custom notebook computers
Have you ever wanted to design your own custom notebook? What sort of things have you always wished for on a laptop? Please add them to this list.
See NoteBook for standard off-the-shelf notebook computers.
Many people like their laptop, except for one little thing.
Since desktop computers have fairly standardized interfaces, it’s fairly easy for people to fix “one little thing” by swapping out one component.
There are a few things that can be swapped out on a typical laptop – upgrade the memory, upgrade the hard drive, plug in different “PC Cards”, plug in a different set of headphones, and a couple other things.
But as of 2007, the only way to fix most “one little thing"s on a notebook is to sell off the old notebook and buy an entirely different notebook – one that may have fixed that “one little thing”, but has its own little quirks.
Some things that currently don’t seem to be available on any off-the-shelf notebook computer:
- “I want 2 hard drives in the laptop, so I can run RAID1 mirroring.” – David. Have you looked at "Install a RAID on your MacBook Pro" "RAID ... in a Macbook Pro" ?
- “I want my laptop to use standard off-the-shelf batteries I can buy at any grocery store – perhaps an array of AA batteries.” – Paul
- computers suitable for “wearable computing”
- external SATA connector “eSATA” (wikipedia:eSATA)
- “internal” USB connector “pocket” – deep enough that an entire USB keydrive or wireless mouse reciever goes all the way inside and plugs into the USB connector at the bottom (rather than “sticking out” awkwardly).
- digital video out (DVI or HDMI)
- can run off 12 V with a standardized (?) power plug (so I can use a simple cable between my car’s power port and the laptop, rather than use a 12 VDC to 120 VAC inverter followed by a 120 VAC to 20 VDC power adapter)
- no keyboard at all, only a PS/2 or USB socket to plug in any kind of keyboard.
- watertight hard drive ( to avoid "the data contained was lost forever" stories ). Or perhaps go a step further and make the entire laptop watertight? See instructables: "A Computer you can use in the Shower"
- "tiny jet engines" that use a fuel with over 10 times the energy density of the best batteries. ; ; .
Other things that are cool, and some off-the-shelf computers have them, but apparently no computer has all of them (yet):
Some relatively primitive notebook that are far more customizable (and have much longer battery life) than typical off-the-shelf notebook computers:
- "DIY Laptop v1" and "DIY Laptop v2" by Chris Fenton: extremely low-cost and extremely easy to customize. Version 1 had just barely enough RAM and storage to produce a “self-hosted development platform.” (text editor, compiler, interpreter): Picaxe-18X microcontroller, 20×4 character LCD screen, external 24LC512 EEPROM, and a tiny PS/2 keyboard. Version 2 upgraded to 16 KB of “RAM” (FRAM chips), 256 KB of “storage” (EEPROM chips), 2-way symmetric multiprocessing Picaxe 28X-1 CPUs, sound, 24 x 8 character LCD, 4 AAA batteries. Completely open-source software: “ChrisFS? file system”, “Linaxe” OS command-line interface, “EMX” the EMAXE text editor, “CC” the Chris# Compiler, PONG, HELP, “CHRIS#” (improved version of “Chris++”) a primitive BASIC interpreter written in Picaxe BASIC, etc.
Places that talk about customizing the outer case and heavily hacking some standard desktop or video game console to fit inside it so it looks vaguely like a laptop: (most of these have no batteries, and must be connected to mains power to run)
- the “Xbox Laptop 360” by Ben Heckendorn and 
- “Top 12 Weirdest Notebooks” 
Places that just talk about customizing the outer case (and putting some standard PDA or laptop guts inside):
Open source laptop hardware reference designs:
Other notebooks that are less customizable than the above: