A rugged cyberdeck with network hub and SDR

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- Waterproof pelican case
- 3 water proof ports on outside (power, network, USB)
- Raspberry Pi 3B with arch Linux
- 11 Inch Screen (with 5 buttons for control)
- Full cherry keyboard
- Gigabit switch
- USB hub
- 3S2 battery pack with custom charge cable (red port)
- ESP32 with OLED display, 2 rotary knobs, 5 buttons and keypad to control SDR
- 2 External Antenna connectors
- Tray for flipperZero (
- Custom sticker on outside
- Custom cut aluminum plates with custom vinyl sticker on top

Complete BOM on github:

View all 34 components

  • Programming ESP32

    cyzoonic04/10/2022 at 16:29 1 comment

    At this time I am not quite sure yet what functionality I will be adding to the ESP32 located in the top part of the case. The basic idea is to be able to control the SDR from the knobs and buttons in the keypad. I was thinking of having some sort of menu that I can scroll through with one of the rotatory encoders and then select a function like ADS-B. This would start the application on the raspberry pi and I could then adjust things with the other rotary knob. Another idea is to start an GNU radio and tune to a frequency typed in on the number pad or selecting a frequency using the other rotary knob. I also have 5 momentary buttons I can press so do things such as turn on audio or switch modes.

    To make programming easier I have setup a small test rig that can sit on my desk as getting to the code on the ESP32 in the cyberdeck requires removal of the top plate. Missing from the test rig are the 5 momentary push buttons.

  • ESP32 and SDR PCB

    cyzoonic02/19/2022 at 12:58 0 comments

    I decided to add an ESP32 to take input from the keypad, 5 buttons and the 2 rotary knobs. It would also control the single color OLED in the top of the case as well as a planned external color LCD (currently not installed).

    The idea is to allow the control of the SDR via the knobs and quickly start a program or enter a frequency either via keypad or rotary knob. Communication with the Pi is not yet defined but maybe via serial port or SPI.

    To connect everything up neatly created the following PCB.

    The PCB also connected the 5 buttons that control the display (this is just to clean things up). The USB port is not used.

    Very basic circuit with nothing special about it.

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  • 1
    Pelican Case Bracket

    There are two brackets that can be printed. The only difference it the length.

    They attach to the case with a 9.5mm long M3 self tapping screw. There is a nut to attach the plate which is able to move in order to account for offset between cases as they are not all exactly the same size.

    Make sure the screw does not go more than around 4mm into the case as the case is approximately 5mm thick.

    To attach the brackets correctly I would suggest mounting them to the aluminum plate first and then to the case.

  • 2
    Panel inserts

    I looked into several different options for doing the panels. I wanted them to be sturdy enough for the size of the case but not too heavy either. I initially was looking into acrylic but I found it was too brittle or too thick for what I wanted. Acrylic would have allowed me to back light things from behind which would have been neat.

    In the end I went with 2.5mm aluminum which is just thick enough not to flex too much. I had the panels cut by a local shop that lets me get pricing via online calculator. However before I took that step I printed several version of paper and double checked everything is correct. I still meed up the hole site for the interconnect however I was able to drill that out of the correct size. I also had to file down one side of the panel as the Pelican case CAD files are not exact even if you leave a margin. I would suggest you don't get your panels made before you have the case and can measure the actual site of the case.

    I used Fusion 360 to make a simple sketch and cut out all the holes I needed. The shop I used ( accepted the exports from Fusion and let me pick the material.

    I am extremely please with the results from the metal shop and I have used them in other projects as well. Highly recommend.

    For the print I went the simple route and exported the file into Inkscape where I designed the look of the panels. I then exported this to a PDF and had it made into a vinyl sticker by a local sticker maker. Biggest pain was trying to get the large sticker perfectly right on the panel. Next time I would add some markers on areas that are cut out anyway to make it easier to align.

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Enjoy this project?



delta1seven wrote 02/26/2024 at 17:48 point

What was your opinion on your "Umbilical 180mm" cord that allows you to run cables from the case to the lid? I am in the process of building my own and this part was design part was an oversight and I haven't figured out a way to get cables from the case to the lid for my LCD Panel. Did you like the part you went with?

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Gage Huston wrote 07/02/2023 at 08:34 point

This is great, just what I have been looking to build/buy. Would you make a video on the entire build process or ever consider making another one and selling it?

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cyzoonic wrote 07/12/2023 at 11:15 point

Maybe I will make a video about it eventually. I have some other things I need to finish before I come back to this project.

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Teimu wrote 01/23/2023 at 03:47 point

I would buy this in a heartbeat.

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whizzard wrote 04/14/2022 at 03:40 point

This is simply awesome... amazing work, really like the SDR panel.

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Brutus11111 wrote 03/04/2022 at 16:19 point

I hope you can write more instructions. I'd really love to replicate this project. 

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cyzoonic wrote 07/12/2023 at 11:16 point

What specifically are you looking for?

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Dan Maloney wrote 02/07/2022 at 22:55 point

Love the look of this! I've been meaning to try a few projects using those Pelican-like cases, but never quite figured out how to install a panel without drilling into the case to mount it. Maybe I should forget about maintaining watertightness and just deal with it.

So how are the ergonomics when typing on that keyboard? Looks pretty decent in terms of wrist support etc., but I worry about the extra height over a desktop. I imagine extended keyboard time isn't really a use case, but still...

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cyzoonic wrote 02/08/2022 at 07:06 point

Pelican makes an official insert kit which is a bracket that screws into the case from the inside. The screws do not go through all the way so the case remains water tight. I made my own 3d printed brackets and similar screws/length so not to pass through the case. The case is about 5mm thick so you do have a little play.

Ergonomics are not so great, the rim of the case is right where your wrist is if you are using it on your lap. It is much better when the case is on the floor and you are sitting over it.

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