Portable PC | March 2008
OK so this originally started out being a car-puter. But after realizing my true needs, it was apparent that a carputer would be overkill. However, I had already purchased most everything for it so I had to find something to use them for. That is when t struck me that a super rugged portable computer would be quite handy for me. Here is a list of the parts I already bought for the carputer.
- Min-ITX Motherboard 1.8ghz
- Mini power supply 12v input
- 1gb ram
- 40gb laptop hard drive
- hard drive adapter
- Wireless card
My first mission was to find something to house all of this in and here is what I found.
So I went out and bought it.
It is a 2 pistol gun case from Academy Sports. The mini-itx fits in the bottom perfectly, and there is room to plug in usb devices/ monitor cable/ audio cables without cutting any holes. Also the lid is about an inch thick with the foam. The first thing that I did was to cut a hole in it for the touchscreen monitor and it looks great!
And here it is with the motherboard sitting in its place.
Since the mouse is integrated with the monitor all I lack is a keyboard to get this project rolling. A quick search revealed this, A mini usb keyboard that is only 11.7 inches wide and 6 inches deep. Its perfect!
I actually ended up rotating the motherboard because it fits better this way and the ventilation will be better as well. You can see what I had to do with all of the slack from all of the cables. Everything is mounted with super sticky Velcro and lots of it.
Once the first layer of foam is removed from the lid you can see the relocated speaker and the mounted gps unit. I found some cable organizers that have very sticky pads on them and work great I just need more of them.. The Velcro works extremely well for mounting everything. It lets everything move a little and dampens vibrations also it allows everything to be removed if need be.
Okay, I got the keyboard in and it is almost insane how well it fits. If the keyboard was 1/8th of an inch wider or more narrow, it wouldn’t fit. I had to take the bottom off of they keyboard so that it would lay down flat and not hit the screen when the lid is closed. Next I added two supports to hold up the keyboard and help strengthen the case. I used the existing screws and holes for the handle to mount it on the front side and some Velcro to mount the backside of the supports. The Velcro allows the supports to move and give which is perfect since the case isn’t super rigid. Also the Velcro eliminates the need to add more holes into the case. Now I just need to fill the holes on the top and bottom of the keyboard.
I used some more of the foam that came with the case to fill the gaps on the top and bottom of the keyboard, To keep the foam from being pushed down to far i added strips of aluminum with sticky foam tape behind it to hold up the foam inserts. Also I added two usb ports and the power plug above the keyboard. The wire you see holding up the lid is temporary, I still haven’t found a way to keep the lid from opening to far without adding any holes to the case.
I left a hole on the bottom left hand side of the keyboard and the top left side of the keyboard for airflow. There is a fan you can see in one of the previous pictures that blows air out above the left hand side of the keyboard. This allows air to circulate through the cpu, ram and other heatsinks before leaving the case. In this picture I am running a Folding at Home (F@H) test to check the stability of this system. If it doesn’t overheat after a day of running this then it is stable enough for me. The white wire is an Ethernet wire since i haven’t bought a usb wifi card for it yet. I already have the bluetooth dongle installed and that allows me to use a bluetooth keyboard or mouse instead of the built in ones, also I can access the internet through my cellphone via bluetooth. The usb GPS module is removed because I do not know if it will get enough signal from its position inside the lid. I will update that as soon as I am able to test it more.
A Next Steps: Figure out GPS situation, Install usb wifi adapter, Find something to cover the foam with to keep dirt out, Make cigarette adapter for in-car use.
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Check back for more projects and updates!
All of these projects are self funded. Donations are appreciated. Thank you.