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HAMDECK CYBERDECK

A Raspberry pi based simple, functional, and multi-tasking cyberdeck optimized for outdoor adventures.

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A Raspberry pi based cyberdeck optimized for use with Amateur Ham Radio, and other outdoor activities. Not just a fancy cyberdeck; I focused on good a looking device that is usable, portable, and easy to build, easy take apart and fix.

Key features:
* SDR and BNC antenna port on top
* Swappable SD cards ( Different ROM for different functions )
* Teleported Lan, Audio and USB slots for easy access
* 40% keyboard with standard size keys for comfortable writing
* Mouse, gamepad, duel screen, USB hub, and other accessories
* Built with 3d printed parts, waterproof case, and off the shelf parts
* 20+ Hours of battery life

Cyberdeck designs are quite diverse and when I decided to build one, my goal was to create something practical that I could use daily, not just a cool piece of tech that collects dust. This project took me over a year, during which I went through many design iterations, learning from both good and bad choices along the way.

After finishing my first build, it became clear to me that usability is key. If my cyberdeck isn't convenient to use, I'll just end up using my other devices instead. So I didn't want to build a cyberdeck just to say I had done it. I wanted to make something I would actually use frequently, not something that would just sit in storage until I wanted to show it off. That's why I started asking myself, "How will I use the cyberdeck?" instead of "Why should I build a cyberdeck?"

How will I use it? 

The first question to answer is how will I use it? 

  • Outdoor activities like going on a camping trip.
  • Ham radio, field day, digital modes for a Ham radio.
  • Play games on retropie.
  • Play music and connect a speaker.
  • Navigation, GPS location.
  • Complete Wikipedia on a raspberry pi?
  • General purpose internet browsing device.
  • Capture outdoor photos, time-lapse or capture an image on a trigger


What should be the most important features?

The next step was to decide what parts do I need, and what should be the desired specifications.

  • Use of a Raspberry Pi 4 with a memory capacity of 8GB.
  • A portable and waterproof case that's also compact.
  • A battery system that's rechargeable, with a capacity to run for up to 20 hours.
  • Compatibility with USB accessories such as GPS, SDR, and others.
  • Inclusion of a standard-sized keyboard and mouse for easy typing.
  • Capability to swap SD cards for accessing different OS's like gaming, SDR, navigation, etc.
  • Parts that are 3D-printable and a construction process that's straightforward.
  • Easy disassembly for part replacement when needed.
  • A substantial LCD display, with optional touchscreen functionality.

I kicked off this project in 2022. Since then, I've gone through several changes in the design. Now, I've got the latest version ready, but I'm open to the fact that it might change again in the future. I'm excited to discuss the building process, the features of the cyberdeck, the challenges I faced in the design phase, how I chose the parts, and importantly, how the cyberdeck can be fixed, repaired, and put back together.

Creating the 3D models: I'm not an expert in complex 3D modeling software, I just know how to use Tinkercad. So, my designs are pretty straightforward and don't have lots of fancy curves. Some people might say it's slower, but I like the simplicity of adding and subtracting on 3D objects.

When I'm designing and 3D printing, I use a few different strategies:

  1. Small prints: Instead of printing the whole part at once, I'll design the full part, but only print a little bit of it to check the fit. I do this over and over until it fits right. This means I can print things in just 10-20 minutes, check the fit, and then redesign it quickly if I need to.
  2. Measure-design-print-remeasure: I start by measuring the size of the actual object, then I design and 3d print the part. If it's too big or small, I measure the difference, and then change the design.
  3. Modular design: I design separate parts and test them on their own (like a base for the Raspberry Pi or a place for a pushbutton). I keep these parts in my main design when I do a full print. This way, I can move parts around within the whole assembly. So, for instance, if the Raspberry Pi is too close to the battery, I can just move the part that holds the Raspberry Pi.

Image : 3d printable parts

Assembly : Please watch my video for detailed assembly. Essentially, I 3d printed all the parts, and assembled the Raspberry pi as the centerpiece, and other peripherals, around it.

