2023 Cyberdeck Challenge: A Ham Radio Cyberdeck

Cyberdecks rock because their homebrewed nature lets them feature all kinds of nifty additional functionality. [Kaushlesh] has built his deck with an eye to ham radio use, and it’s a rugged and impressive thing.

The deck is built into a weatherproof enclosure, with various 3D-printed parts helping to integrate the components into the clamshell enclosure. It runs on a Raspberry Pi 4, with [Kaushlesh] springing for the hefty model with 8GB of RAM. It has a 10-inch LCD screen and a rechargable battery pack with an impressive 20 hour battery life, and is intended for use when [Kaushlesh] is out camping or participating in ham radio field days. To that end, it’s equipped with a USB software-defined radio module and a BNC connector for hooking up an external antenna. It also has a game controller that mounts inside, just in case he desires playing a few games on Retropie while he’s out and about. It’s even got storage for a mouse and rocks a decent-sized keyboard inside.

We’d love to tote this to a hamfest for a bit of hacking on the side. It’s not the first ham-themed cyberdeck we’ve seen, either. Now we just need one built for prosciutto. Video after the break.

27 thoughts on “2023 Cyberdeck Challenge: A Ham Radio Cyberdeck

    1. Not all Cyberdeck use a Pi, just most of them as the Pi is almost the only SBC in existence that combines small form factor with good price (at RRP), passively cooled possibilities, low power consumption, useful IO range, functional desktop level performance, and all while being rather well supported.

      What would you use instead?!?! This looks to be a really nice design to me that couldn’t easily be built with anything else, there just isn’t space in that case to put a bigger computing unit and still fit everything else in so neatly.

      Though as much as I love the Pi family I really want to turn a Steamdeck mobo into the brains of a cyberdeck myself – the low power performance is really impressive, you have PCI lanes available so adding hardware with good bandwidth will be relatively easy and it isn’t huge. But even at scalper prices you could probably get 3 maybe even 4 of the higher performance pi for the same money as the cheapest Steamdeck, which if they are the compute module version opens up some interesting possibilties of a cluster computer or ‘VM’ style sandboxed computing but with real native hardware being net booted by the primary computer – so about as perfectly airgapped as you can get!

      1. Almost anything is better, nobody trying to sell you bottom barrel 10 years old 20 cents BOM for a $100, such deed almost exclusive RPI domain.
        And if you don’t want to be stuck with no drivers beside proprietary blobs, there are tons of RISC-V boards at least with passable 3D acceleration with MESA(Yes, I’m aware quite few manufactures trying to sell Allwinner D1/D1s, XuanTie C906/C910 and even dammit StarFive VisionFive 2 for like $100 but you can check yourself board with same available for $5-25 depend of how much ram you need on chinese online retailer ABB/TM/AE/BJ/JD etc., supply issues mostly resolved so I’m not sure why price on western resellers stay quite high x5-10 make them almost useless).
        If you need more higher performance/Watt there are a lot of cheap industrial/small form-factor x86 boards with standard sockets and laptop/embedded SoC.
        https://mesamatrix.net/ If you still want RISC-V/ARM board be aware most of SoC GPU have crappy support and don’t even have mainline Vulkan driver for exemption of andreno (with tons of * not supported).

        1. As $100 is well over the RRP of even the top excessively RAM laden Pi4 and you can get Pi4 here now at RRP from all the electronics sellers I tend to use, so that really is a daft comment – I said CHEAP AT RRP! Not at the scalper markup price! (Plus SBC with 8GB which are the only one that should be even close to that $100 are really quite rare and always expensive from any source. While usually being almost entirely pointless – if you actually use more than 1-2GB on a SBC its a rare project, so the 4GB is really ample for most)

          As far as I know there isn’t anything RISC/ARM with anywhere near the level of support and up to date/mainlined kernel compared to the Pi, with similar performance for the price. You can spend a heap more for a slightly more open but massively slower board, or a small amount less for a board with a kernel from 5 years ago and no documentation to help you cook your own that on paper can match or best the Pi. They won’t in practice most of the time though.

