Tuesday, September 28, 2021 13:07

Of PDAs and Steampunk Cases…

I’ve been meaning to mention this for any PDA / electronic scoresheet owner… There are a number of essential accessories that a person who owns a PDA should have. And I retrofitted/built/homebrewed one accessory over the last 24 hours or so.

But first: Get screen protectors for your device. Without screen protectors your PDA’s touchscreen will have a limited life. (Especially if you’re using it to record Blitz games.) I know whereof I speak in this. Like the song that advises you to use sunscreen, this is an essential protection need!

As a professional, I have managed to take an iPhone screen protector and cut it down for my PDA – and it looks like it’s working well so far. (Time will tell, and I do not advise trying that at home!)

Other less essential items to have: A spare battery for the unit (if your unit’s battery can be replaced by user.) Mine can – and I intend to get a spare one. I may start using an SD external card – still thinking on that one. The Axim I have does have a CF slot, and I have an old CF based WiFi card – not as sure about that one. I will still have a backup manual scorekeeping method. My old equipment case is up to the challenge I have found, but one does have to account for that, also. Additional power adapters may help, as well, for on-site charging if necessary.

But there is one other essential: A case to carry it in. (This assumes that one doesn’t come with it.) The MonRoi does have a hard plastic screen protecting cover. My Axim didn’t come with case – though that might change with future runs, Sevan tells me.

So… what to do? Answer: Trip to Hobby Lobby! I spent an hour plus finding primary components to build my own box from. I had settled on an unfinished card box, some tools, felt, etc. to convert it. Then I found something that with some modding will work better.

My picture-intense solution after the cut!

I came across one of these decorative boxes, and I had a flash of inspiration:

Case Base

Thank you Hobby Lobby!

Case in Hand

Looks like a book, but it's not!


It wouldn’t quite hold the PDA, but has thick enough rims that I could whittle and shave the edges down enough for it to fit. Which took awhile to complete. I also added green felt to the interior, to provide a little softer “cushion” for the PDA to rest in.
Case open, felt attached

A nice soft bed a PDA can fit in!


The bits at the corners are magnets – I originally thought I could add magnets to it to hold it closed when not in use. That turned out to not work well at all – should have gotten stronger magnets. (But I’m also a little worried about strong live magnets next to a sensitive electronic device…)

I also drilled a small hole in the thick rim to act as a PDA stylus holder. Here’s the inspiration I had: I can not only use this as a storage case, but it also can be used during the game to hold the device at a readable angle! :) (My father had once helped me build a similar desk stand for my first PDA, an Apple Newton.)

Then I had to solve the hold-it-closed problem. Taking inspiration from the ‘book’ look of the case I decided I could rig up an “old school” ribbon-and-button closure. And now my brain is clicking: Why not use a sawed-down bolt, nut, and washer as the button? How steampunk!

Now I’m in full steampunk-creativity mode. If I’m adding the ribbon and peg closure (which is actually functional,) why not add a “label,” akin to old-school journals? Consultation with the wife helped, as she provided me with ribbon and a photobox with a riveted pot-metal label holder. (She actually wanted the label holder off the photobox, so it’s win-win!)

A couple minutes with OpenOffice and printer, drill out rivets from label holder, recycling the rivet heads, and Elmer’s Glue to actually glue the “removable” label to the frame of the holder.

And finally, a bit of JB-Weld to put it all together. And the result is:

Final Case Exterior

A Steampunked PDA Case!


Actually denting the cheap pot-metal rivets gave it an even-better look IMVHO.

Label Close-Up

Now everybody shall know whose this is and what it is for!

And opening it up reveals….

PDA in Case, Open

Snug in its bed, while visions of Digital Pawns dance in its head!


Once open and gearing it for usage, it looks like this:
Open and ready shot 1

It works!


Case open and ready, shot #2

It really works!


And yes it is functional, thanks to doing a lot of dry-fitting and testing:
Demo shot of using the case

It really, really works!


I am most pleased with my creation:
Final shot 1
Closed case

Yes, that is a e-Scoresheet case in my hand, and I *am* happy to play you!


And, with a little work and shifting around the interior of my case, I get to continue my old-school motif of my tournament kit:
In kit ready-to-rock!

The case fits at the right, just barely but it does! All ready for tourney play!


Although I have not yet done any studying or playing yet since last night, I have enjoyed the whole process immensely. And since I’m (by extension) enjoying my chess, I hope you

Enjoy your Chess!

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3 Responses to “Of PDAs and Steampunk Cases…”

  1. […] some accesories that any PDA owner should consider also owning. I’ve detailed them in a post here. Also, while I’m getting better at taking photos of a PDA screen, some of the PDA screens […]

  2. *redacted* says:

    Sometimes it’s really that simple, isn’t it? I feel a little stupid for not thinking of this myself/earlier, though.

  3. My apologies for removing your name, email, and website. I am not positive if this comment was legitimate or not, and there were enough ambiguities to force me to redact out your information.

    I gave it the benefit of the doubt, though, by allowing it through under those terms.

    But I let it go just to say that it is really that simple, to find and adapt an existing solution (rather than try to create it from complete scratch.)