A portable console emulation device in the style of a punk cyberdeck

Similar projects worth following
I've gotten good enough at electronics projects that maybe they're not done well or quickly but at least they tend to get done. I'm making a cyberdeck specifically for gaming or a gaming device in a cyberpunk style, but one that's in line with my aesthetic.

I dig cyberdecks, i'm very much in favor of the trend of folks making their own cyberdecks. Most of them aren't what i want and definitely aren't what i'd make but it tickles me they exist. I have a more punk notion of cyberpunk than most people, due i suppose to my upbringing and lifestyle. I find my own use for things.

Who needs a cyberdeck? Maybe someone somewhere but definitely not me. If i'm to get on the bandwagon it's going to be with something no one has need of. This is not a problem for me in the least, i just want it to be beautiful. It'll be grungy, scavenged and cobbled-together. It'll be a Raspberry Pi (4 prob.) w/screen, battery and game controls.


Raspberry Pi 4 or Zero (prob. 4) will connect to screen and battery. 2ndary board will be a USB device for the mother, it'll host controls and additional functions. I know that's silly, the Pi has enough IO to host all the bits and bobs but i want to do as little messing around in linux as possible. I really want an integrated camera it can capture video from.

The not-a-southbridge will probably be a Pi Pico (overkill, i know), maybe an Arduino as a USB HID (gamepad at least, prob. keyboard) and maybe additional USB devices. It may also control external audio, haptics and other gimcracks. 2 thumbsticks means the Pico needs external ADC or similar workaround.

I've already made a little stripboard keyboard for the thing (, it shouldn't be too hard to get that working.

For power i've got options. Mostly kludgey but depends on how things work out. Requirements for the Pi could vary widely but i should assume 4~8W and sundries should be minimal. The security cams need 2W but at 12V, there are battery supplies made for LED lighting with the right specs at acceptable prices. USB video capture card power requirements could be considerable.


* Fan and vents would be sweet, will probably be necessary

* Image capture device. Let the thing be a jankity cyberpunk camcorder. I recently lucked into some discarded security cameras, it'd be badass to use one of them. I've also got some ancient digital cameras, webcams, something like that. I'm assuming video capture software for the Pi OS will be trivial (but...).

* Novelty mass storage: 2.5" HDD on a USB adapter? Compactflash or other deprecated flash card? Standard SD broken out into a chunky mockup cartridge?

* Blinkenlights, red/amber glow (like everywhere? like everywhere.), 7-segment LED counter/character LCD(?), integrated speakers, physical switches for as many functions as possible


A security camera et al. could fit in ~15cm * ~20cm * ~6cm; The size a chonky gameboy or outsized non-folding tricorder. With other image capturers it'll be thinner and maybe shorter. Choice of batt. will be a main factor.

Front/top face will be display at top (prob. tilted up 45deg, hinged if that's easy) then gaming controls then keyboard. Connections/ports and power controls on the butt of the thing. Maybe additional controls on the bottom but it should sit comfortably on that face.

Most everything critical will be sandwiched in plastic sheeting or in little boxes made from same. Maybe borrow casing from other CCTV's. They've got that lovely institutional beige stippled enamel, i should be able to recreate that look in places. It should look like a hack, JB weld and sawn edges are no problem.

  • #hiatus.4

    Kal11/05/2021 at 21:17 0 comments

    I'm updating for the update now, rather than for the project. So here's a sleeve to fit a 3.5" HDD with enough space at the top for thumb-and-forefinger and enough length at the bottom to fill out the projected cross-section (if not of this device, then of a device). And some handmade 90deg USB A's set for ganging. Why did i bother, the cables would've been piss-cheap? Whatever. I'm updating for the upd... oh.

  • ~hiatus~

    Kal10/03/2021 at 16:52 0 comments

    I got the key caps looking pretty... great? I dunno, but it's definitely a look. But that was days of fiddly effort and i don't know if the look is what i want in the finished product. So i started hating the whole idea and getting anxious, wasting time, getting that how-does-one-say executive failure. So f'it, i'm setting something else as project no.1 for a while.

