The transparent laptop mod.

Before I continue, I would like to apologize for the crappy image quality. The pictures were taken using the cheap webcam that me & the GF got from Telia for free. I have tried my best to digitally enhance the pictures afterwards, but they are still far from what I would consider "good"...

Enter the normal old crappy laptop.

I got it for free from a friend a couple of years ago.
AST Ascentia 950N; Pentium 90, 16 MB of RAM, 2.1 GB harddrive...
Someone had dropped it to the floor one to many times, and I had to get a new 2.5 inch drive just to get it working properly. I bought 2 PCMCIA network cards for it, installed Linux on it and set it up as a NAT (connection sharing) / firewall / webserver (php,etc) / sql-server / ntp-server / fileserver / mp3 jukebox for me and the GF's home LAN.
After all, it's the perfect "home server" - it's quiet, uses little power, and it's got a "built-in powersupply" ! =)
But then... the keyboard and mouse suddenly stopped working. I spent about 2 hours trying to get it to work before I finally gave up. There were no connector for external keyboard, but hey - I could still SSH (Unix network login) into the box, so everything was still nice & dandy.
But what meaning is there to have a screen on a box that you can't use directly anyways? If I removed all the unnecessary stuff, wouldn't it be cool to have a transparent laptop that lets you see how it looks inside?
And so we begin...

First I removed the keyboard, the screen, and everything else that was covering this beauty's internals.

What fun is an open mod if you can't see all the stuff that's inside? The laptop power supply gave me 18 volts, so I put a chain of 8 LED's together to make it light up in beautiful green flourescence.

Wow. It actually works...
Let's try putting it in.

Next, I bought some plexi glass, sawed it into the right dimensions, made wholes for the screws and a fan, the power button, and voila!
Unfortunately, I had to do the work on the plexi glass outdoors, and it was kind of hard taking the webcam with me... 8)
Remember to always be very careful when working with plexi glass. Cracks appear easily! I got one of them while working on this... Fortunately, it's close to the fan, so it's relatively hard to see.

A fan was certainly necessary - this is one of the first Pentium laptops, that used the same processor as the desktop boxes...
HOWEVER: I realized that the laptop power supply couldn't deliver enough juice for both the fan and the laptop itself... So I had to use the oversized power-transformer from an old 28k8 modem... =)
Here you see the temperature measured from the heat-dissipation plate, after ~5 minutes of 'make' for PHP 4.
47.4 degrees Celsius! And that's not even measured on the CPU itself!

And now with the fan connected...
31.2 degrees C after ~5 minutes of 'make' for PHP, even when it's 27.6 degrees in the rest of the room!

Built-in speaker, CMOS battery, powerbutton, etc to the top left.
CPU in the top-middle.
PCMCIA to the top-right.
Battery & heat dissipation plate (connected to the CPU via a piece of copper) to the left under the fan,
the 2.5 inch drive to the right under the fan,
motherboard-ish circuitry and memory expansion slots to the bottom-right. (there used to be a floppy drive here)

Size comparison...


Levitating pocketknife...

"Does this fan make me look fat?"

Showing off...

Grrr baby, yeah...

The webcam needs a lot of light to work right, so this doesn't look as good here as it does IRL ;)

So... does this modded laptop really work?
If you are looking at this, it does. Because this page resides on it!