Introduction: Convert an Old Laptop Into a Media Center

How to take and old Laptop and convert it into a Home Theater PC that runs XBMC on Openelec.
I have used a Acer Aspire AMD motherboard with 1gig RAM.

How to install Openelec with windows.

Note: Openelec and XBMC are Open Source programs. Credit goes to the developers for a awesome program.

Step 1: Requirements

An old laptop with the motherboard, processer and RAM in working order.
2x Flash Drives, 512mb min. (Both drives will need to be formatted, so back them up first)
IR remote control (optional).
USB Hub (optional)

2x 500mm x 75mm perspex or acrylic
Pack of  60mm x 3mm bolts with nuts
Dremel (optional)
Side Cutters
54mm holesaw
10mm holesaw
5mm nylon tube

Step 2: Strip the Motherboard

Strip off the entire case.
Remove all cables and connectors. Be sure to leave the heat sink attached ; )

Step 3: Measure Up and Cut

Once the MB is down to its barebone, measure up the holes for the four corner mounts. And drill through both pieces of perspex.
Vary the size and shape of the perspex to suit you liking. I cut this down right up to the HDD bay for a snug fit.

I used a 54mm holesaw to cut out the cpu fan and 10mm for the bottom intack.

Step 4: Assembly

Once all the holes are drilled through both pieces of perspex, thread the 60mm bolts through and screw a nut in place.

Cut the nylon tubing to act as a spacer between the MB and the perspex. Cut the same size for the top half.

Place the motherboard between the spaces and screw on the top half.
Cut down any extra thread with the Dremel.

Screw it all together and connect up the power, Video and audio cable.
I extended the power on button to a switch on the back. Bit trickey to do the soldering but works great.
Note: Use a multimeter to test continuity on the power switch to see which pins to extend. Solder carefully.

Step 5: Install Openelec

This is where the 2 flash drives come into place.

We are going to use one drive to boot from and the other for the OS to be installed onto.
Change the BIOS settings to boot from USB media first. then boot from the drive created with the windows installer.

Get the software here:

Follow the install instructions:

If you are not sure which version do download use the Generic OSS Build. It has the most generic drivers.

Remember. the drives will be formatted, so make a back up.

Step 6: Boot Up

Insert your media hard drives and IR remote and get watching. (XBMC has a remote app for iOS devices)

Happy Hacking :)

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