I’ve been a fan of cyberpunk as a genre since I first read William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and specifically I was enthralled by the street savvy hackers of his gritty high tech world and their custom portable computers called cyberdecks. The cyberdeck as described by Gibson (in an age before laptops), was a sort of headless laptop that a hacker would use by connecting it directly to his mind and traversing the virtual reality cyberspace of his world.  The idea was later expanded upon in the Shadowrun series of games and books, where “deckers” were an integral part of the teams of street operators for hire that Shadowrun was based around.

Building custom art computers is a hobby of mine so I decided to see if I could make my own version of a cyberdeck. Since I don’t have a direct neural interface I decided to make do with a pair of video glasses and a headless laptop. The basic idea is to take the half-laptop and build a fancy box around it with styrene sheet plastic, using cable extensions to extend the ports to the outside of the case. This case will have a carry handle and a shoulder strap, as street hacker operatives need to be able to move in a hurry.

Note: As I learned the hard way, you can save yourself a lot of headache by choosing a laptop base that has most or all of its ports on the back edge of the machine. Then you can build you case to expose the back and just plug all of your wires in there. Mine had them all on the sides and it was a pain to use all sorts of extension cables and wire patches to get everything accessible from the outside.


PHOTOS (howto photos further down)

- Finished
- Worn
- Case
- Design
- Interior


- Laptop (one with a broken screen, or one you don’t care about breaking. Look for one with all/most ports on the back)
- 1/8th Inch Styrene (the sort used for modeling and vaccuforming. I used two or three 18”x24” sheets)
- Styrene “L” rails (available from hobby stores, useful for gluing right angles)
- Model Glue (I prefer the thin stuff used for Gundams)
- Male and Female 12v Connectors (not needed if the power plug is accessible)
- Small USB Hub (optional if USB ports are accessible)
- SDcard Reader (optional)
- Port Extension Cables (any port that will not be easily accessible you will need to extend. Video, USB, Ethernet, Ect…)
- Nuts, Bolts and Washers (6 sets)
- Small amount of nylon webbing strap
- Shoulder strap with clips or carabiners
- Sugru (I used 4 packets)
- Video Glasses (check ebay for a used set, look for something with a VGA or HDMI connector you can plug into your laptop)
- Foam insulation tape (the sort you might use for sealing a window)
- Drawer Handle (best is one that comes apart so you can slip the grip over it)
- Bicycle grip


- Soldering Iron (only if separating a wire is needed)
- Wire Stripers (only if separating a wire is needed)
- Sharp razor knife with spare blades
- Simple Drafting tools (Ruler, Straight-edge, and Right-angle)
- Drill
- Lighter or minitorch


Step 1: Design. Measure your hardware and draw some pictures of layouts till you get one you like. The case needs to be big enough to hold any hardware you are putting into it and leave space for some internal framing. Figure out what if any ports you will need to extend. [VIEW PHOTO]

Step 2: Case Exterior Construction. Build a basic box with a lid that is the right size and shape. The lid should fit on snuggly, later we will cut a hole in it to expose the keyboard. To do this, measure the pieces and draw them onto the styrene with a pencil. Then score along each line with the razor knife and flex the sheet to split it along that line. Once you have your pieces, glue them together using L rail along the internal edges to give them some support. I find it’s easiest to measure and cut the bottom of the box and then build up from there.

Step 3: Install the laptop. Place the laptop exactly where you want it and secure it in place. Two options for securing it:
A. Use small pieces of styrene and foam tape to build a bed of supports around it that hold it securely in place.
B. Use tape or other adhesives to bond it in place.
The bed method allows you to remove it for maintenance, the glue/tape method is easier but permanent [VIEW PHOTO]

Step 4: Keyboard hole. Make a paper template of the shape of the hole you want to expose the keyboard and trackpad.  Stick it to the laptop with a little double sided tape, then put more tape on top of the template. Press the lid down over this and then remove it with the template stuck to the underside exactly where you need it. Cut the hole from that. [VIEW PHOTO]

Step 5: Cables and holes. Figure out where any ports or extension cables will be and cut holes to allow access to them. Install the cables and tape them down. Use glue/Sugru/styrene bits to secure all of the cable ends to the case so they won’t move when you plug things into them.

Step 6: (Optional) Add a power port (Note: Unplug it before working on it!) If your power port isn’t accessible you will need to make an extension for it. This is pretty easy if you have any experience with a soldering iron. You will need to cut the power cable and insert a 12v plug/port in line. This way you can mount the port on your case and you can plug the power supply into that when you need to recharge.

Laptop power cables are usually just 2 wires in a cable from the inverter brick to the laptop.  Measure how much slack you will need from where the cable plugs into the laptop to where your port will be on the outer case. Cut the end of the cable off that far from the plug and strip the ends of the wires noting which is positive and negative. Cut some shrink tube and slip it over the wires, then solder them to the 12v jack. Use a heat source to shrink the heat-shrink tube around the connections to make them neat. Now do the same with the other cut end using a 12v plug. Finally drill a hole in the case and mount the socket securely so you can plug the power into it easily. [VIEW PHOTO]

Step 7: The grip. Trim any excess off of the bike grip and slide it over the drawer handle. I put some foam in it so it would be snug. Then mount the drawer handle securely to one side. I cut a wooden block and put the screws through that to distribute the weight away from the screw holes, but washers or a metal plate might work as well. [VIEW PHOTO]

Step 8: Case supports and framing. Glue some strips of extra styrene through the interior spaces to give it some added support and rigidity. Square shapes are easy to put in and help, triangles are a bit more difficult but stronger. [VIEW PHOTO]

Step 9: Corners. Add some corner shrouds using the same technique as the rest of the case construction. These do a few things. They strengthen the corners, cover the hardware for the drawer handle, and keep the lid snuggly in place. [VIEW PHOTO]

Step 10: Bolts. The corner bolts need to fit into interior nuts, but securing those nuts can be tricky when the whole thing is closed up. Here’s one way. Fit the case together so that everything is where you want it, then drill holes through the corner shrouds and case for the bolts. Next take everything apart so you can access the inside. Screw the bolts into the nuts through the holes in the case and secure the nuts in place with Sugru or some other strong substance. Give the Sugru a day to fully cure. Now you can take the bolts out, put the whole case together, and put the bolts back into the now secured interior nuts.

Step 11: Strap Loops. Finally you can make some easy loops to attach your strap to. Cut a few inches of nylon web strap and use a lighter to melt the frayed edges (careful, fire). Now fold it in half and use your lighter to melt a spot on each side just a little to make a rigid spot. Drill a hole through there and screw the loop to your case with one of the corner bolts. Do the same for a second loop. [VIEW PHOTO]

Step 12: Finally, finish it with a light sanding and some clear coat, followed by any cyberpunk stickers you want. I got mine from WolfeCreative
That should complete your cyberdeck. Now you can sling it over your shoulder, don your video specs, and make a run on some corporate I.C.E. [VIEW PHOTO]

Good luck console cowboys.

BY D10D3 (@D10D3_)