Upgrading The PowerBook 100 With A Fresh New Battery

The PowerBook 100 was one of the earliest Apple laptops released, coming not long after the breakout Macintosh Portable. Unlike modern hardware, it relied on sealed lead acid batteries. [360alaska] has such a laptop whose original battery is long dead, so they set about building a replacement battery with lithium cells instead.

The battery and its associated support circuitry is a mite unconventional in its design, but it gets the job done. The build uses two lithium polymer pouch cells in place of the original four cell sealed-lead acid battery, to replicate the roughly 7.2V nominal voltage. Because of this, unfortunately the stock PowerBook charger can’t provide enough voltage to fully charge the LiPo cells up to their full 8.4 volts.

The workaround selected is that when the batteries fall below 80% state of charge, relays disconnect the cells from their series configuration powering the laptop, and instead connect each cell to its own single-cell charger board. Once charging is complete, the relays switch back out of charging mode so the batteries power the laptop once more. The only major drawback is that withdrawing the power adapter while the batteries are on charge will cut all power to the laptop.

It may not be perfect, but [360alaska] has succeeded in building a drop-in battery solution for the PowerBook 100 that can be used with the stock charger. Laptop batteries can be a fraught thing to deal with; often there are safeguards or DRM-type issues to navigate to get them to work around. Sometimes open-source designs are the best solution out there.

Recycling A Laptop Screen Into A Portable Folding Monitor

There’s plenty of times we’ve seen a laptop fail, break, or just become too slow for purpose despite the fact that it’s still packing some useful components. With all the single-board computers and other experiments lurking about the average hacker workshop, it’s often useful to have a spare screen on hand, and an old laptop is a great way to get one. This recycled display build from [Gregory Sanders] is a great example of how to reuse old hardware.

The build doesn’t simply package a laptop monitor in the same way as a regular desktop unit. Instead, [Gregory] designed a custom 3D printed frame with an arch design. The laptop screen is installed onto the frame using its original hinges, and [Gregory] designed in standoffs for an laptop LCD driver board to run the display as well as a generic frame where single-board computers can be installed.

The result is a portable monitor that can be folded up for easy transport, which is also self-supporting with its nice large base. It can also be used with other hardware, as it has a full complement of DVI, HDMI and VGA inputs on board. Of course, while you’re tinkering with laptop displays, you might also consider building yourself a dual-screen laptop as well.

E-Ink Laptop, First Steps

[Alexander Soto] prefers the reduced eye-strain of an e-ink display, but he doesn’t have a portable solution to use at different work stations. The solution? Make your own e-ink laptop. Once you see his plan, it’s not as crazy as it sounds.

[Alexander] got his inspiration from an earlier Dasung Paperlike Pro teardown that we covered back in 2018. His plan is to shoehorn the e-ink panel into a “headless” Thinkpad T480 laptop. This particular model ES133TT3 display is 13.3 inches (about 40 cm) with a much-better-than-normal laptop resolution of 2200 x 1650 pixels. It is driven over HDMI and is perfect fit for the Thinkpad enclosure.

Unfortunately, these displays haven’t gone down in price since 2018. They’re still in the $1000+ price range, more expensive than many laptops. But if you really want the reduced eye-strain of e-ink in a laptop format, you’re going to have to shell out for it.

It’s a pretty ambitious project. We’re looking forward to following his progress and see how the finished laptop goes together. Do check out the extensive list of e-ink references on his project page, too. If you want to experiment with a less expensive e-ink project, have a look at the PaperTTY project for your Raspberry Pi.

 

DIY USB-C Touch Monitor Is All Polished Brass

We’ve known for a while that you can buy interface boards to turn old laptop screens into standalone monitors, but complete sets with 4K panels and control boards are also now becoming widely available on sites like eBay and AliExpress, and prices are dropping. These sets are also available with low-profile connectors like micro HDMI and USB-C, which allow for some very compact builds.

[Matt] from [DIY Perks] used one of these sets to build a slimline USB-C monitor with a brass enclosure. Video after the break. The enclosure consists of brass sheets and U-channel pieces soldered and screwed together. There is quite a bit of residue and discoloration after soldering, but this was removed with a bit of sanding and polishing. A pair of adjustable legs were added to allow it to stand on its own, and an additional chamber on the back holds the control board, an old smartphone battery, and a battery protection circuit. [Matt] also added a pair of removable speakers, which are sealed speaker units covered in brass mesh and plate.

