS! ---
I've added rewards for full, pre-assembled Noodle Pis. If you choose this reward you will receive a full pre-assembled Noodle Pi complete with all components and ready to go.
However, it's still a DIY computer that you can take apart and put back together any time. So the rest of this section might still be interesting, even though you won't need to order the parts separately or assemble it yourself initially to get started.
Also note that the pre-assembled Noodle Pis are still experimental DIY kits, and not finished and certified consumer products. They come with no warranty of any kind. For warranty / replacement of the components inside, you will need to contact the original supplier directly.
--- END UPDATE ---
Noodle Pi is a DIY computer. You have to put it together yourself. This is easy and fun to do, and takes about 10-15 minutes. No soldering required. You don't even need a screwdriver.
You can also take Noodle Pi apart just as easily, which means you can swap in replacement parts or upgraded components at any time. So when the next version of the Pi Zero is released you will just be able to swap in the new Pi Zero (as long as its shape / size is the same, which is most likely), and upgrade your Noodle Pi in a few minutes!
The Noodle Pi kit includes all the parts you need to put the computer together, except the electronic components and battery. You will need to purchase these components from the sources listed below. The Noodle Pi w/Electronics kit contain some of the electronics as well, but some will still need to be purchased directly.
If you want a complete pre-assembled Noodle Pi (recommended if you're not comfortable with DIY electronics) select the Pre-Assembled Noodle Pi reward.
These are the parts you'll need to buy:
(If you select a Pre-Assembled Noodle Pi reward, you don't need to buy any components separately. And for the "Noodle Pi w/Electronics Kit", you only need to buy a Pi Zero and a HyperPixel display yourself).
1. Raspberry Pi Zero and Pi Camera Module v2. These are available from many sources. A full list of distributors can be found here. Both Pimoroni and Adafruit (who manufacture some of the other components needed) also sell the Pi Zero and the Camera Module.
Adafruit: Pi Zero + camera bundles
2. Pi Zero Camera Cable - UPDATE: All kits will now come with a camera cable included! So you don't need to buy this separately.
3. Pimoroni HyperPixel Display
4. Adafruit 500mA LiPo Battery
5. Adafruit PowerBoost 1000C
You'll also need a hammer to install the hammer header onto the Pi Zero. And a flush wire cutter (a nail clipper will also work) to clip the header pins on the underside of the Pi Zero so they don't stick out from the board too much.
If you're happy to solder on a regular header you could do that instead, or course. The hammer header is just a lot easier and faster to install.
Pi Supply now also sells Pi Zero Ws with pre-soldered-on headers. If you get one of these you don't need the hammer header, or the hammer.
Everything else you need to put the Noodle Pi together will be in the kit. That will include: the shell, a mini on/off switch, a few more important parts, a pre-folded pi zero camera cable, a micro-USB-OTG adapter, and details on how to put everything together (probably as a link to a video).
The Noodle Pi w/Electronics Kit will also contain, in addition to the basic kit: a Camera Module v2, a male hammer header with installation jig, an Adafruit PowerBoost 1000c, and a 500mAh battery.
UPDATE: I recommend opting for the Pre-Assembled Noodle Pi reward rather than the Noodle Pi w/Electronics kit reward, unless you already bought a HyperPixel display, or are quite comfortable with DIY electronics.
Even though the kit is quite simple to put together, it does require some fine dexterity because of the small size of the parts involved. If you'd like to be up and running out of the box, the pre-assembled Noodle Pi reward is what you want. The basic kit without any electronics is still a great option if you want to make (bake?) multiple Noodle Pis, or have the electronic components already.
There are only a limited number of pre-assembled Noodle Pi rewards available, so grab one now!
Liberate Your Friends And Family
A Noodle Pi is a great gift to help liberate your friends and family from the clutches of the ("Don't Be") Evil Empire or the Serpent's Fruity Temptation. Or even just to help them keep passwords and private data secure offline.
Get a dual, quad or octa pack and build some Noodles for your friends!
I've been working on building a practical GNU/Linux wearable computer for over 17 years, so this is quite a long story.
Originally, the main motivation was to be able to work (i.e. write code, documentation, etc.) more comfortably and more hours in a day. I wanted to be able to work equally comfortably while standing, sitting or lying down, or walking around. And also to have a fully functional computer on me at all times.
A wearable computer with a head-mounted display (HMD), running a free OS such as GNU/Linux or OpenBSD sounded like just the thing I needed, so that was the goal.