          And finding X86-64 for the generally easier time support wise that isn’t orders of magnitude larger footprint, power draw, etc means buying whole/scrap netbook like devices with lots of e-waste attached usually at rather high expense for an uncertain total supply – so no spares if you break anything, or paying even more for the same sort of specs on one of the few ‘industral embedded’ SBC…

          You want to build a project, especially if you want to share that project in a reasonable hope others can build it a Pi is nearly your only choice smaller than the mini-ITX, as sadly as far as I know at least nothing at all comes close yet on being the whole package a Pi is, and they come with long term easy availability too! (expected availability anyway, pandemic related shortage or the first few weeks after a new Pi launch don’t really count)

          1. > cents BOM for a $100, such deed almost exclusive RPI domain.

            Are you completely clueless, or do you think we’re clueless and you’re lying to us on purpose?

            If you’re just clueless, that can be fixed by visiting the RPi web site and looking at the prices. If you’re a liar, that’s harder to fix.

          2. RRP is shorthand commonly used in the UK (at least) along with MRRP for the recommended sale price/price the manufacturer would mandate it should be sold be for. Recommended Retail Price.

            And by that Argument Ray every bit of electronics you have ever bought as been cents of BOM compared to the cost you pay, as you are not just paying for the BOM, but also the R&D, customer support, shipping, taxes, general admin staff etc. The RPI people seem to be very very very far from the worst offender for cranking up the sale price above reason… The Obvious offender there being the other major fruit brand, though at least the Apple silicon stuff actually has some impressive performance figures in some tasks and energy efficiency going for it. So for once it isn’t just a massively massively overpriced and less versatile PC using basically normal off the shelf PC hardware that runs the Apple walled garden OS.

            Plus the BOM for a Pi4 isn’t going to be cents even produced at mind boggling huge scale for maximum economies of scale. As it has a reasonably complex CPU/GPU combo, quite a bit of RAM, a reasonably performant and correspondingly expensive USB 3 chipset (its nowhere near the highest end you could pay for PCIe to USB 3 but it isn’t the cheapest junk that only sort of does USB 3 either), not to mention the plethora of connectors on the board – sure most of them are not when bought in bulk super expensive but lets say at $0.5 each on average (at a fairly wild guess, it might well be more or less, but I’d bet that is in the ballpark taking the cost of getting a small batch HDMI connectors as a point of reference for instance).

            And that also discounts the added value and huge cost the Pi folks have to eat keeping all the generation of Pi supported and available for a very long time, while paying for dev time to create more open and better software to run on it (and other things)…

            Which all adds up to making even your scalper $100 which Pi are not supposed to be sold for not actually that bad – and is also why the smaller vendor tend to be even more expensive as they don’t have the scale (or support from Broadcom the Pi folks had to get them started) and usually worse performers in every way – at least in practice as the in theory capable hardware is so poorly supported it just doesn’t work to its potential.

            NB I am not saying all other SBC are e-waste or anything stupid like that – just that the Pi is the goto for a damn good reason, as it does practically everything you could want from a SBC (though things like native SATA or M.2 for instance could make something else the better choice for some), and does it easily and barring the recent scalping at a good price for what you get!

    1. The fun of home brew, plus if built right it will be much more rugged than a laptop and I don’t know of many laptops that can go 20 hours operation. I may build one for myself, but I was thinking of using an ODROID.

      1. Any laptop thats fits into a pelicase or chinacase. If you need more battery just use more powerbanks like he did in the Pi Case. Laptop has bigger screen, way more power. You can dual boot if you want Win, Linux ect. Run VM or docker from your OS. No cable management under thr hood.

        But its a cool project and probably fun to build. Some like to puzzel others like to tinker with this.

    2. Because your laptop wouldn’t come with a massive 20h of battery life, durable rough and tumble case and SDR built in!

      Even the Panasonic Toughbook range that tend to be good for the sort of rugged end won’t have that!

    1. He says in his writeup that it’s ” optimized for use with Amateur Ham Radio”, he doesn’t claim it’s a fully compliant and certified radio station. Do you see anything that contradicts his statement?

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