Friday, June 23, 2006

DIY Projects #1 - The Tablet PC

The hot new item for the gad-about business executive is toting around is a Tablet PC. This is basically a notebook computer with the screen on the outside that you can use a special pen (stylus) to makes notes, click on things etc.

All of the big boys, Dell, Gateway, etc are making this grossly overpriced devices. Microsoft even has a special version of Windows XP specifically for the Tablet PC.

One recent Sunday morning I was thinking about how I could produce a Tablet PC at a price that the average person could afford. The first hurdle was to find a suitable case to use.

Some rumaging in the kitchen garbage bin solved the problem. The night before we had had pizza.

The Pizza Hut box seemed the ideal size. Upon closer expection i noticed that there were a few grease stains, but I did not think that they would significantly affect the end result.

Having selected the case for my Tablet PC the next problem was where to source the internal components from. Seeing as this was very much a 'proof of concept' project the idea of spending countless hours haggling with vendors was out of the question. Some rumaging in my ever growing computer junk pile revealed a laptop that my wife sometimes uses.

Yes, this fine IBM Thinkpad would provide the perfect raw material for the Tablet PC.

Of course there was going to be the need for a little bit of reverse engineering. Armed with my trusty toolkit (Dollar store screwdriver) I went to work. I needed to get inside the case to get at all the 'good stuff'. I found some screws on the underside and made short work of them.

Likewise there were some on the back, again I removed them. Before getting into the serious demolition I decided that now would be a good time to remove all the bits that came off easily.

The Hard drive came out without a wimper.

As did the CD and the Battery

Then things started to get a little more difficult. The innards were akin to one of those chinese puzles! There was one particular metal cover that was an absolute bear to get off, I had to resort to some serious persuassion.

During this phase of te reverse engineering several parts fell off that I was unable to identify, bust suspect that it was something to do with the IR (Infra Red) sensor, and there was a small amount of collateral damage to the plastic case.

Pretty much the reverse engineering phase of the project was complete.

It was time to mount the Hardware in the new case. Unfortunatly the first boot-up on the Tablet PC was a little disapointing.

As you can see the display was way dark. A little bit of fiddling around rectified this.

And there it was, my own Tablet PC. Why would anyone spend over $1000 to purchase a Dell or Gateway Tablet PC when you can make your own at home. I calculate the entire cost of this project to be around $20 (cost of the pizza), everything else should be freely available from your own personal computer junk pile!

The only downside to this project was that my wife Jan was a little annoyed at the wanton destruction of her IBM Thinkpad!

Happy building folks! Have fun and enjoy!


Anonymous said...

It's a fine effort but it's not really a Tablet PC though, is it? It hasn't got a touchscreen... ;-)

Simon Barrett said...

it was close! hahahahahahahahaha

Anonymous said...

This is so dissapointing. You took a perfectly working pc, tore it out of the case, and stuffed it into a greasy pizza box. What!!