The READY! Computer Model 100 Blends '80s and Modern Aesthetics to Expand Your Single-Board Computer

Designed with a nod to the TRS-80 Model 100, the READY! Model 100 aims to be a must-have accessory for single-board computers.

Gareth Halfacree
10 months agoProductivity / RetroTech

Jesse Lafleur is looking to inject a little 1980s aesthetic into peoples' lives with the READY! Computer Corporation Model 100, a portable computer shell compatible with a range of off-the-shelf single-board computers (SBCs) — including the Raspberry Pi family.

"[READY! Computer Corporation Model 100] turns any single board computer (such as a Raspberry Pi or small PC x86 motherboard) into a premium, well-made, repairable, modular, portable system you build yourself," creator Jesse Lefleur explains. "NO SOLDERING REQUIRED! You can also use it to expand your smartphone or desktop computer! Plug it into your TV/Monitor for a full 'desktop' experience."

The READY! Model 100 owes much of its design to devices like the TRS-80 Model 100. (📹: READY! Computer Corporation)

"I started designing the READY! Model 100 in my sketch book in 2018. I didn't have room for a large desktop 'battlestation' but I wanted something I could make my own. My ageing laptop had only 2 USB ports, an unreplaceable battery, a dying fan, broken and uncomfortable keyboard, tinny speakers, and I couldn't upgrade the CPU or RAM."

The result of those designs is the READY! Model 100 Pro, its name inspired by the TRS-80 Model 100 from which Lafleur took inspiration. The aluminium chassis is available in "Retropunk Silver" and "Cyberpunk Black" finishes, and includes a 64-key mechanical keyboard with per-key RGB lighting beneath an ultra-wide 1920x480 touchscreen IPS display and two 5W speakers. Oddly, though, the keyboard includes neither switches nor keycaps for the keyboard — just the bare PCB: "We understand you want to choose those yourself," Lafleur adds.

At the rear of the case are 12 universal panel mount cut-outs, four SMA/RP-SMA antenna couplers, and strap locks for attaching a guitar strap as a carry system. Interestingly, Lafleur is also bundling a customised Debian-based operating system dubbed READY!OS, compatible with x86-64 and ARM64 systems.

For those less eager to put a system together themselves, the READY! Computer Model 100 Neo comes with everything above plus a 30W 5V power management system with 18650 battery holders inside the housing, all cabling, Gateron switches and a full keycap set, READY!OS on microSD, and a pre-fitted "Raspberry Pi compatible" single-board computer. The Neo system is also available as part of a "buy one give one" campaign, in which the backer receives a unit of their own while also funding the supply of a matching system to an Aboriginal family in Canada.

Lafleur isn't the only one who believes that Tandy-RadioShack had it right in the 1980s, either: Earlier this month pseudonymous maker "belsamber" showed off a build in a TRS-80 Model 100 shell which includes a very similar display to the READY! Model 100, while late last year ClockworkPi opened pre-orders for its modular DevTerm device with choice of Raspberry Pi Compute Module or custom SBC to power it.

Full details are available on the project's Kickstarter campaign page, where Model 100 rewards start at CA$299 for the base Pro kit, $449 for the Neo kit without bundled SBC, $499 for the Neo with SBC, and $999 for a Neo buy-one-give-one reward.

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