All-In-One Desktop Project

A project that I began in the start of 2017.

Before the project

Two years ago, I attempted to dismantle my Toshiba Satellite L635 S3030 laptop without success. For the first time in my life, I had the audacity to take apart an electronic as expensive as my laptop. It was an intriguing experiment to discover the kinds of outcomes that could result from playing around with my computer.

However, I accidentally missed a tiny screw that held the hard drive in a secure position before disconnecting it. As a result, the connector from the motherboard to the hard drive snapped.

From this moment, I knew I needed to handle electronics with better care. In the future, if I decided to deconstruct electronics, I knew I would need to double check my work or find a good tutorial to follow.

While my dad was unwilling to buy me a new laptop, my cousin luckily had a spare laptop he could give me.

The project idea

A year later toward the end of 2016, I thought of turning the old laptop into an “All-in-one desktop.” I scoured the internet in search of clues. While I found little, I pursued the project anyway.

Eventually, I thought of using a CNC(Computerized Numerical Control) routing machine in my school to accomplish this project. My software engineering teacher told me to design my product using VCarve, a CNC routing software. I have never used this software before, therefore I had to complete tutorials to learn how to use it.

The material

Before designing, I purchased a cutting board for the “All-in-one desktop.” The cutting board included great features such as rounded sides, a handle, and smooth finish. These features enabled elegance and convenience for traveling, which I wanted my design to accomplish.

I measured its dimensions and determined a sketch to be drawn using VCarve.

The design was approved

At last, after months of designing from January 2017 to April 2017, my engineering teacher approved my design to be cut.

My design using VCarve.

The board was cut

My teacher had cut the board using a CNC machine in June.

The disassembling

Using a set of screwdrivers, I prepared to fully disassemble the laptop in order to amalgamate components compactly on the cutting board.

Problems:

Fitting the LCD in slot

The LCD screen did not fit in the slot of the board. The dimensions of the slot were a bit narrow compared to the dimensions of the display. At home, I had to make use of the tools I had available.

I attempted to use a drill machine that my cousin lent me. I traced two lines around the side of the slot by placing the LCD screen over it. I drilled into the sketched area vertically(see image below).

As you can see from the image above, the result was an epic fail!

My dad attempted to make use of a kitchen knife and use it as a chisel to break away some wood. The knife became useless due to its flimsy nature.

At this point, he switched to the drill machine. Unlike me, my dad had drilled with the drill machine positioned horizontal (See image below).

At last, with the help of my dad, the LCD screen fit into the slot! (see image below)

Display cable attachment

Fitting the LCD was one issue, making sure that the display cable reached its back was another. The cable was not long enough to connect to a port behind the screen. To fix the situation, I had to drill another hole.(See image below)

Power button

The power button also did not reach its hole due to its short cable. In order to fix this, I had to first drill a hole over the power button on the lid of the laptop.(See image below)

Next I drilled another hole in the wood, making sure to place it over the previous hole on the lid.(see image below)

Final assembly

Finding the material

The final step was to attach and detach the computer from the cutting board. I had to make sure that the material was strong enough to withstand heavy usage. The solution I came to was to use Velcro adhesive. I went over to my local hardware store to pick up heavy duty Velcro strips. Each of the Velcro strips can hold up to 15 lbs of weight.

Placing the Velcro strips

I had to find the correct position to place the Velcro strips so the LCD and laptop would be held securely.(See images below)

My dad had helped me to remove some notches and raise plastic parts that obstructed a Velcro strip’s location.

The power button needed to be lined up to the holes that I drilled earlier. Otherwise, the laptop will not be able to power on after assembly.

Laptop powers on

After many other measures and fits, the computer turned on after my laborious assembly. (See image below)

Now I needed an easier method to reach the power button. I will be using an object such as, a paper clip or a pencil to power on the laptop.

