Penk Chen's Penkesu Is a Widescreen, Retro-Style Ortholinear Pocket PC Powered by a Raspberry Pi
Self-described "digital nomad" Penk Chen has put together a pocket-friendly personal computer designed with a retro aesthetic, and using a range of off-the-shelf and upcycled parts combined inside a 3D-printed clamshell chassis.
"Penkēsu (Japanese: ペンケース) is a retro-style handheld device powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, a 7.9-inch widescreen display (400×1280 resolution), and a 48-keys ortholinear mechanical keyboard," Chen explains. "The case of Penkesu Computer is designed around the display and keyboard to achieve a (relatively) compact physical dimensions."
As with most portable computers, the Penkesu is designed to fold in half — protecting the ultra-wide display when it's in transit. The hinges are salvaged from defunct Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP consoles, or compatible modern recreations, while a flexible ribbon cable connects the HDMI display to the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W single-board computer in the main body.
The body itself is 3D-printed, and its size is determined by the keyboard — a custom design created by pseudonymous maker "larrbo" and featuring 48 low-profile mechanical switches in a 4×12 matrix using an ortholinear layout without the staggered columns of a traditional keyboard. An Arduino Pro Micro drives the board, running the QMK open source keyboard firmware.
It's not Chen's first shot at a Raspberry Pi-powered portable: He's also the designer of the CutiePi, a tablet-style commercial offering. "Ever since the CutiePi tablet has been successfully funded and started shipping, I feel the need to work on a new project, something I don't need to worry too much about commercial viability, and to remind myself why I started tinkering," he writes. "A 'rebound' project, so to speak."
"And since there are no immediate plans on selling kits or making Penkesu Computer mass producible, I'd like to publish all the designs and plans so there's enough information for anyone interested in making one."
3D-printable files, a bill of materials, and assembly instructions are available on Chen's GitHub repository under the permissive MIT license; more information can be found on the project's website.