An update, in the miscellaneous sense...

A project log for The AnyTop

The laptop that *anyone* can build!

StarhawkStarhawk 09/17/2017 at 18:200 Comments

I was going to start delving into the various factors and considerations for part selections, one at a time, but I haven't been sleeping well lately (well, okay, I haven't had a genuine good night's sleep in probably a couple decades -- but lately it's been particularly bad) and my caffeination levels are not sufficiently high enough to compensate right now... you get this update instead.

I've put up a list of parts... it's purposely vague because of all the variations that can go into this thing and yet have it still come out just fine.

System units can go all the way from a hipster-chic Mac Mini (old or new) through to a RasPi (not recommended for horsepower reasons) or a bare MicroATX or smaller motherboard with CPU and RAM (not recommended for durability reasons) -- heck, one could strip down an old netbook or small laptop and use the guts of that for the thing, if one wanted to do so. Seriously.

Screens can be an old laptop/netbook screen with an eBay controller, or (if the cable's long enough) even driven by the original old laptop or netbook. In the proof-of-concept build, I'm using a screen module intended for a RasPi. It's got touch capability (capacitive) which I'm not using because I neither need it nor care about it.

The whole setup is like this, down to the power supply -- while the proof-of-concept uses a single-voltage supply (five volts output, and it pulls probably around four amps of the six that the supply can supply) -- a LaCie "Bigger Disk" brick is great if you've got a repurposed thin client or super-low-spec box on there, such that some things need 12v and some need 5v. Or, if you need some beef to your supply, weird-$#!* Dell small-form-factor supplies are good for that... just watch your cable lengths.

...and I'm really only touching on the highlights of each of those items, here. There's plenty more to say on each -- and those aren't the only components in the list, either...

But that's for later.

In the meantime, I got another part in. I ordered two special MicroUSB cables; they're supposedly two-conductor 18awg inside (the data lines are unconnected, as I understand it) and intended for 2a fast-charge purposes. Time will tell as to how much of a ripoff (or not) they were. I'll be using one for the power cable to the LCD. Why I ordered /two/ I'm really not sure of -- for now I'm chalking it up to a brain fart -- I really do only need one. Oh well. No photo this time, since the cables don't look any different from your average round-cable MicroUSB cable...

Oh, and I've kind of hit a stumbling block with the instructions... I think I have it figured, but it /could/ present a problem. I need to convey color information, but I can't rely on people having access to a color printer... and, as stated earlier, I really don't want to use language in the instructions. I have two ideas -- one, point to parts of a rainbow, and two, include instructions that basically indicate to write the names of the colors down next to the places where such colors are indicated. Both ideas are sort of questionable, though, in terms of utility -- can anyone suggest anything better...?