Cheap Touchpad.

Introduction: Cheap Touchpad.

About: Bytesize articles instead of a trilogy in one post.

We were thinking about getting the Ipad or a clone but they all seemed to be near a half a grand. Just not in our budget. Mostly what we wanted it for, was to be able to remotely control my home automation web server very quickly and simply wirelessly. When I saw the Insignia Infocast (aka Chumby) on sale for $67, I was in awe. A perfect match. The Chumby does not come with a web browser, but it does come with a multitude of other applications to use. We have our own web server with a multitude of applications for both business and home ( I have even written a few myself. What is nice is that you can develop software for the web server and not have to develop for the Chumby directly. The same is true for almost any touch screen device that can access the web. Here we go:

Note: you will need to have some knowledge of how wifi works. Consult an expert if you need to. They can tell you more about how to make the Chumby safe for web browsing. That is beyond the scope of this instructable.

Update: Added two pictures. The chumby via the web browser is accessing eyeOS a web app that simulates a gui os. The next to last picture is the server pushing the eyeOS. Notice that is not running any gui

Update 1: The Insignia Infocast aka Chumby also supports some usb ethernet devices. So you can plug it directly into the network and not mess with wifi..

Step 1: What Is Needed:

1- Chumby with the 8 inch screen. (The 3.5 inch might work, but have not tried it.)
1- Keyboard for the Chumby
1- Usb memory stick (128 meg is perfect.) (preferably empty)
1- Computer (for downloading and expanding the software)
1- Wifi router or access point connected to the internet or an intranet (self contained network not attached to the internet.)

I have no connection with Best Buy. Price goes up and down on this unit. Supply vs demand I guess.
Best buy no long seems to sell this product but you could go to and pay a premium.

The new Chumby8 is supposed to come with a browser at about $200 at the time of this update.
The Sony Dash, which I have no use for sells for about $150 at the time of this update. I can not confirm whether it has a real browser. We do not prefer it's user agreement. Caveat Emptor.

Update: Even the Sony Dash seems to have been pulled from the retail shelves. I am looking for an Android tablet to do a follow-up instructable.

Step 2: Get the Software.

You can get the software from here:  Default url in the file: debugchumby
Download it to a place that is easy to get to such as the desktop.

Alternative versions: (for a real Chumby only)

(more info here: )

Note: the software was alleged written by the Developer of the Chumby. It is not my software. The software to my knowledge does not modify anything on the Chumby.

Step 3: Expand Files.

Create a folder to expand the files to. (I called mine "Chumby browser".)
Now you want to expand the file by double clicking on it. (Most operating systems now support zip.)
Click on all files and extract them to the "Chumby browser" folder.

Step 4: Move Files.

Open up a window for the folder you just copied the files to.
Open up a window for the contents of the empty thumb drive.
Now you want to copy the files to the root (aka not in any folder) over to the thumb drive. (I have actually already copied mine).
Safely remove the usb drive from the computer.

Step 5: You Are Up and Running.

Make sure the Chumby is turned off.
Insert usb thumb drive with the files you just copied.
Turn on Chumby and let it boot.

In a minute or two you should be presented with a web browser. With network working, you should know what to do from there. Since the Chumby is a touch screen, you will not need a mouse. We have our own web server to allow the Chumby to do all sorts of things i.e.:

Have fun!

Update: After doing some research, I did find come code that could be used on a web server to allow use of an on screen keyboard. Use you favorite search engine to get all the details.

If you have any general questions, feel free to leave a comment.

Additional pictures of Chumby doing home automation control of led's on the web server.   Instead of led's, you could be controlling water sprinklers, lights, doors or all sorts of things.
We are developing a POS (point of sale) web application for it too.

Step 6: Changing the Default Start Screen.

At least with my unit, the browswer does not start up in full screen mode. Also wanted some local choices not on the internet for me to access quickly.  You will want to put this html filein the same directory as the debugchumby file. You will probably have to use the browser "open file" to found out where the html file is so you can change the debugchumby file so it relfects the correct location.

debugchumby (Change from to your file)
while [ 1 ] ; do
  /mnt/usb/demos/browser/browser -qws 'file:///mnt/usb-5AB6-D41C/start.html'

   function changeScreenSize(w,h)
       window.resizeTo( w,h )
<body onload="changeScreenSize(800,600)">

<h1> Choose your server:  </h1>
<a href="http://oesrvr1">oesrvr1</a>
<a href="http://typo1">typo1</a>

Step 7: Chumby 8 Firmware.

Installed the Chumby 8 firmware. It comes with a limited browser and has an on screen keyboard. Also de-authorized the insignia network for Chumby network instead.The Chumby 8 slowly but surely growing on me. The limited browser will not really work with my external keyboard 100%. Just need to find a hack to fix that. Still using original browser that boots from the usb stick.

Step 8: Potential Power Supply Idea.

Warning: Try this at your own risk. I will not be responsible for any issues.

Came up with a possible idea for a power supply using a 12v battery so that the Chumby is semi-portable. I also planned on using an NTE931 not the 7805T as the voltage regulator. Still need to add a switch and a fuse to the circuit, so you may see an update eventually. I am not an electrical engineer or anything remotely resembling one. This is what I came up with that might work, but it is definitely untested. Get a professional to help you with this.  As I said try at your own risk. If someone has a better circuit please let me know.

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    10 years ago on Introduction

    could you use somthing diffrent than a Chumby? if so, could you recomend some?(perferably cheaper yet! :P)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Wait till the tablets come in from overseas. There should be a price war. Even the ipad should drop like a rock in price, unless the retailers monopolise the market and limit what is available. If there was something less expensive and brand new I would have used it.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    ok, thanks! ya, i am waiting for the tablet from india! that looks like a nice one for $35! :D


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    don't forget tho, ya get what you pay for. I bought a cheap tablet for $75 and it ran android 1.5 it wasn't bad but almost every good app. wasn't compadible with 1.5 so really it was kinda useless.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I was asking salomon1996 which one the one from india was cuz 35 bucks is definitely in my budget


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    there is a link about it. :)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Cool. This ($25)and a portable color tv or dvd player look interesting.

    thats really cool! is it possible to make a on screen keyboard like the iPad's keyboard?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I am sure you could, the author of the web browser software did not include it. Maybe because he wanted the software to work on the limited memory of the 2.5 inch Chunby. Yes, I am sure an on screen keyboard could be done, but someone would have to write the computer software to do it.