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.
A common complaint we’ve seen on many of the recent cyberdeck builds is that they don’t offer any display technology more advanced than a tablet-sized IPS panel. The argument goes that to be a true deck in the Gibsonian sense, it’s got to have some kind of virtual reality interface or at least a head mounted display. Unfortunately such technology is expensive, and often not particularly hacker friendly.
But assuming you can settle for a somewhat low-tech alternative, the simple head mounted display that [Jordan Brandes] has been fiddling with is certainly a viable option. By mounting a five inch 800×480 TFT LCD to the front of a pair of goggles designed for first person view (FPV) flying, you can throw together a workable rig for around $30 USD. Add in some headphones, and you’ve got a fairly immersive experience for not a lot.
Naturally the display will show whatever HDMI signal you give it, but in his case, [Jordan] has mounted a Raspberry Pi to the back of it to make it a complete wearable computer. With a Bluetooth travel keyboard in the mix, he’s even able to get some legitimate work done with this setup. If he ends up combining this with the ultrasonic keyboard he was working on earlier in the year, he’ll be getting pretty close to jacking into cyberspace for real.
Sticking a Raspberry Pi in a Pelican-style case and calling it a cyberdeck has become something of a meme these days, and while we certainly don’t look down on such projects, we recognize they can get a bit repetitive. But we think this one is unique enough to get a pass. Sure [eizen6] mounted a Pi inside of a rugged waterproof case, but it’s simply serving as a display for the real star of the show: a vintage Atari 800XL computer.
The overall look of the build, from the stenciled Nostromo on the back to the self-destruct warning sticker over the display is a reference to Alien. Partly because both the film and the Atari 800 were released in 1979, but also because [eizen6] says this particular aesthetic is simply the way computers should look. The visual style is also meant to signify that the project embraces the old ways despite the sprinkling of modern technology.
To that end, retro aficionados will be happy to hear that the Atari appears to be completely unmodified, with [eizen6] going as far as nestling the nearly 40 year old computer in foam rather than permanently mounting it to the case. The various cables for power, video, and data have all been terminated with the appropriate connectors as well, so everything can be easily unplugged should the 8-bit machine need to be returned to more pedestrian use.
In the top half of the case, [eizen6] has mounted the Raspberry Pi 3B+, a seven inch touch screen, a USB hub, and a SIO2SD that allows loading Atari disk images from an SD card. Using a USB capture device, video from the Atari can be shown on the Pi’s display with a simple VLC command. With a USB keyboard plugged into the hub, the Pi can be put to more advanced use should the need arise. It’s also worth noting that, thanks to a custom cable, the Atari is running off of a USB power bank. With a second USB power bank dedicated to running the Pi and its LCD display, this retro cyberdeck is fully mobile.
[Purkkaviritys] was in charge of designing the 3D printed enclosure for the device, which he says takes an entire 2 kg roll of filament to print out. Unfortunately he wasn’t as involved in the electronics side of things, so we don’t have a whole lot of information about the internals beyond the fact that its powered by a Raspberry Pi 4, features a HyperPixel 4.0 display, and uses power over Ethernet so it could be easily set up at the con with just a single cable run.
The keypad is a custom input device using the Arduino Micro and Cherry MX Blue switches with 3D printed keycaps to get that chunky payphone look and feel. [Purkkaviritys] mentions that the keypad is also responsible for controlling the RGB LED strips built into the sides of the terminal, and that the Raspberry Pi toggles the status of the Caps, Scroll Lock, and Num Lock keys to select the different lighting patterns.
Naturally we’d like to see more info on how this beauty was put together, but given that it was built for such a specific purpose, it’s not like you’d really need to duplicate the original configuration anyway. Thanks to [Purkkaviritys] you have the STL files to print off our own copy of the gloriously cyberpunk enclosure, all you’ve got to do now is figure out how to make video calls with it.
