Find Focus With This DIY Distraction-Free Editor

Find Focus With This DIY Distraction-Free Editor
Photo: Cameron Coward, Other

I’ve tried way too many distraction-free writing devices, from the Freewrite to an old Brother typewriter. As a glutton for punishment, however, I may just build the FeatherQuill while I’m trapped at home.

The FeatherQuill is a project by Cameron Coward, a writer and hardware hacker who focuses on 3D printing. The project consists of a Raspberry Pi single-board computer, a touchscreen LCD, and a keyboard. He also added a set of rechargeable batteries to power the thing for 36 hours straight.

“I write for a living and spend most of my workday sitting in front of my desktop computer while churning out articles. I built FeatherQuill because I wanted a satisfying typing experience even when I’m out and about,” Coward wrote in a post on Instructables.

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The system uses a Raspberry Pi Zero W — a super-small version of the Raspberry Pi — and a 5-inch touchscreen LCD. He added a smaller mechanical keyboard and then 3D printed a case.

The results, as you can see, are pretty bare-bones but sufficient for writers who are used to a blank screen. He uses an app called WordGrinder as a word processing system and DietPi as the OS. DietPi is a smaller, less power-hungry version of Linux that boots faster than Raspbian, the board’s default OS.

“Boot time, from power to WordGrinder, is about 20 seconds,” wrote Coward.

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Wordgrinder actually works on Windows and Mac OS if you want to give it a try, and it offers a very austere writing interface for those looking to “just write.”

Screenshot: John Biggs/Gizmodo Screenshot: John Biggs/Gizmodo

Interestingly, Coward had to print the case in two pieces and connect them together, a clever way of getting around the size limitations of his 3D printer. Obviously, you can also just buy the LCD and a Raspberry Pi 400 to create similar hardware, but this DIY kit is still ingenious.

Photo: Cameron Coward, Other Photo: Cameron Coward, Other