A cyberdeck/portable PC sits on a deck rail in the sun.

T3rminal Cyberdeck Has Looks To Die For

One of the greatest things about the hacker ecosystem is that whole standing-on-the-shoulders-of-giants thing. Somebody makes something and shares it, and then someone else takes that thing and remixes it, sometimes making it objectively better. For their T3rminal cyberdeck, [calebholloway08] was inspired by a number of projects and came up with something that looks simply fantastic.

Whether you want to call this beauty a cyberdeck or a mobile PC, the guts are what you might expect — a Raspberry Pi 4, an affordable mini keyboard, and a touch screen. But this one took some doing, as in [calebholloway08] had to do a little bit of surgery on the Pi 4, the PiSugar S plus power supply platform, and the display. But you shouldn’t let that stop you from standing on the shoulders of giants, as [calebholloway08] provides (or guides you towards) clear instructions for all three mods.

One thing [calebhollway08] would have done differently was to use something other than a 18650 battery for power, like a 21700. The question is, what will you do differently?

Maybe this is a little too small for you. If so, check out this EMP-protected cyberdeck.

Hack In Style With This Fallout Cyberdeck

There’s always an appeal to a cool-looking computer case or cyberdeck – and with authentic-looking Vault-Tec style, [Eric B] and [kc9psw]’s fallout-themed cyberdeck is no exception.

The case looks like it came straight out of one of the Fallout games and acts the part: while (obviously) not capable of withstanding a direct nuclear bomb impact, it can protect the sensitive electronics inside from the electromagnetic pulse and shockwave that follows – if you keep it closed.

And it’s not just the case that’s cool: This cyberdeck is packed full of goodies like long-range radios, SDRs, ADSB receivers, a Teensy 4.1, and dual Raspberry Pis. But that’s just the hardware! It also comes with gigabytes upon gigabytes of Wikipedia, Wikihow, TED talks, and other information/entertainment, for the less eventful days in the wastelands.

If you, too, would like to have one, fret not! The parts list and design files are public, even though some assembly is required.

The Next Evolution Of The Raspberry Pi Recovery Kit

At Hackaday, the projects we cover are generally a one-off sort of thing. Somebody makes something, they post it online, we share it with our audience — rinse and repeat. If a project really captures people’s imaginations, it might even inspire a copy or two, which is gratifying for everyone involved. But on the rarest of occasions, we run across a project like [Jay Doscher]’s Recovery Kit.

To say that the Recovery Kit was an inspiration to others would be putting it mildly. Revolutionary would be more like it, as it resulted in more “Pi-in-a-Pelican” builds than we could possibly count. So it’s only natural that [Jay] would return to the well and produce a second version of his heavy-duty cyberdeck.

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ESP32 Provides Distraction-Free Writing Experience

Writing out a few thousand words is easy. Getting them in the proper order, now that’s another story entirely. Sometimes you’ll find yourself staring at a blank page, struggling to sieve coherent thoughts from the screaming maelstrom swirling around in your head, for far longer than you’d care to admit. Or so we’ve heard, anyway.

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for writer’s block. But many people find that limiting outside distractions helps to keep the mental gears turning, which is why [Un Kyu Lee] has been working on a series of specialized writing devices. The latest version of the Micro Journal, powered by the ESP32, goes a long way towards achieving his goals of an instant-on electronic notebook.

The writing experience on the Micro Journal is unencumbered by the normal distractions you’d have on a computer or mobile device, as the device literally can’t do anything but take user input and save it as a text file. We suppose you could achieve similar results with a pen and a piece of paper…but where’s the fun in that? These devices are more widely known as writerdecks, which is an extension of the popular cyberdeck concept of hyper-personalized computers.

This newest Micro Journal, which is the fourth iteration of the concept for anyone keeping score, packs a handwired 30% ortholinear keyboard, a 2.8″ ILI9341 240×320 LCD (with SD card slot), ESP32 dev board, and an 18650 battery with associated charging board into a minimalist 3D printed enclosure.

Unable to find any suitable firmware to run on the device, [Un Kyu Lee] has developed his own open source text editor to run on the WiFi-enabled microcontroller. While the distraction-free nature of the Micro Journal naturally means the text editor itself is pretty spartan in terms of features, it does  allow syncing files with Google Drive — making it exceptionally easy to access your distilled brilliance from the comfort of your primary computing device.

While the earlier versions of the Micro Journal were impressive in their own way, we really love the stripped down nature of this ESP32 version. It reminds us a bit of the keezyboost40 and the EdgeProMX, both of which were entered into the 2022 Cyberdeck Contest.

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Luggable Cyberdeck Can Still Be A Luggable PC

In the 80s and early 90s, there existed a class of personal computers that are no longer around today — the luggable. Planted firmly between a desktop and a laptop, these machines were lovingly called so because they were portable, but just barely. Think Kaypro, Osborne, or the Compaq Portable.

First things first — this lovely 1990-era industrial luggable has not been gutted according to [D1g1t4l_G33k]. The chassis, CRT, power supply, and ISA backplane are original and still intact, and they still have all the parts to restore it to its original DOS 3.1 form.

What [D1g1t4l_G33k] did do is replace the 386x-based ISA SBC with a 2005 AMD LX-600 Geode at 366 MHz. Gone are the ISA data acquisition cards and 80 MB SCSI hard drive, replaced with a 32 GB compact flash drive. The floppy drive is functional, too. Now it sits on a cart next to the workbench running AntiX Core 19.5, functioning happily as an AVR development workstation.

Having an old luggable to mess with in the first place isn’t a requirement. We’ve seen a modern take on the luggable, and here’s one with three monitors.

A Typewriter For The Paperless Age

Writing is, as any of the Hackaday crew will tell you, a task which requires concentration. For your best work there’s a need to be in that elusive Zone, and for some that means making the experience as distraction free as possible. For them there’s an entire class of minimalist word-processors and text editors which reduce the UI to nothing more than the text. [Adam Blumenberg] has taken this a step beyond software with his digital typewriter, a single-purpose Raspberry Pi-based cyberdeck that serves only for distraction-free writing.

There’s not a lot in the way of descriptive text at the above link but in a way there doesn’t need to be as the photographs tell the story. A mechanical keyboard and a wide but not very tall display fit with the Pi in a fairly rudimentary wooden case, and running Focuswriter it leaves very little in the way of distraction. In that sense it’s not quite so much a cyberdeck in its application as something more like the smart digital typewriters from a few decades ago without the printer, but we can see that it makes for a very handy writing implement. Sadly the job of writing for Hackaday requires constant access to online sources on a larger screen, or we’d be tempted to try one ourselves.

The one-purpose writing computer is an idea we’ve seen before from time to time, for example in this one with an e-paper display.

2023 Cyberdeck Challenge: The Best Decks On The Net

It was an easy decision to run a Cyberdeck Challenge in 2023 — after all, it was far and away one of our most popular contests from last year. But what was much harder was sorting out the incredible array of bespoke computers that readers have been sending in for the last few months.

Our judges have painstakingly whittled down the list of entries to get our top three winners, each of which will be awarded $150 in credit from the good folks over at DigiKey. But there were simply too many fantastic custom computers in the running to let everyone else go home empty-handed, so we’ve decided to also break out some $50 Tindie gift cards for the decks that best exemplified this year’s special categories.

Without further ado, let’s take a tour through the judge’s top picks for this year’s Cyberdeck Challenge!

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