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Picture of A Computer you can use in the Shower
Always wanted a waterproof laptop? Thought it might be cool to have a computer in the shower? Then read on.

I have created a laptop that can withstand falling water. Such as a shower or rain.
 
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Step 1: Introduction/What you need

Picture of Introduction/What you need
I had always wanted to do this. I wanted to make a computer that I could use while I was in the shower. I put it off for a while. Until one day, while reading other peoples instructables, I came across the PopSci contest. I thought, "when would be a better time to do this?". The answer, NEVER! Anyway on to the point.

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
Some time
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

Picture of Taking the laptop apart
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During this step you will realize that the laptop is made up of:
50% Hardware (CD Drives, PC card slots, etc)
25% Circuitry (Motherboard and Daughterboards)
25% Screws

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

Picture of Waterproof the Screen
Try to get your screen as bare as possible. Most of the time you can get it down to the LCD, some circuitry attached to it, and a pink and white wire.

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

Picture of Sealing the computer
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This is the most important step. Missing this step will lead to the end of your computer. We need to seal this from water. This is where you will use your silicon or hot glue. I personally recomend silicon for many reasons.
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

Picture of Sealing the case
Now that you have sealed off the computer, you got to seal the case off. Before putting all the circuitry in the case, take some silicon and make a line going all the way around the edge of the case. Put a little dot of silicon in each of the screwholes and make sure all holes on the laptop are covered up.

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

Picture of Seal the keyboard
In most laptops the keyboard just pops right off the top if a hidden screw is removed. Fill in all of the little holes on the bottom of the keyboard. One way to do this is to put a whole bunch of silicon on the bottom and smear it around with a paper towel. Put a line of silicon all the way around the edge on the bottom side of it. Put the keyboard back in its place and screw it down. Fill in the screw hole with silicon.

Step 7: Put the screen back on

Picture of Put the screen back on
The hinges on a laptops screen should come out of some holes near the top of the CPU. After you screw the screen back on to these hinges fill in the area remaining in that hole. Plug the ribbons back on to the motherboard and fill in the holes to it with silicon.

My laptop had broken hinges so I made a metal bracket to hold it up (not pictured).

Step 8: Safer Power Supply

Plug the power supply into the computer and add some silicon to it. Unplug it and let the silicon dry on both the plug and the computer. This will make a silicon gasket to keep the power supply safe.

Step 9: Test it.

Hopfully you haven't damaged your laptop in this process. Go plug it in and see if it boots up. If it does, put your computer in the bathtub and plug it in (make sure it is plugged into a GFCI protected outlet for safety). Start the computer and turn on the shower. DON'T TOUCH THE COMPUTER AT THIS POINT. We don't want any electrical shocks. Leave the shower and computer running for a few min.

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

Picture of Some tips
Buy a lot of silicon right away. You will need 2 or 3 tubes of it, if you use the caulk kind.

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.

Step 11: Congratulations! Your done!

Picture of Congratulations! Your done!
Now go and use your laptop in the rain.
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bgraham74 months ago

Why not just send off a good device to liquipel? They shower proof devices for you for cheap (and they still look like their old counterparts after your done)

http://www.liquipel.com/about/#top

2 stroke 4 years ago
dude whats the point BTW you can get an electric shock and possibly die keep electronics out of the shower other wise you might F yourself up electricity does not give you a second chance

Water by itself does not conduct electricity. Its the impurities in the water that bring water's resistance down, increasing conductivity. Salt water is a good example, dunk anything in that, and you may not be able to get it to work again without serious drying. Pure water on the other hand? Its like paper (very high resistance). My point? Tap water has a fairly low conductivity (high resistance). Even if it shorted out in the shower, it would be very unlikely to shock anyone. The battery would be way too weak do deal that kind of energy. A car battery would, but it has a lot of amperage. And electricity doesn't go down the drain into the power plant. It would be grounded (the current dissipates into the ground). Just for those who don't know.

i guess so but we dont know if the water is 100% pure either its just regular tap water

No, it probably won't kill you. Your drain pipe will take the current because that's the shortest route back to the power plant. Ask any electrical engineer.
bmlbytes (author)  BigD1454 years ago
Actually, the the pipes would be the path of least resistance to an earth ground, not the power plant. And, any electrical engineer would tell you that you would still get a very small amount of current, but it would not be significant enough to cause even a small bit of pain.
actually it would probably go to the negative terminal on the battery and all the power would stay within the computer
Not to mention shorting the batteries could potentially cause catastrophic failure resulting in severe injury/death. To be fair though the instructable does say not to submerge it.
This person seems like they have little to no clue about electricity other than it makes thing go SIIIIIZZZZZZ.
lol
Noooooooooooooot quite. Unless you are using it while it's plugged in, the chances of you getting a lethal or even damaging electric shock are slim to none.
klaviatury3 years ago
Heres another suggestion, how about we dont use laptops while taking a bath. Horrible concept, horrible presentation, that a waste of time. Avoid seran wrap looks horrible and it is not going to keep water out, try shrink wrap and a heat gun for a better seal and nicer finish. Water resistant foam would also be better than silicone since you cannot guarentee a complete seal with silicon. Even with those precautions you still need a water resistant casing and you still have to deal with cooling and condensation. So yeah lets just keep the laptop out of the tub for now.

You could build a computer from scratch, and build the case so it can seal everything inside. The cooling could be provided by a heatsink sticking out of the bottom of the shell (while being sealed with silicone). Plug the holes with a rubbery plug and you would be set. And maybe people who work with computers near the water would find more use for something like this, rather than someone inside a shower. I'm just brainstorming here, and I am well aware this is 2 years old.

