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Scratch Build – In Progress Final Shots - "It's not a computer Mum" Media Player PC - Left in Japan - 20th March

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by weeman1985, 4 Mar 2011.

  1. weeman1985

    weeman1985 Member

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    Just after New Year, the backlight on the screen of my Toshiba U400 decided to give up. After 7 countries, over 20 flights, 100’s of trips in my backpack, and 2 years and 2 weeks of use it wasn’t happy anymore. The simple solution to this problem is to replace the light, or if necessary get a new inverter. Boring.

    [​IMG]
    Stock U400 Photo – as usual I forgot to take a picture of mine first

    My better half had decided on getting a MacBook Air (I don’t really like it but I can see why some people would absolutely love it, it’s what a Netbook should be, but with OS-X) so she would be giving me her laptop, which was better than mine. Time for a project. At my parent’s house computers aren’t allowed in bedrooms until Uni. My sister is only 16 so still has some way to go. At the moment she uses the internet on the DS Lite I gave her after “Lights out” for important Facebook business. While checking emails etc. on the DS is fine, it’s not really useful. So this project is a surprise present for her when I get back from Japan.

    The idea is to have essentially a media centre PC, something to keep all her music, videos and pictures. I want it to play the music and videos well enough for viewing from her bed (her head would be about 2.5m behind the desk) but most importantly give her the internet. Not just so she can check stuff that seems important to her (but really isn’t ) but for Skype. Me and my brother live far away from her so the only real contact we get is by phone. Currently she has to Skype on the family computer which offers no privacy, this way she can talk freely (and watch BBC iPlayer from her room).

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    The basic layout expertly rendered in Paint

    [​IMG]
    Thompson iPod Speaker Dock


    I’m not much of a planner but I thought I would do something to give you an idea of what I’m doing. The computer will sit in a vertical position at the back of her desk, not taking much of the useable space. I’m hoping the depth can be kept to less than 10cm and the width to a sensible minimum. The power button and webcam will be position on the top, above the screen, and 4 sets of speakers below. The speakers are attached to the iPod Dock and speaker control. This is donated from a Thompson iPod dock that was given free with my iPod (from a shop in Australia call Dick Smith). The dock can charge the iPod when the PC is off, but will not connect it to the PC for syncing, my sister will have to do some work. Next there will be a few USB ports from a spare hub I have lying around and the power cables will come out the left hand side.

    Before I show more let me state that prettiness on the inside is not really an issue here, it needs to look pretty from the outside, so there may be some less than ideal looks inside.

    First up, take the thing to pieces, my favourite part:

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    The bits

    While taking the screen off I did manage to do some damage though…

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    While peeling the cables from the back of the screen cover, the tape ripped one of the cables in two. All I can see now is a massive design flaw (unless I’m very wrong). The frayed wires you can see are from a cable that runs the same length and same direction and the coloured cables, yet it is bare! There is no sleeving. This can’t be normal, can it?

    Anyway, once the majority of the dust was cleared out (there was a lot) I reattached the heatsink (using Arctic Silver) and put it back together for a quick test with some USB powered LEDs in place of a real backlight.

    [​IMG]


    In this picture, there are 8 USB LEDs under the screen shining onto a piece of white Perspex balanced on a USB hub and the light itself. Not the best example I know but it shows that the basic idea of using the LEDs should work well enough (no high quality videos will be watched on here, just Mean Girls and the like…).

    Next up building the back of the case. Here is some wood:

    [​IMG]
    The long piece is not bent, my camera seems to be exhibiting some major distortion

    Testing the first idea for the layout:

    [​IMG]


    Bottom right is half of the wireless keyboard I intend to use to control the computer. It is actually a Play Station wireless keyboard and joystick module. There were pictures of this but my memory card decided to do a wipe out. The green board at the bottom is the speaker power and volume control with the iPod dock and the orange board is the amp and power. I will be using a cable splitter for the speaker socket on the motherboard so that her stereo or headphones can be plugged in.

