Upcycled Motherboard Notepad Gift Set




Recently I acquired quite a few old and/or broken motherboards and I decided to make something useful out of them. The desktop computer motherboards were perfect for a notepad covers, the laptop motherboards for coasters and CPUs or graphics chips could be used as key rings . . .

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Step 1: Preparing

Remove all of the components from each motherboard with the help of a heat gun (you could use a soldering iron, but that would take ages). Take out the back page of your notepad and mark the desired dimensions on the motherboards. Grab your jigsaw with a fine metal blade. Cut and sand your boards.

Step 2: Drilling and Cleaning

Mark and punch the position for the holes for binding rings and drill them. Apply ample amounts of flux on each board and flatten out / remove the old solder. Clean in the sink with fairy liquid and toothbrush. Insert rest of the notepad sheets in between your boards and pop in the binding rings (next time I might order larger rings since I was only able to use 1/3 of my notepad sheets).

Step 3: Personalise

Print and cut out your desired photos or logos. Depending on the epoxy resin you're planing to use you might need to laminate your photos first. I first used this resin a few years back and the photos were perfect. This time around I decided to use this one and the photos were soaked with resin so I had to laminate them first, there might be a different way to deal with this problem, but this was the best I could come up with :D also even after a week the coasters were still sticky and not fully cured, however it was perfect for the key ring which was cured after couple of days.

Step 4: Accessories

To make it more interesting I decided to include a watch which I disassembled and attached wires for the battery and two small push buttons. I then soldered on the CMOS battery holder from the motherboard and glued it onto the bottom notepad cover. I wanted to have an easy way to attach the pen to the notepad so I affixed a small magnet just under the watch.

For the key ring I used an old AMD processor, which I cleaned with alcohol and drilled a small hole in the corner.

Step 5: Casting Resin

First make a mould out of a cardboard box and line it with a baking paper (or other non stick material). Mix your resin following the instructions on the packaging and pour a small amount into the mould. Next proceed to apply the resin to the coasters, notepad photos and the watch for a glossy finish. Once the resin in the mould has reached a gel like state, place in the CPU and cover with more resin. Depending on your resin, you might have to wait a few days until fully cured.

Step 6: Finishing Off

Scan your motherboard and print out a photo of it. Apply double sided tape on a pen and paste on the motherboard photo. Take a piece of laminating sheet and attach it on using a soldering iron (don't put the temperature up too high, you could burn the laminating sheet).

Once the key ring fully cured, take it out of the mould and sand it. I started with 120 grit sandpaper, followed by 400, 600 and 1200 grit wet and dry sand paper. Drill the hole again and polish it with a buffing tool. Attach a chain and a key ring split ring.

Secure a piece of felt to the bottom side of your coasters with hot glue and cut off the leftovers.

Step 7: Housing

Choose a cardboard piece big enough to house all of your pieces and mark the positions. Cut another piece of cardboard into 1cm strips and glue them around the edges of the main cardboard piece with a hot glue. Carry on until you reach your desired height. Apply double sided tape on the inside of the box and attach your chosen fabric (mine came from an old dress). The stretchier the fabric the easier it will be to attach it around the bends of the box.

Step 8: Bottom of the Box and Key Ring Holder

Mark the dimensions of the box + the sides on a wallpaper and cut out. Apply double sided tape onto the bottom of the box and the sides and paste onto the wallpaper.

Make a small box for the key ring and cover it with the fabric. Attach it to the main box with hot glue.

Step 9: Top of the Box

Make the top the same way as the bottom, but add couple of millimetres to each side. Bend and glue each side half way inwards.

For the bow I used another piece of my dress, which I cut into strips and ran a lighter along the edges. Then I made a cross out of them for the top of the box and attached the pieces to the under side, followed by another piece of wallpaper.

With a string tighten a knot through the cross, make a bow from another strip of fabric and attach it with hot glue.

Step 10:

All that's left to do now is give it to somebody you care about :D

Hope you enjoyed my instructable and I wish you all a lovely day ;)

***If you're at all concerned about lead exposure, you could always spray the notepad covers with car varnish or something similar (thank you austin.hall.129794 for a great suggestion ;D). This gift set was made for my brother and it will live in his workshop, so this was not an issue for me.***

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    30 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Awesome recycle, i got lots of boards and processors, in my shop

    also good for gifting too

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you very much, I would love to see your creations if you end up making some ;)


    Reply 2 years ago

    Lol, thank you very much for your lovely offer, however it isn't the only one I've had. I'm sorry I can't marry you all :D ;)


    2 years ago

    I would definitely seal the motherboard in some kind of resin or epoxy. That way it is safe to handle. And it will also be protected. Also, if you're sanding the board, do it in a WELL VENTILATED area. The dust from circuit boards is dangerous.

    1 reply

    2 years ago

    Looks cool, but I wont let it touch my dining table. Its full of lead.

    4 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you for your comment, I'm not quite planning to use it in my dinning room either ;)


    Reply 2 years ago

    Were is the lead coming from? Did i miss something? Solder is lead free these days


    Reply 2 years ago

    Yea but most motherboards that come with a toxic chemicals disclosure table always show that the lead contents exceeds the limits of whatever standards.


    2 years ago

    Looks great, but do you have any worries about handling the notebook due to lead in leftover solder? I'd be paranoid and not only wash hands after handling the notebook, but also feel I need to wash hands after touching anything that touched the notebook.
    Anybody have hard data about lead contamination to hands after touching solder? I always wash my hands after touching a circuit board these days.
    Of course, if it's a newer motherboard, it might be lead free.

    6 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Solder has been lead free for along time.


    Reply 2 years ago

    The EU only required lead free solder in consumer electronics in 2006.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you all for your comments and some excellent ideas ;)


    Reply 2 years ago

    Usually lead exposure is via ingestion or inhalation. The people soldering and desoldering for a living breathe a lot of this stuff in, and no major hazards have been reported... to my knowledge.

    Lead becomes a problem in children, as it affect their nervous system and stunt growth. There is a hazard, yes, but not more than say, driving to work every day.


    Reply 2 years ago

    But doesn't one get some bit of ingestion if, say, one touches the solder--or touches something that touched the solder--and then later bites one's nail, or grabs a cookie that's on the counter and eats it, etc.?

    We bought a house close enough to work partly to avoid the hazards of driving to work. :-)


    Reply 2 years ago

    If you are at all unsure, give it a couple of coats of clear spray car varnish, nowadays it's mostly acrylic varnish so won't harm you from longterm exposure and will seal the mobo and any solder remaining.