Instructables
          In this instructable, you will learn how to transform an old, broken laptop into a nice desktop. This project involves a total rework of the computer case. With this mod, you can give new life to an old laptop.In order to do this, you do not need any advanced craftmanship or tools (but if you have them, they will come handy).


Background: a friend of mine gave me a laptop for free. It had a totally broken case (hinges and all) and a dead battery. So i said... what is this useful for? A desktop, of course.

PS. This would look great wall mounted. It can also be made into a tablet (although rather heavy) by adding a commonly available touchscreen kit.

PSS. I'll add more pictures this week.

Step 1: Materials and tools

To accomplish the mod, you will need several materials and tools. The materials are:
          -Enough acrylic to cut three scree-sized panels (varies on laptop size and craftsmanship--read below)
          -Four screws at least the size of the expected thickness (depending on laptop, see next steps)
          -Eight nuts for the above screws; four of them normal and the other four locknuts.
          -Enough screws to secure the motherboard; depends on laptop.
          -Spacers (the screws used to secure the motherboard must fit in the, the size depends on the motherboard.
          -A pushbutton (the new on-off switch)
          -About three feet of wire.
          -The most important material: a laptop.
Tools
          -A drill
          -A hacksaw
          -Screwdriver
          -Soldering Iron
          -Elbow grease

Step 2: Dissasembly

        Disassemble the laptop. Each laptop is different, so I cannot provide specific details. From my experience, there is almost always a screw under the keyboard that prevents you from separating both halves. At the end, you want to end with the screen, the motherboard, and things such as the hard drive and the ram. The touchpad, keyboard, and webcam will not be installed, these will be external. (Common USB keyboard)
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
1-40 of 42Next »
techboy4111 year ago
BackTrack!!
I'd like to do this with my laptop largely because of the cooling benefits of the open case. Do you think it would be worth it? Also my laptop already has a touch screen so should I cut a hole out of the front acrylic panel to expose it?
Michael Chen (author)  ibuycheaprice2 years ago
It's not really worth it if the only problem is cooling. This one had its case broken at multiple points as well. I'd say the only thing you need to do is to open it up, remove the fan, and clean the heat sink underneath if you have overheating issues.

Most likely the heat sink will be clogged with dust. (At least mine was)
I recently cleaned the fan and heat sink and replaced the thermal paste on the cpu and it still runs at dangerously high temperatures so I'm willing to try anything. Does your converted laptop run noticeably cooler than most laptops?
Michael Chen (author)  ibuycheaprice2 years ago
Cant compare, as it was originally broken when given to me; no reference point. Nevertheless, i'd say something else is wrong and opening up will be useless if you dont identify the problem.

-Has it always been this hot? (since bought/or is it recent)
-Is it over clocked in any way?
-Is the laptop constantly processing stuff (check processor usage in task manager)
hcaz-3012 years ago
Would be good, and if you made a Screen about the same size in the same way it could be a great Dual screen
This has truly inspired me. My broken laptop will now become the precursor to my ultimate P.C. Thanks for the instructable!
bengus3 years ago
Is there any problem deriving by the heat produced by the cpu and the low distance with the lcd?
anyway..NICE WORK ^^
Alderin bengus3 years ago
With the sides open I'm pretty sure this will run much cooler than it did in it's original case. Standing as a monitor the fan holes won't get blocked by a lap, and the hot "exhaust" will exit out the top easily from all components, not just the CPU fan.

I have a laptop in a very similar condition (broken hinge), but I'm thinking carputer more than desktop. :-)
Michael Chen (author)  Alderin3 years ago
Make it an instructable
Q-ro3 years ago
Ok, this question may sound idiotic, but i really feel like i missed something, ¿how did you cut the acrylic?¿did you use a laser cutter or was it with a saw? (again, sorry if it seems idiotic)
(removed by author or community request)
Michael Chen (author)  DELETED_Fuogger3 years ago
Anything works. In my case, I used a hacksaw. Nevertheless, if you have something better, by all means, go ahead.
Viktorin3 years ago
Failed
doomday3413 years ago
love it, i got afew broken laptop's i could do this with
Skyriam3 years ago
Congrats on your project mate. Just one thing, how did you get pass the dead-battery issue? I have an old laptop with broken lcd and dead battery but I dont wanna spend like $150 in fixing it, how can one get pass the battery issue? Thanks!
if it's gonna be a desktop you just plug it into the charger and it'll run no problem.

