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Macbook to mini-desktop conversion

I'm converting an old 2009 macbook pro to a mini linux desktop.

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My wife has long since abandoned her old 2009 macbook pro and I was thinking of recycling it when I realized that laptop motherboards are usually very small and might go well in a 3d printed enclosure.

The form factor of this laptops motherboard is very rectangular with all the ports conveniently on one side.  This should make it easy to design a viable enclosure.

Links to in progress Fusion 360 files will be listed in the links section.

Some thoughts:

  • This will probably become an OctoPrint server
  • Should I replace the cooling?
    • A copper plate with a large heatsink would probably work really well
    • But the OEM heatsink and fan are really compact
    • Powering any other fan from the motherboard might be a problem

  • Version 2

    Leo Covarrubias07/08/2018 at 04:32 0 comments

    I updated the motherboard sled and printed a carriage for the ssd.  They nest together nicely but I need to work on cable routine.  Also I'm using nylon screws which is a bad idea.  I had to cut the wifi antenna a little bit to be able to access the screw holes from the top.

  • Version 1

    Leo Covarrubias07/07/2018 at 21:03 0 comments

    Version 1 of the motherboard sled only considered mounting the main board, so the wifi and ssd are loose for now.  I soldered some wires to two pads on the motherboard that when shorted turn on the machine.  I'm using a toggle switch for now, but will replace it with some other more integrated switch when I design the enclosure.

  • Wifi

    Leo Covarrubias07/07/2018 at 21:03 0 comments

    I was not aware that the wifi card on this mac was not built into the motherboard.  I had to go find it in the lcd panel hinge.  Luckily, it and the antena are very compact and transplantable.  I did have to cut a cable that snakes behind the screen.  Not sure what that was fore - maybe the webcam?

    I have not tried to test if the wifi works yet, working on the test bench sled files in Fusion 360 currently.  I will probably switch to Linux Mint instead of pure Debian for ease of use.

  • Proof of concept

    Leo Covarrubias07/07/2018 at 21:00 0 comments

    I'm working on printing a test bench sled for mounting the motherboard.  The idea is to test everything and fine tune the screw holes before designing an enclosure.  The magsafe connector mounts very, although I am considering embedding the power brick into the enclosure as well.

    Wifi was not working, but connected to the network with ethernet cable just fine and was able to ssh into the machine.

  • Disassembly

    Leo Covarrubias07/07/2018 at 20:59 0 comments

    I took the entire laptop apart, saving screws for potential reuse.  Forgot to take disassembly pictures, but ifixit had all the information I needed.

    I should have installed the OS before taking everything apart, but I was still able to attach the keyboard and trackpad to install Debian from a usb stick.

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