Sunfounder Raspad

Back in April, I backed a Kickstarter campaign for Raspad, a $129 Raspberry Pi powered Tablet computer that would be open source. The campaign was successful and whilst I was away on holiday, my package arrived but was taken back to my local Post Office Depot.

When I went to pick up the package, the Post Office wanted £13 for VAT on the item as it was an import and a handling charge.


Here’s the packaging, once you open the outer carton:

In the bottom of the box were some additional parts from the Kickstartter campaign, a small LCD, ultrasonic sensor, case, heatsinks that were supplied free, albeit floating loose.

Turn it over and you can see the cver that gives you access to the recess where you install your Raspberry Pi:


Overall the unit feels like good quality but the cover was a little difficult to remove and i’m worried it might break in the future.

I had already flashed a 64GB Micro SD Card with the latest Raspbian and inserted this into a spare Raspberry Pi 3 B+ I had lying around for projects just like this (these were not supplied with the Raspad unless you paid extra money).

The Pi locates onto four lugs on the underside of the recessed area. Attach the HDMI and Micro USB power cables. Then place a small black piece of plastic over the Pi to help keep it in place and finally replace the cover.


I then looked to see if the Raspad was getting power. No lights. Ummmm. Then I noticed my extension lead wasn’t working. Plugged the Raspad into another power source and a green flashing light came on indicating it was charging.

Pressed the power button for 3 seconds and the Pi began its initial setup:



Then I noticed the touchscreen was not responding. I realised I hadn’t moved the USB connector from the left hand side of the screen into one of the Raspberry Pi’s USB ports. Did this and then the touchscreen started responding.


At this point I also realised that the touchscreen is not accurate and is offset by a few millimetres but I cant see a way to calibrate it yet – will have to investigate this.

There is also no on screen keyboard so I had to connect a USB keyboard to go any further with the setup. Followed the Raspbian set up instructions. There was an error message on the last screen print which I ignored as I will be manually updating Raspbian:


Then did the usual RPi update’s:


Then I installed matchbox for a virtual keyboard:


After this, go to MENU >> ACCESSORIES >> KEYBOARD and the keyboard will appear.

Overall first impressions:

  • Watch out for the UK customs/VAT charge on top of the sale price.
  • Reasonable price
  • Overall good build quality
  • Worried about the Raspberry Pi cover breaking
  • Sound is good from the little onboard speaker
  • Touchscreen works but cant calibrate and it needs to be done
  • Lack of default onscreen keyboard
  • Portable.
  • Comes with a 4A DC adapter that seems a little flimsy but does the job?
  • The unit arrived with a an almost drained battery and started beeping after using it for a short time without the mains adapter. Will recharge and check how long it takes to charge and then how long it takes to drain back to empty.
  • Cant see much in the way of online support from Sunfounder yet on their website. On their forum, someone else has raised the same screen issues with very little response from Sunfounder.
  • Looking forward to trying some projects with this and seeing if it really is useful or just a gimmick.
  • Useful to attach GPIO cable and accessories for projects
  • Can also attach to an external HDMI screen but haven’t tried this yet. A message was sent by Sunfounder that there were some problems with HDMI cables and they would be sending out replacements?
  • Will purchase a Bluetooth keyboard and see if this better than trying to use the touchscreen.

Lego 1093 Interface A

This is another project. I purchased this kit from Ebay and it dates around 1986 and would be used with an original BBC Microcomputer to interface it with Lego motors and sensors. The kits are fairly easy to get hold of and Ebay still sells sensors and motors but the kit has no software and/or instructions.

I have a BBC Micro but need to get hold of the software. There are some Lego fan sites with at least one selling the software but for £400+.

I spoke with Lego who cant help me and have just emailed someone at the Centre for Computing History who apparently have a complete kit in storage box 130. I’m hoping they can help me with copies/code examples/instructions etc as it would be nice to get this old kit working again.

Once working with the BBC, I would also like to see if its possible to get it working with something more modern like a raspberry Pi.

Lets see what their response is……

15th September – No email response from the Centre for Computing History but today we attended their annual Retro Computer Festival and chatted with some of the volunteers. One chap managed to locate the software disc I need and is going to copy it and se me a copy in the post. Lets see if it arrives?

