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Thread: CTPC Laptop Mod

  1. #1
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    CTPC Laptop Mod

    I am in the process of finishing a project that has taken 6 months to complete. After several revisions, I have finalized a design for my Car Theater PC using a TP600X laptop. I obtained 10 of these units for free so I had no problem cannibalizing them or rendering them useless after a soldering mistake. The project was to take a paperweight and turn it into a portable media center without ending up with a Frankenstein pc. I started with a PIII 500, 192meg memory and 40gig hd. I maxed out the memory to 576megs ($65 on ebay), gutted the chassis of internal modem, ps2 port, and docking port, and serial port. I hardwired the s-video/composite connectors ($10 adapter on Ebay) onto the external video board (TP600x upgrade option included on this model) and mounted the s-video connector where the PS2 port was. Then reversed the PCMCIA cage making a vacant hole where the push-button release for the PCMCIA cage was, creating a new home for the composite connector. In the course of reversing the PCMCIA cage, I lost the use of the lower PCMCIA port but added a 4 port USB 2.0 adapter ($14 on Ebay) to the top PCMCIA slot. I hardwired the USB power from the docking port power after using a volt meter to find available power and replace the 4 female USB ports with USB extension cables($8 on Ebay). I then added a Netgear wireless N USB adapter ($23 on Ebay), Targus RF USB presenter mouse ($16 on Ebay), A bluetooth USB adapter ($7 on Ebay), and a serial X10 RF universal Pc remote ($13 on Ebay) to the chassis. I removed the external floppy adapter and used the hole to install the remaining USB 2.0 port. In order to install the serial RF adapter, I had to remove the serial port and solder leads to the female connector to keep everything internal. An afterthought was to hard-wire the existing headphone port to the audio-in port and disable to audio-in function to create dual headphone outputs. This laptop is going to be installed in the rear tire well pocket of a new Honda Odyssey and powered from a DC car power adapter (a cool find from the junk parts closet at work). The Odyssey has a convenient power port in the rear of the van. Next, I drilled a hole on the inside of the tire well pocket through the external A/V compartment next to the third row seat and ran A/V cables from the DVD input ports to the tire well pocket. The final step was to install stripped down XP pro, J.River media center, and all the A/V Codecs I could find in order to run all my kids Disney movies I converted to avi. The laptop is now a fully functional portable media center pc that looks exactly like it did before the mod. My next big hurdle was finding a way to power the thing up when the car was turned on. I settled on a "1 CH RF Wireless Remote Control Momentary/Toggle Robot" I found on Ebay for $14. I thought I could install the remote in the dash, replacing one of the blank buttons with a real one. Now I have to figure out a way to power the robot receiver. It requires a 12vdc, 6mah power supply. I would like to utilize the laptop battery if possible but I found that it's output is 10.8vdc at 1500mah. I'm not sure how to proceed without finding a 12vdc 6mah car power supply and installing a new power port on the laptop. After I purchased the robot, I discovered this site and saw the thread: "Laptop Auto Power-On / Turn-On Module" which I thought would be the ideal fall back plan if the RF remote thing got too complicated. The downside to that is it requires more cables being plugged into the laptop creating the unsightly Frankenstein effect I was hoping to avoid. Does anyone have any suggestions for me regarding this? I would love to share pics and thoughts if anyone's interested.

  2. #2
    Variable Bitrate rizaydog's Avatar
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    The laptop auto power on module really isn't bad as far as the Frankenstein factor. You drill a hole in the side of your lappy. Solder the two wires to your MB. The other end of the wires is connected to a plug. This gets connected inside the hole you drill into your lappy. The module has two wires coming from it with a male end plug. This gets plugged into your lappy's new plug. This makes it extremely easy to remove. The only other connections are a usb and +/- wires. Easy.

    I recently installed mine into a new lappy so if you have any questions, I might be able to help.

  3. #3
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    Sep 2008
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    Yea, I've been thinking about this over the weekend and pretty much decided that if I can score a docking station, I'm going to create a pass-through plug on the dock and install the auto power module. That way I can have all the Frankenstein stuff as a permanent setup behind the side panel of the car and the laptop itself will be a quick release for easy removal. The only thing that's a pain is, I removed the docking port on the unit that I have 95% finished and now I have to go back and grab another test subject in order to configure it for the dock. I'll have to admit, it is nice having a bunch of these notebooks to experiment on. That's the real reason I chose such an old machine to be my car pc. I didn't want to use anything that I might regret destroying. Not to mention that when the thing is maxed out on memory, it's not a bad little machine. I currently use one for my home server, I have another in use as a dedicated MCE on my kids tv. You can't ask for a better solution when you consider having 4 pcs running 24/7. When 3 are using about 16 volts, it's not so bad.

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