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bartron
5th August 2010, 10:57 AM
update: in a blog (http://macbookairproject.blogspot.com/)...but it's just the same stuff here anyway (minus other posters comments).

***SCORE***

Managed to pick myself up a free MacBook Air

Here it is
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4140/4861232735_b59d1204ff.jpg

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4074/4861232277_330de234fc.jpg

Awesome...although as you can see the condition leaves a lot to be desired. The screen would work perfectly if the data cable running to it wasn't severed.

The good news?...it still boots
Here I am installing Snow Leopard to it (via handy USB key with SL image on it)

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4123/4861851842_97077906e3.jpg

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4138/4861230573_7809429f08.jpg

And a shot of the case with all the non-essentials removed.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4098/4861851400_93f67d10a0.jpg


Anyway...the plan

As you can imagine the unit is now fairly useless as a laptop. So, seeing as I didn't have to pay for this thing I'm going to convert it into a desktop computer...all I need is a case...

....hmmm...that white Apple keyboard seems to be pretty roomy inside...

stay tuned. :)

Lockley
5th August 2010, 11:03 AM
Awesome.

Keep us updated

Cybix
5th August 2010, 11:05 AM
nice score, perfectly fine for a desktop

Devil rolla
5th August 2010, 11:28 AM
your going to cram that air into that white keyboard...Crazy.

tripwu
5th August 2010, 01:00 PM
If the keyboard remains usable that would be pretty cool.

bartron
5th August 2010, 01:12 PM
If the keyboard remains usable that would be pretty cool.

That's the plan.

Things are coming together already. I won't be able to utilise the white keyboard as-is without some modifications as the space only exists in the back 2-3cm of the acrylic case...not wide enough to fit the Air's motherboard (which is about 6.5cm wide)

However we have ways of making things fit ;)

tripwu
5th August 2010, 01:18 PM
I seem to remember the wireless/bluetooth old white keyboard was a little higher and could perhaps be modified to fit.

mmulhern
5th August 2010, 01:19 PM
I gather you are looking at using some risers to lift the actual keyboard higher within the clear shell.

Fitting it within the keyboard would be great, but challenging. Of course the lazy option would be to just hang the MBA off the back of a monitor to make a ultra cheap iMac-Mini.

Lockley
5th August 2010, 01:52 PM
I gather you are looking at using some risers to lift the actual keyboard higher within the clear shell.

Fitting it within the keyboard would be great, but challenging. Of course the lazy option would be to just hang the MBA off the back of a monitor to make a ultra cheap iMac-Mini.

Ultra cheap imac mini is an awesome idea :)

Byrd
5th August 2010, 01:59 PM
Nice score! Looks like a lot of empty space in the front of the housing - could you chop it off here and make it a MBA keyboard/desktop, sort of like a Commodore 64? :)

JB

bartron
5th August 2010, 02:00 PM
Working on this I must say what a marvel of engineering the Air's motherboard is. It's only a few mm wider than an iPhone and about 60% longer. The two largest components on it are the heat sink and the fan. If you don't count the various connectors needed to hook together all the other parts (keyboard, hard drive, speakers etc) it's essentially a CPU, GPU and a couple of ram chips held together with the minimum of circuit board....and it would give a dual G4 powermac a run for its money (biggest drawback is the slow arse hard drive)

With the tech Apple has bought/developed since the Air's release I would not be surprised if we see the next Air essentially as a Mac on a chip.

back to hacking....hmm...need to go shopping first.

edit:

Nice score! Looks like a lot of empty space in the front of the housing - could you chop it off here and make it a MBA keyboard/desktop, sort of like a Commodore 64? :)

JB

Was one of my first thoughts which lead to the plan of installing it in a keyboard housing (the white Apple one was handy at the time). The keyboard and trackpad are in pretty bad condition though and nice as it would be to keep them it ain't going to happen (previous owner didn't really look after it that well)

As a hint as to what will happen....let's just say it was really nice of Apple to make the magic track pad fit the profile of the slimline keyboard. ;)

