Thursday, May 5, 2011

Steps to Make a Carbon Fiber DIY Tablet

Tons of people have asked for step-by-step instructions on how to make a tablet like this. While I am not going to do an in-depth video showing the process from start to finish (that would take FOREVER) I will give you a general overview of how it was done. And then I can answer any specific questions you may have.

Steps
1) Build the carbon fiber outer casing - I am not going to go into detail on how to use carbon fiber because I am definitely not an expert. I can tell you that I bought some cheap CF and epoxy off eBay and then watched some YouTube tutorials on how to use CF. Then I made two molds, one for the top and one for the bottom of the tablet. For this I used 2 plastic breadboards I found at the grocery store and then cut, routed and sanded them to the shape of the tablet. Then it was the laborious task of laying the CF, letting it set and then cutting and sanding it. This process was the hardest part of the project. Make sure to cutout an area for where you will want your external USB ports, etc. to be exposed.

2) Dismantle the donor laptop - I used an MSI X320 because it was really thin, had the specs I needed and could be found cheap on eBay. Be careful when taking it apart not to break anything and be sure to label everything you disconnect so you know where it goes when you put it back together. Once it was fully disassembled I hooked everything back up to make sure it was still working. Do this before you even think about putting it in the CF casing because now is a good time to troubleshoot in case you forget how it goes together.

3) Add additional internal parts - Now is the time to plug in the USB hub, touchscreen, accelerometer, etc. I used a USB hub so that I could keep 2 of the external USB ports open for when the tablet was put together. The x320 comes with 2 sets of external USBs...one of them I left as external, the other I plugged the hub into. This is where the touchscreen, accelerometer, etc. will be plugged into on the inside of the CF casing. Then I installed drivers for all these, so at the end of this process you have a fully working tablet minus the casing.

4) Bond touchscreen and CF casing - For this I used some quick drying super adhesive epoxy. This part of the process is why I used a 15" touchscreen even though my LCD was only 13.4". The touchscreen was the exact same size as the outer casing, so when I laid it in the casing I could epoxy the touchscreen to the casing.

5) Bond LCD to touchscreen - Using the same epoxy as step 4 I bonded the LCD to the back of the touchscreen. Make sure you clean both the LCD and the back of the touchscreen before you do this since you will no longer be able to get between them. It was a little difficult to line up the LCD with the cutout in the casing, but once I had it perfect I taped the LCD in place while I epoxied it.

6) Install a power switch - I used a power switch from a MacBook Pro because it was the correct shape and size, was easy to connect to the CF casing and had two wires coming off it. The first step is to solder the two wires from the power switch to terminals on the x320's power switch. To do this you need to do some experimenting. The way a power switch works is that it completes a circuit...that's all it does. When you push the power button on any laptop, the force of your button press connects two terminals together to form a complete circuit and the laptop sees this as a signal to start-up. By doing some experimenting with the button area on the motherboard and a small piece of aluminum foil, I figured out which two terminals needed to be connected to complete the circuit. I then soldered on of the wires from the MacBook button to each one of these. So now when I push the MacBook button it completes the circuit and starts the tablet. Once that is done I drilled a hole in the back of the CF casing where the new power button would show through. Then drill a hole in the back casing where you want the power button to show through.

7) Assemble the tablet - Now you are ready to put this thing together. To hold the internal components in place I used double sided tape. I covered the entire inside of the back cover with double sided tape that was about 1-2mm thick. Once that was done I laid in the motherboard - with that battery connected to it, the USB Hub, the external USB connectors and all the wires. The nice thing about double sided tape is that it will securely hold the components, but if something happens you can remove it without too much work. And don't worry about it not being strong enough. There is no way any of the internals are going to move around. Once everything was in place I glued the power button on the inside of the back cover where the hole I drilled for it in step 6 was.

8) Secure the two halves of the tablet together - At this point you have a completed tablet in two parts...one half is the screen and touch screen the other half is the computer components. I am going to leave it up to you to figure out how you want to secure them together. My method worked alright, but I'm sure you can come up with something better. Good luck!

39 comments:

  1. i have been researching on how to build my own tablet for quite sometime now, and i was so happy when i found out u managed to do it. unfortunatly, a couple of the links you have set up for purchasing parts to make the tablet are invalid (the carbon kit for ex.)
    is there anywer else to find one just like the one u used?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For fix your carbon fiber crack repair we are now online in 24/7. Yes some sort of experience is need for fixing the scratches and lil cracks in carbon fiber crack repair. Without experience one can't do it easily cause they are many types of solution in carbon fiber crack repair.

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  2. Sorry about that. I just updated the link for the carbon fiber kit that can be found on eBay.

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  3. how did you make it a touch screen and how did you take of the screen part

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  4. You make it a touch screen by purchasing a touch screen that goes on top of the LCD and plugs into a USB port. I'm not sure what you mean by "how did you take off the screen part?". If you mean how did I remove the LCD from the x320, I just took the laptop casing off and unscrewed if form the hinges that hold it in place.

