Alien Inspired Cyberdeck Packs Vintage Atari 800XL

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.

A custom cable lets the 800XL run on USB power.

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.

We’ve seen plenty of modern builds that try and recapture the look and feel of retro computers, but very few that actually integrate the genuine article. While the aesthetic might not be everyone’s cup of tea, we can all appreciate the respect shown for the original hardware in this build.

This Ruggedized Raspberry Pi Was Built To Be Copied

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a wave of impressive rugged mobile computing devices based on the ubiquitous Raspberry Pi. Sometimes they involve repurposing an existing heavy duty enclosure, and in others the Pi takes up residence in a 3D printed case which may or may not be as strong as it appears. In either event, they usually don’t lend themselves to duplication because of the time and expense involved in tracking down or printing all the parts required.

But the Raspberry Pi Quick Kit by [Jay Doscher] may change that. It represents what must surely be the simplest and fastest route to a building a rugged mobile ARM computer for your hacking adventures. Beyond the Pelican 1150 case that serves as the outer enclosure, you only need three printed parts and a handful of fasteners to complete the build. Of course you’ll need a Raspberry Pi and the official touch screen as well, but that’s sort of a given.

Electronics mounted to the 3D printed frame.

All of the electronics mount onto the three piece 3D printed frame, which is then press-fit into the opening of the Pelican case. Since you don’t need to pop any holes through the case itself, the assembled unit remains water and air tight. While [Jay] has recently shown off a very impressive 3D printed Pi enclosure, there’s really no beating a legitimate heavy duty storage case if you’re trying to protect the hardware.

When you want to use the Pi, just open the case and plug your power and accessories into the panel mount connectors under the display. There’s no integrated battery or keyboard on this build, but considering how small it is, that shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

[Jay] is targeting the Pi 4 for the Quick Kit, so that means WiFi and Bluetooth will come standard without the need for any external hardware. It looks like there might just be enough room to include an RTL-SDR receiver inside the case as well, but you’ll need to do a little redesigning of the 3D printed parts. If you do modify this design to pack in a few new tricks, we’d love to hear about it.

The Quick Kit is a greatly simplified version of the Raspberry Pi Recovery Kit that [Jay] unleashed on an unsuspecting world late last year. We’ve seen numerous variations on that original design sprout up since then, so we’re very interested to see what the response will be like to this much cheaper and easier to build version.

A Mobile Terminal For The End Of The World

If civilization goes sideways and you need to survive, what are the bare essentials that should go in your bunker? Food and fresh water, sure. Maybe something to barter with in case things go full on The Postman. That’s all sensible enough, but how’s that stuff going to help you get a LAN party going? If you’re anything like [Jay Doscher], you’ll make sure there’s a ruggedized Raspberry Pi system with a self-contained network with you when the bombs drop.

Or at least, it certainly looks the part. He’s managed to design the entire project so it doesn’t require drilling holes through the Pelican case that serves as the enclosure, meaning it’s about as well sealed up as a piece of electronics can possibly be. The whole system could be fully submerged in water and come out bone dry on the inside, and with no internal moving parts, it should be largely immune to drops and shocks.

But we imagine [Jay] won’t actually need to wait for nuclear winter before he gets some use out of this gorgeous mobile setup. With the Pi’s GPIO broken out to dual military-style panel mount connectors on the front, a real mechanical keyboard, and an integrated five port Ethernet switch, you won’t have any trouble getting legitimate work done with this machine; even if the closest you ever get to a post-apocalyptic hellscape is the garage with the heat off. We especially like the 3D printed front panel with integrated labels, which is a great tip that frankly we don’t see nearly enough of.

This is actually an evolved version of the Raspberry Pi Field Unit (RPFU) that [Jay] built back in 2015. He tells us that he wanted to update the design to demonstrate his personal growth as a hacker and maker over the last few years, and judging by the final product, we think it’s safe to say he’s on the right path.

Pelican Case Becomes Thumping Bluetooth Speaker

Pelican cases are great if you need a rugged enclosure to protect some sensitive gear. They’re also highly moddable, and can make a great base for a Bluetooth speaker build.

