Hacking An Industrial 42″ Multitouch PC

We’re slowly moving in the direction where everyone will have a touch screen desk like in the 1982 TRON movie or in the 1987 Star Trek: The Next Generation series with its ubiquitous touchscreen starship controls. [FFcossag] lucked into that future when a local company offered him an industrial 42″ multitouch PC that they were throwing out. A few hacks later and he has us all suitably envious.

Before hacking away though, he had to take care of some magic smoke. The source of this turned out to be yellow goop on the PC’s power supply that had turned conductive across a resistor. Cleaning it fixed the problem.

Moving on to the hacks, he added brightness control by using a potentiometer to control the power to the backlight. Be sure to watch carefully in the video below where he’s attaching a magnet and cord to the potentiometer, and encasing it all in epoxy. At that point, we’re pretty sure we see him spin up a hard drive platter with a sandpaper disk attached to it, forming a bench top disc sander and making us like this hack even more.

He also replaced a small speaker with a larger speaker and amplifier, giving a volume and sound quality difference that’s like night and day. He also added a breakout board with relays for power management, eliminating a seven watt continuous draw when in standby mode.

Be sure to watch the video to the end where he leaves us with a tour of the hacked interior hardware. We like how he’s labeled all his handiwork for any future hacker who might open it up

Looking for more multitouch screens? Have a look at this bare-bones multitouch table that uses a sheet of acrylic, a projector, and an infrared webcam. Or one that again uses a projector but with a Kinect.

Thanks to [yeats] for the tip.

51 thoughts on “Hacking An Industrial 42″ Multitouch PC

    1. +1.
      Writing is one of the activities touch screens should be used for only when better alternatives (keyboards) cannot be used.
      25 years old IBM model M here, wouldn’t give it away even for a 200” multitouch :)

    2. I’d join you on that but I have yet to try one of those 20″+ touchscreens as a keyboard and want to before I knock it, since I think size is the main issue with touchscreen keyboards at the moment. It has the potential to be super cool but a wacom cintiq or dell canvas cost well over £1000 so it’s an expensive experiment…

      1. It’s hard to touch type on a screen, even when they’re the right size. You have to hover your fingers, and it gets really easy to wander, then you’re just typing gibberish. Played with one of those Fujitsu I think laptops that had a screen for the keyboard. Was really neat looking though.

    3. This post was written using a Key Tronic E06101 keyboard — beige of course. But I’ve still dreamed of having one of those desks ever since TRON. It remains to be seen whether or not I’d sit my Key Tronic on top.

    4. Agreed. I am so tired of apps starting on my cellphone because something came close to it and set off the capacitive touch screen. The last thing I need is my desktop behaving the same way. I want my slide out keyboard back!

    1. Damn, You’ve yoinked my idea!…. I’m just waiting for a >27″ screen for the purpose of adding an ATX: PCB+GPU+PCIe flex cable and putting that in a custom steel enclosure, mechanical keyboard + trackball (next to the numpad) + touchpad + Nub (IBM/Lenovo-famous Clit-mouse) also the best audio system I can cram into the case as possible.
      I may try Li-ION or to cheap out on the charging circuit and go UPS on the PSU: NiMH…. Not sure yet.

      Specs (Pre-upgradeability):
      >27″
      Core i5 2400 (2nd gen),
      Sapphire Platinum H61 uATX,
      Radeon HD 6950 2GB (or newer),
      Fans and LGA heatsinks from scrap-bin AIO machines,
      1X 180W PSU for the MB,
      1X 300W PSU for the GPU+LCD (May sacrifice the first GPU on a 180W as a test),
      SSD (As long as it can fit games on it… don’t care of size)
      Etc…

      Not brilliant, but this is only the beginning of said plan…

  1. Yeah, I guess your one is also touchscreen?

    BTW Where I’m working in the E-POS industry, The scrap bin can be a useful resource of metal plates, plastics, bearings, bolts, screens, chips(INCL. chipsets)…. Yet I lucked out when:

    I pulled a whole working HP elite 8200 AIO out of the scrap… Some Tupe workers tried to pull a fast one before they got sent back with their equipment and one of the workers lost the PC amongst the scrap hoard (That Co has issues and are in court).
    The only fault: touchscreen has delaminating mirrors (IR+camera+mirror array).
    I replaced the hot-running core i3-2nd gen with a 3rd-gen* core i5 that runs so cold, I switch off the fans for normal use (Gaming requires the fans on unfortunately) and the temperature averages around 30*C(winter) to 45*C (summer) with a peak of 80*C, this seems to be a fixed max due to thermal throttling via FID/VID, #PROCHOT activated, So useful in short bursts but slows down on a long run.

