Raspberry Pi Cyberdeck Inspired By Rare MSX

When we see these cyberdeck builds, the goal is usually to just make something retro-futuristic enough to do William Gibson proud. There’s really no set formula, but offset screens coupled with large keyboards and a vague adherence to 1980s design language seem to be the most important tenets.

Granted the recent build by [lewisb42] still leans heavily on those common tropes, but at least there’s a clear lineage: his Raspberry Pi retro all-in-one is styled after a particularly rare bright red variant of the MSX that Sony released in Japan. Known as the HIT-BIT HB-101, some aficionados consider the circa-1984 machine to be the peak of MSX styling. Since getting his hands on a real one to retrofit wasn’t really an option, he had no choice but to attempt recreating some of the computer’s unique design elements from scratch.

The faceted sides were 3D printed in pieces, glued together, and then attached to a 1/4″ thick backplate made out of polycarbonate. For the “nose” piece under the keyboard, [lewisb42] actually used a piece of wood cut at the appropriate angles with a table saw. The top surface of the computer, which he calls the FLIPT-BIT, is actually made of individual pieces of foamed PVC sheet.

If all this sounds like a big jigsaw puzzle, that’s because it basically is. To smooth out the incongruous surfaces, he used a combination of wood putty, body filler, spot putty, and more time sanding then we’d care to think about. For the 3D printed surface details such as the screen bezel and faux cartridge slots, he used a coat of Smooth-On’s XTC-3D and yet more sanding. While [lewisb42] says the overall finish isn’t quite as good as he hoped, we think the overall look is fantastic considering the combination of construction techniques hiding under that glossy red paint job.

As for the electronics, there’s really no surprises there. The FLIPT-BIT uses a keyboard and touchpad from Perixx, a seven inch TFT display, and of course the Raspberry Pi 3. The display runs at 12 V so [lewisb42] used a combination of a generic laptop-style power supply and a 5 V step-down converter to keep everyone happy. While it doesn’t currently have a battery, it seems like there’s more than enough room inside the case to add one if he ever wants to go mobile.

If this build doesn’t properly scratch your Neuromancer itch, never fear. Just take a look at this decidedly less friendly-looking build that even includes a VR headset for properly jacking yourself into the matrix.

11 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi Cyberdeck Inspired By Rare MSX

        1. I don’t use my headset as much as I’d like, but the best of it so far is definitely Beat Saber – my kids love the game, especially with custom tracks so they can slash their way through their favourite tracks. It’s still some way from the all-encompassing holodeck experience, though, and you always have the issue of getting a sweaty headset after minutes of play, making those kind of ‘5 minutes at a time then let the next player have a go’ kind of arrangements you naturally get with Beat Saber, Space Pirate Trainer, Fruit Ninja VR, etc better for avoiding any VR nausea or overheating problems.

  1. I have, in service, several Raspberry Pis and multiple laptop computers sourced from local thrift stores at prices below those of Raspberry Pis. The laptops are running my favorite (currently) flavor of linux. Inasmuch as I have not yet utilized the GPIO pins on my PIs, and although the Raspberry Pis are fascinating devices, I find the laptops to be a much more complete computing solution and more economically attractive.

      1. Raspberry Pis don’t tend to come with batteries, so not the strongest argument.

        I don’t really know where people shop to find things like that. I’m in England, maybe we’re more wasteful and just throw electronics away, I don’t really see second hand computers or any interesting computery bits. Plenty of novelty mice and super cheap keyboards, but not actual useful stuff.

        1. The waste transfer station near me has an area for people to deposit electronic stuff. Anyone can come in a take what they want from there. I’ve picked up several laptops and desktops that either just need minor repairs or are perfectly fine. I update BIOS, fix what needs fixing to make a usable computer. Some of them I’ll spend a few dollars to upgrade the CPU and RAM. Old Core 2 Duo and Turion X2 laptop CPUs are currently dirt cheap.

    1. You might be missing the point of a cyberdeck. It’s not about having a cheap laptop. It’s about having a cyberdeck.

      It’s like nobody builds a steampunk carriage because it is more practical than a car.

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