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Old 10th April, 2007, 10:23 PM
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DIY Laptop

Hi all,
recently, while drifting around the web, i ended up at Hack-a-day. The article i was presented with was a DIY Laptop. Now, i'm not here to discuss the article. I'm here to find the bits for, yes, you guessed it, my very own Homemade laptop!

Ok, so it's not so much of a laptop as a portable pc.

I've already located a Socket 939 mATX motherboard, memory (DDR, which is very cheap), i already have a spare CPU (3200+), and i also have a low-profile graphics card (6200TC which i'll be modifying the PCI bracket, unless i can find some sort of daughter board that will allow me to mount it sideways). I need a few other things though. Basically, i need an mATX PSU, a screen (probably going to be modding a 17" LCD), a very low profile cooler, a touchpad (not essential, preferably USB) and a laptop keyboard.

The chassis is going to be custom built, probably made from some sort of metal as my dad can weld, but it will be insulated. Either that or acrylic, if i can get it cut and fitted together for the correct size. It's going to be slightly larger than a "standard" motherboard box which is approx mATX standard already (i know because i've already measured). I'm predicting about 18.5" x 4" x 11". Basically, it's going to be a desktop in a slightly larger, but custom made laptop case. So as such, it's going to be a mobile powerhouse that i could use for gaming (especially if i can add my 7600GT later on).

As for the monitor, like i said, it's probably going to be a 17" LCD. I need one that is very thin, tough, has a small power connector, and is VGA. I'm planning on cutting holes into the back of the chassis to loop the VGA/DVI connector through and into the DVI/VGA connector. This should save me messing about connecting it internally. I'm also gonna cut fan holes into the back to fit a couple of 40mm or one 80mm fan. I would also be cutting out an area for the back panel connectors to go, but not inividual connectors and i probably won't be bothering with the I/O Shield.

The next pitfall i'm presented with is mounting the LCD. Obviously i can't just glue it to the top and leave it as i do want to be able to fold it away for storage, transport and showing people at college . So some sort of swivel mechanism will have to be devised. This is where i'm stumped for ideas. I suppose i could build 2 peg systems, one for each side of the screen, where one end of a peg is connected to the laptop, and the other end is connected to the laptop chassis itself, but only the ends connected to the sreen allow it to rotate. Or i could use a slide peg system where is is like the peg system above, except the ends that are connected to the chassis actually slide between 2 position; open and close. Either way would mean i'd have to have some sort of shock absorption on both the screen and the chassis to prevent breaking the screen. Or, a sliding click-peg system which is the same as the sliding-peg system, except there are individual notches that it "locks" into.

Another pitfall is mounted the mainboard. I would need some sort of acrylic blocks in certain places to stop it sliding. But i'd also need something to secure it from above. Either that, or very long screws along with bolts, through the bottom of the chassis and through the holes in the motherboard. This is probably the best idea but lining them up so precisely will not be easy. I have the drill bits on my dremel fortunately, but the screw heads would need to be dropped into the chassis in order to prevent scratching any surfaces they may come in contact with.

The next pitfall is drives. I don't know if laptop drives use standard 4-pin power connectors or not. For this project, i will need laptop drives.

Another pitfall is battery. As of yet, i do not know if i plan to use a battery in the laptop. But if i do, actually connecting it to the board and getting it charging correctly could prove to be a problem.

The last forseeable pitfall i can see is cooling the CPU. Due to the constricted nature of the chassis, i can't be using a frame-based fan. So i either need something passive, or something like a zalman CNPS7500. The latter is preferable as it is active cooling but the problem is that it is pretty loud (~34DBa at 1 Meter). I want something quieter. So i can either connect the power header to a voltage limiter (such as 7v) or find a passive cooler.

Obviously, my main system rig upgrade will come first before i attempt something like this.

I'm planning on fitting some 80mm fans to the top of the chassis to get rid of even more air from the system. I can either make them intakes, or exhausts. I prefer them to be intakes though so i have a positive pressure inside the chassis. They will be slow moving to keep noise down. They'll also have grills on them to stop a lot of dust and bloody fingers. I'm thinking of having one at each side on the touchpad, or if i don't fit a touchpad, 4 x slow moving 80mm fans all the way along the top of the chassis located below the keyboard. This would let air into all the places of the system.

As for speakers, i'm thinking of getting some small multimedia speakers, cutting them apart and mounting them to the top of the chassis near the keyboard.

If anyone can point me in the right direction for some UK based suppliers of the following, i'd be greatful:

* 450W mATX PSU (preferably fanless or very quiet)
* Custom Cut Acrylic Panels
* Low Profile Socket 939 Cooler (at least 4600+ as i plan to upgrade to that CPU later, preferably heatpipe based)
* Laptop Touchpad and Keyboard (unless i just sink a normal keyboard into the chassis).
* Thin, cheap, sturdy 17" LCD or TFT screen.
* A daughter card to mount a PCI-E card at a 90 degree angle (!!!Essential!!!).
* Cheap, small multimedia speakers.

Cheers,
Scott.
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Old 15th April, 2007, 11:34 AM
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This sounds hugely ambitions. I would suggest a few things -

Mount the motherboard as per normal, that will be easier

Desolder the VGA connector from the motherboard and the screen and run straight cables between them, that will make it much neater.

Use a laptop style desktop keyboard, and consider hacking up a trackball type mouse (or however they are called) instead of using a touchpad.

I would also consider a PSU like the PicoPSU LINK HERE since then you can just run an external power block as per a "normal" laptop.

I would also forget batteries entirely, it will be very very difficult to set that up.

For the laptop HDD you will be wanting something like THIS RIGHT HERE to use it with a standard IDE port.

FWIW I haven't seen any PCI-E riser cards, but a few PCI and AGP ones, I would suggest either going PCI or, if your motherboard has integrated graphics, that would be even better

Let us know how it goes!!
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Old 15th April, 2007, 03:52 PM
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Um, do you know how expensive and difficult this would be to do?

Have you looked into Laptop Barebones?
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Old 15th April, 2007, 09:45 PM
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As a project I dont think it should be *too* expensive, but most likely it will be difficult. If Skool just wanted to buy a laptop I am sure he would AP
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Old 15th April, 2007, 09:59 PM
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Yeah I know but I was thinking that a barebones unit is a sort of compromise..as you can choose your own kit and it can be easily customised..oh well.
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