Introduction: The SteamPad - the Tablet Computer of a Past Future

Picture of The SteamPad - the Tablet Computer of a Past Future

Welcome Steampunkers, dear friends and followers

Finally I finishes it! It was a lot of work, but the finished Steampunk Tablet was worth the dirty hands!

Let's have a look back to the beginning of this project. You all know the small simple plastic thing which people call the "iPad". It's a great little gadget and even I like the functionality of this flat "apple"...
But as a Steampunker, there are too many iPads out there - and they all are looking exactly same... I had a dream of a unique tablet, made with real materials like brass, copper and wood. I tried to imagine how a tablet computer was looking like by the end of the 19th century.
As I found a broken DELL Latitude D600 in the electronic junk yard it was very clear what I have to create now!!

The SteamPad - The Tablet Computer of a past Future

Step 1: The Parts and Materials, and the DELL Latitude D600

Picture of The Parts and Materials, and the DELL Latitude D600

The Steampad was created mainly with parts and materials from the junk yard and from the recycling place. The wood I used is from an old furnishure, the brass rings and fittings are from the scrap metal.
I used a budget of less than 20$ for the whole creation. The money I used for brass screws and for the varnish.

The DELL Latitude D600 was completely broken, the whole power system with the connectors and the battery was trash. The screen was hanging at the cables and the keyboard had a huge crack.

So the first thing was to strip the whole laptop. It's interesting to know, but even you removed the keyboard, the CD-Rom and all the unnececary parts the computer was still running. Because the battery system was broken I have to power the Steampad with 19V.
At the end of the stripping the laptop became very small...

Then I installed the new software and the Steampunk Theme with Rocketdock and Rainmeter. I did that first because I wanted to be sure, that this old laptop really works before I start to build the other parts...

Step 2: The Wooden Parts

Picture of The Wooden Parts

I decided to create the SteamPad in the way of a "Sandwich". I planned to use a wooden back, between the chassis of the DELL and a wooden front with the TFT. This way is easy to build and there is always a way to extend the system later. Further you keep access to all the connectors... and the whole system keeps cool during hot summer days...:-)

So I cutted out the two wooden parts from an old back of an armoire and painted them with varnish.

Step 3: The Screen

Picture of The Screen

After inserting the TFT into the wooden front I used some old brass material to hide the gaps between the screen and the wood. The screen and the wood had a thickness of 5mm, so it was easy to insert the TFT.

Step 4: Assembling of the Hardware

Picture of Assembling of the Hardware

After I finished the wooden back I started to mount the chassis to the board. Because I used wood for the back it was very easy to assemble the parts with small brass screws. For the battery I created a pocket, so the battery is protected with wooden stringers.
On the last picture you see the power converter, which generates the 19V from the 11,1V from the used LIPO battery.

Step 5: The Power Switch

Picture of The Power Switch

This switch was first a reason for headache! But finally I could solve the problem very easy - by "just doing"! I soldered the cables for the external switch directly to the very small switch on the mainboard. Be sure not to heat too much when you do that...

Step 6: The Final Assembly

Picture of The Final Assembly

After installing all the components to the wooden back I mounted the heavier brass screws to connect the front with the back. Now you can see and understand the meaning of the "Sandwich System". The thickness of the whole tablet was with 25mm acceptable and there is enough space for a speaker and the battery.
Some places were looking not so nice, when you took a look between the sandwich. This places I clodes with black wooden profiles, which I decorated with small brass screws.
On the left side I installed an old brass valve with a metall tube cable. So the SteamPad looks more "steamy".

Step 7: The Easel - to Use the SteamPad As a Desktop PC

Picture of The Easel - to Use the SteamPad As a Desktop PC

As you see on the pictures of the finished SteamPad I used an old easel with some nice brass and copper decorations. So you can use the SteamPad also as a desktop computer. This way the SteamPad is an eyecatcher even during exhibitions and Steampunk Cons.

At the moment I use a normal mouse and a virtual keyboard in the same look as the iPad.
But I'm working on something very unique for the SteamPad: a leather glove with an integrated mouse laser....

It will be presented soon here at Instructable!

I know, this Instructable can't show all the steps I passed during the build. But I hope I could give you some inspiration to build something like that.

I send you greeting from my laboratory in the Swiss mountains

The Chocolatist


Hi. Thanks for your comment and for the nice pic of your work. Looks awesome!! Very nice. As you may now, I only work with stuff from the junk yard, so I had no touchscreen panel at the moment... but if I find one, I now what I will do with it!!