Arcade Machine Project Part 1

This is the start of another arcade machine project inspired by something similar I saw being sold on Ebay. It was an arcade system using Jamma or Raspberry Pi made using recycled wood.

I found someone selling old pallets on Ebay for a £1 in Slough and bought 3 thinking this should be more than enough wood for the job. The intention is to break up the pallets into strips of wood, remove any nails and then sand and varnish. I will then cut the wood to make a table top arcade machine big enough for a at least a 19″ TFT monitor or whatever else I can scrounge. I will buy some arcade joystick, buttons, speakers and then I haven’t yet decided whether I go down the usual Raspberry Pi route or with some sort of Jamma/MAME system, perhaps even one of the Pandora boxes that come with hundreds of game ROM’s already built in and can be bought cheaply from Ebay sellers?

Total cost to date £3 for pallets

More to follow…

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Sunfounder DIY Arcade Kit

I first saw these online some time ago but they have been out of stock or quite expensive to get hold of in the company. Finally, Ali Express had a fantastic deal on and it was actually cheaper for me to buy from them with shipping from the US.

Bought this in January for $35.99. Cheaper than I can get in the U.K. Delivery was quoted as up to 40 days but I think I had to wait for about 10 days so was very happy with this.

This is a kit to make an arcade machine using a Raspberry Pi computer. It comes with everything you need except the Raspberry Pi and the software including:

1 x Arcade Joystick Kit (screws and fixing plates included)

6 x Arcade Buttons

1 x Paper Box

1 x 8G Micro SD Card

1 x Raspberry Pi GPIO Reference Card

1 x Guide Brochure

Several Wires

The box arrived well packaged and already looked funky from the outside. I decided to take this into work and get my students to help build it and learn some maker skills. Beow is what the kit looks like when taken out of the outer packaging. You can see the precut holes for buttons and joystick with the colourful artwork. Although this is just a printed cardboard box it still felt fairly rigid and like it will take a reasonable amount of abuse.


Once opened there is some foam packing to keep everything in place and momentarily hide the goodies underneath.


This quickly gives way to the goodies inside. Everything seemed well packaged and in separate compartments to make it easier to identify everything.


Here’s the contents:

The buttons just push fit into the precut holes in the box.


You then need to take the four screws out that secure the top plate of joystick so it can be fitted into the top of the box:


The kit even includes a little GPIO reference board that slips over the pins to help ensure you connect the wires correctly – a nice little touch.



After this, its time to connect the buttons and joystick together. The Raspberry Pi just sit sin the bottom of the box although we plan to secure it better using some sticky pads of some kind.



And the finished hardware setup..


Follow this guide for downloading and installing RetroPie onto the free SD card supplied with the kit. Don’t forget you will need an SD card reader/writer and Etcher installed on a PC to write the RetroPie image to the SD card.

The kit comes with full instructions to help set up the Raspberry Pi and the controls..


I will update the post later this week when we finish the setup and copy some game ROM’s (legalley owned of course) onto the RetroPie setup. More to follow….




















Kickstarter – Raspad

I think this might be my 10th crowdfunded purchase from Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I have bought a couple of different Sunfounder products in the past to make Raspberry Pi based projects and usually find them excellent although not always easily available in the U.K – see previous blog posts.

Saw this advertised some time ago and as soon as they launched I had backed them within a couple of hours. Considering how many Pi based projects I make in a year, I think this will help me to complete projects in some sort of all-in-one development environment that’s also portable. Cant wait for mine to arrive. I will post an update to this post when mine arrives with my first impressions.


Gakken WorldEye Globe Display

I bought this on Amazon as a Japanese import with some vouchers I received for my birthday. Its is a spherical HDMI display with built in speaker that I plan to use with a Raspberry Pi based project. It comes with a number of videos supplied on a USB stick for demonstration. These unfortunately are in Japanese.

It cost about £150 in February and is quite large and comes supplied with a 2 pin adapter. I had a 2 pin to 3 pin UK adapter lying around and used this to convert the voltages. It has a built-in speaker and comes with a round remote for navigating its menus. The display is quite readable in normal lighting but looks better in a dim room.

The globe fits into a stand that lets you adjust the display angle.

I will make an update to this blog post when I find time to connect it to one of my Raspberry Pi projects.