Hacking a Mac Magsafe Jack into a PC Ultrabook

zenbookAir

Something’s fishy about the above-pictured ultrabook: it’s an Asus Zenbook that [WarriorRocker] hacked to use a MagSafe power connector typically found on Macbooks. Most of us probably consider it standard procedure to poke around inside our desktop’s tower, but it takes some guts to radically alter such a shiny new ultrabook. It seems, however, that the Zenbook’s tiny power plug causes serious frustrations, and [WarriorRocker] was tired of dealing with them.

Using information he found from an article we featured earlier this summer on a MagSafe teardown, [WarriorRocker] hit up the parts drawer for some connectors and got to work. He had to modify the MagSafe’s housing to fit his Zenbook while still holding on to the magnets, but he managed to avoid modifying the ultrabook’s case—the connector is approximately the same size as a USB port. Deciding he could live with just one USB connection, [WarriorRocker] took to the board with a pair of side cutters and neatly carved out space for the MagSafe next to the audio jack. He then soldered it in place and ran wires from the VCC and Ground pins along a the channel where the WiFi antenna is routed, connecting them to the original power jack’s input pins.

[WarriorRocker] regrets that he fell short of his original goal of getting the MagSafe’s protocol working: he instead had to hack on his own adapter. We’re still rather impressed with how well his hack turned out, and it did manage to solve the charging problems. Hit us up in the comments if you can provide some insight into the MagSafe’s otherwise obscure innerworkings.

Cheap ARM netbooks have Linux forced upon them

[Doragasu] got his hands on one of these WM8650 Netbooks for around 50 euros (~$63.50) delivered. They come with a version of Android preinstalled, but he wanted to use them more like a computer and less like an Android device. So he set out to load Arch Linux on the ARM-based Netbook.

This is possible because the hardware inside is actually pretty good. The 800 MHz SoC is accompanied by 256 megs of RAM. There’s 2 gigs of internal storage, a 7″ display, USB, Ethernet, WiFi, and an audio system. This is comparable to what you’d get with a Raspberry Pi (without video acceleration) but also includes all of those peripherals, a case, a touchpad and keyboard… you get the point. There are several patches that need to be applied to the kernel to get it working with the hardware. [Doragasu] covers each of them in the post linked above. You can also hear his presentation in the video after the break.

[Read more...]

Mini arcade cabinet looks as good as the real thing

mame_cab

[Ed] had a netbook he no longer needed and decided to make it into a mini MAME cabinet for some of his family members. MAME cabinets are pretty plentiful, but this one was so nicely done, we wanted to share it.

He removed the monitor from an EeePC 901 in order to get some precise measurements, then went about crafting a mini cabinet from MDF. The whole thing was wrapped in sticky label paper adorned with old-school Galaga graphics, then covered in plexiglass for a nice sleek look that also protects the artwork.

He used an iPac 2 controller board to wire up all of the buttons and joystick to the netbook, opting to solder the controller’s wires directly to the USB header on the eeePC’s motherboard. A power switch was added up on top for easy operation, and the cabinet was sealed shut, though the back does open easily in the event that maintenance is required. The system is managed using the Maximus Arcade front end for MAME, which [Ed] claims is incredibly easy.

If you are interested in making your own MAME cabinet, check out some of the other MAME-based projects we have featured in the past, and don’t miss the video below of [Ed's] cabinet in action.

[Read more...]

No PCIE slot? Just add one

[Leslie] likes his little Samsung N150 Plus netbook. While it packs enough punch for almost everything, it lacks in High Definition video power. That is where a Broadcom Crystal HD mini PCI express card comes in, as these little video decoders are made just for netbooks needing some HD love, but the problem is, his netbook only has one PCI express slot in it, and its occupied by the 802.11N card.

Not being bummed out by this, and not wanting to use a USB dongle device he just ripped open his netbook and added a second pci express connector to the pads on the motherboard. Sourcing the header from mouser, the install seems quick n easy, especially since Samsung was nice enough to have the pad’s tinned already, so just a little flux and a steady hand you’re good to go.

Unfortunately, there are some hidden gotcha’s as the newly installed slot is not “full featured” that both the Broadcom card and the stock wireless N card require, but he had a wireless G card that ran just fine in the newly added slot, so now its time to rock some full screen HD Hulu.

SSD Flex connector to SATA

[Scott] was trying to fix a laptop, and we all know how that sometimes ends. Having a spare 128GB solid state drive and a Dell Mini 10 netbook to shove it in, there was only one problem, the drive did not have SATA connectors. That problem was taken care of like a pro with this FPC to SATA converter.

Inspired by our recent spot about Speeding up a ThinkPad, he was able to find information about the FPC connector from a similar Samsung model, order a SATA connector, FPC zero force connector and matching 24pin jumper. From there a board is designed to connect the two interfaces, taking notes of how other drives have their SATA traces laid out to ensure proper function.

The board is etched and connectors soldered, with every thing plugged in and tested, a little bit of glue is used to hold everything in the stock netbook’s drive sled, resulting in really fast boot times, and a factory look.

Child-sized cocktail cabinets

[Sam Seide] dropped us a line about his new arcade creation. We loved his Punch-Out build that used a punch dummy as a game controller. This time around he’s made some mini-cocktail style MAME cabinets. He removed the screen from a netbook and placed it face-up underneath the acrylic bezel. There are controls on either side for two players as we would expect from any quality cocktail cabinet. The control panels are interfaced through the now familiar iPac boards and are a bit unfinished on the underside but that doesn’t decrease our need to see one of these on the coffee table at home. Check out demo and an outline of the parts inside after the break.

[Read more...]

Let it Snow (Leopard)

Yet another netbook can now run OS X. This one happens to be the Samsung n310, making it our first published non-Dell netbook to accomplish the feat. The key lies in a custom (and downloadable) .ISO for intalling said operating system onto a netbook. Full instructions for the task, and an audio driver for the n310 in OS X, are available on the [ComputerSolutions] website.

Oddly enough, the platform swap probably ‘freed up’ some space.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 91,345 other followers