Have you seen the deckhand Again? I’m a big fan and use it quite often. A very useful attachment system for the Steam Deck and I had the chance to talk to the creator about it.
Q: First of all, can you introduce yourself?
“My name is Siri Ramos. Mechanical engineer by trade, fabricator/designer also by trade, handyman renovator by night.”
Q: How did you get started making things like the Deckmate?
“Amazingly, it’s only recently that I’ve started to connect my childhood desires with my current skills. I have always watched How it’s Made on the Discovery Channel with intense fascination and have been endlessly entertained by gadgets and product design. seems to be fate that i ended up doing what i do.
It was only by pure chance that I found myself in my field. I didn’t even know it existed until I was a freshman in college. I came across it by chance at a job fair while looking for my first internship. Another coincidence: I studied exactly the right discipline that would allow me to land a job in this field.
Once I discovered product design engineering, I focused entirely on getting that first job in the field. I took design for manufacturing courses, my graduation thesis was about a product idea I wanted to realize, I dove into the world of startup design. The field seemed endless at the time, and I was at the right school to tackle it, Carnegie Mellon University.
By the time my program was over, I had a big choice to make. For one thing, I had landed an amazing job offer from Apple as a product design engineer. On the other hand, we were getting some traction with some seed investors on our senior thesis idea to redesign the Epipen to pack flat like an iPhone case.
The choice came down to: do I venture out and make my own product, or do I take Apple’s job offer?
In my youthful naivety, I turned down Apple’s job.
We got seed funding and we all aligned our lives to try and make a brand new medical device. 3 broke, inexperienced college kids tackling one of the most complex types of product design out there. Medical devices, in hindsight, was one of the worst entry points to launch a product. Regulatory compliance, the high cost of failure (people die!) and very little money add up to a business that was doomed from the start.
Needless to say, less than a year later, we were even brokers and at each other’s throats as founders. I made the hard decision to leave on a Friday morning in October.
That afternoon, I emailed the Apple hiring manager who had previously offered me the job. Tail shyly tucked back, I asked if he still had an open role for the count.
What happened next honestly amazed me. He called me immediately after opening my email to tell me that the team was away the following Tuesday to all fly to China for work. He asked if I could come in and interview the team on Monday before everyone flew out. Of course, I said yes.
After a whirlwind of flights and interview prep, I arrived Monday morning half-ready for a full day of 8 hours of back-to-back technical interviews. When the design challenge ended around 4 p.m., my new manager pulled me out and offered me the job. I had the job offer in hand less than a business day after leaving my startup.
I learned everything I know at Apple. From design to manufacturing to how things are actually made, I consider Apple to be my university for product design. This is where I learned how the products are really made. Not in theory, but in practice and on MASSIVE scales. I was single-handedly designing products that were being produced at a peak rate of 1 million units per day. Needless to say, the engineering was technical and had to be perfect.
I’ve had fun designing stuff for other companies and startups for over 10 years. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to fully immerse myself in a little side project I designed called Deckmate.”
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the Deckmate? Why did you do it?
“Honestly, I came up with the idea because the Steam Deck needed it. Some things you use and the design needs a slight modification. That’s what happened to me and the Deck. One day after having used mine (I had a first unit around April) I knew it needed at least a kickstand.Then my designer brain thought about everything else it could do. It really made me want to have a fast system that could swap and transform into exactly what I needed depending on how I was using the Deck.
After posting the rough idea on Reddit, I received feedback and ideas for other use cases. This is how the VESA mount was born. To be honest, it’s my favorite mount of all. My Steam deck essentially lives on top of my PC on a monitor arm permanently, unless I’m using it to go.
There are tons of other editing ideas in the works, and the system will expand to many more devices as well. My intention is to make Deckmate the Quad-lock for video games. Every support to meet your needs on any device you own.”
Q: Could you tell us a bit more about How? ‘Or’ What are you really getting there? What does your process look like?
“It all starts in software called CAD. I use a professional-grade CAD program from Siemens called NX.
The process goes something like this:
- Sit down and think about the idea you want to do.
- Start CAD modeling and solidify how it works
- Print a 3D prototype
- Repeat 50 times
Modeling in CAD is where a lot of the experience comes in. When modeling, you not only need to know how to use the program to effectively model what you want, but you also need to keep in mind all the constraints you have learned. over the years. Everything from manufacturing limitations and aesthetic concerns to product strength and reliability must be considered when modeling.
It’s very easy with 3D printing to design something that you can print. Indeed, 3D printing has relatively few manufacturing constraints. When designing for injection molding, parts have very different stresses. This is the big reason why castings are different from the 3D printed parts you can download from the website.
Once you’re happy with the design, you contact molding suppliers and start a process called DFM (design for manufacturing). They deal with what it will be like to actually do in the mold. Everything from where the material pulls into the empty cavity, where the cooling lines are in the steel, how the plastic flows through the cavity, temperatures and pressures, etc. This is where the really technical stuff is done and determines how your end product arrives and how reliable it is. Here are some screenshots of this process:
Q: Have you received any strange attachment requests from customers?
“The one that I always find a bit different is people asking how to mount a screen above the Deck. It’s a very interesting application, but I don’t think Deckmate is the right solution for this unfortunately. With the spring system in the Deckhand, having a screen mounted wouldn’t do well with the vibrations.”
Q: It’s been out for a while now, is it a hit?
“I would say it was a phenomenal success! I have now shipped almost 3,000 orders with only 4 people wanting to return it. That is a phenomenal return rate.
More importantly, people tell me every day how much they love him. And that’s my main motivation. I want to do things that people like and that can make their lives easier. My biggest indicator of success came when I received an email from a customer who was using his Deckmate system to allow him to mount his Deck on his leg. Honestly, it melted my heart and made me feel the most successful about anything.”
Q: Do you have other Steam Deck accessories planned? Or maybe you have other accessories planned for the Deckmate?
“There are so many other mounts I want to cover: car mount, airplane mount, ¼-20 camera/tripod mount, etc.
There are also a ton of other devices I want to make grips for: Nintendo Switch, all Aya devices, etc.
With these two approaches together, I think Deckmate can become a pretty powerful editing system for video games!”