Monday, 14 October 2013

Toolmaking

It had been on my mind for some time that if I am making props that rely on Arduinos, files on SD cards and so on I really need some way to tinker with these things in the field.

I don't own a laptop and while you can program Arduinos from Android using a quite nice app called ArduinoDroid, it's a bit fiddly and only supports some boards. Most notably it doesn't support the Mega, which I wish to use.
Buying a shiny new laptop for this would have been a gross extravagance but I was beginning to justify picking up a scruffy secondhand one to myself.

Then a friend asked me to dispose of an old Acer Aspire One netbook she had dropped a year or two ago, smashing the screen. She had finally pulled the interesting files from it using an external monitor I loaned her and wanted me to zap the disk.
Not only did it need a screen, their dog had chewed up the PSU so it was kind of ready for the dump.

However I had  a PSU that suited in my work drawer and these Acers are basic but solidly functional so I wiped the disk, installed Ubuntu and used it with an external monitor for a couple of days to make sure it was passably stable.

Then it was off to eBay for a cheap replacement LCD panel.

Tonight I've fitted this and it was far easier than expected. All I needed was one jeweller's crosshead screwdriver, some care, patience and the foresight to lay it all out on the kitchen table on trays. The only casualty was a tiny bit of plastic clip from the screen bezel. On an old, pre-dropped netbook like this it might have been broken before I opened the case anyway.

Oddly, the Wifi didn't work with the screen broken but came on the first time I fired it up with the new screen. I can only think the screen was shorting out and grounding something that it shouldn't.

So I've now got a tool to work on things out and about for almost free, even if it did suck a little of my time. What I must not do is get tempted into a cycle of upgrades/accessories for this, it would be trivially easy to waste money on a small SSD, more memory, case and so on.

1 comment:

  1. The wifi antenna is often built into the screen on laptops Nik.

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