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Project: Macbook Tablet

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Posted

Originally this was just on my blog, but I thought I might post it here for the few interested souls as I go through the process of creating my own Macbook tablet.

The computer in question is a 2007 model (Core2Duo) Macbook (not pro) whose battery exploded and bent the chassis and killed a few parts. I decided to buy a new macbook pro instead and this sat there for a while until I decided to do something with the still working parts. Originally it was to become the guts of a G4 tower case I have here, that was until The_Decryptor told me to make it a tablet and so I took a look.

If you want to see all this information in an unbroken line and sans comment click here: [url]http://www.i-dahr.com/?p=131[/url]


[b][u]So step 1: Hardware Dismantling[/u] [/b]

Time to dismantle the old macbook

Firstly I opened up the old macbook and took out the damaged parts:
[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/IMG_0274.JPEG[/img]
Oh dear god, just look a that mess. It really is a wonder this thing stayed on for 3 years and didn't die any sooner than it did. It lived a pretty hard life, travelling to and from uni, work or just about anywhere else and it looks like that took it's toll over the years.


Firstly let's remove the damaged parts: DVD drive, power connector, battery and part of the casing
[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/IMG_0278.JPEG[/img]

I got the dvd drive out (above), but there was some resistance... oh dear, all those hidden pesky screws.
[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/IMG_0277.JPEG[/img]whoops

I took the screen off and tested the connections to make sure it was okay
[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/IMG_0279.JPEG[/img]

Look it's an Amiga Keyboard Mac!
[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/IMG_0281.JPEG[/img]

The device still works fine without the screen and external video output seems to keep working fine.

The screen is now all marked out on the top cover for cutting:

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/IMG_0318.JPEG[/img]


Next Steps:
- Find a 13.3 inch 16:10 resistive touchscreen [b] [Done][/b]
- Get a dremmel and cut the screen dimensions out on the other side of the top case
- Screen rotation
- Shielding for the parts at the bottom of the screen (foil?)
- A new battery: Rechargeable Battery - 13-inch MacBook (White)

Find a way to re route the cables for:
- Backlight
- iSight
- Airport antennae
- Video out

[b]Update: 17th April, 10pm[/b]

The screen has been purchased!

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/w1.jpg[/img]

Includes:
4 wire Resistive Touch Screen (Film on Glass.. epic)
Connecting Parts / PBC RJ to usb controller
Operation Supports : Windows 98 / ME / XP / 2000 /Vista windows 7, Linux, Mac OS operation.
Compatible with 13.3"(16:9)-inch Touch Screen Models.
Dimensions / Size: 299 x 195 x 2 (mm)

The dimensions are JUST what I need:

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/w5.jpg[/img]


[b][u]Update 19th of April: On the software front[/u][/b]

[b]Drivers:[/b]

Just got the driver information from the supplier:

Firstly it is definitely OSX compatible, and secondly it has 4 point AND 24 point calibration. By the looks of the driver and software information it's an eGalax Touch Screen (they are an OEM provider so that's a plus), I also found the company website with the other drivers if I need them.

http://home.eeti.com.tw/web20/eg/drivers.htm

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/software.png[/img]

I haven't installed it onto the tablet mac hardware yet though, as currently it's connectivity is kinda limited. Basically I can't find an ethernet cable and the airport antennae isn't connected due to the screen being pulled off at present.

[b]Screen Rotation:[/b]

Given it will be a tablet I will need to rotate the screen so I had to find some software. (Thanks to Steve for making me look/think of it)
[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/macbooktab/Software.png[/img]OSX

The program is meant to have some shortcuts (Example: command option 0 for landscape), but I can't get them working so that is something to investigate later. For now I can use the drop down box using my finger to select the option I want.
[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/macbooktab/Dropdown.png[/img]OSX

Software Source: http://www.magesw.com/displayrotation/

[b]On Screen Keyboard[/b]

Apparently you cant just whip up an apple script to bring up the keyboard anymore, nor can you just drop the application into the dock. Great. This is where a tip from Alex comes in.

In 10.6 they took away that ability, so I need an app and a script for that.

Download and install keyboardViewer:
[code]sudo install keyboardViewer /usr/local/bin[/code]

Script:
[code]tell application "System Events"
if exists (process "Keyboard Viewer") then
click process "Keyboard Viewer"'s window 1's buttons whose subrole is "AXCloseButton"
else
do shell script "/usr/local/bin/keyboardViewer"
end if
end tell[/code]

One that is all done I can click an apple script in the dock to launch the keyboard rather than fiddle with the little drop down menu.