DaveOZ
5th August 2010, 02:02 PM
I thought Apple were replacing Airs with broken hinges under warranty. Know problem. yu could always say cable broke because the stupid hinge let go.

bartron
5th August 2010, 02:06 PM
I thought Apple were replacing Airs with broken hinges under warranty. Know problem. yu could always say cable broke because the stupid hinge let go.

it's a rev a and not under warranty. plus there's enough other damage for apple to say it didn't happen by accident...plus I want to hack it. :)

Byrd
5th August 2010, 02:28 PM
(biggest drawback is the slow arse hard drive

With what you have in mind, there is nothing stopping you from adding a 3.5" scorcher HD instead (not knowing the MBA hard disk connector layout, of course)

bartron
5th August 2010, 02:41 PM
With what you have in mind, there is nothing stopping you from adding a 3.5" scorcher HD instead (not knowing the MBA hard disk connector layout, of course)

MBA rev A uses a 40pin ZIF ribbon PATA interface. I can find plenty of ZIF to SATA/PATA/CF adapters (to plug a 1.8" drive into a regular SATA caddy) and plenty of CF to ZIF adapters (so I 'could' use a CF card as a makeshift SSD) but so far no 2.5" PATA or SATA to ZIF....so thus far I'm unable to use a 2.5" or larger drive in my project without connecting it via USB which would just be pointless.

sparky13
6th August 2010, 07:55 AM
That's an awesome idea :) Great work and awesome score :)

bartron
6th August 2010, 11:04 PM
mini update:

Everything that can be pulled out of the case has been removed and the motherboard laid bare. One by one I added components to the mobo...the bare minimum required to get the system booting.

Hard Drive
USB/display output module
WiFi/Bluetooth module
Magsafe

booted up...all good except all of a sudden I have 'kernel_task' taking up 150% cpu and the thing is running slow as a dog.
A bit of research indicates this is a thermal issue but what was causing it? The CPU wasn't overheating yet OS X thought it was...the heatsink was in place and barely warm to the touch.

Looking back at the remaining unattached components I noticed a trace on the ribbon cable that leads to the IR sensor and power LED. The trace went all the way to the front of the chassis, connected to what looked like a small resistor then looped back to the motherboard.....whatever it was (thermostat perhaps), not having it connected was affecting the thermal logic because as soon as it was connected the CPU returned to idle.

I've also dismantled a white Apple keyboard and have an initial layout of components. So far things are looking pretty good in terms of space and where ports will be located. The only major sticking point at the moment is that the power button is part of the keyboard circuitry so unless I use the Air's keyboard I don't get a power switch.

Onward and upward :)

NathR32
6th August 2010, 11:27 PM
Loving this project. Can't wait to see it in person once it is finished.

bartron
7th August 2010, 12:25 AM
Some pics to whet your appetite :)

The parts in a rough layout in the old white keyboard perspex. This is to get an idea of where things will be so I can mark them out and minimise folds in cables.
The long black thing at an angle is the speaker unit, magsafe to the right, wifi/bluetooth unit is the small blue and silver thing in the middle, IR and power LED slightly left of front centre, hard drive and mobo at the rear (where there is greater clearance) and the display/USB module is hanging out the back but plenty of slack on the data ribbon.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4097/4865572149_e8f2d1ff42.jpg

A look at the rear of the case where the old USB ports used to be. The Air's connectors for audio, display and USB will line up to this perfectly. Need to make a bracket though.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4122/4865572879_caa78a5849.jpg

Clearance check to see what the space is like in there. Plenty of room on the left for an auxiliary outlet fan to dissipate heat.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4135/4865571387_ba7bbba38a.jpg

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4118/4866189270_da3076e6e0.jpg

Yes, under all this is a fully functioning Mac :)
Ignore the keyboard cable dangling out the back. In the finished product the keyboard will be connected to the motherboard internally and all you'll see at the back will be a display cable and maybe USB. Wifi and Bluetooth are fully functioning.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4077/4865569835_2606952c3e.jpg

auspad
7th August 2010, 12:39 AM
man your good, if you decide to sell it i call first dibs.:p

i am amazed that it even fits in there, any updates as to what is happening with the trackpad? also is there any sort of wireless you can go to for the monitor? ie: plug 1 transmitter in the vid-out of the keyboard and one in the monitor?

drzeus
7th August 2010, 07:50 AM
This project is pure genius....love it! Once this is done, post a video of it booting up and it will go viral on all the apple blogs!

cosmichobo
7th August 2010, 08:37 AM
Man I got boring in my old age!