Sometime around year 2000 I installed GNU/Linux on a Compaq iPaq, and that was my first GNU/Linux handheld. I used it a lot, for all sorts of work, while traveling in the Himalayas and connecting to the 'net over dialup from pay phones (known as "PCOs" in India).
My first working wearable with an HMD was in 2001, a Sony VAIO Picturebook hooked up to a Daeyang CyVisor, which I later sawed in half to make a monocular display, so I could still see my surroundings while wearing it.
The Picturebook's video output wasn't directly compatible with the CyVisor, so I also had to throw in a KVM switch in there which fixed the VGA output for the CyVisor. The input device was a Twiddler, which didn't come in a USB version at the time, so there were more cables and adapters to convert from PS/2 to USB.
All those cables and separate components went in a slim Rollerblade backpack. It ended up looking a bit like HP's new wearable workstation. The batteries on the Picturebook and the CyVisor didn't last long, so it wasn't the most usable system. Nevertheless, I did use it quite a bit. I remember using it to work on code while accompanying a friend grocery shopping in Montreal.
It didn't take long for me to come to the conclusion that HMD technology had a ways to go and so I spent much of the next decade using small GNU/Linux and OpenBSD handhelds, primarily the Sharp Zaurus SL-C3x00 and Nokia N800 and N810. When the iPhone came out I was a late adopter (didn't get one till 2009) because the Zaurus and N810 had higher resolution screens and ran GNU/Linux / OpenBSD.
I did keep trying different HMDs over the years, including the Xybernaut Poma (which ran WinCE - horrible! only use I had for it was to read PDFs and VNC out to a real machine), the super-difficult-to-get-hold-of TacEye LT (more on that below), the Micro-Optical MD-6, and the Sony Glasstron PLM-S700E, which still feels like something from the future!
Eventually, I did get an iPod Touch, and then an iPhone. I still held on to my Zaurus for emergency sysadmin work on the go, and got many new tiny laptops from Fujitsu and Sony, and a Nokia N9, an N900 and an N950.
But none of these quite hit the spot. The iPhone was a huge step forward in wearable computers, with its revolutionary touch interface, but also a huge step back, being a walled garden, and closed off to most free software tools. Nokia had an awesome GNU/Linux based platform that could really have taken over the world, but Nokia decided to self-destruct. And the Zaurus, although the most usable of the lot, was still too small and fiddly, and didn't have backlit keys or built-in WiFi or Bluetooth.
Then in 2012 I got a Raspberry Pi. I also had a Tac-Eye LT by then, so of course I immediately created a Pi-based wearable with the two. The Pi outputs HDMI, and the Tac-Eye LT uses VGA, so some more adapters had to be researched and tested, and eventually one worked.
This was the smallest HMD-equipped wearable I'd made till then. But it still wasn't that practical. And my Pi had trouble using multiple USB devices at the same time. It seemed to be a common issue with 1st gen Pis.
Some of the variations of this wearable (photos below) allowed for hot-swappable external batteries, so they could be used uninterrupted for any length of time without needing to be tethered to an AC outlet. This was something I'd sorely missed in my Picturebook based wearable.
Happy to say, Noodle Pi provides this ability too. Thanks to its internal battery and 5V charging, it can be charged via small external USB battery packs which can be hot-swapped as needed to achieve unlimited mobile battery life.
In 2014 I got a Google Glass XE, and although it ran a horribly old and limited version of Android, it was a massive leap forward in terms of size, weight, and ergonomics. It's natively not much more useful than the WinCE based Xybernaut Poma (except for being a much better GoPro than a GoPro) so I immediately installed a VNC app and hacked up a connection to the Zaurus. And that was my first OpenBSD wearable with an HMD.
But a software update removed Glass's ability to use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and again my plans were thwarted! (This functionality is back in the latest Glass software update, so I plan to give it another go soon). Another problem with the Google Glass is that it gets pretty hot while you're wearing it. I worry about the radiation it may be frying my brain with. Plus it's super expensive and not easy to carry around.
All those problems were solved by a revolutionary Kickstarter in 2015 - Vufine. Their monocular HMD does everything right - it's just an HMD, with a small integrated battery, and no integrated underpowered, overpriced, overheating computer. And HDMI input so you can hook up any computer, including a little Pi or a Pi Zero!
