The year was 2013. I had an old Dell Laptop sitting in my closet collecting dust. I bought it for next to nothing from a friend many years ago.  The power connector was broken and I wanted to repurpose the screen.  I was captivated by online videos of people talking about a tiny $35 computer that ran Linux. I visited my favorite electronic components store and picked one up. The project was taking shape! While tearing down the laptop I thought to myself “There has to be a standalone board that drives these screens. I am sure others have done this exact thing before.”

 I searched the part numbers for the screen online. To my surprise there was a board on eBay I could use to convert the hdmi input and drive the screen! 

The LVDS board was pretty big. It consisted of 3 boards. A main board for the LVDS controller, a power regulation pcb and a control panel with buttons/IR reciever.  I gathered the measurements and headed to my neighborhood Frys to see if there was something I could find to protect the board. 

I dreamt of the day I would have a robot produce enclosures for me.  I thought to myself infront of the shelf filled with generic enclosures. “Heck how would a misfit with no formal education in engineering figure out how to control a robot like that much less learn the software to design the files needed to send to it.” Looking back having a 3D printer or learning how to operate one felt light years away. I remember being awestruck as I watched a video of the Makerbot Cupcake for the first time. It boggled my mind with possibilities. A loud boom of music coming from the audio department snapped me out of my daydream. I quickly rummaged through the shelves of dusty plastic and aluminum boxes. There it was. The project box I found was perfect. 

Of course I didn’t want my Hacktop to look like any other old laptop screen. I gave it a coat of olive drab and black tiger stripes. Because everyone needs hardware crispy enough looking for Zero Cool to use. After the paint dried I added some velcro for accessories. I attached the enclosure to the back of the screen with heavy duty double sided adhesive strips.

A minor modification was needed to connect the power and ground wires. Luckily a handheld drill did the trick. 

 I now had a screen that allowed me to quickly slap needed accessories on and throw it in my work bag as I rushed off to the data center each night!
The screen is still holding up strong after all of these years. It travels with me in my toolkit when I’m on the road. This project inspired me to learn more about electronics and introduced to the Maker Movement. Curiosity coupled with action can lead you places you would never imagine. 

Share your thoughts below.  What was the first project you worked on that got you introduced to making? 

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