Modding Alphasmart Neo for wireless BLE transfer


I love the simplicity of writing on an Alphasmart Neo. I scored a few from a middle school. The one thing that I wish it had was wireless transfer capabilities. I added an ESP32 to act as a USB host and then emulate a BLE keyboard. This allows for easy transfer of text without modifying the original board or firmware.


Prototype Hardware Modification

Alphasmart Neo Mod

At the heart of the mod is ~$10 esp32-s3-devkitc-1 module. I picked this module since it splits out the USB Host port from the programming/serial port which reduces debugging time. The ESP takes 5V directly from the Alphasmart. I cut a micro USB cable to connect the ESP32 to the underside of the USB Type B plug. Power is switched so you can put the Alphasmart into BLE keyboard mode with power on. This is a first pass attempt so I just used Myler tape to secure the device and wire together. I did this on my second Neo and will do a “cleaner” install on my other one.

Next Steps

  1. Document the code and schematic.
  2. Add local OTA WiFi updating.
  3. Add command mode to firmware.
  4. Add Jekyll Blog posting capabilities.
  5. Add post to Twitter capabilities.
· project, hardware