This was a fun, challenging and at times very slightly frustrating build.
Is It The Future Yet?
Cyberpunk isn’t just a far off future anymore but in fact here right now, with 3D printing, BIO Hacking, Open source engineering, Micronized electronics, it’s all here and i want a piece of it, do you?
More then just some Cosplay this CyberDeck is a useful tool, a portable hardware hacking platform the “brains” of which is the latest model Raspberry Pi 4 (4GB) SBC and even though its brand new there exists an endless list of documented projects from all versions of the Rpi that are compatible with each other.
Like many other projects this one started out with staring at a shelf full of randomness and thinking to ones self “What if i glued this to that, paint it black and add some lights” now here i am a month later typing this from the vary machine i set out to build. What came of this is the ultimate call back to my very first circuit board kit, a FM transmitter that i built at age 7 and now here i am with a portable computer capable of receiving every radio frequency from 300Hz to 1.7Ghz thanks to a Nooelec SDR and Ham It Up Converter.
The Difficult Road Ahead
Every builder faces the same set of challenges when starting a custom hardware project, it can feel a bit overwhelming when you try to take on everything at once so let’s break it into manageable pieces and put together an order of operations which helps to minimize overlapping steps and wasting time.
Those who followed along on the Cyberdeck Discord already know i didn’t take my own advise and spent countless hours on the first version, eventually was forced to start again from scratch. This time applied a more pragmatic approach and like magic (almost) everything fit together perfectly. I’ll do my best walking you through the steps to complete your very own Cyberdeck and just like building, writing takes time so please come back for part 2 which covers the electronics and part 3 will be all about software, somewhere in that mix will be the circuit diagram and instructions for building your own high quality headphone amp.
We start with a bit of cleaning (yes i know) get your bench/table/work space cleared and make sure the surface is free of any gunk that might leave a residue on the printed parts and effect the glues adhesion. Gather up all of the tools you will be using to build the Deck and organize them for easy access. Having a good work light is another essential before you get started.
Here’s the list of tools, hardware, materials and electronics i used in this build. Anything marked optional is just that, optional but might be part of the overall aesthetic or provide a useful function. Linked are the exact tools i used, can’t guarantee they are the best but they have served me well for many years through many projects.
Some of these are affiliate links and i receive a small percentage of revenue from items ordered through them, if you are uncomfortable with there use, copy the link address and then use the product ID to find the exact item directly off amazon. The link revenue brings in enough to partially fund these projects and i do appreciate there continued use.
TOOLS AND BUILDING MATERIALS:
- FDM Printer – Minimum 20x20x10cm build area
- Resin Printer (optional)
- Filament – Prusa Galaxy Black
- Filament – Iron PLA
- Soldering Iron
- Solder – Very Fine 0.4mm
- Electric Drill
- Drill Bit Set
- 4mm Thread Tap (Optional)
- Needle Files
- Digital Calipers (Optional)
- Hobby Knife Set
- Sanding Blocks
- JB Qwik Metal Epoxy
- Side Cutters
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Screw Drivers + Allen keys (Metric)
ELECTRONICS & HARDWARE:
- Raspberry Pi 4 – 2GB or 4GB Version
- Geekworm X700 Rpi4 Battery System (x700 is being replaced by x705)
- RK61 Mechanical Keyboard (Essential)
- KeyCaps YMDK Carbon 61 (Optional)
- 7″ LCD with HDMI driver board
- Micro HDMI to HDMI Ultra Thin Cable (Essential)
- High Speed SD Card Reader/Writer (Optional)
- Samsung Micro SD Card – high speed storage for OS
- Panasonic Lipo Cell – Highest Capacity 18650 That Exists – Order 2
- 5V High Amp PSU + Female Jack
- Molex Female Jack – Optional/Alternative 5v Input
- USB 3.0 Extension Cable (Optional)
- NooElec SDR (Optional)
- NooElec Ham It Up v1.3 – RF Upconverter (Optional)
- SMA Panel Mount Cable For SDR (Optional
- USB-A Female Socket (Optional For SDR)
- AWUS036AC Long-Range Wi-Fi Adapter (Optional)
- RP-SMA Panel mount cables for wifi card (Optional)
- Micro SD extension cable 25cm (Optional, very useful)
- Power Switch (Any 16mm OD Momentary switch can be used)
- M4 Screws
- Guitar Strap (Optional best for travel)
- Leather For Handle Wrap (Optional)
- USB 5V to 9V USB Step Up Converter (Optional)
- RCA Jacks – Female (optional)
- 3.5mm TRS Jacks – For Audio out/Composite out
- Custom built headphone amplifier
- USB-A to whatever – Need two Sacrificial USB cables
One of my goals for the Deck was to fit 20lb’s of stuff into a 10lb box and after compiling this hardware list it looks like I’ve blown right past that and will have to make a couple external ad-on boxes to fit the overflow.
