I’ve been gathering parts of old computers and I built a kick-ass All-in-One, 27 inches, touch enabled computer. Check out how to do your own!
I had most of the components already at hand, I only had to buy a controller board for the screen and the touch panel.
- A laptop computer
- I removed the casing (a long time ago) but it is working pretty well. It have a core 2 @1.5Ghz, 2Gb of RAM and a Nvidia 8400M. It is quite outdated but is still very capable. I bought an upgrade for the CPU for cheap on Aliexpress, still waiting for it to arrive. I’m also considering upgrading the RAM and putting an SSD but that’s extra cost, it’s working fine for now (with windows 8).
- In the first version of my project, I used a Raspberry Pi 2 as the computer. This worked well until I realized I had a more powerful computer lying around, so I swapped the RPi for the laptop.
- A screen
- You would not believe what people throw in the trash… Somebody threw a 27″ screen (It had a broken interface board, but the LCD panel in itself is working perfectly). I recycled the boards and kept the panel. In order to use it I bought a controller board from Ebay for 30$. Gives me HDMI/DVI/VGA input for it and is working perfectly.
- Talking about what people throw in the trash, last year I found a laptop computer with a broken screen in the rain, which after some love is now running as a powerful media center. sweet 🙂
- A touch panel
- This is the single most expensive part I had to buy for this project, at over 150$ (with DHL shipping from China). The panel is using a grid of IR LEDs and receptors and is working quite neatly, and handles 4 points multitouch (although not as good as with a capacitive touchscreen, but the price for these is prohibitive).
- some speakers
- Used some old small logitech speakers (S-120)
- A piece of wood and some shelves brackets
- A fan to cool down the laptop motherboard
- So the tiny fan from the laptop doesn’t get too noisy and annoying.
Now that we have all we need, let’s get building!
My idea was to have all the electronics hidden on one side of the wooden shelf, and only the screen on the other side, using the shelves bracket as support:
Fixing board to the wood
I wanted a solution that was aesthetic, clean and that would allow me to remove the ￼boards if needed, in order to do that I used some spacers and ferrules in order to get a M3 thread into the wood
I use the same method for every board in the project.
Attaching larger objects to the wood
Some other items that don’t have holes or are too big had to be attached differently, for that I used the duct tape evolution, this metallic ribbon that you can easily cut and shape, and gives a very strong finish. I love this stuff. (On the left, attaching the power supply). It is very sturdy.
Well, it’s looking great but what do I do now? no touch panel and the desktop of the Raspberry Pi is quite boring.
Let’s start putting a larger computer in there, and adding some neat functionalities.
Installing a laptop
I was very happy that I installed the board the way I did (ferrules + spacers) as it was very easy to remove everything and start over.
Let’s have a quick look at how I can position the elements:
So, here’s what we’re looking at (bottom in the picture is where the bottom of the screen will be):
- On the far (faar, on the green pad) left we see the LCD control panel. It will be placed on the side
- On the left of the wood panel, the LCD controller board (and the cable going to the screen in the bottom)
- The big thing in the middle is the laptop motherboard.
- On the top right of the motherboard, the LCD light driver (I actually placed it in the bottom right of the motherboard at the end)
- On the right are the two power blocs (computer / screen and peripherals) and the power connector (So I only need one plug)
- I got the power connector from an old computer PSU, it still have some power components, they will be removed later to only get the power connector
- In the picture the speakers are missing (because I added them later)
I’ll begin with the power area.
Install the boards on the wood
Using the technique I talked about earlier, I installed all the components on the board. This was quite long and tedious, and my workshop was a disaster afterwards.
Install the other stuff
crack them open like nuts
Unfortunately, I don’t have any picture of the touch frame installation, but basically you get 4 pieces that you need to assemble together, giving you a frame. You then stick it to the screen using double side tape.
Installing windows and testing it out
When I got windows on my main gaming computer, I remember thinking “This metro things is kinda lame with a mouse and a keyboard, but I’d love to try it out with a touch screen” Well, here’s my chance 🙂 I installed it and it works great.
here’s some final pictures:
It was a great project to work on, I still have lots of ideas about how to improve it (a better stand, an accelerometer to rotate the screen, etc…) but it’s great to have one of these All-In-One computer, and the total price I paid is nowhere near what it costs to buy one.