8 y/o cosmic was pulling everything electronic apart to see how it ticked, and what could be done differently with it.

These days I wouldn't even think of being so amazingly inventive as that, Bartron. A*Mazing!

It's good you've taken pics along the way to document your genius. :)

bartron
7th August 2010, 09:12 AM
heh...pulling it all apart was the easy bit....now I gotta make it all fit together :)

cosmichobo
7th August 2010, 09:17 AM
Will you use clear plastic to make the framework? Gonna have to now to keep the aesthetics. :)

nibbles
7th August 2010, 10:02 AM
man your good, if you decide to sell it i call first dibs.:p

any updates as to what is happening with the trackpad?

Get a magic trackpad, they are bluetooth. Where does one manage to score such a thing for free?

db9
7th August 2010, 12:23 PM
That's awesome, man!

I wanna try that if i ever get lucky enough to get a free MBA! :P

The_Hawk
7th August 2010, 12:51 PM
That is some VERY nice work there, wish we all had free MBA's to play with :D

bartron
7th August 2010, 10:00 PM
Some more pics but not a lot of progress made on the actual case mod. Just slowly getting things together and working out what I need and what I can leave out.

A couple of things I discovered:
1) The LED keyboard backlight system is really elegant. The whole system takes up maybe 0.5mm thickness and illuminates the whole keyboard evenly with 5 LED's
2) The Air's laptop keyboard was not designed to be removed easily. The trackpad, not at all (it's spot welded in). If either of those components fault the whole top half of the laptop is replaced.

Some more pics:
Pulling the membrane out of the keyboard. I need this to have an operative power button.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4138/4868624994_be17314360.jpg

Empty top half. Unibody construction before Apple even made it a marketing term.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4116/4868625578_475a1387af.jpg

The reason I needed the whole keyboard membrane...one lonely power button. Will be easy to integrate this into the rear of the case.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4080/4868011205_7516ede4ef.jpg

Main screen turn on - The system up and running. The speaker isn't connected though so no noises (literally...if the fan wasn't visible you wouldn't be able to tell this was even running). Power button works as expected.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4138/4868010709_72865fbf98.jpg

The power LED...damn bright.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4094/4868009247_3677861108.jpg

auspad
7th August 2010, 10:31 PM
When its done take it into an apple store and see what they say :D
Are you going to keep the battery in there as well?

Ken-f
8th August 2010, 09:29 PM
I call dibs on the unibody part! :P

bartron
8th August 2010, 10:34 PM
I reckon Apple built the Air for modding :)

Bonus - The motherboard has built in standoffs that are just high enough (about 2mm) to allow clearance. All I need do is drill some teeny holes in the case and I can use the same screws that held it in the Air chassis to keep it in place in its new home.

Also I purchased a cheap arse USB hub from the reject shop for $5. This will let me plug in the keyboard but also allow easily accessible USB ports. Also this will permanently become a DVI output system. The micro DVI to DVI adapter will be permanently mounted inside the case with a hole cut to allow access. This has the added bonus that it acts as a riser for the keyboard which will be at the perfect height. All I need is a riser for the other side so the keyboard doesn't flip.

Everything is now in the case and temporarily taped into place ready for marking and eventual cutting with the dremel. Magsafe on the right hand side, power switch at the rear, DVI out left rear and USB ports along the left side.

Photos shortly.

bartron
9th August 2010, 10:41 AM
I think I might copy all this stuff up to a blog....and use something other than an iPhone 3G to take the photos :p

edit: blog here The MacBook Air Project (http://macbookairproject.blogspot.com/) Currently all I have is reposted what I have here.

Anyway, here's some images of the almost final product.

