First off i wanted to make a computer that was durable and could be used out in the field, was waterproof and fairly robust. Nothing that i made in this was made to fulfill a need, everything in this was more just, i wanted to see if i could. Think of this instructable more as an idea machine more then anything like a tutorial.
Step 1: Dell Netbook + Small Flightcase = ?
I was given a broken netbook, i cant quite remember the model but i'm pretty sure it was a tiny dell netbook, the picture above is pretty close. The case i got from a really cheap ebay store for 3 of them that fit inside each other, for this i only used the smallest of the 3, the others i just used for storage.
Step 2: The Plan
So the first idea was to gut the machine and put it into a flight case, but i wanted to make this to it was somewhat waterproof when closed. In this plan there isnt the power button, power led, power in or even a battery. The idea was to just have those where they where and attach them to the case with something like hot-glue.
Step 3: The First Prototype
More to the point, it can be closed and be fairly robust. unfortunately, the way i made the battery fit into the case was at 90 degrees and although i thought all the pins still made contact, it just didn't seem to work. From these pics i fitted larger heat-sinks. My plan was then to add an acrylic layer to enclose the motherboard so i could add a fan blowing down onto the board and have the keyboard and mouse ontop.
Step 4: The Old Tablet
My first tablet was this old grey bamboo wacom, the draw size fit in the middle of the screen pretty well for the small netbook laptop. so i wondered and i tested how much thickness the tablet and pen worked through. Surprisingly it detected contact through an entire notebook of paper, so my best guess is it uses close proximity electromagnetic wave reflection, that way it can detect contact through the thickness i tested. I have no idea though to be honest, the only thing that mattered was it worked with something thicker then the screen.
When taking it apart it was good to find that it was pretty straight forward with a very self-contained pcb. It also had a sheet under it which i'm guessing is electrically resistant. Which could be something i could use to stop this and the screens driver board from interfering with each other.
Step 5: The Second Plan
Because i had an unused tablet that i had tested could work through a screen. I made plans on how they would best fit together. For a low profile and in a way that cross interference would be minimum.
Step 6: The Second Prototype
Success! It works surprisingly well. The latency is surprisingly low too. Being in a case does make it a little hard to use for a long time as a cintiq so i started thinking about the best kind of layout to be able to use this properly. Oh, also, the box is the limit/reach of the tablet behind it. I also had to do a little calibration in the wacom setting to define where the screen should be. It took a few minutes but wasn't hard figure out.
Step 7: Streamlining Plans
These plans would do away with anything enclosing. The design idea would be flat similar to a tablet, with no keyboard but a separate mouse under it. The motherboard under the screen still has usb ports if a keyboard is needed.
Step 8: The Third Prototype
For this prototype i used two thin pieces of some kind of fiberboard glued together for strength. This wasn't final but more just to quickly workout the best layout. It was at this point that the whole thing stopped working and the project was shelved. I'll pick it up again at some point but i thought i would share the journey so far. thanks for reading.