I backed it immediately, and as soon as I had my Vufine, I started prototyping various wearables with it. In late 2014 I'd also resumed work on an old idea for end-to-end provably unsnoopable messaging that I had back in the early 2000s, but had put on hold. When I resumed work on this in 2014, I thought I'd write it as an iOS app, but when I tried to learn iOS programming I found it extremely tedious, and I also wasn't so keen on the idea of having to get my app approved by Apple (and the possibility of it not being approved).
But there didn't seem any other option, so I kept trying to learn iOS programming, which was made problematic by the fact that XCode and iOS kept going through compatibility-breaking updates, and then my MacBook Air had a malfunction and had to go in for repairs, and of course you can't code an iOS app on anything other than a Mac.
Then in July 2016 I had another idea.. what if I made a Raspberry Pi based handheld? Then I could write my Unsnoopable app in Perl, my preferred programming language!
And that's when Noodle Pi was conceived. I worked on a number of prototypes, which used various touchscreen displays, mostly from Adafruit. I ended up destroying many touchscreens in the process of trying to slim down the device as much as possible.
In December 2016, I realized I could use Noodle Pi for another of my very old on-hold software projects, which I didn't relish trying to write for iOS, and whose fate I was not OK to leave up to Apple's whims. This was HashCash, a digital cash system I've been working on since the late 90s.
Once I realized Noodle Pi would be perfect for HashCash as well, I fired up Emacs, pulled out my dusty old HashCash code, and got to work. The next six months I barely had any time to eat and sleep, between writing HashCash and working on Noodle Pi prototypes.
Finally, in June 2017, I released a beta of HashCash and Unsnoopable, and just around that time I received an email announcing the release of the Pimoroni HyperPixel display. A quick look at the specs revealed this would be the perfect screen for Noodle Pi, but by the time I got to Pimoroni's site the display had already sold out! I clicked to be notified when it was back in stock, and I was, but it sold out again within a few hours, and I had to wait for it to come back into stock a second time before I could get hold of a few of them.
A few days later the displays finally arrived, and after another multi-week storm of redesigning and prototyping (I was literally designing prototypes in my dreams while sleeping!) I held a fully functional, awesome Noodle Pi in my hand!
As you can too. Pledge now!
199? - HashCash conceived
2000 - GNU/Linux on Compaq iPaq
2001 - Picturebook + CyVisor + Twiddler
2003 - Unsnoopable app conceived
2004 - Sharp Zaurus 5xxx
2006 - Sharp Zaurus SL-C3x00
2007 - Nokia N800
2012 - Raspberry Pi + TacEye LT
2014 - Resurrect Unsnoopable app
2015 - Vufine Kickstarter
2016 - Raspberry Pi + Vufine
July 2016 - First non-functional Noodle Pi prototype
Aug - Dec 2016 - Design / testing of Noodle Pi prototypes
Dec 2016 - Decided to write HashCash for Noodle Pi
Jan - Jun 2017 - Development of prototypes, HashCash
Jun 2017 - HyperPixel display released
Jun 10, 2017 - HashCash beta released
Jun 20, 2017 - Unsnoopable released
Jun 26, 2017 - Received HyperPixel displays
Jun 26 - Jul 10 2017 - Redesign Noodle Pi for HyperPixel display
Jul 11 2017 - Launch Noodle Pi Kickstarter
Jul 2017 - Refine design, order components
Aug 2017 - Finalize design, print kits
End Aug 2017 - Ship first rewards
Sep 2017 - Print, assemble, ship remaining rewards
Risks and challenges
Although I've backed over 50 projects on Kickstarter, this is the first I'm creating. I have a good appreciation of backers' concerns and values, and I'm confident I can deliver the rewards for this project on time.
The Noodle Pi kit has been carefully designed and tested to be easy to put together. The design is mostly finalized, but I'll probably make many refinements before starting production.
I don't see any major risks, other than 3D printer breakdown. I do have multiple 3D printers to minimize the impact of this, and will get more if needed to complete production on schedule.
Of course there may be things I'm overlooking. The reward timeline doesn't include any slack for unexpected issues that might crop up. If any do arise I will do everything possible to resolve them and get rewards shipped out, while always keeping backers updated.
There's also a small risk that one of the suppliers of the electronic components might permanently discontinue one of the parts, or be out of stock for an extended period of time. If you selected a kit reward that requires electronics to be purchased separately, it might be a good idea to order the electronics in advance, so you already have them ready by the time your Noodle Pi kit ships.
For the "w/Electronics" kits and pre-assembled Noodle Pis, there's a small risk that some of the electronic components may not be available when it's time to ship the reward. In that case the reward will be shipped when the components are available.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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