We’ve covered several DIY monitor builds over the years, and they are perfect as an additional monitor for a laptop, or for pairing with the Raspberry Pi 400 with its integrated keyboard. We really [Matt]’s builds, which include a smartphone-based 4K projector, and a very effective cooling system for an expensive DSLR camera. Continue reading “DIY USB-C Touch Monitor Is All Polished Brass”

A USB-PD Laptop Conversion In Extreme Detail.

With USB-PD slowly making wall wart power supplies obsolete and becoming the do-it-all standard for DC power, it’s a popular conversion to slap an off-the-shelf USB-PD module in place of the barrel jack in a laptop. Not when it comes to [jakobnator] though, who fitted his Dell with an upgrade lovingly and expertly crafted for both electrical and mechanical perfection.

The video that you can find below the break is a long and detailed one, but in that detail lies touches that set the conversion apart from the norm. We’re treated to a full-run-down of USB-PD module design and chip programming, and then the mechanics of the 1-wire chip through which the Dell ties itself in with only Dell power supplies. Programming this chip in particular is something of a challenge.

It’s the mechanical design that sets this one apart. He started with an odd-shaped space that had contained the barrel jack socket and a ferrite choke, and designed a PCB to fit it exactly. 3D-printing a model to check for fit is attention to detail at the stratospheric level. The result is a fit that looks almost as though it was part of the original manufacture, and which should keep the laptop useful for years to come.

This may be the most elegant USB-C laptop conversion we’ve seen, but it’s not the only one.

Continue reading “A USB-PD Laptop Conversion In Extreme Detail.”

USB-C Charging On Your ThinkPad, One Step At A Time

Hackers love their ThinkPads. They’re easy to work on, well documented, and offer plenty of potential for upgrades. For the more daring, there’s also a wide array of community-developed modifications available. For example, [Berry Berry Sneaky] has recently put together a step-by-step guide on swapping the common ThinkPad rectangular charging port (also used on ThinkBooks and other Lenovo machines) for USB-C Power Delivery.

Now to be clear, this is not a new concept. But between freely sharing the STL for the 3D printed adapter, providing a full parts list, and providing clear instructions on how to put it all together, [Berry Berry Sneaky] has done a fantastic job of making this particular modification as approachable as possible. For the cost of a common PDC004 Power Delivery “trigger” module and a bit of PETG filament, you can add yet another device to the list of things that work with your shiny new USB-C charger.

While not strictly necessary, [Berry Berry Sneaky] recommends getting yourself a replacement DC input cable for your particular machine before you crack open the case. That will let you assemble everything ahead of time, making the installation a lot quicker. It will also let you keep the original rectangular power jack intact so you can swap it back in if something goes wrong or you decide this whole unified charging thing isn’t quite what you hoped for.

Not a member of the ThinkPad Army? No worries. We’ve seen a lot of interest in using these configurable USB-C trigger modules to upgrade all manner of devices to the new Power Delivery standard or sometimes put together custom battery chargers for their older mobile gadgets.

AMD’s Threadripper Is The Beating, Heating Heart Of “Most Powerful” DIY Laptop

There are plenty of powerful, “desktop-replacement” laptops out on the market if you’ve got the money to spend. Sometimes, though, that just doesn’t scratch that crazy itch in the back of your head for true, unbridled computing power. When you’ve got an insatiable thirst for FLOPS, you’ve got to strike out on your own, as [Jeff] did with this Threadripper laptop.

The aim was to pack an AMD Threadripper processor into a nominally portable laptop format. For this build, the AMD 1950X was chosen for its affordability and huge computing power, as well as a TDP of 180W. This high heat output has stopped the chips ending up in portable builds until now, but [Jeff] didn’t see this as a problem, but a challenge.

What results is a wild, lashed together build of high-power parts into what could charitably be called a laptop – though we’d recommend against putting it on your lap. With a 4K 18″ screen, keyboard, touchpad, and many Dell Powerbanks kludged together into an HP Media Center case, it fits the usual form factor, albeit with more exposed heatpipes and cables than the typical consumer may be used to.

[Jeff] claims this is the current most powerful laptop in the world, as builds that use the 3950X throttle it back in their applications. We don’t have the data to compare, but we certainly wouldn’t be stacking our own portable rig up against it in a fight. DIY laptops have a long history at Hackaday, going all the way back to 2007. If you’ve got your own wild build, be sure to drop us a line. Video after the break.

Continue reading “AMD’s Threadripper Is The Beating, Heating Heart Of “Most Powerful” DIY Laptop”