Intro: Microsoft Surface Hub on the Cheap: Touchscreen Coffee Table
I'd been wanting a touchscreen coffee table for years. When I saw the Microsoft Surface Hub I finally was inspired enough to find a solution to build my own. The big holdup had alway been cost. A large touchscreen is can be pretty cost prohibitive. I wanted a sub $1000 solution with a good sized screen. Salvation came when I found IR touch frames. These relatively inexpensive devices sit on top of any LCD screen and make it a touch screen. They are made up of an array of IR sensors that sense where the IR beams are broken and thus convert the surface to a touchscreen. Installation is pretty easy as well. You just attach the frame with double sided tape to your screen and presto, touchscreen.
You can see more of its use with videos on my CCHobbyFun.
The only thing left is to mount it in a presentable package. Your solution may vary based on whats available. I'll provide recommended places to source materials. The basic list of items is as follows:
- Glass Top Coffee table display case(Sliding drawer helps with installation)
-Large Touchscreen TV (recommend 40" or bigger depending on how big your table will hold"
- Small case PC to mount under the table (Recommendation any slim computer with HDMI input will do)
-Wood for a mount to make the IR touch frame flush with the table
- 1/4" Plexiglass sheet to mount the IR touch frame on the Flat Screen
- IR Receiver Transmitter (turns TV on and off when its mounted)
- Double sided tape
Step 1: Assemble and Mount the IR Touchframe
Start by assembling the IR Touchframe. It goes together very easily with a screwdriver. The four pieces simply click together and are held in place by the screws. The kit will include double sided tape for mounting. Once the screen is assembled you will need to mount it to the plexiglass that will be mounted on the flatscreen TV.
The frame has a single USB cable that plugs into your computer. At this point you should do a dry run to make sure the frame works by plugging it in. Just sit it on top of your touchscreen to test functionality. The drivers should automatically load in Windows 10. You may need to play with the resolution sittings to make sure your computer displays across the entire screen.
Step 2: Cut and Mount the Plexiglass
The 1/4" plexiglass is placed on top of your flatscreen to protect the LCD from breaking. With the plexiglass in place your screen will be protected for use from kids and other guests.
You will need to measure the length and width of your flatscreen TV. The plexiglass will need to cover the entire top of the frame. You will need a plexiglass scoring tool. Mark the dimensions of your screen on the plexiglass. Use a straight edge and score the lines repeatedly. Then place the scored lines on the edge of a table. Snap the plexiglass along the lines to cut it to size.
Use double sided tape to mount the plexiglass on top of the flatscreen TV.
Step 3: Mount the IR Touch Frame
Now that you have the plexiglass mounted on the touchscreen its time to mount the IR Touchframe to the flatscreen TV. You will also use double sided tape for this as well. Its best to turn the TV on and have the PC plugged into it to see the display. You want to make sure that you have the IR Touchframe mounted so that the entire PC display can be seen. Once you are sure of this press the Touchframe down firmly.
Step 4: Mount TV in Table
This is the part that will take the most time and care. What I am going to provide is basic guidelines. The fine tuning will depend on the size of your table and TV.
You will need to drill a hole in the bottom of the table of sufficient size to allow the TV power cord, IR touchscreen frame USB and the IR remote cable to through the bottom.
Place the TV with the plexiglass and IR Touchframe in the table. Mount the IR transmitter in front of the TVs IR receiver. When the TV is mounted and covered its IR receiver will be covered. The IR transmitter will allow you to power the TV on when it is mounted. Route the cables through the hole.
Then use some 1" or 3/4" wood board to get the top of the IR Touchframe flush with the top of the table. Once you have that you can glue the boards in place.
Then you will likely need 1/4" boards to make a frame around your TV. This frame will fill the gap between the TV and the table to make a flush appearance. You will have to take some careful measurements. Once that you have the pieces cut place the pieces of wood around the TV for a test fit. After I had a good test fit I glued the wood pieces together as a frame.
I then painted the frame and the table to match in black. Mount the IR receiver on the bottom of the table near the edge. Place this in a convenient location. You will point the TV remote at this to power on the TV.
At this point you should a flush mounted touchscreen in black table.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
Plug all the cables into the computer. The small profile PC can be mounted on the bottom of the touchscreen table with velcro. Drill small pilot holes for the decorative caps at each corner of the table. Screw in the caps for effect.
At this point you just need to route the cables for safety and enjoy your new table!