The 5 Best Raspberry Pi Cyberdecks
Cyberdecks were once science fiction, but with the Raspberry Pi they have become a reality. What defines a cyberdeck will differ depending on who you ask, but at its core you can expect a miniature laptop, wildly creative DIY designs, and custom features.
Often inspired by cyberpunk aesthetics, cyberdecks are some of the most creative and varied versions of Raspberry Pi computers.
Cyberdecks vs Laptops
Of course, you can use your Raspberry Pi to build a laptop by adding a custom screen, keyboard, and structure to house your electronics. We’ve seen a number of ways to turn your Raspberry Pi into a laptop over the years. But a cyberdeck also has a screen and a keyboard and is designed to be portable. So what makes it different?
What you might see in a cyberdeck:
- Unusual screen sizes
- Custom Keyboards
- Additional LEDs, sensors, antennas
- Flexibility to access and maintain internal parts
- Recycled electronics
- Recycled parts
- Unique unique designs
With a cyberdeck, you don’t have to stick with traditional laptop or computer design. Think about what you want your deck to do, build the electronics, and get creative with how you encase all the components in one awesome portable rig.
1. Cyberdeck Raspberry Pi off-grid recovery kit
Off-grid computers for emergency situations are a building idea you might come across often in the cyberdeck community. They’re both sturdy and repairable, and provide a good test of building something that can stand the test of time.
Jay Doscher is the creator of this beautifully designed off-grid cyberdeck which is housed in a tough Pelican case. You can find the build guide on his website BACK7 and get an overview of the parts list. It includes a Raspberry Pi 4 and a 7″ Pi touchscreen, as well as USB, barrel jack, and Ethernet connectors, each of which can be individually disabled using latching switches.
Part of the reason it looks so snug is due to the use of 3D printing. Access to affordable 3D printing at home is relatively new, which is why cyberdeck projects are growing in popularity.
2. Raspberry Pi Projector Box
Not all cyberdecks are designed for imaginary scenarios: some are intended for use in real environments. In this case, Subir Bhaduri is the creator of a low-cost Raspberry Pi projector computer that he hopes can be used in classrooms with few technological resources. You can find the compelling details of this build at Hackaday.
Instead of a screen, a projector is used so that a large group of students can share the computer at the same time. A Raspberry Pi 3B+ or 4B gives this project wireless capability for a mouse or keyboard. Meanwhile, a custom-designed laser-cut metal case fits all the parts inside.
Simple, robust, portable and open source, this cyberdeck fulfills its objectives well. More importantly, it only costs $250 to build while simultaneously serving as a learning tool for a large group of people. With the relatively affordable price of DIY electronic components like the Raspberry Pi, low-cost computing is able to reach more and more people.
3. Dual OS Cyberdeck
Creating custom hardware solutions for your exact needs (or wants) is part of what makes a cyberdeck. And to show you how far you can push your creation, take a look at this amazing cyberpunk design.
Head toward MSG Laboratory and you will get lost exploring the ins and outs of this magnificent cyberdeck. Featuring a touchscreen, e-ink display and old-school LED dot-matrix display, this version really is the ultimate example of a DIY shop computer. It even has a dedicated hardware button to switch between operating systems running on an i7 NUC and Raspberry Pi under the hood.
Mechanics Plank keyboard to the retro feel of the 3D printed chassis, it’s a gorgeous build. And of course, in true open source spirit, you can download the STL files and code for free, and watch a full build video at Youtube.
4. Cyberpunk Raspberry Pi Cyberdeck
Going back to the cyberpunk roots of cyberdecks, you’ll find that many projects take inspiration from science fiction. For the creator of this cyberdeck, it was William Gibson’s classic sci-fi novel Neuromancer that led him to create this impressive deck, dubbed the Hosaka MK1.
You can get lost in sprawl website exploring the component list, build guide and files for this cyberpunk design. It uses a 7-inch touchscreen for interaction, with additional components for audio and radio, while the obvious standout feature of this project is the 3D-printed retro-style chassis design.
Whether you’re a sci-fi fan or not, this portable rig is still way cooler than most PCs and laptops.
5. Recycled Cyberdeck
Although 3D printing and other custom construction methods are more affordable than ever, it’s still not an option for everyone. The good thing is that you don’t always have to design a fancy chassis for your cyberdeck: recycled technology is an even better solution.
Tech-lover Alta recycled an old laptop for his cyberdeck and in true cyberpunk aesthetics, it fits right in. Different from the other projects listed here, this deck uses a Raspberry Pi Zero alongside an iPad mini and an Apple Magic Trackpad.
Even though the components used here are more out of the box, recycling the parts you have around your house into a custom portable setup puts it in the cyberdeck category. It also shows us that a DIY approach is an option, even if you can’t afford a long list of components in your build.
Where to find more projects
If, by the end of this list, you are determined to create your own cyberdeck, you should consider getting started in the online cyberdeck community. Here are some places you can go:
- Cyberdeck Cafe: Features a large gallery of cyberdeck projects posted by members, as well as everything you need to know about cyberdeck culture. They also have a large discord community that is worth checking out.
- r/cyberDeck: A forum on Reddit to discuss cyberdecks and post your builds.
DIY cyberdecks for the present and the future
Cyberdecks fall somewhere between a desktop and a laptop, but their design is so unique that they really are in their own category. Whether you’re inspired by a sci-fi story from the past or you’re hoping to create one that you can practically use today, cyberdecks are the ultimate computer building project.
Looking for the best software to install on your Raspberry Pi? Here are the best Raspberry Pi apps to install today.
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