Now that you have everything gathered get started printing the 3 largest frame pieces, i did this with a 1mm nozzle printing at 0.4 layer height, this saved a good amount of print time and the layer lines give a distinctive look to the case that i like.
The 3 piece frame gets glued and screwed together with JB Qwik and M4 bolts, the bolts help with alignment and add some support to a stress point at the base of the handle. JB Qwik is what IMO gives the best bond between PLA + anything else, it can be shaped sanded drilled and machined just like you would with any hard plastic.
Next up print the braces, they provide a large surface area for the glue to make a good mechanical bond. Printing and prep goes past the scope of this page and there’s plenty of great written and video instructions on the subject already. Finish the cleanup and prep, sand any surface to be glued, test fit everything, pre drill and tap every hole before you start gluing.
The rest of out prints fit together in a very exact manner and should be easy to figure out just from a glance at the pictures.
Fixing your mistakes
PLA is plenty strong for our use but accidents happen, don’t worry and don’t bother reprinting a whole piece just to fix something small, glue it!
If you manage to strip out the bolt holes like i did here’s a quick fix. Drill out the stripped threads with the next size up and then fill with some JB Qwik, insert a toothpick and once its at least partially cured (4 hours minimum) snip off the end flush, the toothpick will act as a center finder for the drill bit, drill, tap and forget it ever happened.
Sticker Bombers Strike Again
What a headline that would make, just imagine in a far off Cyberpunk future where words and images (meme’s) can do more harm then a kiloton of radioisotopes…oh wait yeah twitter exists, smh. Enough of my ramblings, since i fully intend on using this Deck in public i decided to skin it with some urban camouflage. Commonly known as sticker bombing, the repeated overlapping application of stickers yields a most unique result that’ll blend in and disappear into the sprawl of a dirty tagged up cityscape.
Are you supreme?
Definitely the easiest part of this build and arguably the most enjoyable, i mean who doesn’t like stickers?
What big eyes you have.
There’s really nothing to it just cover in a healthy coating of stickers, go random or plan it out just make sure to overlap the edges of the Deck. Once that’s done take your hobby knife (new blade) and slice off all the excess for a nice clean edge. I’m still debating on which clear coat ill use to project the stickers and help hold the edges down, top pick so far is a crystal clear acrylic rattle can I’ve had on a shelf for years 😉
It’s Not Over Yet
Seems like something is missing yes? Indeed there is, got a few finishing touches to add such as the cover badge and the warning label (STL’s label 1, label 2) latches to keep both sides together, the headphone amp has to be wired in but to do so i first need to build a small low pass filter to clean up the noise on the 5v line. Keyboard gets attached with some velcro and there’s probably a few more items to check off. Come back for part two and three.
One of the Cyberdeck discord members has started work on a customized linux OS for use in the Decks so keep an eye out for a separate post in the future.
The headphone amplifier
The circuit is based off of the application notes that come with the OP-AMP’s, it’s not just another Cmoy and you won’t find find it anywhere else, it’s at least a somewhat unique design. What it doesn’t do is boost the bass or for that matter color the audio in any way. This is a neutral amp suitable for IEM’s and right up to the most power hungy fostex planermagnetic drivers. There will be a separate post with a BOM and diagram for anyone looking to turn it up to 11.
That’s it for now, it’s early, i’m tired and will leave you this final thought. Never press the red button!!!