Instructables
Picture of Wall-mounted Kitchen PC
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My wife used to keep her aging laptop on the kitchen table. Whenever she wanted to check her emails, find some recipe or buy something online she would turn it on and wait for Windows to load. Sleep wasn’t an option as the battery was dead and unplugging it would have erased the RAM. The power cable was in the way. The whole experience was even more cumbersome because our 1 year son needed frequent attention and any internet-related tasks were being interrupted a lot, then eventually forgotten. It was clear that even with a laptop at hand, things weren’t easy. Besides, the space occupied by that laptop on the kitchen table was significant (the countertop area is too precious for that). And we have a wetwall in our kitchen that’s a bit oversized and from the first day we moved in (about a year ago) I knew something had to be done about that. So I wondered if I could fit a computer in there. And I did. Here’s the story.
 
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Step 1: Wife's requirements.

We all have to pay attention to our wives, right? So she needed a PC with Internet access for recipes, e-mail, music and photo sharing. Maybe a few chat sessions but she’s too busy anyway for that. As our kitchen is so small we had to order custom-made furniture and it turned out very pretty (and expensive) so a new requirement kicked in: to be able to integrate perfectly without being obvious. The input devices would have been a problem. Keyboards get dirty in a kitchen. They actually don’t belong there at all. So the only viable option was a touchscreen. She was reluctantly OK with that, she never used one before.

Step 2: Space available.

This is the wet wall I was talking about. In there are the water pipes, gauges, the PVC kitchen drain pipe and some other apparently useless pipe that comes from the lower floors and goes nowhere. There are two small access doors for reading the gauges. The entire structure is made of gypsum board on metal profiles. I wanted to integrate the PC and monitor in there so that nothing computer-related get noticed or stand in our way. The base of the wetwall was covered with a piece of furniture that’s part of our kitchen. It was ment to hide the access doors (without blocking them) and made the ugly wetwall look like a part of the whole kitchen concept. There’s a door on that piece of furniture and inside there’s about 20 cm space I could also use. The main problem is that this furniture piece needs to be taken apart a few time a year for boiler maintenance. So everything needed to take that into account.

Step 3: Hardware

Picture of Hardware
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Should have named this section hardware requirements. A long time ago I wanted to build my own all-in-one PC, a long-term project that was left to die because, well, tablets are more appealing meanwhile. For that project I already had gathered all needed parts (during the last two years or so) so I just re-used them for this one. The list of hardware I used is this:
  • Mainboard: Intel D945GSEJT Half-Height ITX (Intel Atom N270 1.6Ghz, GMA950)
  • HDD: 2,5” WD Scorpio Black 120 Gb
  • RAM: 2Gb SODIMM Kingston 533 Mhz
  • PC Case: Half-height ITX case available here: http://www.cartft.com/catalog/il/1081
  • 60W external power supply (12V out)
  • 17” used DELL Monitor with DVI connector
  • 17” Touchscreen USB Kit (from E-bay, single-touch, resistive)
  • Generic PC Microphone
  • Wireless adapter

This PC obviously was not going to be a performer. But the main goals here are Internet surfing and low power consumption. Best feature is the fact that the entire PC case is about 3cm thick. As I have full access to the PC case, future upgrades (meaning a more powerful mini-PC) are always possible.

Software
I chose Windows 7 as the operating system. I know, a bit much for such a small processor. But it felt pretty snappy actually. The integrated GMA945 provided basic AERO support. The 2Gb RAM are enough for light tasks.
I needed to fine some way to improve the touch experience on Windows7. Namely I had to enlarge buttons, scrollbars, Icons… and I did but then I realized this Windows desktop is not very friendly for my wife. I wanted some way of having the same user experience as a Windows 7 Phone user gets. And so I discovered Omnimo. It’s a Rainstaller theme and mimics Windows 7 Phone desktop quite well. Best of all, it’s completely customizable. And free. This Kitchen PC was designed with Windows 8 in mind. I really hope that the touchscreen will provide a pleasant experience with the much anticipated OS.