Like many modern builds, this is very much a case of wiring together a series of off-the-shelf modules into a larger whole. A Tinyshine Bluetooth audio board is hooked up to a Dayton Audio Class D amplifier. Class D amplifiers are a great choice for any portable audio application for their compact size and good power efficiency. Power is supplied by a hand-built 3-cell 18650 pack, while a standard buck converter and battery protection board are subbed in to make sure the batteries stay happy.

Not wanting to skimp on audio quality, a pair of Dayton Audio full-range drivers are installed, negating the need for a crossover install, or multiple drivers per channel. There’s a third passive driver on the back side as well, though we’re not 100% clear on its purpose. If you’re clued in, let us know in the comments.

It’s a project that serves as a great blueprint for anyone wanting to build their own high-fidelity Bluetooth speaker. The relevant modules are all readily available – it’s just a case of hooking them up to a nice amp and a decent set of speakers. The design is all up to you – whether you go for a pipe, a bag, or something altogether entirely. Happy hacking!

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Raspberry Pi Field Unit (RPFU)

Raspberry Pis are great for tons of projects, but if you want to use them outside, you’re going to need a waterproof enclosure. Not happy with what was available, [Jay Doscher] went all out and created the Raspberry Pi Field Unit — a piece of tech that looks straight out of the Call of Duty franchise.

Wanting it to be extra durable, [Jay] started with a Pelican Case 1300 — the standard in electronics protection. These come with a Pelican panel mount, so he had some plastic laser cut specifically to fit the panel mount, and attach all of his components. Speaking of components, he got only the best — inside is:

  • A Raspberry Pi 2 with a few PIHATs (permanent prototyping shield)
  • A 10.1″ IPS display
  • A high power wireless USB dongle
  • Weather proof USB and LAN connectors
  • An RTC for when it’s off the network
  • A 12V power supply for running off solar panels
  • DC-to-DC adapters to bring it down to 5V
  • A whole bunch of hardware from McMaster-Carr

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Sound Blimp Makes Camera Quieter And Waterproof

soundBlimp

The D-SLR “crunch” sound can be pretty satisfying. Your camera has moving parts and those cell-phone amateurs can eat your shutter actuation. If you’re a professional photographer behind the scenes on a sound stage or at any film shoot, however, your mirror slapping around is loud enough to get you kicked off the set. [Dan Tábar] needed his D800 to keep it down, so he made his own sound blimp to suppress the noise. As an added bonus, it turns out the case is waterproof, too!

[Dan] got the idea from a fellow photographer who was using a prefab Jacobson blimp to snap pictures in sound-sensitive environments. Not wanting to spend $1000, he looked for a DIY alternative. This build uses a Pelican case to house the body of the camera and interchangeable extension tubes to cover lenses of various sizes. [Dan] took measurements and test-fit a paper cutout of his D800 before carving holes into the Pelican case with a Dremel tool. One side got a circular hole for the extension tubes, while the other received a rectangular cut for the camera’s LCD screen and a smaller circle for the viewfinder.

Lexan serves as a window for all of the open ends: LCD, viewfinder, and the lens. [Dan] snaps pictures with a wireless trigger, saving him the trouble of drilling another hole. You can hear the D800 before and after noise reduction in a video after the break, along with a second video of [Dan] trying out some underwater shots. If you’d rather take a trip back in time, there’s always the 3D printed pinhole camera from last week.

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Take Your PS3 On World Tour

[Lossfresnos65] must be planning to do a lot of travelling because he’s entombed his PlayStation 3 in a Pelican case. Inside you’ll find some diamond-plate bezel to cover the console itself and used to surround the 19-inch high-definition television that is mounted to the lid of the case. In the picture above you see the door that lifts to reveal foam cutouts for a TV remote and two six-axis controllers. There’s no battery and no wireless Internet, but connection for the power cord, Ethernet, component video, and HDMI have an external port on the base of the enclosure. There’s also two fans to keep everything cool, and on the front you’ll find two USB ports and a headphone jack. After the break he shows off the finished product but there’s no internal build photos to be found. We linked his forum post at the top as ask him and perhaps he’ll deliver the goods.

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