[NTLK] Newton gateway idea

David Arnold davida at pobox.com
Thu Jan 7 22:31:44 EST 2016

Inspired by Jake’s Internal WiFi project, I’ve been thinking about designing a companion board for the Newton that would act as an Internet gateway.  It would have a WiFi and/or LTE and/or Bluetooth radio for its upstream connectivity and act as an IP router, firewall, and application-layer proxy for various services for the Newt.

The companion board would act as a general IP router, but have built-in proxies for eg. SMTP, POP and IMAP.  You’d configure applications on the Newt to connect to the services on the card, and configure the card to connect out to GMail, iCloud, etc (using SSL).  Configuration of the card could be via a basic web page (HTML2 over HTTP1.0) or perhaps with a dedicated app on the Newton.

Physically, the board could be either an internal “modem” card (like Jake’s WiFi project), or a PCMCIA card.  The Newton would use NIE to connect to the companion board, either via serial for a “modem” card or by having the board emulate a serial or Ethernet card for PCMCIA.  A “modem” card would require minimal additional drivers (same as Jake’s WiFi card); a PCMCIA card would need to either emulate a supported serial or Ethernet card, or require a dedicated driver.

Depending on how much power it’d require, the card could run a stripped-down Linux/BSD, or if necessary, a simpler embedded OS.  Either way, adding additional proxies for other applications would be possible by updating the firmware (eg. ssh, RDP, VNC, Twitter, Evernote, IFTTT, etc, etc).

The practicality of this would seem to rest on the power and space available.  The wireless module will consume a fair bit, and running the card’s CPU would take a bit.  But an iPhone can support a powerful CPU, GPUs, lots of RAM and flash, LTE, WiFi, BT, GPS, etc, etc, using a ~1500mAh battery, and IIRC, AA’s are roughly that and we have 4 of them, so perhaps it’s possible?

What do you think?


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