There are still lots of settings to be made (namely wider scrollbars, bigger buttons, larger fonts, custom size icons and so on) but there is time for that. We’ll be monitoring our needs and add or remove features accordingly.

Step 4: Display setup

The 17” DELL monitor is a used one (my hobby budget is not a priority, as you can imagine). I had to make it ready for mounting inside the wetwall and fit the USB touchscreen kit over the monitor’s screen. I had to use my dremel and remove the plastic front bezel and part of the monitor’s wedges. Then I had to fit an aluminium frame around it, for easy mounting inside the wetwall and on to the gypsum board. The monitor’s control buttons were relocated on the backside.

The touchscreen was centered over the display active area and secured with scotch tape (yes, it’s enough, laptops are full of that). Cables were connected and secured with zip-locks. I opted for a portrait-mode setup because of the space available. The monitor setup was the most painful part for me. The final mounting solution I used required so many “sleep over it” nights that at some point I was ready to give up. I won’t bore you with details, let’s just say you have to think your movements well in advance. Otherwise you risk damaging the monitor, the touchscreen or worse - the wetwall. That is kitchen damage. And that will set any wife on fire. 

Step 5: Wiring and installation

This was the messy part. I had to install a power socket for the monitor and the PC on that wetwall. A bit unsafe, I know. But I think I did a good job in preventing any sort of hazards. The power cable is insulated, and I used electrical sleeving on top of that. Water hazard is no problem now. Then I cut out the space for the monitor on the wetwall. The cutout was reinforced on the inside of the gypsum board with a metal frame. The monitor fit in snugly with all the cables inside the wetwall. The cables were routed on the left side of the wetwall and connected to the PC case I mounted on the outside of the wetwall. This gives me easy access to everything computer-related (future upgrades, USB ports, etc.) Then the furniture piece went over the whole setup. The front door allows easy access to the start/reset buttons and USB ports. The result is pretty unobtrusive, to say the least 

Step 6: Final touches

I made an aluminium frame over the monitor to hide the installation screws. This was attached with high-strenght double-sided tape to the monitor’s rim as I need to have access to those screws should anything go wrong. The three small holes were drilled for the microphone input but I noticed that the cheap mic I used had very low input. One has to speak very close to it to be heard. Well, that’s what low budget means, isn’t it? Anyway, the frame came out pretty good. It’s very slim and the aluminum I used fits well in our kitchen.

Step 7: Wife acceptancy factor

Picture of Wife acceptancy factor
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Ten out of ten. The wife smiled. She loves it and is showing it off to all our guests. Everybody wants one. How much was it? I get a lot of questions about that. I never run the numbers on this project but I believe everything I used in making this kitchen PC would go up to about 400 Euro. A lot of money but remember the parts were slowly gathered in about two years.

Right now the PC runs silently (in fact we can't hear it at all). It goes to sleep every 15 minutes but a light tap on the display wakes it up. The Omnimo skin is displaying recipe feeds, news and family's calendar. Also one can see the weather forecast, Calculator, Google Maps and a link to my wife's Live mail. Input is done via the onscreen keyboard bundled with Windows 7 and I can actually say it's really easy to write text like that. I even type a bit faster on it.
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baecker0311 months ago
love this idea. kudos
Demian785511 months ago
Could you re-work the title?

Its not the 50's anymore and sexism isn't really appreciated by, well, anyone.

Women and wives do not belong in the kitchen as your title implies.

Otherwise, AMAZING ible, and i cant wait to put one in every room in my house. I've been toying with the idea of having it behind the mirror in my bathroom, using 2 way glass. Part of the surface will be a DIY touchscreen. So when the monitor turns on, it looks ghosted behind the glass but is otherwise a fully functional news/weather/anything i want while I'm busy grooming and brushing my pearly whites!

