BY CRAIG A. LINDLEY
Turn A Broken Laptop
Into A Digital
As a techie, I have accumulated a lot of hardware over the years
and it pains me when I have to get rid of things that are old but
still potentially useful. Such was the case with a laptop computer
that had a broken hinge, broken Wi-Fi, and a broken sound system.
It seemed destined for the scrap heap, even though it could still
function as a portable computer.
Because of my desire to recycle, I decided to give the laptop a second life inside a shadow box picture
frame that I could hang on the wall. I had wanted to buy a
digital picture frame for a while, but this approach seemed
much better because the frame would contain a complete,
network-accessible computer that could run any applications I desired. My mind began racing with all the possibilities for a laptop picture frame (LTPF).
A Word Of Caution
I should caution you that a project like this is for those
who feel comfortable tearing computers apart, and that
have been successful in putting them back together into
working order. A single careless step can send the laptop
to the trash heap once and for all, so careful, deliberate
work is definitely called for.
■ PHOTO 1. The finished LTPF in place in my living room.
I should also say this article describes the steps I went
through to build a LTPF from a Gateway computer. The
laptop you use will probably be different so you will need
to adapt the information here accordingly. Photo 1 shows
my finished LTPF.
What You Will Need
1. A functioning laptop computer with a good LCD
display, Wi-Fi capability (either built in or provided by a
USB adapter or PCMCIA card), and power supply. The
larger the display, the better (in my opinion).
2. A shadow box type picture frame large enough to
contain the laptop hardware. I used a wooden shadow
box I bought from Hobby Lobby. Its dimensions are:
21” W x 17” H x 2 3/8” D.
3. A matte to fit the frame with a cutout the size of the
laptop’s display. More on this shortly.
4. Two pieces of 1/4” MDF (medium density fiberboard)
cut to fit into the frame.
5. Duct tape or other strong tape.
6. Quick set epoxy (the two-tube mixing kind).
7. A 3/8” wooden dowel for making standoffs/spacers.
8. An assortment of small wood screws and four 2” flat
head machine screws, washers, and nuts.
9. A power switch. (In my case, I used a momentary
contact SPST pushbutton switch.)
10. Some hookup wire.
11. Soldering iron, drill, saber saw, and other
miscellaneous tools and supplies.
First Comes Destruction
I had to completely disassemble the laptop and get rid
of all extraneous parts to squeeze the laptop circuitry and
the LCD display into the shadow box I wanted to use.