Folks in the Cyberdeck community have been taking advantage of modern-day tech to build retro-futuristic portable computers for the past few years by taking advantage of advances in 3D printing, the ability to source electronic components from around the world, and the availability of versatile single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi line of devices.

The new Framedeck is a little different, because it’s one of the first that’s powered by a Framework Mainboard. That means this modern-day Cyberdeck has the guts of a decent 2021-eara laptop computer.

Framework makes a modular laptop that lets users swap out any of the device’s 4 ports to add a different port, additional storage, or other functionality. The company also recently began selling laptop mainboards which customers can use to upgrade or replace the mainboard and processor in an existing Framework Laptop or use as a standalone computer… or the foundation for a DIY system like the Framedeck.

While the Framedeck isn’t the first DIY retro computer we’ve seen that’s built around a Framework Mainboard, it’s one of the first that puts the laptop hardware into a different kind of mobile shell.

Inspired by the TRS-80 Model 100, the Framedeck is a slab of a computer with a a 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel IPS LCD touchscreen display, a custom 36-key keyboard, trackball, stereo speakers, two user-accessible USB-C ports, an Intel AX210 wireless card, and Framework’s 55 Wh battery stuffed inside a clear laser-cut acrylic case.

The design is entirely open source, and you can find a part list, description of the build process, and design files for the case and all 3D printed components at Github. Framedeck developer Brickbots also answers questions about the project in a thread in the Cyberdeck subreddit.

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  1. How about the typo in the title?

    I first learned to code on a trash80. Oh the simple days! The model 100 was really cool. But I opted for an IBM PC convertible, a DOS laptop with a modular mindset.

    I like the build in this article, except for the trackball and split keyboard. Like with the model 100, I wonder if a non-tilting screen will be visible while typing, or if glare will be a problem.

    1. The keyboard appears to support multiple layers via the up/down arrow keys (to “raise” and “lower” the keyboard level), and is controlled by a standard MCU, so it’s likely very easy to add other language support to the device.