Home Automation Terminal With Cyberpunk Style

The OLKB-Terminal designed by [Jeff Eberl] doesn’t have a battery, can’t fold up (even if it seems like it could), and is only portable in the sense that you can literally pick it up and move it somewhere else. So arguably it’s not really a cyberdeck per se, but it certainly does look the part. If you need to be furiously typing out lines of code in a dimly lit near-future hacker’s den, this should do you nicely.

[Jeff] has provided everything you’d need to recreate this slick little machine on your own, though he does warn that some of the hardware decisions were based simply on what he had on-hand at the time, and that better or cheaper options may exist. So for example if you don’t want to use the Raspberry Pi 4, you can easily swap it out for some other single-board computer. Though if you want to change something better integrated, like the LCD panel, it will probably require modifications to the 3D printed components.

The rear electronics tray offers plenty of room for expansion.

The slim mechanical keyboard that [Jeff] used for the OLKB-Terminal, which in some ways set the tone for the whole design, is actually a completely separate open source project from [Victor Lucachi]. The VOID30 is a 3D printed, 30% handwired ortholinear keyboard that runs the popular QMK firmware on an Arduino Pro Micro. He’s implemented a couple tweaks, namely using a USB-C equipped Arduino clone, but otherwise it’s the same as upstream. So if you’re not in the market for a little bedside cyberpunk terminal but love its sleek keyboard, you’re in luck.

Software wise, [Jeff] has the OLKB-Terminal hooked into his larger Home Assistant system. This gives him an attractive status display of the whole network, and with just a tap on the terminal’s seven inch touch screen, he’s able to directly control devices around the home. That said, at the end of the day it’s just a Raspberry Pi, so it could really run whatever you want.

While cyberdeck builds might be all the rage right now, we do appreciate projects that bring those same design tenets to the desktop. From the gorgeous faux-retro designs of [Oriol Ferrer Mesi√†] to modernized pieces of vintage hardware, truly personal computers that can be easily upgraded and repaired don’t have to be limited to something you can lug around with a guitar strap.

Heavy Metal Cyberdeck Has An Eye Towards Expansion

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.

The M3TAL is currently outfitted with a Raspberry Pi 4 and a pair of 26650 batteries.

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.

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Three-Piece Cyberdeck Plays The Role Of Military Computer That Never Was

While we’re not at all sick of the cyberdeck movement yet, we do have to admit that some of the builds we see are starting to fall into categories that are beginning to seem a little familiar. The clamshell aesthetic comes to mind, but really, with spaces for a display and a keyboard, the form factor is pretty much a natural for cyberdecking. Which is why we like this three-piece twist on the cyberdeck concept so much.

Like many cyberdeck builds, inspiration for the awesomely mustachioed [Max]’s deck came from the military surplus world. As the story goes, he has a smallish clamshell case that once held radio tools and supplies for the Bundeswehr. Figuring it would make the perfect case for half of a split keyboard, he tracked down a couple more of the sturdy aluminum cases and got to work. As a mechanical keyboard aficionado, [Max] already had PCBs that would fit into two of the cases, so he populated those with suitably clicky switches, came up with cool-looking faceplates, and connected the two boxes with retractile cables. The third case got a Raspberry Pi 4 with a trimmed-down heatsink, a battery and power management, and a generous touchpad and LCD panel display. A Kali Linux install completes the tacticool look.

The three-piece cyberdeck looks very cool when all wired up together, but [Max] needed one more piece to really sell it. So he 3D-printed a slipcase for all three units; painted in military colors and suitably distressed, the whole thing really just works. We’ve seen a lot of cyberdecks lately in all sorts of styles, but this one really pleases.

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Overall view of Alta's Projects cyberdeck

Cyberdeck Running On Apple Silicon, Though An A12 Not An M1

[Alta’s Projects] built a two-in-one cyberdeck that not only contains the requisite Raspberry Pi (a zero in this case) but also eschews a dumb LCD and uses an iPad mini 5 for a display.

We need to address the donor case right away. Some likely see this as heresy, and while we love to see vintage equipment lovingly restored, upcycling warms our hearts and keeps mass-produced plastic out of landfills too. The 1991 AST 386SX/20 notebook in question went for $45 on an online auction and likely was never destined for a computer museum.

Why is Cupertino’s iOS anywhere near a cyberdeck? If a touch screen is better than an LCD panel, a tablet with a full OS behind it must be even better. You might even see this as the natural outgrowth of tablet cases first gaining keyboards and then trackpads. We weren’t aware that either was possible without jailbreaking, but [Alta’s Projects] simply used a lighting-to-USB dongle and a mini USB hub to connect the custom split keyboard to the iPad and splurged on an Apple Magic Trackpad for seamless and wireless multi-touch input.

Alta's Projects Cyberdeck Internal USB Wiring
Internal USB Wiring, Charging Circuit, and Pi Zero

The video build (after the break) is light on details, but a quick fun watch with a parts list in the description. It has a charming casual feel that mirrors the refreshingly improvisational approach that [Altair’s Projects] takes to the build. We appreciate the nod to this cyberdeck from [Tinfoil_Haberdashery] who’s split keyboard and offset display immediately sprang to mind for us too. The references to an imagined “dystopian future” excuse the rough finish of some of the Dremel cuts and epoxy assembly. That said, apocalypse or not, the magnets mounted at both ends of the linear slide certainly are a nice touch.

