The Captain’s Writing Desk : A Steampunk Touchscreen Computer

Finally finished “The Captain’s Writing Desk”, a steampunk themed, custom build touchscreen laptop.

It has taken a month of sleepless nights and has cost under £200!

It is built out of an old Acer Travelmate 2413 I bought on eBay for only £10 because it had broken hinges. Its spec isn’t outstanding with only a 1.5ghz Celeron M processor and 256mb of RAM but this isn’t exactly supposed to be a gaming computer anyway. I just want to use it as a media station for playing movies and videos over a network.

I upgraded the RAM to 1gb and intended to upgrade the processor to a Pentium 4 but it turned out to be snappier than expected so I left the processor as it.

So the current spec is :

1.5 GHZ Celeron M Processor
40GB Hard Drive
3 x USB Slots
15″ Capacitive Touchscreen
Dual Boot Ubuntu 11.10 (+ Gnome 3) & WinXP

Many of the brass parts, including the USB sockets and power socket seen below as well as the speaker brackets, were made through etching with copper sulphate.

I didn’t need the DVD Drive so that was scrapped, and the battery it came with only had 7% of its original power so discarded that as well. Full details of the build can be found on this blog in the Steampunk Computer category.

It is inspired by Victorian portable writing desks, and it is built to resemble the writing desk that would have been used by Captain Nemo on the Nautilus (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea). The brass plaque at the top of the screen reads “Mobilis in Mobili”; the motto of the Nautilus.

And although there is on onscreen keyboard, sometimes a physical keyboard makes life so much easier, so I’ve installed a compartment inside which holds a USB keyboard.


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