Last year I helped clean out a barn that the previous owners had used to store left-over's from construction projects...I brought home a huge supply of 1/2" PVC fittings. What I lack in device skills starting out, I can make up for with an airbrush in the final stretch. Bikers used to say, "chrome won't get you home" but I'm convinced brass is the way to haul ass!

gab3iel (author)2013-02-24

Looks great! I was wondering what is the way you use to communicate with your SteamPad. I can't see a keyboard or mouse!

thechocolatist (author)gab3iel2013-02-24

Hi. Thanks for your comment. At the moment I use a normal mouse and a virtual keyboard in the same look as the iPad.
But I'm workimg on something very unique for the SteamPad: a leather glove with an integrated mouse laser....

It will be soon here at Instructable!

Brilliant idea! I haven't enough exposure in programming computers/electronics to even begin researching what it might require, but sure would try repeating it if you posted how to! Again, thanks for sharing; it's a godsend!

dpatterson13 (author)2014-05-18

Excellently executed; greatly inspiring! I have a heavily-abused a500-tablet that I've been needing to build a housing for but couldn't settle upon an inspiring theme. Everything gelled when I saw your work, thank you for sharing!

jarikcbol (author)2013-02-24

Very cool project. I was thinking how awesome it would be if you ran a USB extension inside that braided metal hose, and rigged it in the valve, then built a steampunk USB drive to plug into the valve. (and easy to reach USB ports are always a plus)

dpatterson13 (author)jarikcbol2014-05-18

Cool touch!

thechocolatist (author)jarikcbol2013-03-01

Thanks for comment. A good idea. May I will do that..

keyguy13 (author)2013-03-01

Very cool build. It's not comparable to an ipad though as it's not touchscreen. An addition that would make this much better would be to add a leapmotion controller:

The Dark Lord (author)keyguy132013-07-12

I would have to disagree. It is comparable with an iPad, because it's a computer in the tablet form factor. Apple didn't invent the tablet computer, by the way.

keyguy13 (author)The Dark Lord2013-07-12

Actually they did. Way back with the newton. Not trying to offend you, I just wouldn't compare it to an ipad. It is, however a very cool build of an "all in one" with a nice case...

The Dark Lord (author)keyguy132013-07-14

I at least agree with you that it is a very cool build...the best looking tablet I've ever seen.

thechocolatist (author)keyguy132013-03-02

Hey, thanks for your idea. Wow, this controller would be really great. But as you may know: I create all my Steampunk devices from used and trashed material... but I'm very sure, in a while you can get such a stuff in the junk yard too... :-) I'm looking forward to that!

demon6666 (author)2013-04-11

Awesome. Great work buddy

bLiTzJoN (author)2013-02-28

Interesting addition would be to hook a belt to the handle at the top and allow the screen to be rotated to landscape or portrait.

thechocolatist (author)bLiTzJoN2013-03-01

Hi. Thanks for your feedback. That's an interesting upgrade. To rotate the screen would be comfortable...

your_dragon113 (author)2013-02-28

Dude! That is Awesome! I've been thinking of making an "All-In-One" out of a Dell (my fav computer to "Play" with) Steam-Style. Now I'm afraid to try for insulting what you've done. WAY Cool!

Thanks Dude! Give it a try! Feels great when you finished it - because it's unique!! I'm looking forward...

Luftmechaniker Fritz (author)2013-02-28

Dear inventer colleague. I´m deeply impressed and admire this sofisticated example !
With my humble regards
Air Mechanic Fritz from FritzWorks

Dear Mr. Luftmechaniker Fritz
Your praise is a honor for me! I'm fascinated from your great work. Thank you very much!

dcastro2 (author)2013-02-28

Might consider a wooden keyboard? Or even one with mixed keys. Cool concept. I have a laptop I might try this with as well. Nice job. I am inspired.

thechocolatist (author)dcastro22013-03-01

Thank you for your interest. I checked out your link: great wooden keyboard. It's planned to create a Steampunk keyboard to use it for the desktop arrangement of the SteamPad...

longwinters (author)2013-02-28

Great work I really like how you stripped the non-essencials off the monitor to give it a raw look, it adds greatly to it's appeal.

Hi Longwinters. Thanks. It was the easiest way to create something like that... I like the raw look of Steampunk things... the "Sandwich Technique" is ideal for this kind of machines...

pantalone (author)2013-02-24

This is beautiful work, and very creative. I appreciate all of the good photos from various angles. I like to see pictures from lots of different angles, because it helps me to get a feel for how something is put together. Great work!

thechocolatist (author)pantalone2013-02-24

Thank you very much for your interest. Hope I could give you some inspiration!

Computothought (author)2013-02-23


About This Instructable




Bio: Dan Aetherman, Steampunker, Inventor and Adventurer - Creator of fantastic victorian machines, gadgets and movieprops - Visit me on and on Facebook: https://www ...
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