Intro: Undercover Laptop Case
Make Something Useful out of Whatever You Find.
We decided to create a laptop case that is functional and fun to carry. What we like most about this case is that it is not obvious to others that you are carrying a laptop.
We are using readily available materials from the recycling bin and the junk bins here at the ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) shop.
For materials we used a cardboard box, a fedEx envelope as a lining, packing bubbles for padding, and wire as fastiners. Some discarded nails, a pair of scissors, an exacto knife and a pen are the tools we used.
Update 11/12/06 : We got pretty worried about the Tyvec and static, so we decided we could do better and put our minds at rest. Luckily we're in no short supplies of anti-static bags here so ...
voila -- lining 2.0! check out the follow up steps at the end for the new lining.
Step 1: Cutting the Box
Take the cardboard box and break it down to a flat surface using the blade of the scissors or exacto knife.
Step 2: Measuring for Fit
Place your laptop on the carboard surface, paying attention to where you will be making folds and cuts. If you are lucky, as we were, your box porportions will be well matched to your laptop. Here we used a medium sized shipping box (roughly 17 inches tall assembled), and a 15 inch Mac ibook.
Step 3: Trim to Fit
You'll want to trim the excess cardboard, so that your laptop fits just snug when the case is folded up. Leave a little room, but not too much so that the laptop will not bump against the walls when you are carrying it. Draw guide lines so that your cuts are straight. Cut off any extra panels on the top flap. Measure the bubble sheet and the trim excess to fit the cardboard.
Step 4: Make the Edge Padding
To ensure the safety of the laptop, we created extra padding at the edges of the case.
The edge padding was made out of rolled up Bubble Tape.
Step 5: Secure Edge Padding
First secure the bubble tape edge roll to the cardboard edge using some nails. The nails will poke holes for the fasteners as well as keep everything lined up and in place. We used three nails for the padding. Then 'sewing' with some wire, we fastened the padding to the cardboard. Make sure that the twisted connections are on the outside, so not to scratch up your laptop with sharp edges.
Repeat these steps for each of the 3 edges.
Step 6: Secure the Flaps
Once the edge padding have been secured, again using nails and the wire secure the rest of the padding to the cardboard surfaces (the side flaps and the top interior).
For the top panel sew the padding 3 across in the same way as the edge padding.
For the side flaps it is easier to just loop wire along the top and bottom edges.
Step 7: Lining the Case
The FedEx envelope had a nice smooth texture that we thought would make a great lining.
The lining is important for two reasons:
1) so that it is easy to slide the laptop in and out
2) to prevent and static from the plastic material to effect and harm the laptop
We cut the envelope open with the smooth, unprinted side facing up.
Then we trimmed off the excess material and fastened the lining to the bottom panel with nails.
To secure the lining we used 4 wire in each of the 4 corners.
Step 8: Finish With a Front Flap
We're almost done.
Essentially at this point the case is ready, padded and lined.
We decided for extra safety and protection (not to mention style) to create a front flap that Anh would close with velcro later.
To do this we folded the laptop inside the case and brought the front flap over the case.
Then we lined up another peice of cardboard with the same width as the front flap.
Using a pen we marked holes for where we would be attaching the two panels.
Next, make sure you remove your laptop before poking the holes with the nails.
Secure the two panels together with wire until snug, doing so to join all of the pairs.
We had some fun with the wire. We decided to make a braided design by connecting the wires together.
Step 9: Undercover Laptop Case Finished
The new case is ready to be used.
We love how the case looks so much like a package or a book.
It's perfect for carrying around on the subway and on the street and you don't want people to know you've got a laptop with you.
The best part is that the exterior is all cardboard, so you can easily draw and customize to your hearts desire, but the inside lining keeps things pretty safe from rain.
Step 10: Living With the Case
It's been two weeks since we made the case, and so far Ahn's been getting great compliments on it. He's added a way to secure the flap with some scrap velcro and duct-tape he had and drawing on the cover to build up on the design.
After test using for about two weeks here are a few notes to keep in mind:
- the tyvec from the FedEx envelope (though wonderfully smooth) is very airtight and perhaps not the best choice for airflow. Ahn's been careful to let his ibook cool before putting it in the case. Next time we'll use paper instead.
- the wires should be carefully considered as to not have any stray ends at gripping points
Total $ spent = 0
Step 11: Lining 2.0
Today Ahn and I scrounged around for some anti static bags for the new lining. We found 1 big bag and a bunch of the smaller chip bags. We decided to do a simple weave to make the most of our materials.
Take a look at these steps to include the woven lining:
1/2 of the black bag was enough for the central panel.
The rest we cut into strips for the side.
We had enough to cover the top, but to give a little more space to address the heat, we opted just to remove the padding on the top completely.
The case has been working out pretty nicely, but it’s nice to address that nagging feeling about the static. Ahn will test drive this some more and we'll report back if there are any more issues.
Hope to see more examples of what people can do with Trash!