The Strange CubePC Is Like a Laptop, If You’ve Only Read Descriptions

Shun Ikejima's CubePC was inspired by classics like the NeXTCube and Power Mac G4 Cube, but doesn't resemble any computer we've seen before.

Cameron Coward
a year ago3D Printing

Imagine for a moment that you had never seen a computer before, and then someone asked you to build a laptop. They described to you what it should do and what kind of hardware you could use, but not what laptops usually look like. What would you come up with? Would it look anything like the typical laptops of today, or would it be a bit more unusual. Maybe it would look a bit like Shun Ikejima's CubePC, which technically has most of the features of a laptop, but doesn’t resemble any design we’ve ever seen before.

Ikejima's CubePC was inspired by distinctive cube form factor computers like the Apple Power Mac G4 Cube and the NeXTCube. It’s probably not a coincidence that Steve Jobs was working at both of those companies when their respective cube computers were developed. It’s easy enough to make a cube computer today, because there are many cases on the market in that form factor. But this project is more than that. The creator made a completely custom 3D-printed enclosure that has the LCD screen built into the front and half the keyboard on the left side and the other half on the right side. So the user types by placing their hands on the sides of the computer.

The single-board computer inside of the enclosure is a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (the 8GB version). The screen is a 5” LCD, though the specific model isn’t specified. The keyboard was made from standard Cherry MX-style switches, which were wired by hand and controlled by an Arduino Pro Micro board. That was chosen because it can be setup to appear as a standard HID keyboard. Power comes from a typical 5V power supply, so this isn’t completely portable like a laptop. The enclosure measures 15cm to a side, and was modeled in OpenJSCad and then 3D-printed on an Ender 3. We can’t imagine actually using this thing, but it is very impressive how unique the design is.

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