The Motherboard


Added Four New Buttons for Volume Control & Other Stuff

As the title says, I’ve added four radio buttons to the front bezel to control the volume and screen brightness.

I made them in pretty much the same way as the power button. First drilled four holes into the front bezel then located four special function buttons on the motherboard that were originally used for things like launching Internet Explorer (yuk) and Outlook Express (ew) and soldered wires onto their connections on the motherboard.

I then threaded the wires through the holes in the bezel and soldered them to new radio buttons and epoxyed them into the holes. To make them a bit more steampunk I put brass washers over them.

Then it was just a simple matter of remapping those special keys for the functions I wanted for them. The volume control is easily set in the “Keyboard” program in Ubuntu, though I’m not sure how to set the screen brightness buttons yet. There seems to be a few ways to do it but I’ll come back to it in a bit. The volume control was the most important.

EDIT : I just thought, I can actually add alot more functionality to these buttons if I used one of them as a “Function” key. So I would have the to buttons on the right control the volume normally, then when I hold down the button on the far left and one of the volume keys it could control the brightness instead. This leaves one other free button I can add another two functions to. The advantage of this is that although I only have 4 physical buttons, I can use them for six functions instead of just four. Win. The default function of the spare key I’m using to toggle the onscreen keyboard so there is one other function available if I need it.

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January 20th, 2012 by sephiroth

Update

Just letting you guys know where I’m up to.

I’ve installed the air vents, USB Ports, the power button, and the speakers.

Not so thrilled with how the air vents have worked out and I’ll probably go back to those to redo them so won’t post pics just yet. ;)

The USB ports were simple enough, after a lot of whittling into the side of the case anyway!

Whittling a hole for the USB ports

Whittling a hole for the USB ports

 

USB Ports

USB Ports

 

Cables going to the USB ports

Cables going to the USB ports

 

Ok, yeah, they look a bit ugly at the moment but I’ll fix that in a bit!

Power button was easy enough.  Drilled a hole into the “bezel” of the frame and soldered two wires to the power button on the motherboard.  Extended those wire out through the hole and soldered them to another radio button and epoxyed it into the hole.  Then covered it with a brass washer.

 

Soldering wires to the original power button

Soldering wires to the original power button

 

Drilled hole for the new power button

Drilled hole for the new power button

 

Installed new power button

Installed new power button

 

New power button with brass washer

New power button with brass washer

 

Oh, and by the time I installed all the electronics into the case I was beginning to wonder where the hell I was going to stick the speakers!

No room at the inn

No room at the inn

 

At the bottom right you can see the touchscreen controller, next to the motherboard’s cooling fan.  Above that are the USB cables and wifi dongle (which is actually giving me some trouble at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll fix it), and above the the serial R232 PCMCIA card that connects the touchscreen controller to the motherboard.

 

 

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January 17th, 2012 by sephiroth

Installing the laptop motherboard

Getting down to the nitty gritty : installing the electronics.

I had to carve a bit out of the inside of the case so that the motherboard would fit.  Unfortunately there was no way I could get it to fit with the dvd drive because the pcmcia serial port sticks out so far on the other side.  No big deal.  Who uses DVD drives these days anyway? Especially on Linux.

Other things to consider.

1. A power socket needed to be installed on the exterior of the case.

2. A power (on) button needed to be installed on the exterior of the case.

3. Air vents for the cooling fan.

4. USB Ports needed to be installed on the exterior of the case.

5. erm… speakers?

6. This is a biggy.  The touchscreen controller needs to run on 12v.  The laptop’s input in 19v and there is no 12v source on the motherboard!

The power socket was harder than expected.  I tried to unsolder the original power socket from the motherboard, but Acer must have used some kind of high temperature solder or something since my soldering iron couldn’t melt it!  In the end I accidentally broke the socket altogether.

But that’s no problem for an enthusiastic hardware hacker!  I managed to pull a power socket out of another device which was the right diameter for the plug, though the little positive pin in the middle was fatter than the original so the plug wouldn’t fit, so I salvaged the middle pin from the original port and managed to swap them over.  This worked well. :)

I then soldered two cables to the underside of the original socket connectors on the motherboard and soldered them to the new socket, which I then installed on the exterior of the case.

Original Power Socket on the Motherboard

Original Power Socket on the Motherboard

 

Broken Socket with New Cables

Broken Socket with New Cables

 

Power Cable Running to the Exterior

Power Cable Running to the Exterior

 

Power Cables Coming Out of the Exterior

Power Cables Coming Out of the Exterior

 

New Power Socket

New Power Socket

 

A bit rough around the edges, but I’ll fix that later.

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January 12th, 2012 by sephiroth