This is my outline of the steps to cut a really cool looking hole in your laptop - safely!
I did a stylized version of the hebrew letter 'א' (aleph), But your design could really be any shape you are capable of cutting out.
I noticed that there weren't many instructables on how to do this. I did see one that looked really cool here, but wiring was needed to complete the project.
This project was carried out on an Acer e5. Results and process on other laptops may vary, but it is definitely possible to achieve similar results on many other laptops.
This project takes little to no electronic know-how because there isn't any wiring - the laptop's symbol glows because of the computers back light.
Step 1: Requirements:
It sounds cliche but the first requirement is patience. I first did this mod when I was 13 on a different computer of mine and it was a disaster - XD - I got the letter upside down and off center, cut a hole in the screen itself (it was still working somehow) and (likely because of the dust in the process) the hard drive fragmented a few months later. If I wasn't a doofus then - if, for example, I didn't TAKE A HIGH POWERED SAW TO MY COMPUTER WHILE THE SCREEN WAS INSIDE, things would have gone better.
It was still really cool though. So yeah, there's that. This time around, years later, I used MEASURING TOOLS. So like I said, caution and patience.
The project took 7 hours of labor, though it could definitely be done faster.
Also the Pythagorean theorem is really helpful. Anything else? Oh yeah. Use eye protection with the Dremel, or risk losing an eye as tribute to the plastic shreds.
Now lets get into physical requirements:
1.Laptop - A plastic back is definitely preferable because its much easier to cut. It is possible with a metal one too though. You also will need to check if your screen glows a soft white on the other side when powered on, or you won't be able to make the screen glow without LEDs.
2. Tools - Pencil, 12 inch ruler, Xacto/whittling knife, Dremel with saw attachment, Philips screwdriver.
3. Supplies - These are all optional but recommended: clear-plastic(vinyl),glue,duct tape, paint/colored-pencils/markers/paper/colored-clear-plastic-sheets.
Step 2: Open Your Computer
I can't provide anything but an overview on this step because every computer is different. Check how to open your specific model by watching a how-to video. Your goal is to separate the back panel (that you will be cutting) from the monitor. This way you won't cut your LCD in half as you go. For me it was actually necessary to open the bottom in order to access some cables that needed to be taken off to properly separate the top from the bottom. I included pictures of the offending cables (for me it was the WiFi antenna.) other tips:
- Unplug power (or disconnect battery) before doing anything else on the board, to ensure no one and nothing gets damaged.
- Take a picture so that you know how to reattach everything when you are done.
- If you have a hard drive (and not an SSD) you should probably take it out and put it to the side to avoid dust, which could fragment it.
Step 3: Measuring Cut
I have seen that before this step, other people sand out their stock symbols and paint the computer, but I did not because I liked the computer's granulation. And because I'm lazy.
After deciding on a design, (by sketching it out on paper), draw it on the back of your laptop. I'm going to give you an idea of the process I used to center my design, but you can figure it out however you want. I recommend a ruler and a big eraser.
As the incredibly artistic first picture shows, first I made borders with the ruler to make a centered rectangle 12in x 9in (Or something like that. As long as you know your dimensions and its centered you can follow these steps).
Then I made a kind of centered x pattern. For me this was a helpful base for drawing my symbol, but for you it might not be, so this step is optional. I did it as follows:
1. Decide on a length for the crossing segment after looking at how that would look on the back. (ex: 10in)
2. Using the height of the border/rectangle, use the Pythagorean theorem to get the length (b). (a^2+b^2=c^2, so 9in^2 + b^2 = 10in^2, so 81 + b^2 = 100, so b^2 = 19, so b = sqrrt(19), so b = around 4.35 inches.)
3. Draw a line the length of b centered on the bottom and top of the rectangle. To center this, do 12 (the length of the rectangle) minus b, (which in our case would be 7.65), and divide that by 2 (that's 3.82). Now measure this out from both ends of your rectangle and mark it with your ruler. The length in-between the marks should be 4.35.
4. Now make a rectangle with the markings, and draw an x across the points of the rectangle. If you do it right the lines of the diagonals should be c (10) inches long, and intersect at the midpoint of the computer. Measure from the top and bottom that it is.
Sigh. Hope that made sense. Now that I think about it there may be MUCH easier ways to do this, but mine worked for me. Please consult picture 1. If you mess it up, luckily you have an eraser.
Okay... Once you have your border lines, however you did them, Draw your symbol. Make sure you know exactly how long its different sections are, because the pencil fades out and you will be cutting it up soon. linear designs are easier.
If you want to make "floating pieces" in the design like you can see from the main picture that I did, You will need to have the see through plastic, or something else to glue it on from inside. At this point you should mark those pieces out too.
Step 4: CUTTING
Before cutting, peel/cut away the tin foil/foam stuff on the underside of the lid,, at least as much as is needed to accommodate for your design on the other side. Otherwise it is just another thing to cut through.
I recommend low setting on your Dremel. It might make sense to clamp it somewhere for two handed control. Try to cut inside the lines.
Sometimes the size of the cutting wheel exceeds the diameter of a cut. When this happens to me, I attach a drill instead, and make the hole larger by pushing it in certain directions. I know, very low budget. Go have fun with your CNC router, privileged guy.
For the rest of us that have to work in life, fix your cut with a knife. Whittle it out tiny piece by tiny piece.
Now, I have a visual concept to explain which is difficult in words, so bear with me. You want to change the angle of your cutting so that the lip/edge of the cut is on the outward facing side. I know that makes no sense. Consult ridiculously clear picture 4. The reason I say to do this is because it looks much cleaner and helps with the cutting.
Step 5: Finishing Designs
Cut up your clear plastic piece if you have one, and glue it on the inside of the lid. This adds protection, looks nice, and allows you to add "floating" pieces.
At this point you can experiment with different colors and designs, either on a sheet of paper or plastic. An idea I had was to color one side, but not the other other, so that the color only shows when the light is turned on.
In the end I chose a green piece of plastic, the type cheap folders or binders are made of. I spray painted it blue and silver, so the green doesn't come through until is is turned on. I duct taped it in, making sure the duct tape wasn't blocking the screen's light from reaching the cut. .
The last thing i did before putting the computer back together (don't forget cables!) was glue on a square that i had cut off to the front of the lid inside the shape, so that it looks like it is floating.
Step 6: All Done!
After you've put it back together, your'e done! Thanks for checking out my Instructable!