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. 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). The basic layout expertly rendered in Paint 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: The bits While taking the screen off I did manage to do some damage though… 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. 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: The long piece is not bent, my camera seems to be exhibiting some major distortion Testing the first idea for the layout: 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.