But still, the title has got to go.
asimobot11 months ago
Good job!!!!!!!
CatalinRO1 year ago
Nice project! I don't have available such hardware thought. A few days ago I talked to a friend about such device for kitchen, we were thinking that the cheapest tablet should qualify for the goal + some speakers. Anyway you gave me the start on this :)
Very nice. Putting one of these on a cabinet door would work great.
Yes it would. But you'll need to really reinforce the hinges as the while thing is heavy. Also, furniture shock absorbers would be also needed. You don't want to slam that door.
I am a dude who has use for this too. It seems a bit sexist to say that every wife should have one. What about husbands being in the kitchen? Let's get out of the stoneage.
claudiopolis (author)  mitchellduffy2 years ago
Believe me, I'm using it more than my wife does. She says it's too addictive. Whenever she uses it "just to check her e-mails" she ends up an hour later with sore hands from browsing online shoes catalogs. I'm no sexist. This project was built for her. And I do cook every once in a while. She doesn't like that because I'm messy when I do and "unable to avoid using all the dishes I can find". Luckily, the end result still keeps me around :-)
hbaderman2 years ago
couldn't you have just used a tablet like a galaxy or ipad? same price, built in functionality?
claudiopolis (author)  hbaderman2 years ago
All the components were already in my stock. So no financial stress because of that, these were pieces I gathered in two years time with no particular use for them at that moment. But I knew those will come in handy someday.

So here are the reasons:

1. A tablet has a small screen. No matter the brand. This one is 17".
2. A tablet has built-in OS, no software upgrades for the newt generation of OS'es while this one runs Win7 and expecting Windows 8. I can change the OS whenever I like with Linux or even OSX Leopard (Yes, I tried, it works on this hardware but it was slow)
3. The wife's used to Win7. No further explanations needed.
4. The tablet is not upgradeable. Meaning you're stuck with the hardware it features. This ITX Atom PC cand be replaced or upgraded with a SSD, faster RAM, etc.

No, forget them. This is FAR more awesome than just dropping some tablet in and calling it a day. This has a lot more room for upgrades and customization in both hardware and software and looks really amazing.

You did an excellent job and have definitely inspired me.
2 Is false, the Galaxy tablet comes with Android which can be upgraded. But the other points make sense.
gdawgtuk2 years ago
I am doing this same project at home actually and I am using the windows 8 Dev copy. The screen is 17 inches but I am making a few changes. I am making a similar frame but on the top middle the frame will have two USB ports made possible by dollar store USB Male to female cords. That way you can load info via flash drive or what have you. I took apart a webcam to put into the top of the frame so that the computer can unlock via facial recognition and I put a mic on the bottom. The left and Right parts of the frame have speakers for pandora music. With an extremely simple mod, the screen is powered off of the power supply for the computer, so I don't need to do anything else but plug in the computer and I am golden. I used a E-350 which is a low power (13 watts) Dual Core APU which will handle the graphical interfaces extremely well. As an APU it's a CPU and videocard combined. It can play Mass Effect 2, so it can definitely function with the GUI of windows :). I put 8GB of gamer ram in there because it was on sale for $24.99. I may post something on it. It was inspired by this idea, but it is definitely taking it to the next level.
claudiopolis (author)  gdawgtuk2 years ago
The next level of Mass Effect 2, maybe. If you can figure out how to play it on a single-touch touchscreen.

You see, necessity is the mother of invention. Should my wife requested a Mass Effect 2 compatible setup with facial recognition, fancy speakers, 8Gb RAM and so on, I would have made everything possible to get closer to that.

Instead she barely visit a few websites a day, checks her Live e-mail account and the weather. That's about it. Her mobile phone pictures are downloaded via Bluetooth. USB connections are not really needed but are available in the cabinet under the screen. A webcam would have been useless as she never uses it. Don't get me wrong, your setup is great, I was considering a E-350 APU myself but I realised it would have been way overkill.

A better use for those money would have been a Toshiba GoFlex Satellite hard drive. That's a wireless-N, self-powered, 500Gb HDD. Put it anywhere around the router's range and you have a backup destination/cell phone storage/video and music stream provider no matter where you put it. That's what I'm waiting to be delivered.
I have an HP Mini 311 with a 1.6 Atom (which is now hackintoshed) but it did not handle Windows 7 very well at all, even with Nvidia Ion Graphics, so I aired on the side of caution for what machine I got. The machine may seem like overkill right now, but I am going to have this in there for years. I want to make sure it can handle the advancement of flash, HTML 5, etc down the line. Mass Effect 2 was more or less an easy way to reference what it is capable of doing in terms of performance.

