I have created a laptop that can withstand falling water. Such as a shower or rain.
Step 1: Introduction/What you need
I had used this old Acer laptop for about 2 years, when the USB stopped working. I also had a problem with my PCMCIA connecter. I put it in my "junk" pile and it's been sitting there ever since. I bought a better, new laptop that I have been happy with so far. The other day I came across the PopSci contest and decided to enter. The only idea I had was to make a waterproof laptop.
What you will need:
An old laptop
Some Saran wrap
Some basic tools
Hot glue gun and a lot of glue for it or,
A lot of Silicon
Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any damage you may do to your computer. This can be very dangerous for the computer. Please be carful.
Step 2: Taking the laptop apart
50% Hardware (CD Drives, PC card slots, etc)
25% Circuitry (Motherboard and Daughterboards)
Sometimes I wonder if the laptop manufaturers keep the screw companies in buisness.
The first step in taking apart a laptop is to take out as much stuff as possible. Take out hard drives, CD drives, batteries, RAM, etc. Make sure you get it all.
The second step is to look for screws. You should find about 10-20 of them on the bottom. Look under stickers, rubber feet, plastic squares, inside the RAM area, and everywhere. You may find some on the top where the lights are and the screen connects. If your computer doesn't come apart somewhat easily, then you missed some screws.
Thirdly, take the screen off. Disconnect any wires leading to the motherboard. Make sure all screws on the screen are out and that you can safely remove the screen. Sometimes you have to take off the decorative panel to get to the hinges. This is OK because we need to seal the screen anyway.
Finally take all daughterboards off of the motherboard. Store these in a safe place (do as I say, not as I do). Personally I think that laptop manufacturers liked their LEGOs as children. All of the daughterboards are ALWAYS connected with little clip-in slots. They NEVER are soldered. Hmmmm.
Step 3: Waterproof the Screen
Take some of your Saran wrap and wrap it around the screen. Make small holes for the connectors to the screen. Use a little silicon to fill in the exposed circuitry.
Also use a hairdryer to kinda shrink the Saran wrap to the screen. Make sure the screen doesn't get too hot though.
Step 4: Sealing the computer
1. It is heat resistant and won't melt if put on a heatsink.
2. It is more water resistance.
3. It is more durable.
4. Drys slower, allowing more time to fix mistakes and to put on cover.
5. It is flexable.
Flexability is key when using around buttons and switches.
Start with the processor. This is the MOST important part of the computer and also the most expensive to replace. Take all heatsinks off and make a sqare around the processor with the silicon. Don't put any silicon on the processor. Just around it. If the heatsink is connected to any other chips or circuitry then put a square around that too. It is probally pretty important. Stick the heatsink back on and allow to dry. If there are any screw holes in the heat sink, replace the screws and fill in with silicon.
Next, take a paper towel and squirt some silicon on it (can't do this step with hot glue). Rub the silicon all over the motherboard. This will protect it a little if any water does manage to find its way in.
Now, start reasembling the laptop. Start with the parts in the middle and work your way out. Make sure you seal the piece to the board and put some silicon all around the top of the daughterboard or device. Keep working quickly but carfully as silicon tends to dry.
If your computer has speakers then we need to fix those too. The cone in speakers is sometimes made of paper and will get soggy and will leak water. Take some silicon and put it on your finger (a glove might help). Spread a thin but full coat on the cone of the speaker. This shouldn't effect the speaker.
Make sure the whole circuitry and devices (esp. the processor and battery) are completly sealed off. We don't want any leaks.
Step 5: Sealing the case
Run a little piece of copper/iron/zinc bar (solid) from the heatsink and out the hole where the fan or heat exchange would normally be. We need to keep your computer cool after all. Make sure there is silicon covering where this bar leaves the computer.
Before putting the circuitry in run a line of silicon across the back of the circuitry where the connecters are. Cover up any holes that these could leave.
Place the circuitry down on the silicon you put in the case before. The silicon should fill in the remainder of the space in the computer if done right. If silicon gets in the holes of the connecter, plug a device into the connecter a few times. This only works while the silicon is still wet.
Place some heavy stuff on the laptop, being sure not to crush the hard drive. I used my box of "junk"
Go to sleep.
Step 6: Seal the keyboard
Step 7: Put the screen back on
My laptop had broken hinges so I made a metal bracket to hold it up (not pictured).
Step 8: Safer Power Supply
Step 9: Test it.
If nothing happens to your laptop then you did everything right. Congratulations.
If your computer goes sssiiizzzzzzzzzzzz, then you have done something wrong (I've had a few computers make this noise from short-circuiting, but not from water). I'm sorry to say but your computer won't work anymore.
Please do not try to submerge the laptop in water. This is ment for only light amounts of water. This may protect a little from submerged laptops but you can be sure that water will find its way in eventually. If your computer does get submerged, do not try to turn it on or plug it in for less than 5 days.
Also I haven't gotten all the pictures up yet, but I wanted to get this post up. I will be adding pictures as I take them. :P
Step 10: Some tips
Hot glue doesn't work well for this project. I mearly suggested it as a way to do it if you had some laying around. You would go through sticks extremly fast anyway.
PLEASE DO NOT SUBMERGE YOUR LAPTOP. This was only ment for showers/rain.
Don't cover the motor on the hard drive with silicon. It tends to not work after that.
Charge your laptop out of the shower or rain. At least keep it dry. I know you don't want 120 volts (220 outside North America) going through you. It doesn't feel good (death can occur).
Try to find a good way to exchange the heat in your computer. A few comments have suggested ways to do this.
Find a good way to remember how to put it back together.
If you have one of those touch pads that you use as a mouse, I recommend that you fill an optical mouse full of silicon too. These mice don't work well in water.
Wear a paint/gas mask (pictured below). The fumes in the silicon made my nose bleed. I read the tube and it said that the fumes were acidic.
Have fun but be safe.