John Jay McKaye's NEOklacker Is an Impressively-Capable Raspberry Pi 4-Powered Pocket Computer
Housed in a 3D-printed case, this pocket-friendly portable is built on prototyping board with hand-soldered connections.
Maker John Jay McKaye has designed an impressively capable pocket-sized portable computer dubbed the NEOklacker — powered by a Raspberry Pi 4 and with a custom-designed thumb-friendly keyboard built almost entirely on prototyping board.
"[The NEOklacker is] a fully functional pocket computer with touchscreen, keyboard, and trackpoint," McKaye explains of his creation, which opts for placing its components on a prototyping board with hand-soldered connections rather than a custom printed circuit board. Clearly inspired by the Nintendo Game Boy and classic BlackBerry phone devices, the design of the machine is dominated by a touchscreen display above a custom keyboard — with a few tricks to keep things as slim as possible.
"[I had to] Desolder all unused big parts like USB [and] RJ54 from the Raspberry Pi and cut out the baseboard," McKaye explains. "I also installed a USB sound card for better sound and mic support, a 2W speaker, and switches for security to turn off the mic."
The thumb-friendly keyboard on the front of the NEOklacker uses the QMK firmware and a semi-staggered layout, a 3D-printed flexible key sheet with sticker labels sitting over tactile switches and an LED backlighting system. At the rear is a touchpoint acting as the mouse input, while a 720×720-pixel IPS color display doubles as a touchscreen as a secondary input. There's a PiSugar 2S UPS board with a 5,000mAh battery to keep things ticking over, with a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 8GB single-board computer driving everything.
On the software side, the Raspberry Pi is running the stock Debian-based Raspberry Pi OS Linux distribution with one major change: a shift to the Phosh desktop environment. "I think Phosh is a great desktop for this kind of PC," McKaye explains.
Jerusalem has published the 3D-printable parts to Thingiverse under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license, with the promise of a full build guide to follow for those who would like to build their own NEOklacker.