Join The Movement With This Mini Cyberdeck

The global pandemic has given many people a lot more time at home, which has undoubtedly pushed an untold number of projects over the finish line. Unfortunately, it’s also disrupted global commerce and shipping to the point that getting parts can be a lot harder than we’d like. Which is why [facelesstech] decided to put together this exceptionally mobile cyberdeck out of things he already had laying around.

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.

If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial and have the filament to burn, you might take a look at the VirtuScope to fulfill your offset screen needs.

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Easy Internet For Retro Computers With The PiModem

Retro computers are great, but what really makes a computer special is how many other computers it can talk to. It’s all about the network! Often, getting these vintage rigs online requires a significant investment in dusty old network cards from eBay and hunting down long-corrupted driver discs to lace everything together. A more modern alternative is to use something like PiModem to do the job instead.

PiModem consists of using a Raspberry Pi Zero W to emulate a serial modem, providing older systems with a link to the outside world. This involves setting up the Pi to use its hardware serial port to communicate with the computer in question. A level shifter is usually required, as well as a small hack to enable hardware flow control where necessary. It’s then a simple matter of using tcpser and pppd so you can talk to telnet BBSs and the wider Internet at large.

It’s a tidy hack that makes getting an old machine online much cheaper and easier than using hardware of the era. We’ve seen similar work before, too!

Turn An Unused Pi Zero Into A Parts Bin WiFi Extender

We know a lot of you are sitting on an unused Raspberry Pi Zero W, maybe even several of them. The things are just too small and cheap not to buy in bulk when the opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately, the Zero isn’t exactly a powerhouse, and it can sometimes be tricky to find an application that really fits the hardware.

Which is why this tip from [Tejas Lotlikar] is worth taking a look at. Using the Pi Zero W, a cheap USB WiFi adapter, and some software trickery, you can put together a cheap extender for your wireless network. The Pi should even have a few cycles left over to run ad-blocking software like Pi-hole while it shuffles your packets around the tubes.

[Tejas] explains every step of the process, from putting the Raspbian image onto an SD card to convincing wpa_supplicant to put the Pi’s WiFi radio into Access Point mode. Incidentally, this means that you don’t need to be very selective about the make and model of the USB wireless adapter. Something with an external antenna is preferable since it will be able to pull in the weak source signal, but you don’t have to worry about it supporting Soft AP.

With the software configured, all you need to finish this project off is an enclosure. A custom 3D printed case large enough to hold both the Pi and the external WiFi adapter would be a nice touch.

PocketPi Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

The Raspberry Pi line of single-board computers are remarkably useful things, but they generally require some accessories to be hooked up to become a useful computing platform. [Ramin Assadollahi] wanted a pocket-sized computer to work on without the distractions so common on smartphones, so whipped up the PocketPi to do the job.

It’s a testament to the popularity of the Raspberry Pi platform that [Ramin] was able to put this project together with so many off-the-shelf parts. A Pi Zero W was chosen for its compact size, while a HyperPixel 4.0 screen was chosen for its high resolution in a small package. These parts were combined with a 3000 mAh battery, Adafruit Powerboost 1000C and a small USB keyboard and hub. It’s all wrapped up in a tidy 3D printed package, giving the pocket-sized computer a classic late-1980s look, albeit with much more horsepower under the hood.

It looks like a fun and useful machine to have when out and about, and the full QWERTY keyboard makes input easy. We’ve seen [Ramin]’s work before – with last year’s StickPi implementing an e-paper display. Video after the break.

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An Air Quality Monitor That Leverages The Cloud

Air quality has become an increasing concern in many urban areas, due to congestion and our ever-increasing energy use. While there are many organisations that task themselves with monitoring such data, it’s also something anyone should be able to take on  at home. [Chrisys] is doing just that, with some impressive logging to boot.

The build starts with a Raspberry Pi Zero W, which offers the requisite computing power and Internet connectivity in a compact low-power package. For determining air quality, the Bosch BME680 sensor is used. This offers temperature, pressure, and humidity readings, along with the ability to sense the presence of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These can be harmful to human health, so it’s useful to have an idea of the levels in your home.

The hardware is incredibly refined. It’s simple enough for the newbie, but just begs for the more experienced hacker to expand on.

On the software side, data is accessible through the Balena cloud service. Sensor readings are stored in an InfluxDB instance, with Grafana providing the visually attractive graphs and monitoring. It’s all very slick and Web 2.0, and can be accessed from anywhere through a web browser.

The project is a great example of combining a basic DIY Raspberry Pi setup with the right software tools to create a polished and effective end product. Of course, if you’re looking for something more portable, this project might be more your style. 

Pocket-Sized Workstation Sports Pi Zero, Pop-Up Screen

Many of us could use a general-purpose portable workstation, something small enough to pocket but still be ready for a quick troubleshooting session. Terminal apps on a smartphone will usually do the job fine, but they lack the panache of this pocketable pop-top Raspberry Pi workstation.

It doesn’t appear that [Michael Horne] has a specific mission in mind for his tiny Linux machine, but that’s OK — we respect art for art’s sake. The star of the show is the case itself, a unit intended for dashboard use with a mobile DVD player or backup camera. The screen is a 4.3″ TFT with a relatively low-resolution, so [Michael] wasn’t expecting too much from it. And he faced some challenges, like dealing with the different voltage needs for the display and the Raspberry Pi Zero W he intended to stuff into the base. Luckily, the display regulates the 12-volt supply internally to 3.3-volts, so he just tapped into the 3.3-volt pin on the Pi and powered everything from a USB charger. The display also has some smarts built in, blanking until composite video is applied, which caused a bit of confusion at first. A few case mods to bring connectors out, a wireless keyboard, and he had a nice little machine for whatever.

No interest in a GUI machine? Need a text-only serial terminal? We’ve seen that before too. And here’s one with a nice slide-out keyboard built in.

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Look Upon Eyepot, And Weep For Mercy

Hope you weren’t looking forward to a night of sleep untroubled by nightmares. Doing his part to make sure Lovecraftian mechanized horrors have lease in your subconscious, [Paul-Louis Ageneau] has recently unleashed the horror that is Eyepot upon an unsuspecting world. This Cycloptic four legged robotic teapot takes inspiration from an enemy in the game Alice: Madness Returns, and seems to exist for no reason other than to creep people out.

Even if you aren’t physically manifesting nightmares, there’s plenty to learn from this project. [Paul-Louis Ageneau] has done a fantastic job of documenting the build, from the OpenSCAD-designed 3D printed components to the Raspberry Pi Zero and Arduino Pro Mini combo that control the eight servos in the legs. If you want to play along at home all the information and code is here, though feel free to skip the whole teapot with an eyeball thing.

A second post explains how the code is written for both the Arduino and Pi, making for some very illuminating reading. A Python script on the Pi breaks down the kinematics and passes on the appropriate servo angles to the Arduino over a serial link. Combined with a web interface for control and a stream from the teapot’s Raspberry Pi Camera module, and you’ve got the makings of the world’s creepiest telepresence robot. We’d love to see this one stomping up and down a boardroom table.

Seems we are on a roll recently with creepy robot pals. Seeing a collaboration between Eyepot and JARVIS might be too much for us to handle. Though we have a pretty good idea how we’d want to control them.