Now to be fair, his parts bin is perhaps a bit better stocked for this kind of thing than most. He’s built a couple of Raspberry Pi portables already, so the Pi Zero W, display, and battery management board were already kicking around. He just had to come up with a new 3D printed enclosure that holds it all together with a little bit of cyberpunk flair.
To that end, he’s done an excellent job of documenting the build and has released the STL files for the 3D printed components. All things considered, we’d say this is probably the most approachable cyberdeck design currently available; if you’ve been wondering what all the fuss is about with these bespoke little computers, this is an ideal project to get started with.
Keep in mind that the idea of a cyberdeck is to build something custom for yourself, so there’s no need to copy this build exactly. If you’re short on parts, you could forgo the battery powered aspect and just keep it tethered. The superfluous (but very cool) GX12 connectors could certainly be deleted as well, although at serious stylistic cost. You’ll probably need to order the specific keyboard that [facelesstech] designed the lower half of the device around, but it’s common enough that it shouldn’t be hard to track down. No matter which way you take it, this design is a great base to start from.
Inspired by other builds he’d seen online, [BlastoSupreme] decided to build his very own cyberdeck. There was only one problem: he’d never designed and assembled anything like this before. Wanting to avoid any problems down the line, he reasoned that the safest approach would be to make it so big that he wouldn’t struggle to fit everything inside. Some may say the resulting NX-Yamato, named for the most massive battleship ever constructed, ended up being too large. But that’s only because they are afraid.
In his write-up on The Cyberdeck Cafe, a site dedicated to the community sprouting up around these futuristic personal computers, [BlastoSupreme] describes building this cyberdeck as something of a transformative experience. Looking at the incredible effort that went into this project, we can believe it. From the intricate CAD work to the absolutely phenomenal finish on the Yamato’s 3D printed frame, there’s not a cut corner in sight.
That’s right, nearly every component of this cyberdeck was conjured into existence by squirting out hot plastic. About two kilograms of it, to be precise. It was printed in vertical chunks which were then assembled with adhesive and screws. This modular construction technique allowed [BlastoSupreme] to build what he believes to be the largest cyberdeck ever made. Sounds a lot like a challenge to us.
Admittedly, the massive internal volume of the Yamato is largely unused; all that’s inside it right now is a Raspberry Pi 4 and a X705 power management board that allows the deck to run off of 18650 cells. Of course, all that space could easily be put to use with additional gear or even a larger and more powerful Single Board Computer (SBC) such as the Atomic Pi. There’s even a dedicated compartment in the side for snacks, so no worries there. As [BlastoSupreme] puts it, all that empty space inside is a feature, not a bug.
With little more than an Arduino, an OLED display, and some buttons, it’s easy to build your own faux-retro game system. There’s even a growing library of titles out there that target this specific combination of hardware, thanks in no small part to the Arduboy project. But unless you’re content to play Circuit Dude on a breadboard, at some point you’ll probably want to wrap the build up in a more convenient form.
Like many that came before it, the OLED handheld created by [Alex Zidros] takes inspiration from a Nintendo product; but it’s not the Game Boy. Instead, his design is based on a 3D printed grip for the Switch Joy-Cons that he found on Thingiverse. After tacking on a holder for the PCB, he had the makings of a rather unique system.
We especially like the offset SSD1306 OLED display. Not because we think a game system with an asymmetrical layout is a particularly sound design decision, but because it gives the whole build a rather cyberpunk feel. When combined with the exposed electronics, the whole system looks like it could have been cobbled together from a futuristic dumpster. Which is high praise, as far as we’re concerned.
Opposite the display is a LiPo pouch battery that [Alex] says was liberated from a portable speaker, and down below is an Adafruit Feather 328P. There are two tactile switches mounted to the front of the Feather, and in something of a departure from these sort of builds, there are two more on the shoulders of the 3D printed case. Everything is held together with nothing more exotic than a scrap of perfboard, making it easy for anyone who might want to build their own version.