Most of the cyberdeck projects we see are based on Raspberry Pis, which makes sense considering Raspberry Pi leads the single-board computer (SBC) market by a significant margin. But there are other options out there, and some of them are quite enticing if you need more power and don’t mind shelling out the extra cash. The Intel NUC series of “mini PCs,” which are essentially SBCs, are particularly attractive because they can run the full desktop version of Microsoft Windows 10. MSG decided to get the best of both worlds by creating a cyberdeck that contains a Raspberry Pi and an Intel NUC.
The Intel NUC series of computers aren’t technically SBCs, because they require the addition of RAM modules and storage. But they are close enough to SBCs to fill the same market niche. LattePanda has been making SBCs for years that are also capable of running Windows 10, but Intel NUC computers have the benefit of PCIe and M.2 Card expansion slots. In this case, MSG used an Intel NUC 10 Performance Kit with a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor. This version came with a case, but it wasn’t actually used in the final cyberdeck. MSG also says that one of the cheaper Core i3 versions would have worked just fine for their needs. The coolest feature of this build is, of course, the ability to switch between that Intel NUC and a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B on the fly.
That switching capability is possible thanks to a two-port hardware KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) switch. With both computers running, a simple press of a button swaps the keyboard and main display connections between the computers. The keyboard is an ultra-compact mechanical Planck keyboard with Aqua Zilent key switches. The primary display is a Waveshare 7” LCD touchscreen, but this cyberdeck also has a secondary Waveshare 2.13" ePaper panel connected to the Raspberry Pi and a tertiary Pimoroni Micro Dot pHAT LED matrix display. At this time, all of the power comes from a pair of 18650 LiPo battery cells through a Geekworm UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and power management board. A couple of other Raspberry Pi HATs are used for hacking.
All of those components are housed within an attractive 3D-printed enclosure that was designed in Autodesk Fusion 360. The case has nice, big momentary push buttons on the front to control power to each computer and as well as the KVM switch. At this time, MSG is running Windows 10 on the Intel NUC and Debian Linux on the Raspberry Pi. The cyberdeck even has an expansion bay, which is currently being used for a pirate radio HAT from Pimoroni attached to a Raspberry Pi Zero W — meaning it now has a total of three computers to work with.