Intro: Bring New Life to an Old Laptop
Every now and then things happen that you cannot control. One of the most disheartening things is when your laptop stops working.
I had a laptop that stopped working a while ago. It sounded like it was working fine, but I had no picture. Just out of curiosity I plugged it into an old monitor that I had laying around. My laptop still worked, but the screen had gone out. I had this setup for a while, but wanted something better. This is the solution that I came up with.
What you need:
- A laptop that you don't mind tearing apart.
- A monitor (I would assume this would work with a flat screen, but I won't promise anything)
- A precision screwdriver set (Laptops have various sizes of screws inside them)
- A drill of some kind
- A pen, pencil, or marker
- [Optional] You may need a soldering iron, depending on the condition of your laptop.
- Ingenuity and patience
IMPORTANT - Go ahead and unplug your monitor of choice before you start doing anything! Monitors can be very dangerous and are normally classified as high voltage devices.
I cannot be held responsible in the event that you destroy your laptop, break your monitor, or harm yourself.
This is my first attempt at making an instructable. I apologize for the lack of process photos. I did not think to make an instructable until after I had completed this project.
Step 1: Get It Open
1. If you have not done so already, once the laptop is powered on, make sure it is working. Most newer laptops will automatically detect an external monitor. For older ones, you may have to use the load/crt toggle button. This is normally one of the options on the F1-12 keys. Mine was F3. After that works, make sure that the USB keyboard and mouse are installed and working. When it works, shut the computer down and unplug the monitor.
2. Carefully take apart your laptop. You can normally find a guide on how to take apart your specific model by searching on Google. Normally if you were taking apart a laptop you would need to remember where each screw and component go, but not this time.
Set all important parts to the side as they become available.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Motherboard (Make sure to set aside the screws and posts that hold it in place)
- Hard drive
- Keyboard (I recommend a USB keyboard though, as the laptop keyboard will be quite awkward to use)
- CD/DVD drive
- Any other important parts (Card readers, internet cards, speakers, etc.)
I would get a USB mouse instead of the touch pad too. If it's not usable, that doesn't help you much.
3. After you have it taken apart, put the important parts on a piece of cardboard or some other non-static surface. Put it together and power it on to make sure you kept all needed parts. If it does not turn on, you probably left something out. Take everything apart and try again. Maybe it is just a loose cable or something.
Step 2: Put It Together Again
1. Now that everything is working, turn your former laptop off and take it back apart.
IMPORTANT - If you ignored my warning on the first step, be sure to UNPLUG the monitor you plan to use and let it sit for a while. Computer monitors, like tvs, are normally considered high voltage devices.
2. Using the motherboard, test out different orientations on the monitor and find the one that you like best. Mark the spots with a pen/pencil/marker where the mounting screws will need to go. Depending on the shape of your monitor, you may not be able to use every mounting spot. My monitor is curved, so I was only able to use four of the holes.
3. Carefully drill the holes for the mounting posts. They do not need to be very deep, so go slowly and once you get through the plastic casing, stop drilling.
4. Put the mounting posts into the holes you drilled. My holes were not perfectly straight, put since plastic is a little flexible, it did not matter too much.
5. Put your motherboard in place and screw it on. On mine, the posts straightened out as I tightened the screws.
6. Put on the other parts (CD/DVD drive, hard drive, internet card, probably go ahead and hook up the USB mouse and keyboard too). Some of these will need to be secured with a screw or some tape.
7. Plug it in and test it out. Like before, if it doesn't work try again, something is probably missing or loose.
Step 3: Enjoy Your Laptop Again!
Now that it is up and running, enjoy your laptop now that you can see what you are doing. It is not exactly pretty, but it is definitely something most people haven't seen.
There are some optional things you can do to improve performance too, now that you don't have that case to worry about. I have a small desk fan to aid in cooling. This laptop had always had overheating troubles, so now that is under control.
One thing to be careful about is the monitor hook up. It should be fine, but it will have less support than it used to. Mine was already loose before I took apart this laptop, so I added some solder to strengthen it.
There are a few things you can do with the leftover parts. You can sell them, donate them to computer repair shops, or even make something creative out of them. It's really up to you what to do with it.
I forgot to say this earlier, but keep track of the circuit that used to have the power button on it. You will need to plug that back in to make it work! It would be a good idea to learn which button is power too, because without the case they are no longer labeled. My button strip is shown in this picture on the bottom next to the video hook up.