Real-world cyberdecks were originally inspired by the works of William Gibson; specifically, they were first introduced in Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy beginning with Neuromancer. In that book, “deckers” cobbled together their own portable hacking computers called cyberdecks. But the cyberdeck community has evolved far beyond that original inspiration and now it encompasses all kinds of unique builds. The only real requirement that the community seems to adhere to these days is that cyberdecks be portable and custom. Simply spray-painting a MacBook will get you laughed off of whatever forum you post on. YouTuber Make’n’Modify’s Tactical Cyberdeck is the perfect example of a custom build and it looks like it belongs in a tank in some dystopian future.
This project began when Make’n’Modify, AKA Max, found a really cool old storage case in a garbage bin. He then ordered two more of those same cases, each of which has a shell made from 4mm thick aluminum that is about the size of one of those Tupperware contains designed to hold a ham sandwich. Like all the coolest geeks, Max is really into mechanical keyboards and his original goal was to use two of the cases as enclosures for a split keyboard. Each case was given a laser-cut top plate that sits on a 3D-printed frame. Then the top plate was outfitted with NovelKeys Nolive switches, which are similar to the Cream key switches made by NovelKeys and Kailh, but with heavier springs. One half of the split keyboard was given a small OLED screen to show information about the keyboard’s current configuration.
That keyboard was already really cool, but Max still had an extra storage case and decided to use that to flesh out the project into a complete cyberdeck. The third case was given a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, which receives power from a 10,000mAh LiPo battery through a UPSPack Standard V3 power board. Instead of a mouse, Max used a Speedlink SL-6331-BK multitouch trackpad. That covers almost one entire half of the storage case, with just enough room left on the bezel for two mouse buttons. The other half of the case is taken up by a 5” IPS LCD. Because the case is made from aluminum, Max added an external antenna to ensure that the WiFi signal was still strong. Finally, all three of the aluminum cases are held within a large 3D-printed case that was painted in olive drab to match the military aesthetic of the rest of the build. We would definitely be nervous trying to carry this cyberdeck through airport security, but there is no denying that is looks cool and is very unique.