Introduction: Vintage Look Media PC From an Old Laptop
In this special instructable/video I am making cool looking small media PC with integrated speakers, which is controlled with a convenient mini remote keyboard. PC is powered with an old laptop.
A small story about this build. One year ago I saw Matthew Perks (my favorite DIY creator) how he created something cool from an old laptop. I wished that one day I will be capable of making anything close to it. Today is the day that I surpassed all expectations from one year ago.
I converted regular laptop into a fully functioning PC without breaking anything haha, I also kept the display and integrated 30W+30W amplified speakers. And all this is controlled with small and convenient remote control.
What you could want more? Huge thanks to all 1000+ YouTube subscribers, 250+ Instructables subscribers, and huge thanks to Matthew Perks for inspiration!
Here you can download PDF file with all dimensions - http://bit.ly/VintageMediaPC
Provided Amazon links are affiliates
Tools You'll Need:
- Router https://amzn.to/2DVXXZC
- Drill: https://amzn.to/2U5QQmL
- Jigsaw https://amzn.to/2rg4uXx
- Clamps https://amzn.to/2Y3hGAz
- Small clamp https://amzn.to/2Pto6AQ
- Tape measure https://amzn.to/2rfS4Ph
- Speed square https://amzn.to/2Ee6lDh
- Hot glue gun https://amzn.to/2PdCgpI
- Digital Multimeter https://amzn.to/2rf0EO3
- Soldering kit: https://amzn.to/2Q613Bf
- Wire cutting pliers https://amzn.to/2rvrL80
- Wire Stripper https://amzn.to/2PvTK0z
- Soldering helping hand https://amzn.to/2EedeoI
- Universal battery charger (optional) https://amzn.to/2DJ8KVb
- Old batteries can be reused like in a DIY power bank https://amzn.to/2VyEAhw
Materials You'll Need:
- Old laptop, preferably with IPS display (anywhere)
- Remote keyboard https://amzn.to/2IiYKYp
- Solid-state drive https://amzn.to/2tq4164
- Speakers 30W https://amzn.to/2V0thLZ
- Class D 30+30W amplifier https://amzn.to/2S8MIDn
- 3.5mm stereo audio cable https://amzn.to/2Iiap9R
- 10k Ohm Logarithmic potentiometer https://amzn.to/2IjrkZq
- Potentiometer cap https://amzn.to/2UVPZVo
- Ground loop noise isolator (what I used) https://amzn.to/2N9OXma
- Ground loop noise isolator (more convenient) https://amzn.to/2TT3VPO
- Rubber feet https://amzn.to/2IkaDx1
- 12mm thickness plywood (local hardware store)
- Wood screws (local hardware store)
- 90 Degree Right Angle Bracket https://amzn.to/2DLDOnj
- Wood glue: https://amzn.to/2E8Baus
- Wood linseed oil https://amzn.to/2EeXH7C
- Epoxy https://amzn.to/2Q8N3GU
- Electrical tape: https://amzn.to/2QsKK0P
- Heat resistant tape https://amzn.to/2Egg77Z
- Heatsink 60 x 60mm https://amzn.to/2X6ZRxt
- Fan 60 x 60mm https://amzn.to/2EdUuW0
- Fan filter 60 x 60mm https://amzn.to/2tmZ5yT
- Thermal paste https://amzn.to/2DIK3s2
- Thermal glue https://amzn.to/2SW1bE3
- 18650 Li-Ion batteries https://amzn.to/2W0KiYF
- 18650 battery holder https://amzn.to/2N8xHxv
- On/Off switch https://amzn.to/2X8U7mP
- Power push-button https://amzn.to/2X4guKc
- Wires (local hardware store)
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Step 1: Preview
Preview shots of the build.
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Step 2: Taking Laptop Apart
Disassembling laptop is one of the easiest things in this build, so I won't go into the details. You will need main board with power switch, battery pack, display, USB and charging ports, fan and audio card (if it's not integrated into the main board).
Display must be completely disassembled that we just have the LCD panel, Wi-Fi antennas and web camera.
Step 3: Portable or Not
If you want that this media PC would be portable you should change the old batteries to new ones.
Battery pack is sealed quite well so it is hard to open it. I just used "breaking" method. If you do the same, be careful not to short batteries or damage protection/charging circuit.
In older and cheaper laptops inside usually are 18650 Li-Ion cells. Take few pictures how everything is connected and de-solder the wires.
Step 4: Old Cells
If you have universal battery charger, you can test how much capacity are left in the batteries. If they have some juice left you can re-use them in devices which has short-circuit/over-charge/over-discharge protections. As those cells has no protection now.
Step 5: Making New Battery Pack
For the new battery pack we need DIY battery holders. As my batteries were connected in 3 series and 2 rows (3s2p) I soldered holders and extra wires exactly the same. If your batteries are connected differently, re-make holder accordingly.
Step 6: Assembling Battery Pack
We need to de-solder connector from the protection circuit and solder extra wires.
As I used plywood plate, I wrapped it in heat resistant and electrically conductive tape and added electrical tape where protection circuit and battery contacts will be.
Make sure that all glued heat resistant tape pieces can carry current, as sticky side of the tape is insulated. I connect them by simply poking multiple times.
Step 7: Ffinishing the Battery
Battery holders and protection circuit can be screwed with small screws and fragile connections hot-glued.
