The Wall-Mounted PC

Hang an old laptop in the kitchen or hallway to create a touchscreen Web panel and message center

by John B. Carnett
John B. Carnett

Make a Wall-Mounted PC
****Cost:
$200
Time: 4
Hours
Easy | | | | |
Hard

  1. Find an old laptop: Any PC or Mac will do. We used a five-year-old IBM ThinkPad.

  2. Enclose it: We welded a frame out of perforated steel, but you could use plastic, wood or even cardboard. Find plans at popsci.com/wallpc.

  3. Add a touchscreen: The MagicTouch overlay plugs into a USB port and costs $160 at touch screens.com, but you can find similar models on eBay for as little as $40 (some require a stylus).
    Be sure to get one made for a laptop (not a full-size monitor) and matches your screen size.

  4. Give it Wi-Fi: Use a PC-card adapter (from $15; newegg.com), because it leaves your USB ports free for the touchscreen and keyboard.

  5. Plug in a keyboard: Instead of trying to type on the vertical laptop, we added a Logitech PlayStation keyboard ($10; amazon.com) to the flip-down panel, which is activated by a lever and stops at 90 degrees for easy typing.

Three Things To Do With Your Wall PC

Make tasty meals: Lots of sites, including
epicurious.com, allrecipes.com and foodtv.com, list recipes, but uktvfood.co.uk offers more than 1,000 video recipes, so you can hit â€play†and start cooking.

Keep track of everyone: Set up an account
for your family at backpackit.com, which lets you
create a calendar, post photos, leave notes,
and set reminders. Everyone can have his
or her own page, and you can update the
site from anywhere.

Show Off Your Photos Set the laptop´s screen saver to Slickr (free; cellardoorsw.com), which automatically makes a slideshow out of photos from your Flickr account.

_
See the next page for more detailed assembly notes._

The enclosure is what makes this project cool-without it, you just have a laptop hanging on a wall. We used steel, but any material that fits your dcor will work, so long as it´s strong enough to hold the laptop. As laptops are different sizes, it´s best to use our box as a general design guide and create a a cardboard mock up that fits your laptop before breaking out the steel or wood. That will also allow you to customize it to fit your Wi-Fi card slot and other ports that you might want access to.

Materials: The case is made almost entirely of 1/8-inch-thick perforated steel. We used old rusty stock that was very cheap, then welded and polished it with a grinder, then clear-coated it to reduce future rust.

Dimensions:
The unit overall is 13 3/4" Wide and 22" long (top to bottom).

Side panels are 3 1/4 wide at the top and 2 1/2 at the bottom. (They are wider at the top to accomodate the touch screen.)

The flip-down panel is 11 1/2" long and 13 3/4" wide; the piano hinge makes up the rest.

The rear plate is 13 3/4" by 22". The box´s edges rest on this plate.

The pen holder is just 1" square stock steel with an end plate welded on.

Make the open box to fit the laptop first. You can check fit as you go, then create a frame for the screen from 1" channel steel to cover the 1/8" rough edges of the box and the black plastic edges of the screen.

Then fabricate the flip down panel to meet the lower screen area. Tack weld the hinge as you check fit. Then refit the unit together and mark the slot for the Wi-Fi card. Remove the laptop before you cut the slot with a grinder

And always: USE THICK LEATHER GLOVES WITH THE GRINDER, safety glasses and ear protection!