The rear DVI port. Will also extend the audio port but I need to go to Jaycar or somewhere and buy a couple of parts.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4080/4873248929_dd8532e0ea.jpg

The four USB ports on the left hand side. I have to do some testing as this hub hangs off one of the keyboard USB ports which I recall is outside USB spec. If it operates normally (i.e. USB2 speed albeit unpowered) then I may leave it as is. If I plug the hub into the Air directly then I'll need to sacrifice one of the four ports and hotwire the keyboard to the hub. No big deal but it does mean cutting up a keyboard cord and I want to prevent as much of that as I can.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4118/4873249499_58898982e6.jpg

An internal view with all the components in their final resting place, ready for marking out locations for cutting and screwing. The speaker, antenna, IR and power LED run along the front. Mobo and hard drive at the back, bluetooth/wireless daughterboard in the middle. In the left portion you can see the keyboard cord coiled up, the naked $5 usb hub (not plugged in at that point) and DVI connector taped in place. The rear hole that I was going to use to locate the ports now serves as ventilation and I may still hack apart an old graphics card for its heatsink and fan and use this as exhaust.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4138/4873248361_67d43bc13f.jpg

Everything in place. If I had all the port holes cut already this would be a working system (It currently works but with no holes there's no way to plug anything in)
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4100/4873251539_1984fdfedc.jpg

I am hoping to make this an all-in-one unit with a slim keyboard and magic trackpad on the right hand side. For that I need either a wired keyboard sans numberpad or a bluetooth keyboard and bluetooth magic pad. Would be really nice if Apple made the magic pad in a wired model (bonus if they made it do it snapped on to the side of the wired keyboard via one of the side USB ports).

Anyway, I can't buy the trackpad because no-one in Canberra has one. Testing the profile with my bluetooth keyboard shows that I would have to cut into the rear to allow for the battery compartment but it would make it all nice and neat. So for the meantime I'm using a spare wired keyboard (hence my reluctance to cut the cord) and an old dell mouse.

cosmichobo
9th August 2010, 02:38 PM
Could you hotwire the Magic Trackpad into the Air's power lines? Somehow... :}

bartron
9th August 2010, 02:50 PM
Could you hotwire the Magic Trackpad into the Air's power lines? Somehow... :}

probably.

The trackpad (and the keyboard) survive quite nicely off the 3V it gets from 2 AA batteries. Since I'm not running a screen the 45W power supply could easily power both in addition to powering the system. I'd just need to bleed off some from the power rails and convert the 14.5v at the magsafe to 3v for the trackpad/keyboard.

The most annoying issue at the moment is that since Apple started using non user replaceable batteries their laptop motherboards no longer have PRAM backup batteries....since theoretically there is always the system battery connected. It's only annoying in that when you boot up for the first time the system clock resets itself. If you're networked it quickly syncs with the Apple time servers though so it's no deal breaker (unless you're Steve Jobs perhaps). As long as the power is connected to the magsafe the PRAM stays.

JaimeSharp
9th August 2010, 05:21 PM
Nice Work Barton Either way you will get it to work interesting idea and such as small form factor i do wish they still had pram batteries etc when complete enjoy maybe give it a lick of paint or something to keep it visually stunning on the clear section imagine black so no one would suspect a thing :)

cosmichobo
9th August 2010, 07:11 PM
I like the clear plastic form factor... Apple did too a few years back.

nibbles
9th August 2010, 08:27 PM
brushed aluminium like the keyboard above it would look good if you were to completely remove the plastic case, also you would have to spend quite some time tinkering it and making it perfect

NathR32
11th August 2010, 06:56 PM
Any updates Bart :p?

bartron
11th August 2010, 07:36 PM
Just waiting on my magic trackpad to arrive. I should be able to bolt all the stuff down tonight but it won't 'look' any different.

Tried searching for other sites or blogs about molding Macs but seems like it's a dead industry. At one point there were competitions sponsored by ifixit.com with $1000's in prizes but the site (macmod.com) appears to be dead.

mjankor
13th August 2010, 12:23 AM
Reminds me of the old Amiga 500 :D

bartron
13th August 2010, 12:38 PM
Trackpad has arrived...