The use of these objects to power on the laptop may sound outlandish or ghetto; however, due to my lack of time this is my best move. In the future(if I have time), I will make the power button’s cable longer by clipping, soldering an additional wire and placing the power button on the power button passageway I cut at the very top.

Setting up the laptop

In order to use the laptop, I needed to install an operating system into an external usb drive or hard drive. This is due to (as I mentioned earlier), the non-existent connection between the internal hard drive and motherboard.

I created an Ubuntu live USB. Ubuntu is a Linux operating system that includes many themes, great features and looks elegant.

After installation, I powered on the laptop and entered the BIOS(Basic Input Output System) settings using an external keyboard. From the BIOS, I set the boot sequence preference to the external hard drive as primary. As a result, the computer will check for the Live USB everytime it boots up and launch Ubuntu.

Finally, I will be able to use this system which I labored so long and so hard for and in a new way!

Resolution

Materials and Tools used:

Total cost

The total project cost was around $42. This low cost is due to the fact that I did not have to worry about getting a license to use VCarve. I was also lent a drill machine and CNC machine. Lastly, the kitchen knife was already in my disposal at home.

If you try to do a project of similar nature, you are likely not going to have access to a CNC routing machine. This can make your project much more expensive. You might find it more affordable to look for a company that offers CNC routing service.

Vectric offers a free trial of VCarve Pro. You can download and install it on your computer to create your design. One thing to keep in mind is that this software requires some space and RAM (random access memory).

You can visit this link to get started with VCarve Pro tutorials: http://support.vectric.com/tutorials/V8/VCarveProCategoryIndex.html

Time

As I mentioned before, I started the project during January of this year. It took me three more months to learn VCarve and get the design approved. A month later, My teacher cut the board and I finished assembly in July.

In total, it took me six months to fully complete the project.

My project file

I have created a github repository with the VCarve (.crv) file that I used for this project. See: github.com/Tahfimul/DesktopProject

In order to access the file, you will first need to download the repository. Once that is done, you will need to use VCarve to open the file and view it. You can make changes necessary for your purpose.

What’s the difference?

Now that I’ve crafted an “All-in-one desktop,” there are several benefits that I will get out of it.

  1. When taking apart the laptop, I removed some parts, such as the DVD drive and battery. This lead to some weight being shaved off the laptop. For this reason, I will be able to travel with the rig more swiftly.
  2. The detached units opened up channels for greater air flow. Therefore, there is more room available for heat to escape through.
  3. All CPUs have an optimal temperature range which allow them to operate properly. When using a computer, the CPU generates heat and if the heat cannot dissipate, the optimal temperature does not exist. As a result, the computer will slow down. By providing extra space for heat to escape, I am allowing greater performance for my computer.

To sum it up: My computer will function faster, be lighter, be portable, and run in a cooler temperature range.

The use

I thought about the purpose of this rig. I realized that having a second monitor as an extension to my primary computer’s screen would increase efficiency in further coding projects. In order to do this, I will have to install a service to both my primary computer and the “All-in-one desktop”.

At a later time, I will purchase and install a HDMI kit to the display of the “All-in-one” which will allow me to extend my display more effectively.

Lessons to be learned

There were several mistakes that I made while doing this project.

First, I did not measure as many times as I could have. I did not inspect all components beforehand. As a result, the components did not reach their designated hole positions. Not only that, the dimensions of the LCD slot were wrong.

Second, when I tried to fix the dimension situation of the slot, I used the drill machine improperly. Subsequently, I messed up the appearance of the the board.

Next time if I do a similar project, I will first take apart the electronic device and inspect all of its components. Then I will plan out slots, holes, and etc that need to be cut out.

I will also reflect on my use of the drill machine. I will try my best to not ruin the appearance of the product.

My mistakes are examples that you should take notice of. Take into account where and how I made the mistakes. Make sure that you do not fall for the same mistakes.

Follow up with me

Visit my portfolio website at: tahfimul.github.io/TP.

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