Ruggedize Your Not-so-rugged Portables


Popular Mechanics has a detailed how-to on diy ruggedization of common portable electronics such as laptops, cameras, and cellphones. There is video of a laptop surviving an eight foot fall due to the tennis balls, pipe insulation, and weather stripping they’ve added. Its not just shock resistant, they’ve used a two-part compound marketed for making custom molded earplugs to make the laptop water resistant.

13 thoughts on “Ruggedize Your Not-so-rugged Portables

  1. I’m not convinced the HDD wasn’t SSD(as that model does have an SSD upgrade package). I would have thought a normal HDD would have chewed itself up, even with all that padding.
    Could be wrong though…

  2. @cynic
    I think many modern laptop harddrives include accelerometers to detect a change in acceleration (ie, starts falling) and automatically park the hard drive heads and attempt to protect itself.

    side note – typing out “park the hard drive head” reminds me of my mom’s first tandy 286 (approx $2000) that you had to give it a park command before shutting it off!!!! ms dos and all those old floppy disc games….battlechess, qbert, … wow – nostolgia.

  3. Just have to say, “park the hard drive head” sounds dirty. Impressive mod, though not practical enough for everyday use. Not willing to bulk up my portables with that much padding. All that for just a little insurance against dropping? I’d rather just back up data and continue being careful to not drop my electronics.

  4. This is the same issue that was edited by Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, so I think that they were thinking of a bit more abuse that just daily use. I can definitely see this as being useful if it is going to be used for data capture on projects with a good chance of things going wrong.

  5. @slagr I was wondering the same thing. They state in the article above that “they’ve used a two-part compound marketed for making custom molded earplugs to make the laptop water resistant.”

    If its water resistant then it would have to impede the hell out of airflow, and would run the chance of doing thermal damage to the components,… but of course, you could always spray the water resistant laptop with cold water to cool it,… :)

  6. and in response to myself,… after another look at the picture above, it seems they only used the earplug compound to seal the area for the USB ports and such,… but if thats the case then it would be pretty useless, because if water is gonna get in those places, it would just as easily seep thru the cracks on the sides or the keyboard and so on,…

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