Tiny laptops have always been devices that promise so much, yet fail somehow to deliver. From the Atari Portfolio palmtops through to the recent crop of netbooks they have been either eye-wateringly expensive if they are any good, or so compromised by their size constraints as to be next-to-useless. We’ve seen DOS, EPOC, Windows, WinCE, Palm OS, Linux distros and more in tiny form factors over the years, yet few have made a significant mark.
The prospect of a “proper” computer in your hand isn’t something to abandon just yet though. We are now reaching the point at which the previous generation of higher-end Android tablets are both acceptably powerful and sufficiently numerous as to be available at a very reasonable price. Perhaps these can provide the tiny laptop seeker with a basis for something useful. [NODE] certainly thinks so, because he’s produced a nice little Ubuntu laptop using a second-hand Nexus 7 tablet and a Bluetooth keyboard case. Android is replaced with an Ubuntu image, and a cardboard cut-out display bezel is held in place with magnetic strips. A step-by-step guide has been put up to help others interested in following the same path.
This is not the most amazing of hardware hacks, in that it involves mostly off-the-shelf items and a piece of software. However it’s worth a look because it does provide a route to a very acceptable little Linux laptop for an extremely reasonable price. One concern is that the Ubuntu version seems not to be a recent one, however we’re sure readers will point at any newer distribution builds in the comments. If you fancy a look at the finished laptop he’s posted a video which we’ve included below the break.
Continue reading “Turn That Old Tablet Into A Sub-$100 Linux Laptop”
Many new vehicles come with computers built into the dashboard. They can be very handy with features like GPS navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and more. Installing a computer into an older car can sometimes be an expensive process, but [Florian] found a way to do it somewhat inexpensively using a Nexus 7 tablet.
The size of the Nexus 7 is roughly the same as a standard vehicle double-din stereo slot. It’s not perfect, but pretty close. [Florian] began by building a proof of concept mounting bracket. This model was built from sections of MDF hot glued and taped together. Plastic double-din mounting brackets were attached the sides of this new rig, allowing it to be installed into the dashboard.
Once [Florian] knew that the mounting bracket was feasible, it was time to think about power. Most in-vehicle devices are powered from the cigarette lighter adapter. [Florian] went a different direction with this build. He started with a cigarette lighter to USB power adapter, but he cut off the actual cigarette lighter plug. He ended up wiring this directly into the 12V line from the stereo’s wiring harness. This meant that the power cord could stay neatly tucked away inside of the dashboard and also leave the cigarette lighter unused.
[Florian] then wanted to replace the MDF frame with something stronger and nicer. He modeled up his idea in Solidworks to make sure the measurements would be perfect. Then the pieces were all laser cut at his local Techshop. Once assembled, the plastic mounting brackets were placed on the sides and the whole unit fit perfectly inside of the double-din slot.
When it comes to features, this van now has it all. The USB hub allows for multiple USB devices to be plugged in, meaning that Nexus only has a single wire for both power and all of the peripherals. Among these peripherals are a USB audio interface, an SD card reader, and a backup camera. There is also a Bluetooth enabled OBD2 reader that can monitor and track the car’s vitals. If this project seems familiar to you, it’s probably because we’ve seen a remarkably similar project in the past.
Nexus 7 tablets, being cheap and really quite decent for the price, have long since been used in the dashboards of people’s cars. Sometimes they’re mounted quite good — sometimes not so good — but every once in a while, someone gets it right.
Usually the reason mods like this don’t work out so well is because people are worried about damaging their car’s interior. But [tsubie320] had a better idea — buy a radio bezel off eBay to mess around with — that way he can always revert to stock when he sells the vehicle.
With a crisp-new-freshly-injection-molded-bezel in hand, he got to work. Funny enough, Nexus 7’s tend to be almost the exact size of double DIN stereo slots — hence their appeal. He wrapped the tablet in blue painter’s tape and positioned it in the bezel. Using fiberglass, he created a new shell for the tablet to sit inside of the bezel. Lots of sandpaper later and a whole bunch of bondo, he was done. Continue reading “Suburu Dash Mounted Nexus 7 Looks Like Stock”
It turns out that the Nexus 7 Android tablet is the perfect size to fit in a double DIN opening. DIN is the form factor of a single CD head unit for an automobile. Many models have room for a double DIN, which is defined as 4″ high by 7″ wide. Once [Meta James] figured out that the dashboard bezel for his Subaru framed the Nexus 7 perfectly he set out to fabricate the mounting system for an in-dash tablet installation.
Unlike a lot of these dashboard tablet installs, [James] didn’t need any Bondo, sanding, or painting to get things to look right. Like we mentioned, the bezel is a perfect fit so his alterations are hidden behind the tablet itself. He removed the stock head unit and ordered a DIN adapter kit to get the black bracket plate seen above. He built an acrylic box the same size as a double DIN head unit, then mounted the plates to the sides and a Nexus 7 case to the front. This holds the tablet in firmly, lets him mount the entire assembly using the factory mounting points, and leaves plenty of room for the cabling that connects the device to the car. Since he already had a hands-free phone system he just uses that to amplify the audio fed to it via Bluetooth.
[Home Brand Cola] is quite happy with his Nexus 7 with the exception of the built-in speaker. It produces fairly good audio quality until he reaches about 50% volume level. Anything above that produces distortion. He figured out how to fix it using a small piece of bubble wrap.
The eureka moment came when he was using his Nexus 7 and discovered he could fix the distortion by gripping the top and bottom parts of the case strongly between his finger and thumb. This led him to realize that the speaker unit is a bit loose and the unwanted noise is produced when it vibrates against the case. The video after the break shows the fix, which places a strip of bubble wrap (looks to be about 1″ by 3″) on top of that speaker unit. When the case is snapped back together the packing material helps hold everything in place and now he can use his tablet at full volume without any problems. One of the comments on the Reddit thread asks about heat problems with the addition of this plastic. He’s been using it for a few weeks and so far no issues there.
Continue reading “Bubble wrap cure for Nexus 7 speaker distortion”
[Hexxeh] is at it again, porting the chromium OS to whatever seems to appear in front of him. This time he’s ported it to the Nexus 7. Last time we saw him, he was raspberry chomping at the pi. The details are very scarce, so we would like to issue this request.
[Hexxeh] we realize you don’t think your every-day-joe would be up to the task of putting chromium on their nexus 7. This is Hackaday however, and we know that at least a few of our readers would LOVE to join you in your efforts and could possibly contribute to your fun. Share some details with us… please.
You can see a video of it in action after the break.
Continue reading “Chromium on the Nexus7”
As released, the Nexus 7 tablet includes a 1.2 Megapixel front-facing camera. Even though the camera supports taking pictures at a resolution of 1280 x 960, recording video is limited to a paltry 480p resolution. It turns out the inability to record HD 720p video isn’t a hardware limitation; engineers at either Google or Asus simply didn’t bother telling the Nexus 7 how to record in 720p.
[hillbeast] over on the XDA developers forum came up with a very easy fix for this problem that only involves a quick copy and paste job into the
After the break you can see two videos recorded with [thehillbeast]’s Nexus 7. The first is a 480p video of a bit of shrubbery and a fence, while the second video is the same scene recorded at 720p. A noticable difference in quality, and a neat hack to give the already awesome Nexus 7 some additional capabilities.
Continue reading “Giving the Nexus 7 HD video recording”