Time permitting I should have this finished over the weekend.

GeoffComma
13th August 2010, 12:53 PM
Making me want to do some schematics up for my old Macbook and put it into a 1RU. Or 2/3rd RU Space...

Rust
13th August 2010, 01:11 PM
I'm loving where this is going :)
This is so going to make it on Engadget :)

bartron
13th August 2010, 01:59 PM
I'm loving where this is going :)
This is so going to make it on Engadget :)

Wouldn't that be weird....but from what I can tell no-one has done a complete Mac case mod in this fashion. Most of the case mods I can fine a modding existing cases, painting them up, cutting holes in the etc...mind you, most of the mac modding sites I can find are defunct or haven't been updated in months/years.

Google analytics is a neat little tool. Most of the hits on the blog are from Australia (because I think only MacTalk know about the project thus far) but the hits from other countries are interesting. I think on day one I got a hit from Poland and another from Hong Kong but now I also have hits from the US, UK, NZ, Canada and Japan.

And I've earned $0.52 from AdSense......w00t.

GavinRoskamp
13th August 2010, 02:30 PM
Hey. USA is gonna explode when they see this. I know it's already been swimming around Twitter. Gonna tell everyone to RT my Tweet about it!!!

Honestly, if you can get this to work, I know plenty of Mac fans that would DIE for this thing. If you have the stamina and the time to make these, people would pay almost anything to get them.

Now:
You need to take my current Mac Mini and put it inside my old iMac G3. The G3 still works, but it's too slow for real use. Oh, and get rid of the CRT. Find some way to put an LCD in there. I would totally pay like $1000 and shipping. :D

cosmichobo
13th August 2010, 04:53 PM
Honestly, if you can get this to work, I know plenty of Mac fans that would DIE for this thing. If you have the stamina and the time to make these, people would pay almost anything to get them.

It's not feasible.

Prior to iPad, people modded iBooks into tablet-like-devices to sell as "new" machines... but they cost a fortune, because - they were modding new iBooks/Macbooks etc to make the tablet.

This project's beauty was - the donor computer held no value (to its owner at least), and thus it doesn't matter if it costs a few bucks for parts/hours to make.

But if you need to rip apart a MacBook Air every time...

bartron
13th August 2010, 05:26 PM
This project's beauty was - the donor computer held no value (to its owner at least), and thus it doesn't matter if it costs a few bucks for parts/hours to make.

But if you need to rip apart a MacBook Air every time...

Yeah, getting a free MacBook air makes it a bit more cost effective :)

Although the hinges issue on the air might mean there are more than a few laptops out there not being used. The hinge on the one I got gave out and actually sliced the monitor cable (plus a few others) making repair a costly exercise and thus written off.

I get more of a kick out of breathing new life into these things than hacking the guts into a new case....but hacking is fun as well :)

cosmichobo
13th August 2010, 08:02 PM
I don't mind the idea of modding... modded TAMs amaze me, though I'd never do it to my own... I figure - how long til what you splice into it, will no longer be considered "up to date" anyways...

But this project is such an out of the square concept... :)

bartron
13th August 2010, 11:35 PM
Started cutting up the case tonight. Dremels are scary fast and cut like butter...unfortunately that makes straight lines hard over relatively long distances so tomorrow I'll hook up a rig to hold things steady.

adamd
14th August 2010, 12:44 AM
Hey. USA is gonna explode when they see this. I know it's already been swimming around Twitter. Gonna tell everyone to RT my Tweet about it!!!

Honestly, if you can get this to work, I know plenty of Mac fans that would DIE for this thing. If you have the stamina and the time to make these, people would pay almost anything to get them.

Now:
You need to take my current Mac Mini and put it inside my old iMac G3. The G3 still works, but it's too slow for real use. Oh, and get rid of the CRT. Find some way to put an LCD in there. I would totally pay like $1000 and shipping. :D

I'd prefer a Mac Mini in an iMac G4.

skyhawkmatthew
14th August 2010, 06:54 AM
I'd prefer a Mac Mini in an iMac G4.