as for the broken screen if it has a screen output, witch almost all laptops do,
(i mean even the $150 ones) you can just plug a screen into it. Voila!
No problem with the LCD, it does have an output, but without battery the laptop won't run. And I dont mean dead as in "it wont charge anymore" or "will only last 5 minutes", I mean dead as in DEAD, no charge, no power up, no nothing. What to do?
i ment leave the charger in at all times, won't that work?

if that doesnt work you could tear all the batteries out of the pack and solder some wires into the pack and plug a power supply into that.
Michael Chen (author)  Presentteck3 years ago
With most laptops, it should work. Shorting the batteries wont do it, although cutting off the cells might do the trick.
So bottom line, crack open the battery, remove the cells and just short the + and - of both the batt and the power cord? Bypassing everything else... right? Thanks for your tips!
ahh... live and learn :D
Unfortunately some laptops route the power through the battery - so dead battery means no power reaches the power supply. Fixing this requires a bunch of electrical work, adjusting where the power comes in and goes out - I've run afoul of this before, and given up in disgust (I'm no electrician!). The easiest way is to try again with a different laptop; or buy (or find) a battery, even one that won't hold a charge for more than a minute (anyone around you have a laptop the same brand?). Or find someone with electrical and computer skills and get them to reroute the power. No easy solution...
what if you opened the battery case and shorted the positive and negative leads? then the power would get through right? put it back together and try. whats the worst that could happen? it's already useless
onemoroni13 years ago
This is a good use for a damaged laptop. My wife dropped hers a year ago on the corner and the hinge has gradually deteriorated to where you can't close it. A couple more pics would be helpful. For those who are more skillful the acrylic encasement has lots of possibilities. Did you eliminate the battery? Talk about the power connection more. Thanks!
Michael Chen (author)  onemoroni13 years ago
I eliminated the battery, but the laptop works as long as it is connected to the charger. I connected it just as you would connect any charger to a laptop, through the default port. Nothing fancy.
pkmaster1093 years ago
Hey man i really just gotta know. What is that background in the first image that says Back | Track? That looks sweet. Let me know thanks!
back track is a linux operating system, this is the default wallpaper i think, http://www.backtrack-linux.org/
thanks man! Cool build by the way. I am always interested in seeing how people use plexi for almost everything these days.
It's also nice to see someone else uses BackTrack 3/4/5.
Great idea, and I love the clear acrylic! If you wanted to keep the laptop functionality, you could also buy the same model lappy on ebay with a good case, but broken innards. Then just swap the like parts.
Fred826643 years ago
looks good love the Linux Distro. lot of cool tools in Backtrack
ortega8053 years ago
I agree with @onemoroni. its a really great idea, but with a bit more pictures and instructions, it'll be awesome
Backtrack on a stationary computer? That sounds like a recipe for trouble.
cerebender3 years ago
You might recommend cutting all three panels at once (unless they get cut from a single large sheet). Once they are cut to equal size, clamp them together and drill the screw/bolt holes through all three at the same time to make sure they all line up nice. Oh, and don't forget to tell people to peel off the protective plastic wrap stuff before final assembly. I guarantee you somebody might not do that (d'oh!). I'm assuming other materials can be used instead of acrylic panels but I'm drawing a blank outside of metal sheets- which might not be so great or easy to work with without the right tools. Any suggestions? I'm also wondering if I have any scrap/leftover housings (old toys, boxes, etc.) that might work but I don't know if they'd add too much weight or bulk to the project. Great work! (and please recycle the scrap from the laptop, everyone!)
Michael Chen (author)  cerebender3 years ago
In my case, they were all cut from one single sheet. As you said, it is recommendable to drill the all at once, but I kinda improvised the laptop as I went, hence the steps aren't exactly the easiest way, but nice suggestion. I'll update soon.
TTAMREKRAP3 years ago
Nice intractable, the only things that would make it better is to add more pictures and fix a couple of spelling mistakes. other than that, very good, 5*
markyb863 years ago
How did you get around the VGA out option? or does that laptop automatically switch to the output if it is present?
nevermind, I didn't think the screen worked..
Michael Chen (author)  markyb863 years ago
Had a broken backlight cable due to the broken hinge, but once fixed it was up and running.
1-40 of 42Next »