No, the case didn’t have to get pieced back together by hand, and the board didn’t need to have half of its traces recreated. But the outer plastic was certainly in need of a good retrobright treatment, the keyboard was overdue for a cleaning, and the capacitors in the PSU were predictably due for retirement. After [Drygol] got through with it, the machine was back in like-new condition. But then, we can do a little better than that…
So into the refreshed computer went several community-developed modifications, including a M3SE expander that adds Compact Flash and Ethernet support to the TRS-80 and a high-resolution Grafyx video board. In classic [Drygol] style, every effort was made to integrate these upgrades as seamlessly as possible. After struggling for a bit to find a 5.25″ drive that would write a disk the TRS-80 would actually read, all the necessary files to get the upgrades working were transferred over, and the system was booting into TRSDOS.
Remember the “suitcase” form-factor for PCs? In the time before latops, these luggable machines were just the thing for the on-the-go executive. OK, maybe not really — but the ability to have PC, monitor, and peripherals in a single package had real appeal, and a lot of that rationale is behind the cyberdeck phenomenon. So when we saw this retro portable TV turned into a cyberdeck, it really caught our eye.
Ironically, the portable black-and-white TV that [Lucas Dul] chose as the basis for his cyberdeck hails from about the same period in time that luggable PCs were having their brief time in the sun. Scored from eBay, the Magnavox TV/radio combo had seen better days, and required a bit of surgery to repair what might have been drop damage. With the CRT restored and the video and audio paths located, the TV got a Raspberry Pi, a small touchpad, and a couple of concealed USB connectors. The Pi’s composite output drives the CRT, with about the results you’d expect. The keyboard appears to be just about the right size to serve as a cover, but [Lucas] said that’s a future project.
Still, with the TV’s original handle acting as a stand, this cyberdeck gives off a real Compaq or IBM portable PC vibe. We’ve seen a few luggable-lookalike cyberdecks before, but none that dared use a CRT monitor. It may be a far cry from HDMI, but we really appreciate that [Lucas] chose this way rather than slapping in an LCD.
When a particular device or appliance is evoked, there comes with it a set of expectations over what it might look like. A toaster, a camera, a washing machine, or a PC, will all have their own accepted form factors, and it’s rare that a manufacturer is adventurous enough to venture outside them. In the world of PCs there was a brief flowering of this type of creativity through the 1990s, and it’s that time which [ikeji]’s cube PC squarely fits in. It’s a 3D printed PC with a built-in display, keyboard, and printer, and while some might categorize it as a cyberdeck we’d say it goes further, we could easily imagine a slightly more polished version being an object of desire back when a powerful machine carried an 80486.
Inside it’s no slouch, packing an AMD Ryzen 7 Pro on a Mini-ITX motherboard, and while the display is a mere 7-incher it fits neatly behind the fold-down keyboard. The thermal printer is maybe more of a toy, but it’s good to find that even a bleeding-edge motherboard still has a serial port on it somewhere that it can talk to.
While the build undoubtedly has a few home-built rough edges we like the idea, echoing as it does those all-in-ones from the CRT era. Unless you have a handy Minitel terminal you won’t find much like it.
[Matt] from [DIY Perks] has made a name for himself building nice custom computing machines, and his latest triple-monitor luggable PC (video after the break) is sure to give most high-performance desktop machines a run for their money.
The large central monitor folding laptop monitors mounted vertically on either size look impressive, but only just scratches the surface of this build. Hidden behind aluminum panels are Ryzen 5950X CPU and RTX 3080 GPU with water cooling, 64 GB of RAM, and two 8 TB SSDs. A set of high-quality speaker drivers, subwoofer, and audio amps is also included. All this hardware pulls about 600 W of power from a large DC-DC converter block, which in turn receives power from either a pair of onboard AC-DC converters or a 16 V – 63 V DC source, like a battery system.
To mount everything to the back of the main monitor, [Matt] created 3D printed adaptor blocks with threaded inserts which slide under existing hooks on the back of the monitor. Aluminum angles screw to these blocks to cover the edges of the display panel, together with a large mounting plate with pre-drilled holes to mount all the components on standoffs. A set of adjustable and removable legs mount to the side of the PC. A hinged door in the back cover allows storage space for a keyboard and mouse during transport. When folded, the laptop monitors don’t fully cover the main monitor, so [Matt] created a leather cover that doubles as a cable and accessory organizer.
Back before the industry agreed on the now ubiquitous clamshell form factor of portable computers, there were a class of not-quite-desktop computers that the community affectionately refers to as “luggable” PCs. These machines, from companies like Kaypro and Osborne, were only portable in the sense that their integrated design made it relatively easy to move them. Things we take for granted today, like the ability to run on battery power or being light enough to actually place in your lap, wouldn’t come until later.
For a contemporary take on this decades old concept, take a look at this fantastic build by [Ragnar84]. It packs a modern desktop computer and a 15.6 inch laptop display into a custom designed case, but like so many other projects, the devil is truly in the details for this one. Little touches such as the kickstand on the bottom, the removable handle on the top, and the right angle adapter that takes the HDMI output from the GeForce GTX 1060 video card and redirects it back into the case really add up to create a surprisingly practical computer that’s more than the sum of its parts.
While the case might look like your standard gamer fare, [Ragnar84] built the whole thing out of miniature T-Slot extrusion and custom-cut aluminum and acrylic panels. But not before modelling the whole thing in 3D to make sure all of his selected components would fit. For the most part the internals aren’t unlike a standard Mini-ITX build, though he did need to make a few special additions like a shelf to mount the driver board for the N156H LCD panel, and a clever clamp to hold down the rounded USB speakers.
If someone gifted you a cheap laptop this holiday season, you might be a little put out by the 2GB of RAM and the 400 MHz CPU. However, you might appreciate it more once you look at [Noel’s Retro Lab’s] 4.8 Kg Amstrad PPC512 He shows it off inside and out in the video below.
Unlike a modern laptop, this oldie but goodie has a full keyboard that swings out of the main body. The space below the keyboard contains the LCD screen, which [Noel] is going to have to replace with an LCD from another unit that was in worse shape but had a good-looking screen. In this video, he gets as far as getting video output to an external monitor, but neither LCD shows any sign of life. But he’s planning more videos soon.
Modern computers are incredible feats of engineering, but there are many that still yearn for the simpler times. When keyboards clacked and a desktop computer quite literally dominated the top of your desk. There’s a whole community of folks who scratch that itch by restoring vintage computers, but not everyone has the time, money, or skill for such pursuits. Plus, even the most lovingly cared for Apple II isn’t going to help you watch YouTube.
Those who wish to recreate the look and feel of a vintage computer with modern internals will certainly be interested in the HALWOP by [Maz_Baz]. While its 3D printed case isn’t a replica of any one computer, it does draw inspiration from iconic machines like the Apple Lisa and IBM XT. It’s an amalgamation of design ideas that seemed like a good idea circa 1982 or so, with plenty of 90° angles and air vents to go around.
Considering the size of the Raspberry Pi 4 that powers the HALWOP, most of the case is just hollow plastic. But of course, the whole idea depends on it being almost comically large. On the plus side, [Maz_Baz] says you can use one of those empty compartments to hold a Anker PowerCore 26800 battery pack. At least in theory that makes it a “luggable” computer, though good luck trying to move it around.
In addition to the Pi 4 and battery pack, the HALWOP also uses a seven-inch touch LCD and Keychron K2 Bluetooth mechanical keyboard. Since everything is so modular, assembly is about as simple as it gets. Outside of the USB cables that power everything, you just need a long enough ribbon cable to connect the LCD to the Pi.