We’ve seen many cyberdecks and home built computers in our time here at Hackaday, but we’ve not seen many so tiny and so neatly built as this one from [Carter Hurd]. It takes the form of a tiny retro PC with a working display and keyboard, and we like it a lot.
The diminutive computer started life as a neat little retro themed Bluetooth speaker that a company bravely sent him for a project when he declined the chance to review it. Out came the speaker and electronics, and in went a USB Blackberry keyboard with a custom made bezel where the speaker’s keys had been.
The display is a 4″ LCD designed for a Raspberry Pi, and somewhat incredibly, he trimmed its corners to fit into the case. Making the curved CRT-style display front was achieved with vacuum form plastic, and a new display bezel was 3D printed.
A full-size Raspberry Pi fits in the base of the unit, and here he admits that it’s not the tidiest job. Perhaps a Pi Zero would have been more unobtrusive, but either way from the top and front it’s a really cute little machine. It may not be the only tiny cyberdeck we’ve seen, but it’s certainly a well-built one.
For the majority of hacker and maker projects, the miniature computer of choice these last few years has been the Raspberry Pi. While the availability issues that seem to plague each new iteration of these extremely popular Single Board Computers (SBCs) can be annoying, they’ve otherwise proven to be an easy and economical way to perform relatively lightweight computational tasks. Depending on who you ask, the Pi 4 is even powerful enough for day-to-day desktop computing. Not bad for a device that consistently comes in under a $50 USD price point.
But we all know there are things that the Pi isn’t particularly well suited to. If your project needs a lot of computing power, or you’ve got some software that needs to run on an x86 processor, then you’re going to want to look elsewhere. One of the best options for such Raspberry Pi graduates has been the Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC).
NUCs have the advantage of being “real” computers, with upgradable components and desktop-class processors. Naturally this means they’re a bit larger than the Raspberry Pi, but not so much as to be impractical. If you’re working on a large rover for example, the size and weight difference between the two will be negligible. The same could be said for small form-factor cluster projects; ten NUCs won’t take a whole lot more space than the same number of Pis.
Unfortunately, where the Intel NUCs have absolutely nothing on the Raspberry Pi is price: these miniature computers start around $250, and depending on options, can sail past the $1,000 mark. Part of this sharp increase in price is naturally the vastly improved hardware, but we also can’t ignore that the lack of any strong competition in this segment hasn’t given Intel much incentive to cut costs, either. When you’re the only game in town, you can charge what you want.
But that’s about to change. In a recent press release, AMD announced an “open ecosystem” that would enable manufacturers to build small form-factor computers using an embedded version of the company’s Ryzen processor. According to Rajneesh Gaur, General Manager of AMD’s Embedded Solutions division, the company felt the time was right to make a bigger push outside of their traditional server and desktop markets:
The demand for high performance computing isn’t limited to servers or desktop PCs. Embedded customers want access to small form factor PCs that can support open software standards, demanding workloads at the edge, and even display 4K content, all with embedded processors that have a planned availability of 10 years.
The computer, called Raspberry Pi, is about the size of your standard USB thumb drive and contains a 700 MHz ARM 11 processor as well as 128 MB of memory. It has an HDMI port which can display 1080p video on any compatible screen, along with a USB port for input peripherals. Mass storage is provided courtesy of an on-board SD card slot, and it looks like the ability to utilize add-on modules will be available as well.
There is sure to be no shortage of willing buyers if [David] is able to bring these computers to market within a reasonable timeframe. With a projected cost of about $25, this will certainly give the OLPC and others a run for their money.
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