The eyes keep following me!
June 17, 2005 10:54 PM   Subscribe

Build your own walltop computer. Take the guts out of an old laptop, stuff them into a picture frame and have a slide show hanging on your wall. This is uber-geeky but cool.
posted by KevinSkomsvold (23 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by BoringPostcards at 11:23 PM on June 17, 2005

That rocks. I've always wanted to build something like that.
posted by mathowie at 12:32 AM on June 18, 2005

It's cute but this is more my style.
posted by dreamsign at 12:50 AM on June 18, 2005

I did that a few years ago, though I didn't manage to stuf the electonics behind the frame. Kind of cool, used it as a dumb terminal though.
posted by fvw at 12:59 AM on June 18, 2005

*gets screwdriver, cracks open old toshiba....*
posted by dabitch at 2:02 AM on June 18, 2005

This is brilliant. Must try.
posted by rhapsodie at 2:23 AM on June 18, 2005

It's suprisingly easy to completely disassemble most laptops nowadays. Just approach everything with a bit of caution, and don't try to force things apart (at first :P). I've torn my laptop apart into teeny little pieces and built it back up again fixing things I didn't want to pay for once it dropped out of warranty, time and time again.

The #1 thing is, if you want to ever put it back together again (maybe not, as this post shows you), TRACK THE SCREWS. They come in many sizes and shapes... and you sure don't want to lose any.
posted by mek at 2:30 AM on June 18, 2005

filming the dissassembly can also be helpful.
posted by dreamsign at 2:37 AM on June 18, 2005

Wall ... top?
posted by kenko at 6:29 AM on June 18, 2005

A good trick for screws and small parts is to put a few pieces of tape (sticky side out - masking tape is good) on a board or your table top. Then, as you pull screws out, group them together in your breakdown order on the tape. Once you're done taking everything apart, you can cover the screws with another piece of tape & they won't get lost or out of order while you're dicking around with whatever it is you're trying not to destroy. Marking the tape also helps for people with failing memorys, like myself.

Never did the photography method, although it would have helped when I tore down my motorcycle carbs. I've heard of old-timers taking polaroids for this purpose. Now that's an expensive memory tool.

As far as the mod goes, can't you buy one of these things for relatively cheap ($50 or so)? Sometimes you have to factor in the cost of labor & how much your time is worth to you. I guess if you're doing it to learn, that's one thing, but this guy seemed to know his stuff pretty well, so he would have been better off making a few bucks from his knowledge rather than wasting it to build something that is readily available. It's like when a friend and I made fresh mozzarella cheese at his apartment 2 blocks away from the Italian Market - kinda stupid.
posted by password at 6:46 AM on June 18, 2005

The #1 thing is, if you want to ever put it back together again (maybe not, as this post shows you), TRACK THE SCREWS.

Yep. The way I do so:

1) Buy a carton of eggs. Get the foam carton, not the pressed paper ones with all the extra holes.

2) Egg the car of the bastard who's alarms always going off. If no bastard, cook and eat the eggs, or try harder to find one. Or, maybe, you're the bastard. So, go out and egg your own car. Furthermore, if you are a moral vegetarian, buy the eggs, then egg your own car as punishment for supporting the use of animal products, you bastard. (See, I told you you'd find one if you looked hard enough.)

3) Take the now empty carton. Label the egg wells 1-12, or, if you really hated the bastard, 1-18.

4) As you remove a group of screws, place into egg holder #1. Next group into egg holder #2.

5) If you need more than 12 wells, find another bastard. Repeat, number from 13-24, or, if a *huge* bastard, 19-36. If you keep doing this, it gets really gross.

6) When it comes time to reassemble, just work backwards, not advancing until all the screws from a well are reinstalled.

Hint: a dab of wax or coax-seal will hold the egg caddy down. Nothing suck worse than flipping one off the table with a load of screws in them. Epoxy, JB Weld and Drywall screws will also do the job, but that's a more permanent solution. Come to think of it, epoxy, JB Weld and drywall screws would be a more permanent fix for the Bastard as well....
posted by eriko at 7:48 AM on June 18, 2005

Ahem: Enough silly. (What? Never!)

If you want to do this (you know you do.)

1) Many of the cables in notebooks are fragile. Be careful. The ones least like to break are the ones you'll care the least about (like the modem cable) and are the easiest to fix. The worst are the ones running up into the panel to drive the display. You can get replacements, but they're often not cheap.

2) Danger: High Voltage. Often, the backlights are either a cold cathode or fluorescent lamp. The former likes high voltage DC, the latter, high voltage AC. Neither is likely to kill, but you'll know it if you lick it.

3) Speaking of panel backlights, guess what's really fragile?

4) For that matter, the panel isn't exactly bulletproof.

5) Finally, for maximum effect. Remember, the notebook really runs on low voltage DC. Replace the power cord with something longer, and run the power through the wall. If you can't get wireless going for some reason (no functional PCMCIA slot, etc.) you can also run twisted pair as well. I wouldn't try power over ethernet with a notebook -- the current isn't huge, but it isn't trivial, either.

A simple vertical drop to the baseboard is often easy to do with nothing more than a flexible pole. I use an old fishing pole, with all but the top guides stripped off. (Warning: if it's a section pole, tape the sections together!) Fishtape works as well, but is harder to deal with.
posted by eriko at 7:56 AM on June 18, 2005

I've got two POS Toshibas from 1998. I'm going to tear one apart and try this.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:57 AM on June 18, 2005

As far as the mod goes, can't you buy one of these things for relatively cheap?

Most modders don't do it to save money, or time. It's the challenge of creation, satisfaction upon completion, and peer praise. You know, a hobby. When I successfully finish a mod, after the initial elation, there is always a minor depression as I figure out how to find (and fund) my next challenge.

Destination < Journey
posted by HyperBlue at 8:49 AM on June 18, 2005

Neat stuff but this is still my favorite.
posted by fenriq at 9:49 AM on June 18, 2005

Is there a way to do this sort of thing with the guts of an old iBook, running LinuxPPC or something else?
posted by Rothko at 10:07 AM on June 18, 2005

As far as the mod goes, can't you buy one of these things for relatively cheap?

Hmm. A wall-hangable, super thin networked computer+display? Cheap? Certainly not cheaper than the myriad old laptops I already have laying around.

And really, that's not exactly the point here. Oh. On preview, what HyperBlue said.
posted by glenwood at 10:28 AM on June 18, 2005


Something fun to do with this is to install a program like Cycling74's Jitter, add a hidden microphone to the frame, and write a program that creates waveforms and other visual artifacts from the sound input around the picture frame.

Good for a few laughs at parties, or sell it to a museum...

Hmm, hmm, hmm...
posted by Rothko at 10:52 AM on June 18, 2005

This thread is WAY too informative. What do you think this is, AskMeFi? It's the BLUE, people, we need conflict and snark here!!!
posted by wendell at 11:25 AM on June 18, 2005

Umm..."take me to your laptop wall hanging overlords"? Will that do?
posted by tommyc at 2:28 PM on June 18, 2005

Nice, fenriq. I'll be in a windowless office for some time. I'd love to be able to see ships on the ocean. Add a soundtrack for full effect.
posted by dreamsign at 3:10 PM on June 18, 2005

Re: iBook or Powerbook:

Yep, it can be done.

Doesn't have to be LinuxPPC, but it could be.
posted by tomierna at 9:44 PM on June 18, 2005

Thanks, tomierna!
posted by Rothko at 11:19 PM on June 20, 2005

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