<Insert step by step images of assembly>

A few interesting things: During the build, there were several...

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LCD frame.stl

Frame to hold the LCD

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 92.86 kB - 07/31/2023 at 20:26

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Hinge.stl

Hinge for holding LCD

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 72.54 kB - 07/31/2023 at 20:26

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Ports.stl

Side panel for the USB, LAN & Audio ports

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 127.52 kB - 07/31/2023 at 20:24

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Main-frame.stl

Main frame that holds all the parts togeather

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 235.92 kB - 07/31/2023 at 20:23

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View all 15 components

  • Changes to the LCD mount

    Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU )08/25/2023 at 21:47 0 comments

    Over the time, as I was using Cyberdeck, I dropped the case, and LCD came lose. Thats not good. So, I redesigned the LCD mount, with screws.

    With improved strength the LCD is more stable. I also routed the HDMI under the screen.

  • Major upgrade

    Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU )08/25/2023 at 21:42 0 comments

    As I started using it, I dint really see much use of secondary screen. So, I modified cyberdeck, and added two 3 Watt speakers with an audio amplifier.

    Second change I did was to get rid of some poorts, and improve the hinge mechanism.

  • Cracking the screen

    Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU )08/07/2023 at 15:25 0 comments

    So my final step was to install a BNC antenna on top, and wire a USB SDR module. When trying to remove LCD to place the top of case, I cracked the screen :(

    So, $90 wasted, but I was able to find a used one ( Same model ) for about $60. 

    Everyone in hackaday knows that Oh crap!!! moment, when you realize... Only if I was not impatient. But then I think again, is being impatient part of the hunger to do something, build something, make it happen. I dont know the answer, but I know I have broken many screens, cracked PCB's and ripped those ribbon cables. I guess you have too :)

  • Future upgrades

    Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU )08/02/2023 at 16:22 0 comments

    Now that I've finished the initial build, there are several enhancements I'm considering. But rather than rushing into these upgrades, I plan to start actively using the cyberdeck. This hands-on approach will allow me to identify the most valuable enhancements based on my actual usage and experience, ensuring that any updates made are practical and beneficial.

    Here are a few examples of the improvements I'm considering:

    1. While typing, the 8bitdo game controller tends to shift or even fall off. By integrating magnets, I can secure the controller in its place.
    2. To make the device more energy-efficient, I'm thinking of adding buttons to switch off accessories when they're not in use. For instance, I could turn off the main and secondary displays to save power.
    3. I'm also considering making the GPIO pins accessible. By converting them into pushbuttons, I could program them to perform specific functions, like activating the GPS or running custom scripts, and so on.


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Discussions

Budtron wrote 03/10/2024 at 05:47 point

Super cool looking!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Robbie Taylor wrote 09/27/2023 at 17:48 point

There does seem to be an issue with the main.stl file...zero size?

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Poisson wrote 10/11/2023 at 16:54 point

it does appear that this file is corrupted.

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Edward Ornelas wrote 02/18/2024 at 18:50 point

Any updates if you guys we're able to figure this out?

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Andrea wrote 09/08/2023 at 02:40 point

Hello, I am your competition.

I love your build! It looks really tidy!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU ) wrote 09/10/2023 at 19:29 point

Thanks! I like your build too. While yours is much more expensive build... its way more powerful. While I enjoyed the cyberdeck build, I am focusing on building something more powerful. Perhaps ill take inspiration from yours; putting a more powerful PC in it. I have a surface go lying around. I want to use that.

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mat wrote 08/24/2023 at 04:05 point

This is amazing.  I want one!

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Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU ) wrote 09/10/2023 at 19:30 point

Thanks! I enjoy building stuff that looks nice and simple, and is also functional. 

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Eric wrote 08/21/2023 at 14:51 point

Great build.  Is there a problem with depth of main-frame.stl ?  Do you have stl model for the front and back lids?  Would love to see a wire diagram of pi,power button and battery.