    Using various techniques i cut bits out of some old books and affixed them to the caps and sealed them. Mostly i was using CA (because that's what my brain is made of, i guess) and the lovely part is that it polishes down magnificently with an emery board. But some of them i was also coating with nail polish which is also fine but results are inconsistent. I kinda dig the ransom note steeze, mixing blocky cyber-letters (GAMEMASTER The Complete Video Game Guide, 1995) with olde schoole printing typeface (Lincoln Library Of Essential Information (travelling salesman's example ed.), 1949).

    This is definitely going in something that's going to cycle into project #1 status in the short term.

  • #3 supplemental

    Kal09/10/2021 at 19:18 0 comments

    Bad get worse: Not only is transferring letters from books not easy as pie (it's a bunch of fiddly work every time) but the results are perfect, aesthetically exactly in line

  • miscProgress

    Kal09/10/2021 at 00:38 0 comments

    I've cleaned up panel #2, started soldering the gaming controls, cut and joined the keyboard and started laying out panel #3.

    Never mind tapering around the keyboard, i've concluded. I'm testing options for gluing #3. It'll be a little complicated behind the face but not too bad or too bulky. I'd wager the keyboard is the first part to fail from use (depending on the user, of course) no matter what i do but i'll shore up what i can to keep it from flexing, popping solder joints, what have you.

    Rows cut, columns joined:

    It tests good so far, i don't think i'll have to redo anything but that's a possibility. More likely i'll have to rejigger the gaming controls, but that expectation is colored by a past project that... encountered complications. Regardless, i'm not permanently joining anything with moving parts until those bits function as intended.

    I think i need to letter the keys though that's going to cast the whole thing more amateurish if i do it by hand like this. It'll color people's first impressions out of scale with how significant a feature it is. I've been fretting on that but it only just occurred to me to try some kind of transfer.

    I'm sure i'll be able to get the video capture card picking up the security cams without infinite work but i'm losing confidence i'll have it done next week. I'm ~1hr of futzing with it from doing something simpler. Speaking of time i'd love to be done with coding the Pico already. Plenty to keep me busy...

  • Face panel #2, i guess

    Kal08/29/2021 at 19:36 0 comments

    The layout i like for the switch blocks and joysticks looks bigger than i expected but it's right in range with my original estimate. She's gonna be a chonker and if i skip the CCTV camera she could be thin and blocky, all like Dean Stockwell's little friend.

    The display will be on face panel #1 and the keyboard on panel #3. I'll probably want to taper the bottom in so users can put two thumbs on the keyboard...

    so maybe:
    [UD]  SEL  [AB]
    [LR] START [XY]
       \  KEY  /
    or maybe offset like:
    [UD]  SEL  [AB]
    [LR] START [XY]
            [KEY  ]

    [PICTURED BELOW: The future of gaming?]

    (see also

  • Switch blocks

    Kal08/25/2021 at 10:29 0 comments

    These'll go on the face to be DPAD and ABXY. The switches are lovely and i got them at a good price (YMMV but the seller DIYhz on amzn has a selection that appeals: but they're not what you'd think of as gamepad buttons. This project has to be usable, if it's not usable i've failed, but i'm prioritizing aesthetics ahead of Gaming Excellence.

    The buttons are 6mm across and the outside of the threading is something like 0.26". Maybe there's an established, proper way to seat these but experimentation brought me to marking the blocks, gouging a little divot for the drill bit tip, then cutting a hole with a 1/4" bit and finally cutting threads with a 7mm tapping bit. Cutting a bigger hole works as does strong-arming the switch's threads into the plastic but those techniques are less precise.

    Squnching the nuts down is still a bit of a pain.

View all 6 project logs

Enjoy this project?



Similar Projects

Does this project spark your interest?

Become a member to follow this project and never miss any updates