Dell Inspiron 600M Reborn As a Homemade Tablet Pc

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Introduction: Dell Inspiron 600M Reborn As a Homemade Tablet Pc

Goal:
Convert a Dell Inspiron 600m laptop to a touch screen tablet.

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Update 9/7/12

About two weeks ago i wiped my tablet and installed Windows 7 Pro on it. Wow, what a difference in performance. Everything seems to be a little faster, a little smoother, nicer graphics. Over all the tablet runs great with Windows 7. Start-up time is around 30 sec. Wake from sleep is instantaneous. The on-screen keyboard is much nicer the one in XP.  And much easier to tune Windows 7 for the touch interface and SSD. Most applications rocket to the screen. The tablet runs a little bit hotter and battery time is a bit shorter. but well worth upgrading. Check out the 'Disk data transfer rate - 5.9'  The SSD makes all the difference on this computer. Memory usage is about as low as i can get it: 450MB on boot.

Note: I built this computer almost a year ago. And it's still impressive and really cool to use. The shell has also proven to be quite durable. The case is as structurally sound as the day i finished it.


Specs:
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 SP3
1.8Ghz Pentium 4m
14" LCD touch screen
32MB ATI Radeon 9000
2GB RAM DDR PC2700
64GB SSD 2.5" ide interface
internal USB hub
Bluetooth reciever
GPS Reciever
2 Batteries  Primary Dell Battery and secondary CD-ROM bay battery (7+ hours runtime)

Results:
Boots in 15 Sec., Firefox launches in under 1 sec.

Changed:
WIFI antennas and locations for better reception and relocate power button.

Removed:
Palm rest, Keyboard, trackpad and buttons, modem, PCMCIA Slot Cage and HDD Cage.

Parts:
Most of the parts were purchased via eBay.com

Dell Inspiron 600m in decent condition. (had on hand)                         eBay.com -$50.00-$100.00
Wireless mouse (had no hand)                                                                  eBay.com -$10.00-$50.00
Globalsat USG-ND100 USB Dongle GPS Receiver for Laptops          $40.95
Kingspec 2.5'' IDE PATA MLC 64GB SSD PC Disk Hi-speed                $144.05
SECONDARY MEDIA BAY BATTERY INSPIRON 500m 600m              $34.95
14.3" inch USB Panel Kit Set Add Touch Screen Function                     $50.99
Vantec UGT-MH304 USB 2.0 4 Port Mini HUB Mini Power                    $12.99
2GB DDR PC2700 Unbuffered NON-ECC DDR333 Crucial.com        $84.00
Extra plastic
Wire (USB cable works great from an old mouse)
Heat-sinks

Docking Station:
Old 20" LCD monitor stand (had on hand)
Dell Docking Station Port Replicator (had on hand)

Tools:
Solder iron & solder
Good set of screw drivers
Razor blade –sharp knife
Dremel tool –good assortment of bits
Hot glue gun –lots of glue sticks. (Isopropyl alcohol releases the glue)
pliers, snips, forceps, tweezers and wire strippers are all helpful
J-B KWIK Weld

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Update 12/20/11
This computer was quickly become my web-surf ‘n machine. I have 24Mbps DSL in combination with this Solid State tablet web pages render instantly and videos are smooth. I've only drained the battery a few times, and that was on purpose.  And a cool interface, it’s like having a 8.5” X 11” trackpad. I do use the mouse sometimes but for the most part just the touch screen. Win XP SP3 includes a bunch of new games including Internet Backgammon. Which is one of my favorites, the touch screen is perfect for that game.

The computer barely gets warm after watching TED Talks videos for an hour. I ran a burn-in test using BurnInTest from PassMark software and the computer passed every test.  Also I have added heat-sinks to the RAM both DIMMs both sides. This is a 6 year old computer with pretty impressive performance in it's new configuration.

I do have a fair investment in both time and materials in this project. I think it was worth it. I’ll use the computer and the knowledge I gained from building it for years. I’ve been thinking about my next tablet maybe a Mac?

Update: 12/05/11
Added a few more heat-sinks over the chipset and video processor.

Update: 12/04/11
A few more mods inspired by a USB hub failure. The GPS dongle was drawing too much power and killed the hub. So I found another hub (powered). Had to do some cutting and relocating of 1 USB port. I can pull 5 volts dc off the PCMCIA slot to power the USB hub. That’s next… I have also removed the SSD housing and added the 2 green heat-sinks from an old video card. And added the black heat-sink for the processor.

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My name is Brian --> briPad

A few OS tweaks for better SSD performance that should be noted:

1.          Disable winXP prefetcher
              http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307498
              search for Disable_Prefetcher.reg

2.          Disable the 8.3 Name Creation on NTFS Partitions:
              fsutil.exe behavior set disable8dot3 1

3.          Disable timestamp for last access to a file to speed up Windows
              fsutil behavior set disablelastaccess 1

4.           Turn off Indexing on All Drives
               fsutil usn deletejournal /d c:

5.           Turn off Virtual Memory
               Set to No Paging file

6.           Disable Write Cache and Power Protected:
               http://support.microsoft.com/kb/Q811392
               c:\dskcache +p c:

7.           Verify write caching is disabled:
               Device Manager --> Disk drives --> Policies un-check Enable write caching on the disk

8.           Disable Services:
              Error Reporting Service
              Help and Support
              Remote Registery

9.           Disable System Restore:
              Set to: Turn off System Restore

10.        Disable Windows Hibernation
             Power Option Properties -Un-check Enable hibernation

11.        XPLite to clean up Windows update caches:
              http://www.litepc.com/xplite.html


WOW. Nearly the fastest computer I’ve used. And I have quite a few fast computers.

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54 Comments

where did you get the 14" touch screen?
was it a custom order or what?
ive been looking for a long time for a nice size touch screen.

would you happen to know where to find a touch screen for a Dell Inspiron 600m now? I just came into possession of one that I'd like to use with a touchscreen, but can't find a touch screen that would be compatible.

Hi --The touch screen came from eBay. search for (14" USB Panel Kit Set)

it works great. Fast and accurate.

Hi instructamaker -- the answer is: i use both. The screen works great as a touch interface and i have a Bluetooth mouse. You don't quite have a accuracy of a mouse with the touch screen. so the mouse is nice to have but not necessary.

1 was fully functional with an OS installed
1 had a dead screen but the computer worked to an external monitor
and
1 had no HDD cage and missing keys but was in basically running condition

I’ve found that the Dell Laptops are easy to work with and readily available. The Latitude d630 should work fine. A couple things to keep in mind: you will need extra plastic and other misc. parts so you will need a spare laptop or two. And this will not be an easy project no matter what laptop you use. Take your time and pick the right donor computer.

Good Luck

...I choose the Inspiron 600M for a few reasons:
1) I had 3 working 600Ms
2) 14” screen
3) On this model you can remove the CD-Rom and replace it with a 2nd battery.

Hi instructamaker –Nothing to fancy: I ‘pinned’ the On-Screen Keyboard to the Taskbar. You can find the keyboard under Accessories/Easy of Access.

Thanks for checking out the tablet.

I was just wondering where you got your touchscreen overlay?

Hi ElectricPryo --the touch interface i found on eBay.com. it's just a sheet of glass about 3mm thick with a small controller board that is connected to the computer via USB.