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Penkesu deck

Penkesu is a retro-style cyberdeck by u/penkia with a wide screen and a built-in low-pro ortho keyboard with "dye-sub" MBK caps.
Published February 16, 2022
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By the time I'm republishing this project you'd probably seen it in various subreddits, on Twitter, and it was even covered by The Verge. So let's focus on some features this time which may be interesting for a keyboard enthusiast: the PCB, keycaps and the process of dying the caps.

Penkēsu (Japanese: ペンケース) is "a homebrew retro-style handheld PC" designed by Penk Chen, a "digital nomad from Taiwan", living in Tokyo. My first impression while deciphering the katakana inscription on the top case was that Penkesu is a quite apt name for a case designed by someone called Penk but it turns out it's the Japanese word for pen case or pencil case.

The deck is powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W and is sporting the familiar but still impressive 7.9 inch widescreen display (400 x 1280 resolution) used by many projects on r/cyberdeck. And below it, there's a 48-key (12x4) ortholinear mechanical keyboard.

GitHub repo:

The keyboard PCB is Koda from Odd Rocket Keyboards – a side project of larrbo, a "bored engineer in Huntsville, AL". Gerbers available in this repo and here is the original blog post from 2018.

And the keycaps are ordinary white MBKs, with pigment "melted" on top of them by a laser engraver – "laser dye-sub". If anyone is interested in reproducing it, the font used was "Trade Gothic Bold condensed No. 20":

My laser engraver is 3000mW but that's overkill, 35% power 15ms speed is enough to give you a nice "print" – penkia.

The engraver in question is a NEJE dk-8-kz "because it's cheap (~$100) to get here in Tokyo". It requires its own control app but resolution wasn't an issue. The pigment was a random nail polish product found on Amazon (this one).

I mixed a few drops of water and brushed on the keycaps with a small painting brush.

Finally, this is Don's original video on the topic, which gave the idea to penkia:

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Published on Wed 16th Feb 2022. Featured in KBD #66 (source).


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