Ben NanoNote

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Ben Nanonote)
Jump to: navigation, search
Ben NanoNote
Ben on hand.jpg
A Ben NanoNote held on the palm of a hand
Manufacturer Qi hardware, Sharism At Work Ltd
Type Handheld computer
Release date Early 2010[1]
Operating system Custom edition of OpenWrt
CPU 336 MHz XBurst JZ4720
Memory 32[2] or 64 MB low SDRAM
Storage 1 SDHC slot, 2048 MB internal NAND flash
Connectivity USB 2.0 , and IEEE 802.15.4 WPAN (as accessory)

The Ben NanoNote (officially the 本 NanoNote)[1] is a pocket computer using the Linux-based OpenWrt operating system. An open-source hardware device developed by Qi Hardware, it has been called possibly "the world's smallest Linux laptop for the traditional definition of the word.".[3] In addition, the Ben NanoNote is noteworthy for being one of the few devices on the market running entirely on copyleft hardware.[4]

The computer takes its name from the Chinese character běn (本), translated as "an origin or the beginning place."[5]


Originally the hardware was developed by a third party as a digital dictionary. After the effort of several Qi Hardware developers, the design was freed as open source hardware while using free and open source software.

This product is currently manufactured by Qi hardware and Sharism At Work Ltd. More than 1,000 units have been sold so far.[6]


The device is shipped with the OpenWrt software stack; the custom compilation includes a graphical menu called gmenu2x, with other graphical and command line applications available from the menu.[7]

OpenEmbedded is also available through the Jlime distribution.[8] The Pyneo software stack, a Debian-like distribution aimed for mobiles has been ported.[9] The MIPS architecture port of Debian GNU/Linux can be run on the NanoNote.[10] Additionally there is NanoNixOS, a cross-compiled distribution based on the Nix package manager.[11]


After the 2010 introduction of the Ben NanoNote, reviewers praised its small size and low cost (US$99), but also criticized the device for its initial lack of any networking capability and for its extremely modest data storage and RAM capabilities in comparison to other contemporary devices.[4][12]

Product development[edit]

Because the device lacked wireless connectivity, implementing this was one of the first goals for the Qi Hardware movement. This add-on, the Ben WPAN, was developed by Werner Almesberger,[13][14][15][16][17] and mainly consists of an IEEE 802.15.4 subsystem, made up of two boards: a USB dongle (ATUSB) connected to the computer and another card connected to the SDIO port of the device (ATBEN).

All source code, documentation and test procedures, software and hardware schematics are available under copyleft licenses.[18][19][20]

UBB, or Universal Breakout Board,[21] is a PCB shaped like a microSD card, focused on DIY projects and general purpose interfacing using the available MMC/SDIO port.

So far two hacks had been published: one of them, the integration with a 443 MHz RF transceiver[22] for power sockets control purposes and later a mix of bit banging and SDIO/DMA features turning the SD card slot into a VGA port.[23][24]

As the Ben NanoNote uses an Ingenic JZ4720 processor it supports booting from USB without use of the NAND flash memory.[25][26]


The SIE board is an adaptation of the NanoNote. It has twice the memory and features a XC3S Xilinx FPGA on board. It is based on the XBurst JZ4725 SoC, which has more I/O pins available due to not having a keyboard.[27][28]

Technical specifications[edit]

  • XBurst JZ4720 336 MHz MIPS processor from Ingenic Semiconductor
  • 3.0" 320x240 pixels colour TFT LCD
  • 32 MB SDRAM
  • 2 GB NAND flash memory
  • 1 SDHC slot (SDIO/DMA capable)
  • 59-key keyboard
  • Stereo headphones connector, mono speaker and microphone
  • USB Client 2.0 High-Speed Device, Mini B connector
  • 3.7 V, 850 mAh Li-ion battery
  • Overall dimension (lid closed): 99 * 75 * 17.5mm. (display: 7.5mm, keyboard: 10mm)
  • Weight: 126 g (4.4 oz) (including battery)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Melanson, Donald. "Qi Hardware's tiny, hackable Ben NanoNote now shipping", Engadget, 15 March 2010 (accessed 1 November 2012)
  2. ^
  3. ^ Humphrey, Benjamin. "Is This The World’s Smallest Linux Laptop?", OMG! Ubuntu!, 17 January 2012 (accessed 1 November 2012)
  4. ^ a b Murphy, David. "Qi Hardware Launches Open-Source Computer", PC Magazine, 17 January 2012 (accessed 1 November 2012)
  5. ^ Ben NanoNote - Qi-Hardware (accessed 1 November 2012)
  6. ^ "Ben Nanonote". 2011-07-18. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  7. ^ "Applications". Qi Hardware Wiki. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  8. ^ "Jlime Muffinman". 2010-11-01. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  9. ^ "how to debian". 2009-09-12. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  10. ^ "Debian". Qi Hardware Wiki. 2010-12-29. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  11. ^ "nanonixos: Documentation". 2011-03-01. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  12. ^ Halfacree, Gareth. [Qi Hardware launches NanoNote "Qi Hardware launches NanoNote"], bit-tech, 16 March 2010 (accessed 1 November 2012)
  13. ^ Terrence O'Brien (2011-06-17). "Qi-Hardware debuts free, open source wireless solution, not a threat to WiFi". Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  14. ^ "Qi Hardware Releases Free Wireless Hardware". 2011-06-15. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  15. ^ Jake (2011-06-16). "Phillips: Qi Hardware Releases Free Wireless Hardware". Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  16. ^ Electronista Staff (2011-06-17). "Qi Hardware makes open-source wireless networking tech". Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  17. ^ Fabricatorz Staff (2011-06-17). "Qi Hardware Releases First Batch of 6LoWPAN Wireless Devices". Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  18. ^ "IEEE 802.15.4 subsystem — IEEE 802.15.4 Low-Rate Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN)". Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  19. ^ "Ben WPAN". Qi Hardware Wiki. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  20. ^ "Qi Hardware Releases First Batch of 6LoWPAN Wireless Devices". Fabricatorz. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  21. ^ "Ubb". Qi Hardware Wiki. 2011-05-11. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  22. ^ "RF control from just about any device". Hack a Day. 2011-02-20. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  23. ^ "Bit banging VGA from an SD card slot". Hack a Day. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  24. ^ "Micro-SD Card Slot Abused As VGA-Port". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  25. ^ "Updating Ben NanoNote software". Qi Hardware Wiki. 2011-04-21. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  26. ^ "Xburst-tools". Qi Hardware Wiki. 2011-04-25. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  27. ^ "SIE". Wiki-linuxencaja. 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  28. ^ "SIE". Wiki-qi-hardware. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]