Most modern computers small enough to fit in a pocket either have a BlackBerry-style keyboard or a touchscreen display and no physical keyboard. But the Chonky Pocket stands out from the crowd.

Developer Daniel Norris says it’s an “almost pocket-sized portable computer” built around a Raspberry Pi, with all-day battery life, full-sized ports, and a keyboard large enough for touch typing… sort of. With just 10 keys, it takes a little bit of know-how to operate.

That’s because the Chonky Pocket uses a chording keyboard design that allows you to press different combinations of keys to enter text, numbers, symbols, and other functions. It’s basically the kind of system that stenographers use… but smaller.

The upshot is that the keys are large enough for touch typing with one hand or two, but you’ll need to memorize a series of “chords” before you can type anything.

Norris is no stranger to Raspberry Pi-based portable computers. Last year he designed the Chonky Palmtop with a split-keyboard for touch-typing. And he’s also built a Paper Pi Handheld, which is Raspberry Pi-based system with an E Ink display and a split keyboard for thumb-typing on either side.

He says his goal for the Chonky Pocket was to make a pocket-sized device, but the finished product is still a bit too big for most pockets (he says it does fit into the large pocket on a pair of cargo pants.

In addition to the chorded keyboard, the system has a 5 inch touchscreen LCD display, a speaker, exposed USB, Ethernet, and HDMI ports, motion sensors including an accelerometer and gyroscope and a rotary wheel that can be used to emulate scrolling with a mouse, among other things.

You can find more pictures, a parts list, build details, and other information in the GitHub page for the Chonky Pocket. Or if you just want to see it in action, check out a video Daniel posted to YouTube.

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  1. I’ve been building 10 key chord keyboards for about 20 years and am curious what configuration the Chonky is using? Mine is the Input Nomenclature 10 digit interface device. ( it’s great to see folks breaking away from the 150+ year old QWERTY design. It looks like the Chonky is a nice build with plenty of options but might use a bit more power. Nice job!

  2. If that had a blackberry type keyboard I would be really interested. I am beyond shocked there aren’t multiple companies selling pocket computer kits for the raspberry pi. Aside from clockworkpi’s uConsole (which isn’t even out yet). Seems the best you can do is design and make your own or buy a pi handheld videogame kit.

    1. Why do you expect many would exist? There are several problems that any kit has to solve, and they aren’t simple. Here’s my short list, but there are probably others:
      1. Battery life, since the Pi is not efficient.
      2. Size, since a normal Pi board is already a bit thick to put into a pocket and adding peripherals just makes it worse. You have to use a Zero or a CM to get it thinner, but most people have a model B.
      3. Balance between screen size and input, unless it’s a touchscreen only. I built one that has a two-line screen and is mostly keyboard, which worked in my case, but is likely not the most popular configuration.
      4. An interface that works on such a tiny screen, which requires software modifications.
      Number 4 can be done by others, but 1-3 are the responsibility of anyone selling a hardware kit and if they don’t make something good enough on one of those, they lose me as a customer. If it runs for thirty minutes before dying or if it’s so massive that I might as well have a full UMPC on me, it doesn’t help me. I’m not surprised that few people have managed to find a good path through those difficulties.

    2. Beepberry is out there too now, just saw some of the dev units were shipped according to their discord. Issues are going to be battery life and screen limitations (using a simple MIP LCD panel for display) but overall a solid-looking project with lots of promise for those looking for this exact thing

    1. It looks to be a primarily hobby project, not a commercial device, which helps with it. There are some significant advantages to a device like this, with a keyboard that can be used to type much more quickly than a touchscreen and an operating system that can be customized if you have specific tasks you want to perform that aren’t well handled by a smartphone. I have learned to use some types of chorded keyboards and am much faster with them than I am with a touchscreen or a limited keyboard with tiny keys.
      However, a device of that nature still has to be easily pocketable. If it sort of fits but doesn’t really, then other devices with more powerful hardware become options, as with the UMPCs covered here. They can fit in large pockets too, but they can’t fit in normal ones. It sounds like this device will not be small enough to be carried like a smartphone, and may therefore prove of limited use.