I'd buy one of those too!

nibbles
14th August 2010, 10:29 AM
I'd prefer a Mac Mini in an iMac G4.

yes but that wouldn't be as much of a challenge, you have a lot of space to play with.

bartron
14th August 2010, 05:10 PM
So here's a couple of pics of the holes I've cut out.

This one is for the magsafe adapter. you can kinda see how rough it is at the moment but this will be sanded down then beveled with the dremel .

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4123/4889407323_809111271b.jpg


Here you can see the hole I've cut for the DVI and also the whole side of the case has been removed. Into that I'll cut individual holes for the USB ports then re-attach it to the side. I've cut it as close to the edge as I can so hopefully the seam will be concealed somewhat.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4137/4889407833_9463184a2f.jpg

Once they are on I'll bolt everything in and spark it up and see how it all looks :)

Oh, one last thing. The reason why this is coming in dribs and drabs is that I literally have maybe 30 minutes a day to play with it. The rest of the time I'm either at work, looking after kids or like later today, on a photo shoot. If not for that I'd say you could knock up something like this in a single day (not including glue drying time).

adamd
15th August 2010, 12:16 AM
I'd buy one of those too!

Good thing I happen to have one of each of those!


yes but that wouldn't be as much of a challenge, you have a lot of space to play with.

For the Mini, yes, but getting the display to work? Good luck with that..
A friend and I where I used to work had a look at getting a display from the G4 to run on the Mac Mini. Apple have used their own type of display connector, which has a completely different amount of lines to any of the other standard formats. (We had access to secret Apple docs too :))
While yes it would be possible to get a 3rd party screen into it and run a DVI/VGA cable through the arm, it'd be way too difficult.

iMic
15th August 2010, 02:47 AM
For the Mini, yes, but getting the display to work? Good luck with that..
A friend and I where I used to work had a look at getting a display from the G4 to run on the Mac Mini. Apple have used their own type of display connector, which has a completely different amount of lines to any of the other standard formats. (We had access to secret Apple docs too :))
While yes it would be possible to get a 3rd party screen into it and run a DVI/VGA cable through the arm, it'd be way too difficult.

A decent shot would be to pull apart an Apple Studio LCD Display (15" with ADC connector) and try mounting that in the display housing. At least then you have the power and data/signal being fed along a single cable through the arm. I believe it's a standard DVI interface, you just need an adapter to split the ADC to separate power and DVI connections at the base of the machine.

Only problem then is the overall cost of materials.

nibbles
15th August 2010, 08:48 AM
Sorry my bad I was talking about an eMac not the iMac g4 woops, yes it would be a little more difficult with one of those, apple don't like making things simple.

Anyway, the shots are good and it will look awesome when it's finished

cosmichobo
15th August 2010, 08:52 AM
Mac Mini in an eMac? 17 inch CRT? Bit old hat. :)

nibbles
15th August 2010, 09:30 AM
Mac Mini in an eMac? 17 inch CRT? Bit old hat. :)

Yeah I was sort of wondering why somebody would want that

bartron
15th August 2010, 03:11 PM
Behold!

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4116/4893004792_9db606f2b0.jpg

That there is a working Mac with 1.6Ghz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM and 80GB hard drive.

Not 'quite' there yet with the case. I have to add some small mounting points for the keyboard and trackpad to rest on and attach the left hand side of the case where the USB ports are. However everything is in its place, the motherboard is bolted down so it can't move about and everything else is held in place in the most hack friendly method ever....black duct tape.

The DVI port on the back. You can still see the masking tape I used...that will come off eventually

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4117/4892407677_064846c03d.jpg

The magsafe adapter...again with the masking tape. I'll have to cut a rebate as the case is still a little too deep but it works.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4122/4892407525_262fa62db1.jpg

The internals....all covered in tape :)
When I'm feeling up to it I may use some other method but this keep all the wires and whatnot in place inside a case that was not designed for it.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4097/4892426127_192defe0b6.jpg

The side USB ports. There will be a cover on here eventually with space for the USB ports to stick out.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4138/4893004926_477f304449.jpg


And one last view from the front

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4123/4892407795_824d19ca4e.jpg

Now it's basically down to the finishing touches and she'll be all done :)

areal
15th August 2010, 03:33 PM
Wow.