Software Source: http://github.com/nriley/keyboardViewer


[b][u]Up Next... Construction![/u][/b]

Marking out the screen roughly for the first cuts:
[img]http://enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/screen/IMG_0370.JPG[/img]

The marking was done in pen on the interior of the case and the exterior marked in tape as seen above. This was done to retain the cosmetic appearance (obviously), I will be leaving a good deal of margins to be safe and cut it down as I go.


Once that was done it was time to test fit the screen in it's new orientation and make sure all of the cables would make it to where they need to go.
[img]http://enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/screen/IMG_0371.JPG[/img]

Screen frame inverted and the cable routing checked:
[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/screen/IMG_0369.JPG[/img]

A few notable issues here:

- The iSight simply will not fit with it's current frame
- The display cable is at risk of being damaged in this configuration
- The silver tape on the airport cables once removed exposed the shielding (what the hell?)
- The inverter board is going to be a serious problem (see below)

[img]http://enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/screen/IMG_0372.JPG[/img]

I don't see how to re route it without changing or modifying the cable in some way at this point, I'll have to see how it works out. I may do it like this:

[img]http://enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/screen/IMG_0374.JPG[/img]

And simply make the cable just that bit longer to stretch back to the original position. Once the touch panel arrives I'll be happier to actually cut out the front , but until then I have to wait. At this point it could be friday next week before I see it.

Whilst I wait for the screen it was time to investigate the power button;

The big problem was I did not want to dismantle the keyboard to kind out, just in case. The documentation is also kinda sparse unless you're a developer apparently, that sucks a little. After a quick search I found that the keyboard appeared to be USB based (see below), that's a plus because USB is only 4 pins

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/080163011122_01.jpg[/img]

But I had to confirm, so I found a project that used one of the keyboards as a USB keyboard and this is what I found:

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/dsc00131.jpg[/img]

This confirmed it for me, we had 6 data pins, 1 ground and one isolated cable in the ribbon. This splits out to 10 pins at the ribbon connector:

[img]http://enigma-penguin.net/macbooktab/Screen%20shot%202010-04-30%20at%209.40.31%20PM.png[/img]

Excuse the quality, but what you will see is the usb pins (marked in red) and the two unknown pins moving into the PBC in another direction (in green). From what I've been able to ascertain I need to short these two pins using a low-value resistor (100-470 Ohm), but you have to be very careful (oh joy) and you may short something else out if you aren't.

More from me once the screen is here.
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Posted

Looks tedious but pretty cool. How long did this first step take you? lol

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Posted

[quote name='presence06' date='30 April 2010 - 22:29' timestamp='1272637769' post='592564176']
Likes tedious but pretty cool. How long did this first step take you? lol
[/quote]

I've been doing this on and off whilst doing university reports, but I'd say no more than a few hours in total so far. It's been really straight forward so far, the hard part is going to be the touchscreen, inverter board and the power button.

Those will take a fair few hours and maybe a but of fabrication to get around.

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Posted

Well looks good so far. Can't wait to see the final product

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Posted

That's what Apple should have made instead of the iPad. ;)
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Posted

[quote name='Enigma-Penguin' date='30 April 2010 - 14:32' timestamp='1272637977' post='592564194']
I've been doing this on and off whilst doing university reports, but I'd say no more than a few hours in total so far. It's been really straight forward so far, the hard part is going to be the touchscreen, inverter board and the power button.

Those will take a fair few hours and maybe a but of fabrication to get around.
[/quote]


It's only taken him a couple of hours so far - but give it another hour and the thing will be in pieces, on the floor, on fire, with him running around doing some kinda dance.

;)

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Posted

Looking great dude, let us know how it goes!

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Posted

Great...

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Posted

Awesome, I can't wait to see how this will turn out.

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Posted

You better Patent / watermark those pictures, because if your idea ends up being really good and works(idea is good, lets see it work) then apple will somehow take advantage of it if you post back "its been 2 months and im in love with it".

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Posted

I may end up watermarking them once the project is finished, but I still have to make sure I get it all going, looking perty and with no major screw ups. But for now I'm happy to be naive about the whole thing and just enjoy it once it's done.

I confirmed that the cable isn't being impinged with the lid closed today and I looked through the apple at the back as the computer booted through to the desktop, so that's a plus. I'm really itching to cut the hole in the lid to see it properly, but I have to behave myself and wait for the touch screen. Even a few mm of difference could expose the surround of the touch display and I don't want it to look like crap.

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Posted

Will you be using an SSD or sticking with a standard HDD?

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Posted

I will probably end up buying an SSD for it, if I'm going to be slinging it about during use it might be the safer option :)

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Posted

[quote name='Dahr' date='02 May 2010 - 09:55' timestamp='1272790524' post='592572048']
I will probably end up buying an SSD for it, if I'm going to be slinging it about during use it might be the safer option :)
[/quote]

Cool, well I thought a tablet computer with an ordinary HDD doesn't seem like the best of ideas ;)

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Posted

Very nice, always wanted to do this myself.

