Jack In, The 2023 Cyberdeck Challenge Starts Now

The modern laptop is truly a masterpiece of engineering, craming an incredible amount of processing power into a thin and lightweight package that can run for hours on its internal batteries, all for just a few hundred bucks. Combine that with the ubiquitous smartphone, and it’s safe to say that the state of mobile computing has never been better.

A retro-futuristic portable computer with a touch screen and a shoulder strapDespite this, over the last several years we’ve watched cyberdecks go from a few one-off examples to a vibrant community of truly personal computing devices. While there are some exceptions, most of them are larger, more expensive, and less portable than what’s available on the commercial market. But that’s not the point — a cyberdeck should be a reflection of the hacker that built it, not the product of a faceless megacorp.

Which is why we’re excited to officially announce the 2023 Cyberdeck Challenge, starting now and running all summer through to August 15th.

Whether it’s a ridiculously over the top wearable that wouldn’t look out of place in a cyberpunk anime or a pocket-sized gadget that you operate with a handful of unlabeled buttons, we want to see it. All we ask is that it be a functional device capable of some useful amount of computing, anything beyond that is up to you. Turn in one of the top three designs, and you’ll earn a $150 USD DigiKey shopping spree, just what you need to pack a few extra bells and whistles into your rig.

Conqueror the Sprawl

Beyond the top three winners, we’ll also be looking for builds which best exemplify the following special categories:

  • Icebreaker: While there’s nothing wrong with building a deck for the aesthetic, we’re especially interested in practical builds. Does your deck have some special capabilities that make it stand out from your average laptop?
  • ROM Construct: Some of the most impressive decks are the ones that have been customized to the point that they can only realistically be used by their creators. If the average person wouldn’t even know how to turn your deck on, this might be the category for you.
  • Dex Dealer: Safely powering a portable cyberdeck can be a challenge, especially as their computational capabilities increase. Decks considered for this category will feature either unique or particularly well implemented power sources, allowing their jockeys to connect to the net wherever they are.
  • Turing Police: Artificial intelligence is here to stay, so you might as well make the best of it. This category is for decks that utilize some form of AI, or perhaps were even designed or built with the assistance of an AI.

A Consensual Hallucination

Need some inspiration? We might be a bit shy of the “billions of legitimate operators” that William Gibson imagined in Neuromancer, but there’s certainly no shortage of cyberdecks here on Hackaday. While the idea is not to replicate another hacker’s design exactly, browsing through the incredible entries we saw in last year’s cyberdeck contest should get you on the right track.

17 thoughts on “Jack In, The 2023 Cyberdeck Challenge Starts Now

    1. Are you kidding man?! The whole point of this is to get creative juices flowing for the right type of person! Someone who reads HaD is often someone who loves a good challenge… which often don’t have any reward, or even publicity.

      If you don’t have anything nice to say, my mother told me, don’t say anything at all… clearly your mother forgot to teach you some manners, and that not every HaD post is for you.

          1. That actually is a valid point. But unless you’re planning to use it every day, it will collect dust. Of course one can dismantle it after the contest, but then why not to make a prop and fake it anyway?

          2. Urgon
            If you are not actually enjoying the act of building something enough to spend your money on it and then enter such a competition it probably isn’t for you – the value for money proposition here is making your hobby effectively cheaper if you win. It isn’t a job… It is at best a motivational push to do a project you have been thinking about, or an excuse to master some construction technique you will need for the next really big project! The last cyberdeck challenge and a few other HAD articles have inspired an idea I want to build (one I think will actually be very useful too), and if life wasn’t looking like it will remain in the way through this competition period it would be enough of a motivation to push that project to the top of the pile.

            Also even machines I use every day collect dust… There is a Pi with a decent audio card in my workshop, my little home server etc – lots of use but not moved and cleaned often, and with how bad the air quality often is around here even the frequently handled stuff gathers much dust for being left alone for a few hours…

    2. They aren’t paying you to do the work, it’s incentive to do work you were already going to do be doing for free. Like others said, if your entering contests like this as some kind of moneymaking scheme, you’re not going to get anywhere.

    3. You must be new here! I’d suggest having a read of some of the old posts to familiarise yourself with the hackaday community, we like to share our projects here, it’s not actually a moneymaking community. I can suggest looking into forex on reddit if you’re looking to make minuscule sums of money :)
      Regardless! Welcome to our community!

  1. Oh hoh ROM construct sounds fun. Wish I had the materials for this idea but I don’t so. Power button turns on computer 1 esoteric key combo turns on computer 2.

    Could get real mad max fury road with this category. Fun fun

  2. Oohhh, I’d love to enter my HP Jornada 620LX to Raspi conversion, but I need a compute module to make it all fit and I ain’t willing to pay 40,000 yen for the privilege of owning a CM4…..

    Maybe next time…

  3. Pushed me along with my desire to create a printable functional item and desire to get my kid to learn to start coding in scratch. Have to wait another week for some low profile cables but we’re coming along.

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