I have begun the process of turning my old Powerbook into a tablet PC (mac?). Problem is I am wondering if I should modify the current case, or build another. Here are some issues.

1. The touch screen is expensive. Alibaba has helped out a lot, and after speaking to a few different companies in China, I have found a company that can ship a 12.1″ Four wire resistive touch panel for around $55US and also accept payment via paypal. I would have preferred a capacitive touch panel as they let a lot more light through, but they are more than double the price.

2. The current case. I would like to use the current case and just cut the hole in the back lid and flip the lcd around, but I am limited in my options to fix this to the base. I will probably end up spot welding some bits on. The other big issue is that the touch panel has less than 1mm clearance – so I hope it fits.

Cut along the solid line.

3. Money. I will need to have the rear cover cut professionally if I want it to look good. This wont be cheap, and I am having a hard time finding someone to do it in Japan (because of my Japanese level). The touch panel is also a bit pricey. So the main issue is the case, hopefully everything magically fits and I can just weld and screw the bits together, if not I will need to look at having a new case machined.

Current Condition of the Project.

Powerbook G4 with no head.

Other Bits

Waiting for payday so I can order the touch panel from China.

*UPDATE* Looks like I will need to sort out a different case as the touch panel dimensions are too big. Some types of panel are only a few mm off but it makes using the current case (at least the top part) impossible. This now means I have to look at making my own case. I could make it out of wood, but its not really the look I’m going for. I could also try carbon fiber however I have no idea where to start looking to get some in Japan. I originally wanted to have a 30mm thick piece of aluminum milled to fit all the pieces perfectly but the cost was going to be way over my budget (over 70,000 yen).

23/03/09

Got the touch panel in the mail today. All seems well. The people I got in contact with about machining a case were really helpful. They are willing to make it for free! Score! The case design will need to change though because of the machining method. I was initially wanting to have a solid block of aluminum routed/cut to my specifications, but it seems that that would be a very expensive option, and the machines used were not available. The new design will be cut onto a 2mm sheet of aluminum and then folded and welded. It wont look as nice, but you can’t complain when it’s free right?

Here is a video of the touch panel in action.

Received the custom made cover and attached the LCD (See images below). All that is left is to sort out the cable mess.

Finally got it all together. All that is left is to get a power button that will fit in the RJ11 socket hole and try to place the bluetooth antenna so that it works at a range of more than 3 centimeters. I suspect this will be an issue as the original layout incorporated plastic covers to avoid signal interference and my case has nowhere that isn’t covered with aluminum.

Tablet in Action