If your reassembled battery don't work after plugging it into a laptop, you might also to need connect a charger. In my case, when I plug the charger for the first time, red light flashes few times and after that battery pack is usable again.
Step 8: Making Power Button
To turn on a laptop you need a power button. Locate which button it is and find it's contacts with a multi-meter.
Mark them and de-solder contacts. Then simply solder those two wires to the new power button. Secure fragile contacts with hot glue and electrical tape.
If you care about other functions which nearby buttons had, you can do same to them, these are just buttons.
Step 9: New Thermal Paste
To improve cooling performance you can add new higher quality thermal paste.
Step 10: New Cooling
Bigger aluminum heatsink (60x60x10mm in my case for 60W(max) laptop) can be glued with thermal conductive glue. Fan can be secured with some zip ties through drilled holes in the heatsink.
And to power the fan you can use wires and connector from a stock fan. As these stock fans usually are powered with 5V and I added 12V fan it will spin at lower rate and produce less noise. But by doing it this way you will loose fan control (as we use only power wires) and it will spin at a fixed rate.
Also keep in mind that your laptop must boot without any fan connected for this mod to work. If it doesn't, maybe it will work with only power wires connected to the fan, I can't say. Maybe you can use something like this https://noctua.at/en/nf-a6x25-5v-pwm 4pin 5V fan, you have to test yourself, unfortunately I can't tell.
Step 11: Cutting Parts
I cut and glue main parts for the frame. You can check dimensions here in a PDF file:
Step 12: Cutting Display Frame
Display frame should be quite thin - 5mm thickness.
Step 13: Finishing Frame
Frame parts can be trimmed to 5mm with jigsaw table or just by splitting and sanding plywood. By this extra work you will get front parts that look the same, as different thickness plywood can have very different shades.
Step 14: Final Front Piece
We need to make holes for the speakers, volume control, amplifier and laptop power buttons. As this plywood is quite thick - 12mm, we need to make some space for potentiometer and laptop power on button in the other side.
Step 15: Gluing
Front and back piece with charging connector can be glued in place. More pieces can be cut for the speakers.
Step 16: Speaker Boxes
As I am using full range car speakers (ported speakers) I drilled holes that air pressure from the speakers doesn't affect sound performance in a bad way. It also give better lower frequencies. And don't forget to drill small holes for the speaker wires.
Step 17: Finishing Speaker Boxes
More parts can be cut and we can finish making speaker boxes.
Step 18: Securing Display
We need to add some double side tape around the display frame, place it and hot glue all corners.
Then display can be secured properly with some bent holders that will came with car speakers or anything similar.
Step 19: Mounting Main Board
Connect all cables to the board and secure them with duct tape that they won't come loose when mounting the board. I used plywood blocks as spacers and small 90 degree right angle corners.
Step 20: WIFI, SSD
Now we can glue Wi-Fi antennas with thick double side tape into both corners. I also changed from old mechanical drive to fast solid state drive, it makes huge difference even with a slow laptop and SATA2 port!
Then we need to glue small block in each corner which will hold the back panel.
Step 21: Safety?
We should add heat resistant tape where battery pack will be. This should prevent quick ignition of the wood if something horrible happens to the battery pack. Like before make sure that all pieces connect with each other and can carry the current.
Step 22: Making Volume Control
We need to cut a 3.5 stereo cable in half. Then wires can be soldered as shown.
- To the left side pins - ground as one connection.
- To the middle pins - left and right channel wires that will go to the output (laptop)
- To the right side pins - left and right channel wires that will go to the input (audio amplifier)
You can check which wires are left, right and ground with a multi-meter.
Step 23: Speakers Amp Wiring
For this build we need something like a TPA3118 30W+30W Stereo Amplifier (8V~26V DC). And we should make power switch for it.
With audio amps always use equal or more powerful speakers (AMP Watts ≤ Speaker Watts).
Step 24: Finishing Power Delivery
Now battery pack can be secured with two screws and battery cut off switch can be made. As my battery had 2 positive and 2 negative wires in both sides, I made that the switch will disconnect both positive wires. Amp power wires can be soldered here too.
Step 25: Back Cover
Back cover is nothing special. We need to drill holes for the fan to take in the air, and on the top for the hot air to escape. I also placed USB port here.
Step 26: Oil and Feet
To get a nice and rich wood look we can use some linseed oil. And to eliminate vibrations we can use 4 soft rubber feet.
Step 27: If Your Speakers Makes Weird Noises
If your speakers makes weird noises when amp is connected to the powered on laptop, you need to use a ground loop noise isolator. By passing audio wires through this device, all electrical noises are gone.
I used quite bulky device like this, if you can, just use something like in the 4th picture, it is way more convenient.
If you want to know more about this device, this is great video: https://youtu.be/fV_hsFK1MnA
Step 28: Finishing
With everything done inside, we can add heat resistant and electrically conductive tape on back covers and connect negative wire from the battery pack to the inside shielding (heat tape). All shielded pieces must connect with each other that current could flow.
What this does, it shields inside electronic components from outside electromagnetic interference. This is one of the reason why inside of the laptop is covered with similar shielding.
Step 29: All in Place
We can secure back covers with wood screws and install the speakers.
Step 30: END
I hope this instructable / video was useful and informative.
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Thank you, for reading / watching! Till next time! :)
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