    *early 3rd-gen that was socket compatible.

    1. Touchscreen is not a feature, it’s a problem you endure when you have no other input devices.

      I mean it’s a solution that solves the complete lack of input, but only in as much as lighting a tealight solves the power being out.

      1. True of course… though as a fixture, I’m sure it is better than:

        make kernel && make userspace && make Turn_down_my_heating && chroot /mnt/heatingOS && kexec kernel \
        ./Turn_down_my_heating --down-to 15

        Just to turn down your heating… That’s where a touchscreen “Button” would be cool/useful.
        Then again: scrap IoT thermostats/central-hubs and make do with a dial!

        Or a prank-happy friend worse-than-rickrolls you… having a touchscreen stop icon to slap would be nice… As a generic interface: it is useful, as a programmers’ input device: I’d rather be Kim Jong Un’s Voodoo doll!!!

        Touchscreens make for quick but clumsy GUI navigation where a mouse/touch-pad would be too slow.

        Then again… In the household environment: what would be a point in a touchscreen that size (42″)???
        I agree on up to 12″ touchscreen absolute max, disguised as an e-picture frame that doubles as heating control and a few possible “smart home” functions. 3″ touch screen wouldn’t look out of place if it was housed properly

        1. Okay yah, I can see it’s a great programability feature in a thermostat, where one day you may want it to remote start the car instead of turning the heat on. If it was a physical button you’d have to dymo a new label and everything.

    1. I’ve seen some really cheaped out industrial machines…

      XN9000 bar till: Well it is a VIA EPIA-M1000 with LVDS, seen many media centre builds with those boards in them,
      The cashdrawer and peripheral part? a function board containing an RS232 expander, an NDA-Need-To-Know basis bespoke uC (AKA no datasheets and Google says “not found”) and programmed by the OS on the mainboard via a USB FT232 chip.
      Said control board is also the Laptop-brick to ATX Power splitter and regulator PCB.

      Oh, the company behind the XN equipment used to make their own OS, PCBs, architectures*, etc… That last thing was a last ditch attempt before they went bust.

      * They had the equivalent to an ATMEL AVR attached to external ram and ROM as the “northbridge” attached to another such uC as the CPU and another as the GPU and another for the peripheral controllers… that thing was like emulating each chip of a 1980’s machine on a uC and laying it out the same. (Known as the XN classic, and it looked, felt and behaved classic… PC wise).

  2. I got given a little one of these from work the other day. It was deemed uneconomic to repair. Didn’t take long and a bit from the junk box to get some life in it again. Loads of high current multifunction IO and a mini Linux computer in a ss case with a touch screen.
    It does seen a beefy power source though.

  3. That lamp doesn’t work with the whole aesthetic, you should go for something more industrial looking made out of pipe fittings and simulated filament LED bulbs…

    Though I guess you could sheath that one with flexible metal conduit and make it look like it was kind of growing out of the other cabling.

  4. Tactile feedback that’s actually tactile is what ST had. Tron didn’t do enough with that desk to make deficiencies obvious. Otherwise one’s just thrumming one’s fingers on the desk.

    1. The only reason to want a desk sized touch screen is to effectively scale down the human hand so small widgets and radio buttons can be clicked accurately, and fat fist does not block half of the visual real estate while doing so.

      I mean the logical advance from a device where a minimal physical movement on the behalf of the user is translated to large relative movements on screen is a device that need no movement, like thought control, not going backwards and making it all 1:1 again.

      1. As in there is zero evidence that we are moving at any speed whatsoever to desktop touchscreen use.
        The author knows that, we know that, fucking animals in the zoo know it. It’s just a lazy use of generalities without basis to write up a piece.

        Now you can argue we should, or one day we will maybe, but you cannot say ‘we are slowly moving towards’.

  5. In agreement w most of the above. While a touchscreen sliderule app would be totally cool, I hate my qwertyless bar phones. There’s nothing like a 32 scale Pickett in your hands, just like nothing can really ever replace a fully loaded pocket protector.

  6. The ACER Iconia 6120, you know…the laptop that has a “touch screen keyboard?” I had one…HAD being the key. There was no “feeling” when it came to typing. I will say this though…it is nice when you can get some sort of haptic response, or some “tactile” feeling of a keypress. *sigh*…just give me back a light pen and a good ol’ CRT. ;)

  7. Whatnot, w/o a decent reference to the particular aspect to the specific or the body of concepts you hope to disparage, you shout into the void. I am unfamiliar with your work or usecul appraisals, so I cannot readily guess the direction of your gist, or if you are simply off your meds. Clarification of your extremely brief comment would be more indicative. Otherwise, you will likely be ignored or booted. Bad hair day, or what?