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Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU ) wrote 08/21/2023 at 15:40 point

Hi. Thanks!!! I did several updates to the 3d prints. Ill update the stl files, and add more pictures showing wiring etc.

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Thomas Santana wrote 08/20/2023 at 10:50 point

Really interesting design. I failed to identify the main LCD and case in the BOM. Are there any "ideal" options, or is this a standard box and LCD? 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU ) wrote 08/20/2023 at 19:27 point

"Hello, considering the build I've made, I believe I've chosen the optimal size for the case and LCD. Should you opt for a bigger case, it might accommodate a larger keyboard. I'd recommend beginning with selecting a keyboard that fits your preferences and then design the rest of your setup around it. I was fortunate to find a 40% keyboard at a great price nearby.

The box I used is a standard one from Amazon. For specific dimensions, you can refer to its listing [here](https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B098XY21DW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1). Any similar-sized box should suffice.

I used this [LCD panel](https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0987468N2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1). It's of good quality, slim, and has a touchscreen feature. While other LCD panels might also work, I prefer this one as it's the largest I could fit inside the case."

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Akaash wrote 08/17/2023 at 03:25 point

This is a really nice build. I was attempting to build a UPS for my Pi which has an SDR connected, but was stumped due to the considerable increase in noise floor of the SDR due to the buck converter. (2S Li-ion to 5V)

Could you be so kind as to explain your schematic for converting power from the Li-ion pack to 5V for the Pi? And how you dealt with noise issues due to the buck/boost converter?If you didn't fave any noise issues, could you post the model of the converter you used?

Thank you very much.

DE VU3BWV.

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Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU ) wrote 08/18/2023 at 13:07 point

Hi, I had tried using multiple types of power supplies, but this is the only one that worked.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LAEX7J0/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Most Li-ion power controllers can supply 5 to 5.1V DC. Thus, they cause power resets. This charge controller gives out 5.3V out. That keep raspberry pi + Display + perriferials working properly.

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Edward Ornelas wrote 02/05/2024 at 01:18 point

Is this compatible with a Raspberry Pi 5? I would imagine so but would rather be safe then sorry 

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Ben Harvey wrote 08/16/2023 at 16:12 point

Really good to see a functional cyberdeck. I especially like the swappable OS idea. What is the keyboard you went for in the end?

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Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU ) wrote 08/16/2023 at 17:37 point

Thanks! I was lucky to find a cheap one at a local microcenter.

https://www.microcenter.com/product/661264/inland-47-keys-hot-swappable-rgb-wired-mechanical-keyboard

I did try some other keyboards that would fit the case, but small keys are not usable, and I wanted something I would actually use.

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Ben Harvey wrote 08/16/2023 at 18:06 point

Thanks for the reply. Will try and find one here in the UK. 

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Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU ) wrote 08/16/2023 at 18:22 point

This is also a nice option, if they ship to UK. I bought one for my build, but I dint buy one with keycaps, and I found cheap option on microcenter


https://keeb.io/products/dsp40-40-staggered-or-ortholinear-keyboard?variant=39468229656670¤cy=USD&utm_medium=product_sync&utm_source=google&utm_content=sag_organic&utm_campaign=sag_organic&srsltid=AfmBOoryTXqlTazi14Cn3TnUYbrh4OlC9Dyr_a8yuctk1kL-JaL_3RWH-Xc

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Dr. Cockroach wrote 08/07/2023 at 17:18 point

Likely not on the radio as I have not been active for several years but getting ready to get back on 40M cw soon. I read more hackchats than I respond to but I could not resist your Hamdeck project :-)

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Dr. Cockroach wrote 08/07/2023 at 12:21 point

Very nice, de WA4JAT

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Kaushlesh C. ( KD9VFU ) wrote 08/07/2023 at 16:34 point

Thanks! I guess I met you on a hackchat on ham radio :) 
Today, I added a USB SDR and BNC port on top; adding another feature. Last thing I want to do is add a speaker, then the build will be good.

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