Hey, that's my idea.

if you want to waterproof a laptop there are easier ways. a company makes a solution that you emerge the entire unit in and it waterproofs everything, even the ports that will still be usable. The company is called Liquipel.

Would it be better to in-bed or hang a touch screen it the wall of the shower and leave the laptop in a safe place. it would be far easier to waterproof a screen than a laptop. This would give you the freedom to display news, weather, music, video, or anything you would like without juggling a peace of equipment. The idea is good but it needs a little refinement.

why on earth would anyone want to do this?!
oross2 years ago
Will it not just overheat
I would rather get a tablet pc, and buy a waterproof case for it. That, or put it in like three zip lock bags, and hope all goes well. In a sense, you could just have made a tub of silicone, cover up the power supply hole, and dip the bottom part into it, let it solidify, and make sure they keyboard didn't get glued down. For the scree, i would take it apart, and put silicone on the edges and seal it off, making sure nothing got on the screen for the best viewing. The only problem is, there is no way to cool it, thus it would fry/shut down in a matter of minutes. Stick to the tablet pc, or buy a waterproof laptop/device you can view the internet with/look at things with/whatever you would need a laptop in a shower for...
DrStoooopid7 years ago
It's SiliCONE.....Silicon, is what the CPU is made of.
agreed
what aa jok for desttrying laptops
:))
whatsisface8 years ago
why not just buy a panasonic toughbook? these things can be encased into concrete and survive, so a shower aint gonna do no damage. I think they use em in the Middle East for army ops
Concrete and water are a bit different. Concrete, even while wet, will not seep into the small nooks and crannies that water will. The toughbooks are nice, but they do not resist full on water damage. They will usually withstand spills and the like, but a shower it will not be able to deal with.
I'm gonna have to disagree with you there Bjorno. When I was in the military deployed to Iraq we used the toughbooks for controlling rooftop satellite dishes and they can resist "full on water". They weathered Iraqi sand storms and even made it through rain storms that happened at the same time as the sand storms. So pretty much a mud storm. The toughbooks we had came with sealed keyboards/screens, and all of the ports had sealed covers. One of our toughbooks was left on the roof during one of the mud storms and when we went to get it, the laptop was under about 4 inches of moist sand. Not exactly concrete, but it was completely undamaged. One of them was even dropped off of the roof of a parking garage there and nothing happened to it.
While I don't doubt your experience with the Military and LEO-grade toughbooks, there is a huge difference between free-flowing water and water that accompanies a mud/sand storm.

Capillary action tends to keep most of the water trapped in the sand and mud, so there is no fluid force pushing the water deeper into the laptop. This not so say that it is impossible for a toughbook to withstand a submerge event, it is just not likely to do so without some damage.

Besides, we have to consider the fact that this person is likely not going to be able to get their hands on a toughbook that complies with MIL-STD-810F as they are usually $5000 or more.


abadfart Bjorno4 years ago
the tough book in my dads fleet van stands up to it... he left it on the hood in a rain storm more than once
Calorie5 years ago
I am really disappointed in this discussion. When I read the title I howled with laughter. Yet I can only count a couple of "auto-erotic" comments. Come on people, step up your game! A teen with a laptop that can go into a shower is too much to pass up. God, I'm heaving with laughter as I right this. Thank you for making my day...Pull my comment if you want, but it is well worth it.
you know thats a good point... its hard to read a smut mag in the shower lol
To waterproof it without taking your laptop apart, just put it in a giant zip lock bag :)
I've done that with a cell phone before
smallebee4 years ago
you might ont to tell some people the cost of failiur at the begining of the how to
also youl be naild to a wall at some point the laptop is now splash proof non water proof only claim water proof if youve tested it under at least 1mtr of watter
other wize its a fantastic instruction youve coverd all the bases
I don't think you have any room to complain about his spelling. considering how many things are misspelled in your comment.
smallebee4 years ago
speling is horific sos
biozz5 years ago
this is not safe in the least ... laptops carry moth high voltage low amperage and high amperage low voltage ... if they collide it can kill you
No, laptops have only ONE high voltage source with very very low current ~1-2mA and the only thing that has a high current is the battery but even that is only 3A at about 12-16VDC...
no that's very wrong
battery - normally 19V 3-5AH
USB - 500mA max
serial port - 10mA max
VGA port can draw up to 5mA
powered eSATA port can draw over 1 amp max
the CCT used to power the monitor is 5mA 1700volts
the speakers can produce well over 50W

it takes 30mA across the heart to kill you but wet can be as low as 15ma http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_current_can_kill_an_human
Yeah but low currents like serial ports and vga cant kill you and by the way, to kill you it has got to find a way to your heart and it has to be mains
science 101
electricity finds the path of least resistance
your blood has extremely low resistance (much lower than akin or watter) so all you have to do is have 1 hand on the common ground (or via water to the shielding as thats grounded or any metal parts on it) and the other on a current more than 30MA (well 15 ish) and your heart can easily stop ... all your blood vessels go to your heart so its heard to avoid
you do not have to be mains as electricity is just electricity
in fact the most common form of electroshock death is wet hands on a car battery
ya... electricity does find the path of least resistance.... like the water you are bathing in... unless you ground yourself you will be fine... the only "danger" would be that 1700V you speak of(which is ridiculous btw) because none of the other voltages are high enough to pass enough current through your body. and even that is only 5mA like you said.think about it... V=IR ----> I=V/R ---> I= (low voltage)/(high resistance).
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