    1. You just posted after the thread got modded off automatic style,
      I just saw my other one disappear and then reappear…. So I hope this gets through before I get a temp-ban… had plenty of other handles go bye due to arguments around here… maybe ignore WhatNot guy in the future… unless it is something you agree on… Like I and Brian these days… If I ain’t got nothing nice to say or I’ve just been insulted quite personally… then I’ll just ignore it, because if you can ignore meta-abuse,
      Meta, that is all the internet commenters are: gibberish, just accidentally interpretable gibberish… Like the noise-floor: think if you tuned into nothing on the radio and you could’ve sworn the “Snow sound” just dropped the BIG “N” word or mentioned the evil big “H” of WWII… then the internet is the same)

      1. Incidentally, my second ‘I said utter BS’ remark was suppose to be a reply to my original remark which was edited away by HaD staff, the one which had the quote above it. However it escaped from its thread so it might seem a bit odd on its own, but if you had noticed the previous comments you could surmise the context, although admittedly it takes some attention.
        Anyway in my original comment thread it’s clear what I am discussing.

        Geez, now I have 15 comments explaining and expanding on one simple observation, which nobody would even have noticed if they hadn’t messed with it I expect. As said, the reader has the option to simply ignore my views and remarks.

  8. Another problem* has been known for ages, the name is Gorilla Arm. http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/G/gorilla-arm.html Even when fresh, the human precision sucks, any big format painter uses a mahl stick to rest the arm, because using the picture as support is bad idea (smudges), but perfect aim is needed. You can see the slow, awkward pointing with the finger in the video.
    But hey, we never learn anything, only repeat, repeat, repeat.
    *: beyond lack of touch feedback… ironic when they are supposed to involve touch sense… blind people have a good sense and they are the worst use case.

  9. I know this may not make it… but at least check for the missing thread of commentz,…

    I could of sworn there was an entire chunk of comments that disappeared…
    I’ll click on Repo-rt Com-ment on the person who seems to hate anything touchscreen… heck I’d guess this whole blog post to him/her was the end of the world.

    The comment tree seemed to be somewhat within the realm of the subject, even if not strictly on topic.
    Haters spa-mm-ing the re-port com-ment link just because (s)he hates touchscreens.
    If someone hates something with a grudge and just has to ‘DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT” then why not just post your feelings until you get mo-der-ated… heck why not just use (reuse/recycle?) someone’s handle(s)? or make random new ones up in a list? That way some of us can laugh at said haters before they get mod-ban’d.

  10. OT – I have found in my may years of modding, that there are a few decent folks out there that simply have manic-depressive episodes, etc. A level headed honest approach, lacking direct responce triggers, will sometimes will click with them and they back up and reacess… correcting pills and behaviors. Unlike the average joe, they have bad hair days often, and to some degree, I want to give them a 2nd and 3rd chance, and some degree if support and forebearance. It’s like cutting any handicapped person some slack.

    1. In my case I do indeed have times I slept too little and drop a lot of pretense that you normally so painfully employ to keep the illusion going. The illusion being that people are not full of bullshit, and have an excuse to not understand the simplest of things for instance.

  11. Well, hard to disagree w that… although I do not see the relevance. Some have serious remarks, pro or con, while others embark on remenicences or various forms of joviality. Some BS is bound to creep in. Humans are animals and some are definitely bullish. It is nice, I think most feel, if emotional discord is kept to a minimum, although it could be said that technically, you did keep yours brief. ;>) This is a technical arena, but also intended to be a meeting place to support our ingenious and/or crazed fellow tinkerers. Sometimes more, sometimes less, of course, but detraction ought to be at least polite if not useful, and with a minimum of unpleasantness. It has been said that the medium is the message. To some degree, this does not speak well for your perhaps well-intended words. In rereading, I could not find any socially or technically redeeming quality to them. But as you say, some (as I) sometimes can understand the complex, while a simple matter may be totally missed.

    1. A technical arena yes, but one with the occasional advertisement and yes also your occasional trolling article (hi Brian ;).
      And even a lot of philosophical articles lately, certainly asking us to move beyond technical talk .
      And while I’m on the subject, a forum where most all people are well adult of age (the HaD staff could notice that looking around at their HaD conference perhaps) where you can keep the censorship to a minimum.

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