Eric Benson Emerges From the Vault with This Fallout-Inspired Vault-Tec Cyberdeck Build

Taking its design cues from Amazon's Fallout TV series, and the game franchise on which it's based, this deck is the Vault-Dweller's friend.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoHW101

It's safe to say that maker Eric Benson is a fan of Amazon's recent live action TV adaption of the Fallout post-apocalyptic role-playing franchise — as a quick glance at his Vault-Tec-themed cyberdeck will reveal.

"Jeff Bezos bringing Fallout to TV has inspired me to build a cyberdeck capable of withstanding a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland," Benson writes of his creation. "EMP-hardened with a conductive shell, double faraday fabric layers, and Flex Seal insulation. Offline data libraries, navigation, signals intelligence, aircraft tracking, weather data reception, radio, and long-distance communication capabilities. [It's built] to withstand a nuke — I mean, not a direct hit obviously. Would probably need a bigger case for that."

As is common in cyberdeck circles, the heart of Benson's build is a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B single-board computer — or, more unusually, a pair of them running in parallel. There are no fewer than four radio modules on board — a receive-only RTL-SDR, a HackRF One, a DigiRig, and a truSDX HF QRP — with capabilities including aircraft tracking, NOAA weather satellite reception, AM/FM decoding, and transmission capabilities including off-grid digital communication, and the ability to receive GPS signals for location tracking on a dedicated 2.8" TFT display.

Elsewhere in the Pelican iM222 Storm case is a 10.1" touchscreen display, a NukAlert radiation detector — appropriate, given the system is themed around the survivors in a world devastated by nuclear war — and a 2TB hard drive filled with offline copies of Wikipedia, WikiHow, various Ted Talks, recipes, medical information, and more. There's a Teensy 4.1 microcontroller, battery monitor, and a mechanical keyboard — and some of the most belt-and-braces approach to hardware protection you're likely to find.

"When the case is closed, it forms a complete conductive shell around the interior electronics," Benson explains. "The interior of the case has a double layer of Faraday fabric (held in place with rivets and conductive tape). The stock Pelican O-ring was replaced with a conductive gasket and the O-ring slot was lined with Faraday tape, and all potential weak spots were painted over with a water based nickel conductive paint.

"Then, the interior was lined with Flex Seal (yeah that guy), to create a rubberized insulation layer, so the shielding isn't shorted. Lastly, ferrite chokes were placed on many of the wires inside the case as a last line of defense."

More information on the project, which runs for around 14 hours from a single charge of its 12Ah LiFePO4 battery pack, is available on Benson's Hackaday.io page.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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