Jay Doscher Revisits the Raspberry Pi Recovery Kit with a Simplified Build, Faster Raspberry Pi 5

New second-generation version of the rugged luggable gets some major performance boosts, NVMe storage, and a bigger battery.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month ago β€’ HW101 / 3D Printing

Designer and cyberdeck enthusiast Jay Doscher is back with a new variant of his Recovery Kit rugged luggable, boasting a shift to the more powerful Raspberry Pi 5, a larger and more readily-available battery, a revised keyboard, and design tweaks that make it easier to build.

"If you're not familiar with the Recovery Kit, it's something I made back in 2019 and posted to my original back7.co blog. I created it before I knew what a 'cyberdeck' was beyond a simple part of William Gibson's Neuromancer," Doscher explains. "I wanted a rugged computer enclosure for my Raspberry Pi, and I'd been unhappy with overly simplistic and cheap cases for the Raspberry Pi at the time."

Doscher unveiled the original Recovery Kit back in November 2019, though the idea stretches back to his Raspberry Pi Field Unit design from five years prior. The Recovery Kit added a built-in keyboard, handily sized perfectly to fit into the lid, a more rugged design that included waterproofing while closed and integrated electromagnetic shielding β€” meaning the electronics can keep ticking even in the event of a strong electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from, for example, a nuclear detonation.

The redesigned variant, sensibly dubbed the Recovery Kit Version 2, aims to improve on the original with a selection of tweaks β€” many tested over the past five years in minor revisions, which were never publicly unveiled. The biggest shift from a usability perspective is a move to the latest Raspberry Pi 5, a single-board computer that leaves its predecessors standing in the dust on a performance front.

Other changes in the new design include a shift to a larger battery, a new off-the-shelf Drop/OLKB Planck v7 keyboard, simplified wiring with far fewer joints to solder, and 3D-printable parts that take less than the original design's hefty 100 hour print time. There's still a five-port gigabit Ethernet switch, accessible general-purpose input/output (GPIO) connectivity β€” "far more condensed this time," Doscher explains, "to make room for the battery" β€” and a dedicated power button.

"This system is able to run a full NVMe [Non-Volatile Memory Express] drive as the boot drive AND do it all from battery," Doscher adds, using the Raspberry Pi 5's new PCI Express connectivity and a third-party M.2 HAT add-on board. "I intentionally have space around the battery and vents at the top of the enclosure, but the system runs great at normal room temps. With a black enclosure I don't recommend leaving this in the sun."

More information on the build is available on Doscher's website, though printable STL files are available only to paying subscribers.

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