The Commute Deck: a homebrew Unix terminal for tight placesOn June 16, 2017 by Chaim
Kerry Scharfglass designed his “Commute Deck” as a laptop alternative for his morning commute: it combines a mechanical keyboard (running the TMK open keyboard firmware), a 7″, 720p display from Adafruit, a long-life USB battery, and a Raspberry Pi 2 with USB, wifi and Bluetooth dongles, and a little USB hub, all mounted on a laser-cut 1/4″ plywood chassis.
It takes its name from the Cyberspace Decks of William Gibson’s classic cyberpunk Sprawl trilogy. If you want to build your own, the sources are on Github.
The Commute Deck is designed to provide a productive computing experience for UNIX terminal work in tight places, like the train or an economy seat on an airplane. It can be carried by hand or hooked onto a bag. It is robust enough to be jostled, and sealed so it can be carried outside in uncontrolled conditions. The mechanical keyboard is comfortable to type on (in width and layout), and the battery life is sufficient for a cross country flight or a full day at a conference.
The theme of this build is to identify the problem you want to solve, then solve that problem. Seems like a tautology, but I find it’s easy to waste time solving problems that don’t really matter. There are a number of areas where I traded elegance for off the shelf components to reduce complexity, cost, and time to completion.
An aside: The name “Commute Deck” is in reference to the notion of a computing device made of pure 90’s hacker nostalgia called “cyber deck,” from William Gibson’s Neuromancer. Here’s a screenshot of a “Decker” character holding a similar device from the Sega Genesis game Shadowrun.
This Custom Built “Commute Deck” Makes it Easy to Work on the Go
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