    After this I decided against removing the motherboard from the laptop body. Though it would be prettier inside like this, by leaving the keyboard and mouse attached and housed properly, maintenance for me would be easier. After this was decided, it was time to do a quick measure and mount the screen.
     
    Last edited: 20 Mar 2011
  2. weeman1985

    weeman1985 Member

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    [​IMG]

    I apologize for this. I was trying to take a real photo but the other half kept adding toys into the frame. Then she made me promise to put it in so here it is. I better get something good for this (clean minds please, I actually want an Android Phone). Anyway, you can see that the screen is mounted with the hinges still working.

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    Here is some exquisite craftsmanship. Might need to tidy this one up…

    [​IMG]

    With the screen hinged up, I have access to the normal keyboard and touchpad so was able to reinstall windows, and boot up the software to allow the wireless gamepad to control the screen (Joystick 2 Mouse). It works!

    With all this up and running it was time for a real test. I used two sets of the LED lights, one on the left and one on the right. The white Perspex was held behing using electrical tape, and a sheet of scuffed transparent Perspex and the diffuser sheet were laid between.

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    All hooked up and vertical with wires everywhere. Running on battery.

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    Showing backlight bleed and current contrast and brightness with room lights off.

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    Screen brightness and light distribution with room lights on.

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    Close up of lighting distribution

    There is still a lot of light escaping from the top and bottom of the screen, and I’m guessing that the light distribution will improve when that is taped up.

    That’s it for now but will update as more gets done.
     
  3. Baekkel

    Baekkel Picky Picture Villian

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    i don't know if it's too much, but you could concider EL-sheet as a backligt replacement?

    Linky

    It's wicked expencive, but it should clear that bleed that's making the edge of the screen barely visible ( or perhaps too visible given the amount of light...? )
     
    Last edited: 4 Mar 2011
  4. Wicked_Sludge

    Wicked_Sludge My eyes! The goggles do nothing!

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    itd probably be cheaper just to buy an LCD screen, strip it of its frame for mounting in this case and connect it to the lappys VGA port...

    could you put something opaque between the LEDS and the screen? just on the edges where the light bleeds through so brightly?
     
  5. Picarro

    Picarro New Member

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    You've just inspired me to do something with my old Sony laptop.. I am thinking kitchen computer for recipes - or musiccontroller ..
     
  6. weeman1985

    weeman1985 Member

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    @Baekkel: That would be ideal! I did actually think about that but didn't look as I guessed it would cost a bit. I used the LEDs cos they only cost 10 euros. And I've left the emplacement for the light so it can be replaced when I get back to the UK and I can source the parts easily (I don't speak Japanese)

    @Wicked_Sludge: Exactly what I was thinking. Another use for the electrical tape methinks...

    @Picarro: It makes me very happy to hear that! Go for it and show us everything!!
     
  7. weeman1985

    weeman1985 Member

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    Finalised Layout

    A quick update due to a surprisingly productive day.

    [​IMG]

    I managed to sort out some of the positional aspects of the design. Above is what the finalised layout for the computer will be. I’ve swapped the placement of the USB hub and the speaker control to avoid any unnecessary rewiring. Also I have used electrical tape to prevent almost all of the backlight bleed from before, though I still have to do the top when everything is put together.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a closer view of the bottom portion. I’ve rearranged the speaker position as I won’t be able to fit everything as I had originally intended, but it will still look nice like this, especially with speaker grills fitted on the front panel. The speakers themselves need to be rewired as the original wires are not long enough to reach the controller board.

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    A closer view of the speaker PCBs. These are now fixed in place with foam from a make-up set acting as spacers. The orange/horrible brown board is the amp and power, the green board does the fun stuff. On the green board there is the connector for the iPod, and 3 buttons. If you look closely you can see a red LED, which is the power on light. Above that is the power switch, to the left of that volume down, and to the right volume up. I still haven’t thought of a nice way to actually click those buttons, but I’m sure I will.