I have a wireless bluetooth keyboard with mouse functionality built in that I haven't had use for in a long while so that will be perfect for this unit if I ever need to do anything more than a single touch interface will handle. One other slight variation I am adding is using a PicoPSU. The 80Watt one will suffice for this just fine. The E-350, though it's dual core and has a decent ATI card, only uses 18 watts. I believe it may be possible for it to go higher than that, but 80 watts is more than enough. I also modded the LCD controller panel to be powered off of the computer as opposed to requiring it's own power supply, I power everything by simply turning the computer on. I used my broken laptop's screen which is a 17" LED back lit, beautiful display. I believe it only uses about 20w. PicoPSU is nice for both saving power and the fact that it is completely silent. (For those who need some perspective on this, a 32" Sharp LCD TV can use up to 165W of power watching Digital TV channels. My touch screen, PC, etc will safely use less than 65w)

I don't think the webcam is exactly overkill. A programming friend of mine made a program that will allow my computer turn off the screen and conserve power, but when the webcam detects movement it powers everything back up. The screen isn't exactly in my kitchen, but on a wall right outside it. I have a hallway that comes from the bedrooms to the kitchen and this wall faces down the hallway on the edge of the kitchen entrance. So in the morning when I walk out of my bedroom to go make coffee, the screen will quickly power back up and I will be greeted by my appointments and news and such. I think that is a pretty cool feature for the $1.99 cost of a webcam. I also use Prawler so if I am on vacation and someone walks in front of the camera it will take photos every 500ms and instantly email them to me. So, God forbid, if someone broke in, they would have to go in that hall and I would get notice anywhere I am at to call the cops.

The mic is there for voice commands, and the speakers are for Pandora and such.

The Motherboard I got also has 2 USB ports that can charge Ipads and such even if the PC happens to be off. Those are going to be mounted under my kitchen cabinets so I can easily plug in my phone and what not if I'm needing to charge it.

Sorry, lots of typing. I wanted to explain in more detail the reasons for the decisions. I appreciate this guide though, it gave me the initial idea.

P.s. That program actually increased ALL performance on my Netbook. Between just jumping from one site to another, minimizing....EVERYTHING. Since it's all integrated it seems to help everything by going to 400mhz instead of 166mhz.
kc0444 gdawgtuk2 years ago
First of all sorry for bringing this old tread back up but I was wondering if you could send me a copy of that program (if your friend will allow it). PM me for my email if you agree to send it.
claudiopolis (author)  kc04442 years ago
Do not use that. It's known to cause problems in the long term. The cooling system will not handle the increased temperatures and the battery will drain much faster.
hintss2 years ago
put windows 8 beta nao!
claudiopolis (author)  hintss2 years ago
To be honest I think it sucks. Will wait for the final version but as it is I have a hard time explaining my wife how the METRO look is revolutionary. For instance, if you want the computer to sleep you need to go in three places, making 4 or five clicks. That's stupid, she'll just ask me why and I'll have no real explanation.

As it is, Windows 7 is still the best option for her. We'll see.
nice job...actually what are the system specs?... and is it support flash player? :D if it's able to run flash, you can actually use it as a tv to watch some online tv channels :) anyway, good luck and greetings from Targu-Jiu :)
claudiopolis (author)  Timofte Andrei2 years ago
Well, greetings from Sibiu, neighbor :-)
The system specs are detailed in one of the steps. It's a Intel Atom ITX system. Yes, it runs flash. Tv channels are forbidden by my wife herself. She said that I'll starve to death if she catches HBO on that. :-)
interesting...so the next step is to put a screen on a fridge door :) nice project we are waiting for new projects good luck
claudiopolis (author)  Timofte Andrei2 years ago
Fridge door is hard to hack. You need cooling for your system and that's not to be taken from the fridge (condensation sets in). You need power and that's calling for a power cable wired inside the door from the outside. That's both ugly and unpractical (think how much until that cable breaks, being bent each time you open the door) Then the fridge will work longer because your system warms its door. And finally you need a good sturdy fridge. And a lot of credit from your wife as she'll see you drilling that fridge door a lot :-)