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Slim Sypherdeck Skips The Keyboard, Packs X86 CPU

There are few hard and fast rules in the world of custom cyberdecks, but many of these bespoke machines do share a certain level of commonality. They generally use a low-power ARM board such as the Raspberry Pi that doesn’t consume much power or require any exotic thermal management, and a large mechanical keyboard is almost a given. But at a glance, it’s clear that [Daan Gerits] wasn’t concerned with the status quo when designing the Sypherdeck.

Now to be fair, dropping the ARM single-board computer for x86 isn’t completely unheard of. But those builds tend to be considerably bulkier than the Sypherdeck. The secret here seems to be that the 3D printed enclosure doesn’t hold much else than the LattePanda and a seven inch LCD touch screen. The hatch on the side covers the rear of the power, USB, and HDMI bulkhead connectors, but it looks like there’s enough room in there to squeeze in a bit of custom electronics should you wish. There’s no obvious place to install any batteries, so if you wanted to take the show on the road, you’ll need to use an external pack.

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This Stackable Pi Portable Is Ready To Rumble

The proliferation of desktop 3D printing and powerful single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi has given rise to an absolute explosion of small bespoke computing devices. Whether or not you think these cobbled together devices are close enough to Gibson’s original vision to call them cyberdecks, it’s a remarkable shift from the norm that brings us closer to the “High Tech, Low Life”¬† philosophy so prevalent in cyberpunk literature and films.

[Jay Doscher] has been on the front lines of this movement for some time now, producing several very popular designs. His latest creation leans hard into the more utilitarian aspects of the cyberpunk ethos, inspired more by the grit of The Expanse than the lusciously upholstered interiors of Star Trek’s Enterprise-D. The culmination of lessons learned over the last several years, the new Kuiper Deck is cheaper and easier to build than his previous designs, thanks at least in part to the fact that you no longer need to go out and get an expensive Pelican case.

Like his previous designs, the Kuiper Deck makes extensive use of 3D printed components. But this time around, [Jay] is using an array of smaller pieces that are bolted together on an acrylic front panel. This not only means the project is compatible with a wider array of machines, such as the Prusa Mini, but it’s also easier to print as larger parts have an annoying tendency to warp. The downside is that you’ll need some way to get the acrylic panel cut to shape, though you can buy one through him if you don’t have any way to get it made locally.

In place of the Pelican case his previous designs used as an enclosure, [Jay] has found a heavy-duty stackable plastic tote available from McMaster Carr for $12 USD. It’s not particularly nice looking, nor is it waterproof. But that’s also sort of the point. If you’re just trying to put together a small computer that you can toss around the shop and not have to worry about breaking, the Pelican case was always a bit overkill.

The electronics bill of materials is similarly sparse, comprising mainly of the Raspberry Pi 4, a cooling fan, and a 10 inch LCD from Pimoroni. Everything gets screwed to the rear of the panel and connected with pre-made cables, making assembly very simple. That said, there’s still plenty of room inside the case for custom hardware should you want to put something custom together such as a mobile software defined radio rig.

[Jay] created the original Raspberry Pi Field Unit in 2015, but it wasn’t until he unveiled the revised Raspberry Pi Recovery Kit in 2019 that the idea of sticking a Raspberry Pi into a Pelican case became something of hacker meme. It sounds like the Kuiper Deck is going to be his final word on the subject for now, but it’s a safe bet we’ll be seeing folks putting together similar builds for years to come.

Cyberpunk Mazda MX-5 Packs Onboard Cyberdeck

Back in April of 2019, inspired by iconic films such as Blade Runner and Akira, [Chris Watson] embarked on a journey to create his very own cyberpunk roadster from a 1991 Mazda MX-5. After pouring an incredible amount of blood, sweat, and fiberglass into the project, he now has a vehicle that wouldn’t look out of place cruising the streets of Neo Tokyo. Even if you’re not usually into car mods, his impeccably photographed build log is an absolutely fascinating journey.

But as impressive as the car itself might be, what really caught our attention was the computer sitting on the dash. From early on, [Chris] wanted the vehicle to have a companion cyberdeck that would be used to control various onboard systems. At this point it’s just for show, but he says ultimately it will be integrated with the electric motor he plans to install in place of the MX-5’s original power plant. We can’t wait to see it.

Of course, the lack of a practical application has hardly stopped us from admiring any of the other cyberdecks we’ve covered thus far. This one started out life as a laptop with a broken screen, which [Chris] beheaded and connected it to 15″ external display mounted in the top of a heavy-duty case. With a new SSD and a fresh copy of Linux Mint to verify all the hardware was still functional, he put together an MDF bezel for the display that includes some faux antennae and covered aircraft style switches.

When this futuristic roadster is making an appearance at a car show or contest, [Chris] makes sure to load up some suitably high-tech looking imagery on the display. It even shows some flashing technobabble error messages pulled from The Fast & The Furious.

Traditionally we haven’t covered many custom car projects, though to be fair, we traditionally haven’t seen many that looked like this either. But between ever more technologically advanced vehicles and the insightful car modding column helmed by our very own [Lewin Day], we expect tricked out rides may become an increasingly common sight on these pages.