Raspberry Pi + Game Boy pieces + mechanical keyboard = cool Frankenstein DIY handheld PC

This Frankenstein’s monster of a creation is called  Penkēsu. It was designed by Penk Chen, who bills it as a “homebrew retro-style handheld PC”. Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W powers this mish-mash of hardware, making Penk, who built the thing, Dr Frankenstein, which I guess makes me, writing about the thing, Mary Shelley. Excellent start to my Tuesday.

And yes, I am going to shoehorn something Halloweeny into every blog title for the entire month of October. Game on.

DIY handheld PC

Personally, I’m into it because it reminds me of that bizarre scene in an early aughts music video when ex‑Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland used an Excel spreadsheet to send a text on a very similar looking handheld device. But I digress.

They were different times


DIY handheld PC Frankenstein mish mash of parts

Expanding our vocabulary

Penk’s project post also taught us a new word: ortholinear. It relates to the keyboard, and means all the keys are in aligned rows and columns, like a grid. It’s an ortholinear keyboard. Try to casually drop that into a sentence and let us know how it goes.

Kailh’s Low Profile Choc V1 mechanical switches give the keyboard its retro clickity-clack sound and feel, and it’s powered by an Arduino Pro Micro microcontroller board. Click here to have a listen to the satisfying keyboard clicks.

DIY handheld PC Frankenstein mish mash of parts

Super simple design

Penkēsu is purposefully simple, comprising just three hardware components inside the 3D-printed case. Everything is open source and available on GitHub, and Penk has shared a step-by-step guide so you can build your own.

DIY handheld PC

This maker also created CutiePi, a portable tablet-style computer built around Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4.


Miles Raymond avatar

Now if only there were an easy CM4 based laptop (or a range of sizes) and availability, I’d spring on it!

Nick avatar

I agree, Miles, I even had a go at designing my own. Alas, work and life got in the way, and I am unlikely to get my design finished in the next 12 months… but yeah, if someone *did* make a CM4 laptop or netbook, I’d probably buy at least one! It’s a shame the pi-top went down the “tablet” route instead of sticking with their rather nice clamshell format.

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