Intro: MacBook/iMac Rack Hack
How to get all the benefits of an iMac/All-in-one PC from your Macbook/laptop without sacrificing portability or desktop space.
I basically modified a wire mesh office file holder to mount on back of a 22in. LCD to hold my Macbook for desktop use, conveniently hiding the computer while providing easy port access.
You will need:
- a laptop
- an LCD monitor
- external keyboard and mouse
- an office file rack/holder
- 2-4 screws with washers
- pliers, perhaps a metal file
- foam (optional)
Step 1: Select an LCD
You need an LCD that is bigger than the laptop you want to use and that has the mounting holes available on the back. Some of Acer and Dell's models mount their stands in these holes. This won't work for my design.
I chose the Asus VK22H (about $200 from Newegg.com). There are lots of LCD's that work for this and and only a few won't. The easiest method is to look at the pics on Newegg or Amazon to confirm available screw holes and room above the stand.
Step 2: Select a File Rack; Hack It!
There are lots of these at your local office store. I like the steel mesh ones because they are strong and leave lots of room for ventilation which will be an issue when running your laptop with the lid down behind your LCD. That said, they area a bit more expensive than other plastic options. This one was about $17.
In my zeal to mod the rack I just pulled off one whole side (making sure it corresponded with the port side on my macbook). In retrospect it would have been better for the structural integrity of the rack to clip out the mesh. That said, this method still works fine.
A little file work smoothes out the spots where the welds tore.
Step 3: Mount the Rack
First you'll need to make some mounting holes. I used needle nose pliers to twist a hold in the mesh and bent back loose ends. These holes should correspond to the holes in the back of the monitor. I used small magnets to mark where the holes should go.
I chose to only use the top two screws to mount it and it works fine. If you want you can mount it using all four, though the bottom two screws are harder to reach. Selecting the screws can be tricky. You need them to be only slightly longer than the depth of the hole. The washers are a must to hold the rack securely.
My Asus didn't come with screws so I took one out of another LCD i had to the hardware store and matched it, buying four of the most likely lengths to work. Sadly, I didn't take note of the size. Screws are cheap so trial and error isn't too hard.
The foam pieces are optional. I've since taken the top one off as it seemed to interfere with cooling. The bottom piece is helpful as it protects against scratching the face mostly likely to take the most wear.
Step 4: Insert Laptop: Enjoy!
Here's the finished product: desktop functionality when you're at home and easy portability when you need to go.
I angled the foam to pitch the laptop forward, however, I've since found that this isn't ideal for dissipating heat. If you lean the macbook all the way back but leave an inch or so clearance between it and the wall, it runs cooler than sitting on the desk.
Again, if I had it to do again I would leave the frame on the port side and trim out the mesh. Also the optical drive isn't accessible under this configuration without lifting the macbook up slightly. However, this happens so rarely that it's not been work developing a better design.
Enjoy I'd love to hear/see how you implement/modify this idea.