Whether we’re talking about Gibson’s Sprawl or our increasingly dystopian reality, one of the defining characteristics of a cyberdeck is that it can be easily customized and upgraded over time. While a few of the builds we’ve covered over the last couple of years have focused more on style than substance, we really appreciate the designs that embrace the concept of modularity to make sure the system can evolve to meet the changing demands of hacking on the go.
To that end, the M3TAL from [BlastoSupreme] is a perfect example of what a cyberdeck should be. Naturally it’s got the cyberpunk aesthetics we’ve come to expect, but more importantly, it’s designed so modifications and repairs are as quick and painless as possible. The trick is the use of a 2020 aluminum extrusion frame, which allows external panels and components to be attached anywhere along the length of the deck using T-Nuts. Similarly, by mounting internal components to “sleds” that ride between the pieces of extrusion, the electronics can easily be removed or swapped out as complete modules.
Furthering the idea of expandability, [BlastoSupreme] included an authentic 3.5 floppy drive on the M3TAL that allows him to pack an incredible 1.44 MB onto each rugged and portable disk. OK, so maybe the floppy drive isn’t terribly impressive compared to 2021 tech, but it does seem oddly appropriate for a cyberdeck. On the opposite side of the deck there’s a RetroCART slot, which cloaks modern USB devices in clunky faux cartridges. This provides a unified physical format for everything from removable storage to microcontrollers and software defined radio receivers.
[BlastoSupreme] also put quite a bit of time and effort into the input devices on the M3TAL. There’s a mechanical keyboard onboard, as is something of a tradition for cyberdecks, but this one is notable for the meticulous hand-wiring and Teensy 2.0 microcontroller hiding underneath. Next to that is a small joystick intended for the Nintendo Switch which has been converted to USB by way of an Arduino Pro Micro.
Looking at the M3TAL, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that this isn’t the first custom cyberdeck [BlastoSupreme] has built. Last year we covered his gargantuan NX-Yamato, and it’s interesting to see the evolution of his technique. Clearly this isn’t a maker who’s content to rest on his laurels, so we’re eager to see what he’s got in store for his next project.