Step 11: Working, but not perfect
Wipe the sweat from your brow, crack open a beer or soft drink and pat yourself on your back. If you made it this far, you have my admiration! It took me just over a month of planning and diagrams, and a month and a half of build to get to this stage, and so I know it can be a bit exhausting!
At this point, I have been using the tablet in its current form for two months. Being a sailor, my MacTab has already had to endure some tough conditions (a bumpy flight to Hong Kong and a storm in the Pacific where it got thrown about a bit), and so now we should analyse our new tablet, and see where improvements can be made.
-Big 13.1" screen
-4 hours battery life
-Rather solid construction (i.e. feels good in the hand, and the plastic doesn't flex or deform)
-Wifi signal strength is very good
-Dual hard-drive means a rapid boot-up
-Sound quality is a lot better than expected!
-No driver for the Digitiser, and so no tilt or calibration settings. I'm learning Objective C and Cocoa, so hopefully I should have something by April 2013. Info here from Wacom on developing tablets for Macs ( http://www.wacomeng.com/mac/index.html )
-Screen can't be rotated. This is a problem with this particular Macbook, and hopefully I can work around this problem in the future by upgrading the screen and inverter board. Instructions how to do this can be found under the iFixit link given earlier
-Drawing on the LCD. Its not good practice to do this, but a piece of thin clear lexan or perspex between the LCD and the pen would prevent any damage.
-Heat. It gets quite hot as all MacBooks do. I've gotten around this by making a stand for it, and you can also install software to control the CPU work rate.
-CPU fan disrupts the microphone. The microphone (even though its been sound-proofed with high-density packing foam) can still pick up the sound of the CPU fan whirring below. A better location for the mic needs to be found.
-Dual Boot. I'd love to try Windows 8 on this. Being a TabletPC digitiser, it should work fully from the start.
-Pen caddy. The fan grill is the perfect size for storing the pen. Just need to find a way of making it secure.
-Integrated stand and screen protector. This has been on the drawing board since before the tablet was completed. I think a stand fabricated out of aluminium and a screen protector could be attached to the back of the tablet. At the moment I have a cardboard stand which works well enough though.
-Full Photoshop capability. Without the drivers, I can't use Photoshop with pen pressure or tilt. Hopefully this problem will be solved with the custom driver.
-Always a chance my soldering will fail, but it hasn't so far.
-Pressure on the LCD. Again, have been careful, but a sturdy screen protector could solve this.
-Intrigue. Everyone I have shown it to has been interested in it! Potential for theft, maybe…
If you give this a go, I promise you it will be worth it. My MacTab is not fully complete (i.e. Didn't manage to install the USB hub and peripherals in time) but even so, I love tinkering with it and have learnt a lot about the hardware and construction of Macs in the process. At the moment, it is working as a trusty iTunes jukebox, film library and data archive/networked drive for my Macbook Pro and its an impressive device for less than £250.
The best bit for me is you're saving one laptop and a load of other spare parts from landfill and obsolescence. That can only be a good thing!