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Thread: DIY laptop Building?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2002

    Smile DIY laptop Building?

    Hi there, am fairly proficient at building desktops and having seen a few damaged laptops on Ebay now have a burning desire o have a go at fixing/building one. Been told its a lot harder with smaller parts etc so if anyone has any ideas, hints please feel free

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Texas, USA

    Default Re: DIY laptop Building?

    To begin with, laptop parts are not commonly available through your normal retail channels with the possible exception of SODIMM memory modules and PCMCIA cards. A majority of other components are built into the mainboard and are difficult to find replacements for and even harder to repair/replace. Upgrading it is also next to impossible for these same reasons; plus the replacement parts you're wanting to update have to match the pinouts of the currently installed component.

    Good luck.
    Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill
    My Toys

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2002

    Default Re: DIY laptop Building?

    ok, so what would be the simplest things to fix when I'm looking at listings?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Default Re: DIY laptop Building?

    Hi Chenka44:

    Iím currently rehabilitating an old laptop, so maybe my experience will be useful to you. I bought an old (Compaq Pentium III Armada M700) laptop for US$10. It lacked an AC adapter, a hard drive, floppy or optical disk drive. But it did come with a battery and a legitimate-sounding back story that led me to believe it could be successfully restored.

    The first thing I did was buy an appropriate AC power adaptor on eBay. That should always be your first purchase. If the laptop wonít power up and post to the setup menu, then stop and cut your losses right there.

    Mine did power up successfully, so I eBayed a 20GB hard drive, a DVD/CD-ROM and a floppy drive. When they arrive, those items should allow me to boot up and install an operating system and drivers. So far Iím about US$150 into it. Iím also looking to eventually upgrade the systemís paltry 64MB ram, and get a wireless (802.11 b/g) card.

    You really have to watch your costs, because at some point the project can become cost-prohibitive. Nowadays, you can get a basic notebook for about $550 in the U.S., if youíre willing to play the rebate game. That gets you a warranty and a new machine thatíll run rings around my Armada. On the other hand, for about $200 Iím getting a portable DVD player with a 14.1Ē screen that also has basic mobile computing capability thrown in. That same $200 would have bought me a single-task travel DVD with a 7Ē screen. Plus it's an interesting challenge and the cost gets spread out over a couple of months. So it helps with the cashflow.

    There are a couple of things you could do to further cut costs that I didnít/couldnít do. For instance, after locking myself into the Armada M700, I quickly discovered that particular model requires a proprietary HD caddy that must be in very short supply, because it cost considerably more than similar HD caddies for other laptop models. My advice is to research the eBay market for used laptop parts and settle on a common model with a good supply of (relatively) inexpensive components. Something like a Dell or a Toshiba would have been a much better choice for me here in the US, for instance.

    After settling on a suitable model, look for eBay auctions selling an incomplete specimen that includes one or more of the components youíre eventually going to need. Auctions for individual components always seem to fetch top dollar, because there are highly-motivated buyers who need exactly that part. But an auction for say, the laptop chassis, an AC power supply and the floppy drive will often go for less because there are fewer buyers who need that exact combination of components. Watch those shipping costs though!

    Just do your homework and it can be a fun little project. Good luck!

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