Looking forward to seeing the final build.

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Posted

FYI: Mage Software's Display Rotation Menu will not work on a MacBook with an Intel chip set.

Apparently, Apple decided it did not need to write a full driver for the internal display in its white MacBooks from 2006 to 2008. Consequently, portrait orientation is not possible on the internal display on these MacBooks (curiously, they can run a rotated external display just fine). Recently, this decision may have come back to [url="http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2402283&tstart=0"]bite them[/url].

Anyway, you can still do a 180 degree rotation with [url="http://modbookish.lefora.com/2010/04/21/macflip-a-free-accelerometer-based-display-rotatio-3"]MacFlip or fb-rotate[/url].

What you are doing is quite similar to an Axiotron Modbook conversion except you are using a touch screen, and they use a pen tablet.

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[quote name='clb' date='04 May 2010 - 11:03' timestamp='1272942235' post='592579774']
FYI: Mage Software's Display Rotation Menu will not work on a MacBook with an Intel chip set.

Apparently, Apple decided it did not need to write a full driver for the internal display in its white MacBooks from 2006 to 2008. Consequently, portrait orientation is not possible on the internal display on these MacBooks (curiously, they can run a rotated external display just fine). Recently, this decision may have come back to [url="http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2402283&tstart=0"]bite them[/url].

Anyway, you can still do a 180 degree rotation with [url="http://modbookish.lefora.com/2010/04/21/macflip-a-free-accelerometer-based-display-rotatio-3"]MacFlip or fb-rotate[/url].

What you are doing is quite similar to an Axiotron Modbook conversion except you are using a touch screen, and they use a pen tablet.
[/quote]

Ah cheers for the heads up on the rotation, I'll have to use the alternative method then; much appreciated :D . It looks like that one is better than what I was going to be using anyway, so that's awesome. My real goal in all this was to do the conversion in a cheap but effective manner. At the moment the only cost I have incurred is the touch screen and that was under $100. If I can get away with making a tablet mac for 100$ or less I'd be ecstatic, but we'll see how we go and how effective the screen is.

It also looks like the touchscreen has finally made it into the country, but given I have uni every weekday I wont get to it until the weekend. I should post some pics up once I get it in my hand and make sure everything lines up.

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Posted

The screen arrived and it's damaged, so Im not impressed

Firstly I looked like a crack dealer at the post office:
[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/touchscreen/IMG_0379.JPG[/img]

Secondly because it looked like the fit was bloody perfect, why am I ****ed the fit is perfect?

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/touchscreen/IMG_0380.JPG[/img]

There is a problem...

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/touchscreen/IMG_0381.JPG[/img]

With the damage it has it's not fit for use, you can see the marks so clearly with a backlight on

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/touchscreen/IMG_0382.JPG[/img]

It's not good at all

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/touchscreen/IMG_0383.JPG[/img]


Note: The screen is awesome, its a glass on film overlay and the opacity is fine. I want to use this as the screen for it, but I can't because the screen is damaged. It's a real shame, but now I have to see what the manufacturer will do about replacing the item, it's in a disgusting state for something that's meant to be new.

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Posted

I decided to install the thing anyway, judt to see how it went...

Just after I installed it:
[color="#FF0000"]EDIT: uploaded to youtube: (might still be processing)[/color]
[wyoutube]pj8VTNp0FaU[/wyoutube]

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/IMG_0389.jpg[/img]

[img]http://www.enigma-penguin.net/thumb-macbooktab/IMG_0390.jpg[/img]

This was after installing the software for the first time:
[color="#FF0000"]EDIT: uploaded to youtube: (might still be processing)[/color]
[wyoutube]hOOIkRG3q1Q[/wyoutube]

The files aren't small 13 and 40 mb respectively, Ill youtube it later. For now ignore the rounded corners and that the screen doesn't line up on top, I'll be sorting that out. The backlight works, the airport works and Ill try something with the iSight soon.

[color="#FF0000"][b]Note to any attempting this: At all times wear a mask when cutting the case[/b][/color]
I know it might seem stupid to say it, but trust me you want one on.

and now I have to run to uni! but I wanted to have at least this done by the time I left..

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Posted

Looking good sofar!! (Y)

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Posted

Awesome progress so far, it's a shame about the screen damage though.

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Posted

Changed the videos to Youtube so people dont have to download files.

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Posted

Huge project! Respect, Dahr!

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Posted

Very creative...

Once the calibration is fixed you'll be own your way. Do you plan to use this as a system? Or are you planing on selling it?

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Posted

I can imagine the amount of dust that comes off it when you're cutting it, it'll hang around for days!

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