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DIY handheld PC uses mechanical keyboard, Game Boy pieces, Raspberry Pi

DIY handheld PC uses mechanical keyboard, Game Boy pieces, Raspberry Pi

 February 16, 2022 at 5:10 am   |     Author:   |     Technology  

penkesu diy pc

If someone is using a handheld PC these days, it’s almost certainly a smartphone. But a Raspberry Pi has a way of bringing out an enthusiast’s retro side. Add in some old console parts and a true mechanical keyboard, and you’ve got a DIY PC that can fit in the palm of your hand.

Called the Penkesu and shared via GitHub by a user known as Penk Chen, the project is described as “a homebrew retro-style handheld PC.” It uses a 7.9-inch touchscreen with a 400 x 1,280 resolution and a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W. Other electronic parts include a 3.7 V Li-Po battery and Adafruit PowerBoost 1000C for power.

Materials used.
Enlarge / Materials used.

Chen 3D-printed the PC’s chassis and shared the corresponding STL files and STEP file. The maker also used replacement hinges for the Game Boy Advance SP to allow the PC to fold shut.

“Repurposed Game Boy Advance SP hinges and ribbon cable for HDMI are used to keep the hinge thin, yet [they hold] the weight of the display so it won’t tip over,” Penske wrote on Github.

Shuts like an old Game Boy.
Enlarge / Shuts like an old Game Boy.

Those who yearn for the days when on-the-go keyboards weren’t all touchscreens can appreciate the Penkesu’s compact mechanical keyboard. It’s ortholinear, meaning all the keys are in aligned rows and columns, like a grid. The keyboard employs Kailh’s Low Profile Choc V1 mechanical switches and an Arduino Pro Micro microcontroller board.

48 mechanical switches topped with MBK's Choc low-profile keycaps.
Enlarge / 48 mechanical switches topped with MBK’s Choc low-profile keycaps.

If you haven’t given up on handheld PCs, instructions for building a Penkesu of your own are on Github, as the maker doesn’t have plans to sell the PC.

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