    On the left there are three cables coming away from the base. At the top, the white one, is part of the splitter cable. This will be connected to the left of the case to allow for headphones or bigger speakers. The two black cables at the bottom are the PC power and speaker power respectively.

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    The all-important macro shot that everyone seems to have. Except that I don’t have a sexy motherboard to show off…

    Next jobs are, painting the inside of the case, refitting all the components already screwed in, finding a way to attach the speakers and USB hub, and making a cover for the whole thing. As for the paint job, the inside and main colour of the computer will be black, and the detailing will be… a surprise (though there is a clue in one of the pictures in the first post).
     
  8. Dragonite

    Dragonite Member

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    I would suggest putting a frosted plexi layer between the LED:s and the screen to spread the light more evenly.
     
  9. weeman1985

    weeman1985 Member

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    Frosted plexi would definitely be better. I'll have a look in town tomorrow to see if I can find some, but as I live in the countryside I don't think I'll be lucky. It'll have to be like this until I can get to Tokyo at some point...
     
  10. Dragonite

    Dragonite Member

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    You could use normal plexi and use a fine grit sandpaper to frost it yourself as well :p
     
  11. KidMod-Southpaw

    KidMod-Southpaw Super Spamming Saiyan

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    It seems I have the same USB stick as you- it's the computeractive one with the silver bit taken off right? Can't wait for updates!
     
  12. weeman1985

    weeman1985 Member

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    I think what you're referring to is actually the USB dongle that came with the PS controller to allow for the wireless coms. I'm not giving my sister a USB stick aswell. I give her everything already! What/who is Computeractive?

    Also, I will give you updates next weekend as I need to wait for my paycheck on Thursday so I can buy a wood file (I'm pretty broke at the moment. Got food in the fridge though, so that's good). Gonna tidy up the edges a bit and paint the inside before fixing everything in place.

    Any ideas on materials for the front panel that don't weigh too much and are easy to cut and paint?
     
  13. Wicked_Sludge

    Wicked_Sludge My eyes! The goggles do nothing!

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    id use plexi. its cheap, readily available, strong, light, and easy to work with with any number of tools.
     
  14. weeman1985

    weeman1985 Member

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    Right, gotta find a large piece of plexi now...

    Also, right now I'm on the front page of Bit-tech! Awesome!!! :rock:
     
  15. weeman1985

    weeman1985 Member

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    OK, so no update coming this week. After the earthquake here in Japan yesterday have other priorities. All fine with me and my girlfriend though. Will update when possible.
     
  16. Wicked_Sludge

    Wicked_Sludge My eyes! The goggles do nothing!

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    understandable. our thoughts are with you :(
     
  17. chomps1891

    chomps1891 New Member

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    Hope everything is ok dude the news is rife with all the horror stories
     
  18. weeman1985

    weeman1985 Member

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    Unfortunately it seems that this project may have to be abandoned! I'm flying out on Saturday and not sure I have enough space to bring it with me. Not really enough time logistically to get a box sent via sea to make space. Will keep you posted.

    Also, thanks for the support. Means a lot.
     
  19. microsoftPerson

    microsoftPerson New Member

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    I also hope everything works out okay for you leaving Japan. It is really horrible how bad this disaster has become. I know that those that are more religious than myself are praying for the wellbeing of Japan and its people.

    I myself am very worried about the reactors that are continuing to cause problems.

    For what it's worth, I've never seen someone fix a broken LCD by lighting it with LEDs - that is really awesome. With that kind of ingenuity it doesn't matter if you can't bring it with you, I'm sure you will have many other cool creations in the future.
     
  20. Dragonite

    Dragonite Member

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    I would say it's a waste of time to just pray since it doesn't do anything except maybe give yourself some relief. The people in Japan will still have problems so would say do something actively instead and help them. Like go out and gather money to give to them or something. If there ever where a God it's clear he long ago gave left us to our self. It's up to us now to fix it it it always was and always will be. Sorry for ranting :p

    Anyway glad your OK and to bad you have to abandon he project :( very creative work so far though.
     

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