This End Times Cyberdeck Is Apocalypse-Ready


In the cyberdeck world, some designs are meant to evoke a cyberpunk vibe, an aesthetic that’s more lighthearted than serious. Some cyberdecks, though, are a little more serious about hardening their designs against adverse conditions. That’s where something like the ARK-io SurvivalDeck comes into play.

Granted, there does seem to be at least a little lightheartedness at play with the aptly named [techno-recluse]’s design. It’s intended to be an “Apocalypse Repository of Knowledge”, which may be stretching the point a bit. But it does contain an impressive amount of tech —  wide-band software defined radio (SDR) covering HF to UHF, GPS module, a sensor for air pressure, temperature, and humidity, and a Raspberry Pi 3B running Kali Linux. Everything is housed in a waterproof ammo can; a 3D printed bezel holds an LCD touchscreen and a satisfying array of controls, displays and ports. The lid of the ammo can holds a keyboard, which was either custom-made to precisely fit the lid or was an incredibly lucky find.

There’s a lot to like about this build, but our favorite part is the external dipole for receiving NOAA weather satellite imagery. The ability to monitor everything from the ham bands to local public service channels is a nice touch too. And we have no complaints about the aesthetics or build quality either. This reminds us of an earlier cyberdeck with a similar vibe, but with a more civilian flavor.

Thanks to [Kate] for the tip.

[via Tom’s Hardware]

29 thoughts on “This End Times Cyberdeck Is Apocalypse-Ready

    1. The NOAA satellites cross every country in the world – they’re in polar orbits, and precess with time. You can hear them around 137MHz with an SDR, and decode the image with WxToImg (which is free software).

      I’ve pulled some pretty clear images down from them before now with nothing more than an RTL-SDR starter kit with a pair of telescopic antennas and a Windows laptop (though there are doubtless better setups).

      1. WxToImg software is available for Windows 3.1x and Mac OS, too!
        Just requires an AM capable receiver for ~137MHz and a soundcard.

        Btw, Weather FAX is interesting, too. Works worldwide and is 100% independent of the internet.

        For example, there’s a German station on shortwave (~3853 KC/s). It can be received with an SSB capable radio (or online via websdr). And with some cool vintage software from the 1980s, even.

        I used to use JV-Fax with a homebrew decoder based on a 741 chip and a long-wire antenna.

        The latter would be cool to have in such a cyberdeck!
        – Just pull out a long ring of antenna wire that can be set up in the wilderness (can be hung up between trees).

        For Mac, CocoaModem or Multimode can be used. MixW3 etc on Windows. Linux software is available, too. :)

      1. But that would pollute the RF spectrum and make it harder to find interesting things in the 2.4GHz range.

        A more elegant solution would be pogo pins to charge and point to point IR (possibly over an ultra flexible light pipe) to move signals from the keyboard to the pi.

        1. But then you are messing up all those TV remotes at the end of the world…

          I do personally agree IR is a far better wireless tech for keyboards/mice – HID in general, as its so so much harder to snoop on without being rather visible as you do so, and so much less prone to interference, as long as you have LOS its pretty much certain to work perfectly, and without in most rooms/cubicles it will still work – have the IR receiver on the monitor and generally you will get LOS because normally you wish to see what your inputs are doing.

          Personally though if you are going to build a keyboard in that looks horrible to use ergonomically I’d say just don’t bother – give it trackball/trackpad/joystick/morse key or the tiny touchscreen so its got some useable HID built in and an open connection to fit a real keyboard. Quite like everything else about this design but the keyboard placement and the exposed wires it creates, for me would be far better off without.

  1. That’s great! I wish it had used ultra capacitors instead of lithium ion batteries, so it could actually be unshelved in like 20 years and still work (even if the run time would be a lot worse). Batteries are definitely a real weak spot for post-apocalyptic portable computing.

    1. Ultracapacitors aren’t primary storage. They’ve only just barely started approaching the worst NiMH batteries in terms of energy density. There’s no point to putting substantial effort into any sort of battery tech. Just equip the device with an AC switching power supply with lots of filtering/protection; ditto for a DC input.

      These projects are all just masturbatory dreaming. Ain’t nobody gonna carry that stuff around in an apocalypse. If things are bad enough that something like this is relevant, you’re going to be worried about food, not getting online, and there won’t be infrastructure to connect to. If things are less bad, everyone will be tailoring infrastructure to people with cell phones or laptops over wifi / cellular, not morons with giant ammo-can computers.

      You need a solar panel, weather-proof cell phone, a battery, OTG cord, and a many-GB flash device. Or, really, just buy a Toughbook, because Panasonic will do a better job than you ever will.

    2. Well.. At home, we’ve got a sealed lead battery that’s in use since ~2006. Now it’s 2022.
      It’s connected to the solar panel through a little solar charger.
      It’s used for our radio hobby. Still works without any real maintenance.

      Seriously meant advice:
      If you’re looking for longevity, don’t always look forward.
      Sometimes, obscure technology of the past might be more “advanced” in a specific way. ;)

      1. Hm. Comment disappeared. I don’t know if they still sell them this way, but I bought a motorcycle battery decades ago, that came with the electrolyte packaged in polyethylene bag, making for nearly indefinite shelf life. Can’t really do that with Li-ion OR supercaps.

  2. Instead of running the wires straight across the hinge, route them as parallel and close to the hinge axis as possible. This way the wires twist instead of bend when opening and closing the lid. This puts much less strain on the wires (down to virtually zero if done right) and avoids having to make room for the loop of wires that forms when the lid is closed.

    1. One of the advantages of a ruggedized portable computer, is that it can store a great number of books, far more than you could carry around in paper form. Power can always be had, with all the photovoltaic panels in the world now, as well as bicycle- or wind-powered generators that can be cobbled together.

      Of course, you still have to eat, but having a computer doesn’t necessarily make that harder. So while projects like this may seem frivolous, a well-designed and built one is not really a bad thing to have during and after a major war.

    1. Temperature might be more of a problem.
      Modern LC displays don’t like low temperature.

      Not only do they slow down in the cold,
      but the displays may break at some point. Physically, I mean.

      CRTs, 7-segment, VFD’s, e-ink or gas plasma screens might be more tolerant here.

  3. I also have a design for a post-apocalyptic repository of knowledge: a Kindle with as much information I can cram in there.

    Only requires power when flipping a page.

    Now I just need to actually get one.

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