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  5. Yup.. still reading!

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  6. Good to know. I'll keep updating this blog. My new blog about touch software is almost finished. I should have that ready to go in the next couple of days.

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  7. Are there any cooling issues due to the lack of vents or fans? Curious because I have a Acer laptop that is a 18 in. Led screen that would be awesome to do. It is also a 16x9 view but, could it be done? Oh, by the way, this is he most creative idea since sliced bread!!!

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  8. Would it be possible to link two touch screens? Similar to the acer iconia. And if so what direction would i head in to do so? I havnt been able to find any guieds on the net but have seen sone diy projects

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  9. Also do u have any recomendations for a thin bare-bones motherboard? Id like to keep it as thin as possible with an i7 chipset. I appreciate any advice

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  10. If you have a 13.4" LCD screen, how do you use it with a 15" touch screen? I don't have either of them so I just want to know whether you can set the size of the LCD to the touch screen, or is it included in the software that come with the touch screen.

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  11. @Cong - You can use the touchscreen on any size LCD because you calibrate it when you set it up. That way it knows where on the touchscreen the corners of the LCD are.

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  12. Hi Justin,
    To start, thank you for this blog, I have been looking for quite some time for some information on frankensteining my laptop and this has been a godsend. Unfortunately, the sourcing of the components here in the UK has not been as successful!!
    I was just wondering what your tablet is like with regards to cooling/heating issues?
    I plan on using a dell inspiron 1525, and i have had some minor problems with overheating in the past.
    Again, thank you so much.

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  13. @Leigh - The temperature on this tablet is the same as it was when it was originally a laptop. I used the same fan and have the same ventilation available. If you are already having issues with your Dell overheating then you are going to need to do something different in the tablet to keep this from happening. Since you probably don't want to put in a new fan, your only other option would be to add more ventilation, which is easy to do...just drill some more holes in the back of the casing.

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  14. What did you do for the battery?

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  15. Hello Mr. Campana, I have a number of questions. They're really simple things - I haven't been able to figure them out as your links to parts have timed out.

    If you've got some time, could you please e-mail me at steve.kuznetsov@gmail.com?

    I would greatly appreciate it,
    Steve

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  16. I have a broken laptop . I am thinking if I can make it a tablet , it is 1.8 GHZ , 512 RAM 2005 Presario V2000 Laptop - bought for nearly 1200 USD those days .

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  17. Is it at all possible to write Android onto the tablet?

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  18. @ Dani - No, Android runs on ARM processors not x86.

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  19. How did you put the two halves together? I just cant figure it out!

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  20. You can run google chrome os... Its basically android os.

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  21. Nice job on your build. Have you tried Windows 8 beta on your tablet yet?

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  22. Gosto muito dos artigos de ótima qualidade do seu Blog. Quando for possível dá uma passadinha para ver nosso Curso de Informática Online. Lucas

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  23. Tablet is Very Nice Post. Thanks for sharing this information which is useful for all.

    php web development

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  24. Hi there…

    I'm planning on transforming an Asus eeePC into a touchscreen tablet but the thing I can't figure out is how to power that thing. What did you use as a battery and how do you charge it?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated :)

    greets
    Luke

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  25. Hello Justin,

    Just wanted to say how amazing that tablet looks! In the process of building mine right now, have the Capacitive screen ordered with 4-point multi-touch so I can use Win 8 when it is fully released(Consumer Preview for now).

    I am however stumped on the casing, the carbon fiber body you have created is actually quite ascetically pleasing and I was wondering if you would have any pointers on how exactly you created it.

    Any info you can share would be great, just e-mail me at Hirrouno@gmail.com

    Thanks and again Great Work!!

    Josh

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    Replies
    1. Well in a round about way i may have answered my own question lol, but i did remember that you used an accelerometer in the tablet, which I assume is plugs in Via USB but was the a program needed to get it to align? Or was that included with the unit software?

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  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  27. Thanks for the information many of us will know the Tablet User Advantage
    and its benifits to our daily activities.

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  28. I am wondering if you have an updated blog on the topic of making this tablet as I am considering undertaking this project myself, any more advice would be extremely helpful especially some pictures of the internal layout

    if you have time could you please email me at: shovel95@hotmail.com

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  29. I was wondering if I needed to add a fan? Also, what type of motherboard did you use? Fan or fan less?

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    Replies
    1. You have time can you email me the answer and some tips to : virtualpowercorp@gmail.com

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  30. Hello, for the msi laptop that you used, can you use that power button to turn it on and off? And I didn't understand how you setted up the power switch.

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  31. Oh for the tutorial, do you have any photos of you making it? That would be a great help.

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  32. good
    Do you have video of the assembly of the tablet?
    That would be very important because it would simplify things greatly
    If you send the video link to pedro_martins1@live.com.pt

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  33. if you want best 3d tablet pc with low price so 3d wonder is best option.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hey first of fantastic idea! Iv been wanting to make my own tablet since i built my Desktop and laptop!! but i was wondering what kind of battery you used? Thanks!

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