This project has multiple posts on it’s progress:
A few months back, someone gave me a 20″ LCD monitor that just “didn’t work”. The first thing I did was disassemble it to find shortly after there were two blown capacitors on the power supply board. With a trip to radio shack, and a few solder points later, the monitor works again.
I honestly didn’t really want the monitor to use it, I just wanted to see If I could fix it then possibly give it to someone who is in need. Although, instead it just sat in my closet for a while and was never used.
While I was inside the monitor, I couldn’t help but notice the enormous empty cavity inside the back of the case. Next to the power board and the tiny mainboard, there were a bunch of unused standoffs and a whole lot of space. I thought to myself that something cool could use that space, but I had no idea what.
Recently, I had come across a ‘dead’ Gateway laptop which upon later investigation had a shorted DC jack. Once confirming the laptop works after sorting out the short, I decided to take on the challenge of rebuilding the laptop inside the monitor.
Instead of just sticking the laptop on the outside of the monitor, or shoving it inside, I wanted to attempt to re-design the inner layout and wiring so that the laptop mainboard laptop power supply, LCD mainboard, and LCD Power board would all fit snugly, securely, and efficiently. I want there to also still be access to all of the laptop’s I/O including the USB, Ethernet, Headphone/mic, and memory card. As for power, there will be one AC connection the user will connect, and that will feed the laptop and the LCD display.
I want this to be as clean, efficient, and ‘finished’ as possible (at least as much as my current skill will grant). Also, the ability to easily disassemble, and remove different or replace parts using modular plugs when possible.
What I think so far is the easiest part of the challenge, is trying to figure out which orientation of all three boards will be the best. It’s pretty obvious the enormous waste of space inside the case is well enough for the laptop mainboard. Although, the laptop mainboard isn’t completely square, so that limits me on my choices for orientation.
The best way I found to get it in the case, was to have the CPU facing outward (back of case), and the VGA port to rest over the display’s power board. The CPU Fan and heat sink vent will be blowing upward, out the top of the case through holes I will make. The HDD will mount under the mainboard, and the display’s mainboard will be remounted on top of the laptop mainboard so that connections can still be made to the LCD.
The display’s VGA input will no longer be accessible from the outside, as it will be hardwired directly to the laptop’s VGA in. The disadvantage to this is that there will be no possible way to attach any secondary or external display. I’m okay with this.
I have three USB ports to work with on this laptop. Two of them are partially ripped off and mangled from the previous user. It’s okay since I will be removing them anyways to mount them on the display’s case so they can be used externally. Since this is being converted to a desktop PC, it would be nice to have more than three USB ports, as I will not be using the on-board touch pad or keyboard. I might have to use a USB hub to get some more.
With the way I decided to orient the laptop motherboard, it put the VGA port right in the middle of a bunch of components on the power board. The only way I could make it work was to rotate the power board 180deg where the VGA port rests in a blank area of the PCB. Of course, the plastic standoffs for mounting the power board weren’t mirror-able so I have to cut them off and re-glue them where needed.
The AC IEC connector will have to be re mounted externally so that it can actually connected, since right now it’s no where near the display’s I/O area. Also, the 4 inverter wires will have to be lengthened so they could be criss-crossed to match the LCD. I consider these small modifications, and this is the best route to take to get the motherboard to fit snug in the case.
Life would be easy If I could repurpose a VGA cable to make the connection from the laptop to the display, although there was no way I could orient the mainboard so that a bulky plastic connector would fit and still be able to be disconnected for mainboard removal. What I’m going to do is use spare ribbon wire and make all 15 connections manually.
With some careful dremel cuts in the case, I was able to securely mount the motherboard along with the power board beautifully. They’re slightly layered, and it’s amazing how well they fit.
(the green paper is taped there to block the giant reflective tape surface from blinding me)
There were two taller standoffs that I recycled to use for the laptop motherboard, they had to be cut down to the right height so there was still clearance above and below the motherboard for other components.
I got very lucky that the AC jack had panel-mount clips on it so that I could just snap it in place without having to be PCB mounted. The hole in the chassis was even the perfect size! I will re-wire this later.
I had almost forgotten about the AC Adapter for the laptop. I really didn’t like the idea of having it external and needing to use two wall outlets for one device, so I decided to mount it internally and just feed off the AC jack that is already in place. Inside, it might be a bit of a mess, but outside is one simple connector that we all know and love.
I actually didn’t have an AC adapter for this laptop, so in my junk pile I found a rather small and compact HP adapter that almost had the right specs, but will work fine. The laptop calls for 19vdc and 3.42A. The adapter supplies 18.5vdc, and about a whole ampere more. Close enough!
Luckily, the adapter fits on top of the motherboard, and still allows about 1/8″ inch between it and the LCD! I grabbed some thin scrap metal from my pile, cut it and shaped it as a bracket to hold the adapter in place. There is already a screw in the monitor’s case that I can use to mount the bracket down. I will drill in a small screw to the adapter’s case to secure it down later.