With every generation of consoles, there comes a time when the price of a new box is cheap enough, and used machines are plentiful enough, that console hackers pull out all the stops before the next generation arrives. For the Xbox 360, that time is now, and with no PS1-like hardware revision on the horizon, it looks like [jhax01]’s custom Xbox 360 laptop might be the smallest Xbox casemod we’ll see for a very long time.
[jhax01] was inspired by the work of [Yung Jeezus] and [AllYourXboxNeeds]’ YouTube channels and decided to craft his own custom enclosure for an Xbox 360 slim. The case was made out of aluminum plate cut with a simple angle grinder and bent on a cheap 18″ Harbor Freight brake. Despite these extremely simple tools, [jhax01] managed to fabricate a case that’s right up there with the masters of Xbox laptop craftsmanship.
The CD drive was ditched along with plans for a second hard drive. The display’s enclosure and hinge comes from an ASUS Zenbook, hence this project’s eponym, the ZenBox. The panel from the display was discarded and replaced with one that would work with the LVDS converter [jhax] found, giving the laptop a resolution of 1366×768.
It’s an amazing piece of craftsmanship, and an impressively thin gaming console to boot. Throw in a battery, and we’d be more than happy to carry this one around with us.
[Lee Davison] acquired an Acer laptop that didn’t have a display anymore. He had enough parts on hand to add in an LCD panel and give it a CCFL backlight. But when he started looking for an inverter to drive the backlight he couldn’t find one. What he did have on hand were some smashed screens that had LED backlights and so the CCFL to LED backlight conversion project was born.
He tore into the LED display and found the driver board. Unfortunately he didn’t locate the datasheet for the exact LED driver, but he found one that was similar and was able to trace out the support circuitry on the PCB. This let him cut away the unneeded parts of the board without damaging the driver. He didn’t want to pull out the CCFL tubes until he was sure the LED conversion would work so he tried it out on another smashed panel (where does he come up with all these parts) and it worked great. Once he got everything in place he was very happy with the results. The only drawback to the system is that he doesn’t have the ability to dim the backlight.
[Ezra] used the parts he had lying around to build a self-contained dual screen shop computer. What might one name such a project? Obviously you’d call it the Dr. FrankenComputer.
The lower monitor is a dell desktop flat screen. During prototyping [Ezra] used the stand to support everything. But to keep his work space clear the final version has been mounted to the wall in the corner of his lab. The upper display is the LCD from a Compaq laptop which he wasn’t using. The laptop still works and we believe that’s what is driving the Fedora system. A bracket mounted to the desktop screen’s inner skeleton supports the laptop screen and motherboard. One power supply feeds everything and connects to an outlet in the wall behind the monitors. The keyboard and mouse are wireless, as is the computer’s connection to the network.
The only thing we would worry about in our own shop is sawdust filling the heat sinks and other components of the motherboard. Perhaps his lab is electronic projects only or he has a dust cover that he uses when the system isn’t in use.
Over on the Parts People blog, [Nathan] created his own Raspberry Pi laptop. It’s got all the bells and whistles, including a keyboard, trackpad, battery, and even a 3D printed case.
Of course [Nathan]’s laptop contains a Raspi, but the other included parts are where this palmtop computer is turned into something useful. For powering the Pi and 3.5″ composite LCD, [Nathan] took apart the battery pack from an old Dell laptop. By throwing out the bits of plastic surrounding these rechargeable cells and reusing the battery connector, [Nathan] was able to power the Pi, and all the peripherals for 10 hours.
Also included in [Nathan]’s Raspi palmtop is a 64 GB SSD connected to the powered USB hub. This, along with the 4 GB boot SD card, provides more than enough storage for listening to a music library, or even watching a few TV shows on the 3.5″ screen,
[David] is serving up files on his home network thanks to this Frankenstein’s monster of a Network Attached Storage device. It looks like he raided all the good bits from his parts bin to bring it all together.
The case is a tin box which may have been for a card/board game or some holiday treats. The hardware started with an NS-K330 server which he picked up from Deal Extreme. It has a NIC and a couple of USB ports but it tends to run really hot so he added a heat sinks to the board’s main chips. The hard drives are both 2.5″ form factor from old laptops. He uses some 2.5″ to 3.5″ mounting adapters to attach them to the tin box. A pair of USB to IDE adapters shed their cases and were solder directly to the wires which make a connection with the server’s USB ports.
There is a Linux distro specifically for this hardware but [David] wasn’t impressed with it. He ended up compiling OpenWRT for it and is satisfied with the functionality that provides.
[Bunnie Huang], creator of the Chumby and artisan of chips and electrons, is building his own completely open source laptop. It’s called the Novena, and is powered by a quad-core ARM CPU, it’s got enough bells and whistles to make any hacker happy including an on-board FPGA, dual Ethernet ports, and enough GPIO pins to do some crazy, crazy stuff.
[Bunnie]’s laptop is an attempt to create a completely open-source laptop capable of some light code development, and web browsing. Every single chip on [Bunnie]’s laptop has a datasheet available (without requiring an NDA, unlike the Raspberry Pi), meaning this laptop might be the beginning of a completely open source laptop.
Officially, this laptop is a one-off project made just for [Bunnie]. He’ll be spending the next few months validating all features on the board and making a proper case. [Bunnie] says a few people may be interested in their own Novena (smart one, that guy), so he might consider a Kickstarter campaign in a few months. Don’t expect it to be cheap, but if you’d like to try your hand at making your own, all the files are up on the Novena wiki.
[Florian Amrhein] made use of some old hardware to build his own internet radio in a 1930’s radio case.
The original hardware is a tube-amplified radio which he picked up on eBay. There’s tons of room in there once he removed the original electronics and that’s a good thing because he crammed a lot of new parts into the build. The main one being an old laptop he had on hand. It’s got a 10″ screen which is too large for the opening, but that ended up being okay. He coded an interface with C and SDL which give him a visual representation of his favorite online streams. The knob to the right moves the red line when turned and causes the Debian box to change to the new stream using the Music Player Daemon. Two potentiometers control the tuning and volume, and there is also a rotary encoder which is not yet in use. All three are connected to the laptop via an Arduino.
Check out the finished product in the video after the break. It sounds quite good thanks to the small automotive speaker and amplifier also crammed into the old case.
If you don’t have a laptop lying around to use in a project like this consider a microcontroller and character LCD based system.
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