Actually there are fridges already with built-in display, internet access and so. But since we're meeting here, I doubt any of us can afford one. :-)
i was just saying that's all :)) i know that drilling the fridge door it's not a good thing if you really use that fridge every day :P but i wanna give you a little idea: you should try to develope that "wall integrated" PC to use it i don't know...to make some automatisations of your house like starting a fan if the humidity in the kitchen is rising or turning on and off some lights and so on :) those are just small ideas, but if you have time and cash the possibilities are endless :) have a good time :)
instead of drilling into the fridge door, you could find the thinnest LCD you can find and slap it on there with a nice box frame. An appropriated LCD from a laptop may do the trick.

Or you could do the same with a tablet, although it's a bit less elegant.
Another question... Is the frame cut from standard aluminium? as it appears to have a slight curve to it. I tried using a wooden picture frame but its too thick so doesnt make the touch/scrolling very pleasant experience. Thanks again for your help and advice
The frame is made from a flooring element. The kind that covers the height differences. Sorry I do not know the english term. You can find such aluminium profiles in hardware stores, in the ceramic tiling section. It's ment to cover a level mismatch between a ceramic tiled floor (bathrooms or kitchens) and the rest of the house.
The term used in the US stores would be a transition strip. Nice instructable BTW Thank you for this inspiration which I hope to do in my own rather small kitchen.
Funny enough when I was in the hardware store I saw some of them and thought would be a good idea. In the end though I just picked up a thin piece of wood edging and sprayed it silver, not as nice but it'll do temporarily. Apart from that its all in and lokoing good, just desperately waiting for the touch screen to arrive :P
Thanks again for everything :D
I'm in the process of building one now and I'm really excited about it. I'm hoping its going to be half as good at least. One question... Where did the wallpaper background come from? could you post it on here or email it to me please? Cheers :)
somewhere on the internet, I googled "italian cuisine". Over it it's the Omnimo skin.
Thanks I shall check it out shortly. Yeah I downloaded omnimo and looks pretty good. Project is on its way, unfortunately I busted the touchscreen so had to order another :-\ thanks for the inspiration :D
I found out a few months ago that if you go to dev.windows.com you can get Windows 8 for free. And by the looks of it, it is very touch-friendly. Perhaps you could try this
claudiopolis (author)  Coff33Bre4th2 years ago
I knew that. I even tried it. But it's not finished yet. Maybe the beta release will be better. Thanks anyway!
Nah, it's only a preview for developers. But it shows it will work like Omnimo. And have more apps than Omnimo because of the App Store :)
How did you manage to get the Metro-style tiles like Windows 8 on the desktop? That's sweet!
claudiopolis (author)  Coff33Bre4th2 years ago
Read step 4, the software part is described in there. :-)
Oops. I read it once and forgot it was there.
Arliem2 years ago
I have built a PC for my wife to have in the kitchen but this is much cooler. I will be ordering the touch screen overlay asap and a spillproof keyboard might be a nice addition to make notes on her adjustments to recipes easier without worrying about spills and contamination, or one of those silicone keyboard covers that can be tossed in the dishwasher.
gdawgtuk2 years ago
Thank you for sharing this awesome idea. I think I will make myself one. You mentioned that you use an Intel GMA950. The netbook I am using right now uses the same thing. Go to http://www.gmabooster.com/download.htm and download GMA Booster for your card. You can overclock it safely from 166mhz to 400mhz and it makes the entire experience faster. Web pages don't lag, Youtube streams flawlessly, Netflix runs great and games even run faster. All those things would lag before the tweak. It should make the overall experience a lot smoother for that puppy.
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