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Picture of Sony walltop / iMac-like casemod
In my spare time I decided that I was going to convert an old sony laptop into a digital picture frame / dvd player / wall unit. What it became was something else again.

The said machine:
Sony PCG-FX210
800 MHz processor
128 Mb RAM

Unfortunately I did not start this project with doing an instructable in mind, however, here is a rough listing of materials and tools required:

Materials:
- Aging laptop
- Clear plastic Shadow Box, 11 x 14 (Available @ Michael's Craft Store)
- Precision screwdrivers
- Masking Tape
- Tiny screws and nuts
- Drill with small bit
- Glue gun and hot glue
 
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Step 1: Install a lightweight operating system (Linux)

Picture of Install a lightweight operating system (Linux)
The said laptop came with Micro$oft Windows ME installed which, clearly, would not do.

After toying with various lightweight linux distributions, I settled upon installing Xubuntu (which required the no-gui alternate install CD) with Fluxbox as the window manager. I later discovered this is a fork in its own right (Fluxbuntu). This may be stretching the capabilities of the machine anyhow; if you are more knowledgeable and attempting a similar project with an old machine, I would recommend installing a distribution such as DSL, ArchLinux, Vector, Crunchbang, etc.

Installation was straightforward without hang-ups. I simply selected all the default options.

Step 2: Disassemble the laptop

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Disassemble the laptop by removing all the screws in the case and on the inside to allow the components to come free. You can throw out / recycle the case and internal armor as they will not be needed (hang onto all the screws, though!).

You will also need to completely remove the plastic casing from the LCD so that you only have it and the inverter (which you should be very careful with).

It goes without saying that this step should be done with the computer unplugged.

I will not go into the details of the disassembly as it is fairly straight-forward. Just let it be said that if you look carefully with your local search engine, using specific search terms, there is a Sony service manual in PDF format giving detailed step-by-step instructions on how to disassemble this particular laptop (hint: the search begins with "pcg-fx210" and ends with "service manual").

Step 3: Purchase and prepare custom case

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I bought an 11 x 14 clear plastic shadow box from Michael's to serve as the new case.

Drill holes in the front of the shadow box for the screws which will attach the monitor. You'll also need to drill holes in the bottom to attach the motherboard, and slots for the fan, ports and DVD drive, PCI slot, etc. You'll need to position everything first and mark out what you need. As always, mark twice, cut / drill once (not the other way around)!

The motherboard should face away from the LCD so that the top is toward the back (open end) of the shadow box.

Step 4: Reassemble

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Place the LCD face down against the front of the shadow box. Attach it with the long screws and secure with the nuts.

Reassemble and reattach everything to the motherboard before placing it atop the LCD. Attach the motherboard to the bottom of the frame by using the screw holes at the back of the board. Affix the board with the power button to the front of the box by using tape or hot glue (you will need to plug it in and wrap the wires around the bottom of the frame first).

I found the DVD/CD drive did not sit proper and so fashioned a bracket.

Step 5: Finish and test

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Say a quick prayer and attempt to power up the "new" machine.



Step 6: Profit!!!! (Endnotes)

Picture of Profit!!!! (Endnotes)
Well, that's it.

I later bought a picture frame holder (also at Michael's) and flexible keyboard. After adding a wireless mouse that was hanging around, the end product is actually fairly close to an iMac (?) as you can see in the picture.

I learned a lot doing this project and comments, criticism and suggestions for improvement (I can think of many) are welcome.

Cheers.


Wow, i normally flick through all these interesting builds on instructables but this one really caught my eye!! I am no expert but this would ''look'' fantastic i you designed a professional looking cover for it. I am really impresed with this, itmade me bother to sign up so i could comment!! well done!!!
minus52523 years ago
Awesome project, I'm looking at doing something similar. I love your final product. Just using the plastic from from Michael's instead of using acrylic sheet was a good idea.

Are you able to easily access the DVD drive? I suppose you could always forgo a hardware switch and just use the "right click" computer->right click dvd drive->select eject...how do you handle accessing the DVD drive?
ajs19804 years ago
I know this is a bit old but in addition I would add automotive grade window tint to the front would hid the electronic bits while still allowing the image to show through. some may prefer the clear option but for a more spartan look solid black might be a bonus.
indian_994 years ago
If you need a light OS for your digital picture frame you can use this one based on openSUSE11.3: http://susegallery.com/a/OFJVZe/photoframe
kbhasi5 years ago
Looks like it originally had win 98. Not sure if you can check out the Revolutions pack n the win 98 still alive campaign...
evilbunnee5 years ago
Nice project!  I just did this with an aging alienware that had busted hinges and was falling apart.  I have my display rotated so I can read PDF files on it as if I were holding a magazine sized ebook reader.  And with the mouse and the virtual keyboard, I rarely need to hook up a regular keyboard.  Such an excellent bedside computer!  Excellent project, thanks for the idea and the instructable!
Vapolord5 years ago
i have got the same keybord like you but by mine the 1;2;3 butten dosent work...........it cant be repaired, can it?
dylpdx5 years ago
very nice...i'm looking to do a similar project, only i want to put a laptop into an iMAC shell...i found an imac at a garage sale for $10...and i have an olllld laptop...voila...maybe very nice project....
robots1996 years ago
Nice job. Also try installing os x on the vaio laptop, it would be awsome! 
ReCreate6 years ago
Wow, This is Pretty Close to what i was planning to do.
johnomi6 years ago
Great Build, Thanks for the instructions.