Talking Parts, Sort of: Keep It Simple, Dumb***!

A project log for The AnyTop

The laptop that *anyone* can build!

StarhawkStarhawk 09/29/2017 at 23:140 Comments

I'm still thinking over how I want to lay out the instructions. I think it's going to be in several sections, each dealing with one specific kind of component, with a first page acting as pictorial index.

I'm also thinking of simplifying things in terms of combinations to provide instructions for. For example, I was originally going to cover pulling a display from a laptop and getting a custom controller -- but that is a steep challenge to convey even *with* language involved.

Think about it. Even after you get the LCD panel out of the laptop intact (which is itself a significant feat) you have a controller to buy. To get that, you have to message someone on eBay (or sketchy general-Internet storefronts for the same company) and find out what controller they have that works with your panel. If you aren't particularly lucky, they won't have one for you at all and you get to start over with another laptop. Even if you /are/ able to get the controller, hooking it up is non-trivial -- and that entirely side-steps the issue of getting it from the seller to the buyer. I don't mind sending instructions bucket-brigade -- Timmy c/o Tommy c/o Jane c/o Jack c/o Mindy c/o Mandy, and down the road ya go -- but any serious business is not going to be willing to do that.

So screw it. Out goes that option. Unfortunately. It's really a very good option -- totaled laptops with otherwise-useful screens are not in short supply really anywhere -- /until/ you think about sourcing a controller.

Most of the problem, really, is the display protocol -- almost every laptop put together in the past twenty years uses a protocol called LVDS, Low Voltage Differential Signalling. The central problem with LVDS is that there are no defined pinouts or connectors or *anything* physical defined *anywhere* in the spec -- the laptop manufacturers are left to do that work themselves, and the result is that it's not really a standard, /per se/ -- it's much more a collection of almost-entirely-proprietary implementations of a protocol. What a waste.

As another matter, I'm rethinking the idea of offering the AnyTop as a kit. This would simplify the instructions significantly, although it would also potentially cause import/export problems, if a country had particularly stringent restrictions on the stuff. I suppose I could offer two versions -- a kit and a set of DIY instructions -- but I'm not terrifically thrilled about that, either.