DagrtheSnide
15th August 2010, 03:35 PM
Perhaps a glue gun or some form of silicon instead of the tape.

Looking good though.

bartron
15th August 2010, 03:38 PM
Perhaps a glue gun or some form of silicon instead of the tape.

Looking good though.

Yup. Glue gun and globs of gunk would be my next choice...don't have one though and I've already spent a couple hundred already....next payday.

cosmichobo
15th August 2010, 03:39 PM
And - wow 2.

Only thing we need - a picture from "below".

And of course, the boot up video. :)

sparky13
15th August 2010, 04:01 PM
That's awesome :) Great work there. Wow 3 from me!!! :)

decryption
15th August 2010, 04:19 PM
Pretty awesome sir :D
I submitted it to Digg! The MacBook Air Project (http://digg.com/apple/The_MacBook_Air_Project)

bartron
15th August 2010, 05:05 PM
awesome :)

just gotta glue the USB side on and the keyboard/trackpad brackets.

Oh...and the boot up video....will pop one up in a day or so.

cosmichobo
15th August 2010, 05:20 PM
Um...

Will there be an easy way back inside the box if/when needed?

bartron
15th August 2010, 05:26 PM
Um...

Will there be an easy way back inside the box if/when needed?

Yes...the keyboard and trackpad come off. They need to anyway to replace their batteries (until such time as apple make a wired trackpad. Then I may revisit the project and use USB variants)

nibbles
15th August 2010, 05:44 PM
Are you only able to use tap to click on the trackpad? Looks great, you need to find a little piece of brushed aluminium to fit that little gap between the trackpad and keyboard if you do that it will look almost like something apple would create.

mechcon
15th August 2010, 05:52 PM
oh here's one to top off what you're doing.. find a dead iPod touch and make a secondary screen out of it for the Mac, or some kind of interface, ala this! ASUS Eee Keyboard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASUS_Eee_Keyboard)

http://img.skitch.com/20100815-8q6nqpid82jt78fgubtrcnnrph.jpg

TheKeddi
15th August 2010, 06:03 PM
Awesome work! I wish I was that clever with techie stuff!!!

bennyling
15th August 2010, 06:11 PM
Possibly a stupid question, but have you mounted the Magic Trackpad's feet in such a way that they are in contact with something, thus enabling the "press down" function of the trackpad?

At a guess they'd be braced against the plastic surround of the perspex/whatever it is, or possibly mounted on some stands inside the case itself.

bartron
15th August 2010, 07:09 PM
Possibly a stupid question, but have you mounted the Magic Trackpad's feet in such a way that they are in contact with something, thus enabling the "press down" function of the trackpad?

At a guess they'd be braced against the plastic surround of the perspex/whatever it is, or possibly mounted on some stands inside the case itself.

Not yet, but yes. I have a couple of risers to meet the feet but I haven't put them in yet so it's tap click only for the time being.

BTW, tap to click is hella annoying...I keep accidentally clicking things or dragging them around the screen. Good thing is, it also works with a bluetooth mouse :p

KyeSeveN
15th August 2010, 07:43 PM
this is GREAT! fantastic job!

bartron
16th August 2010, 12:27 PM
Hitting upon a small snag whereby the bluetooth antenna is too close to the antenna for the trackpad (Hello Apple...wired trackpad please )

Anyway, I have a fair few options for relocation. I'll test running it up along the back of the case and see what happens. Wifi appears to be fine as is the keyboard...but then the keyboard antenna appears to be in the rear of the unit whereas the trackpad antenna is in the base....all I have to go on there is the iFixit teardown and the reception issues I've been having so take that information with a grain of salt.

All experimentation and all fun and that's what it's all about now isn't it :)

I'm also getting some clip brackets made up so the keyboard/trackpad snap into place and are easily removed for battery replacement. (again apple...wired track pad please...then I can permanently fix the thing in pace).

Other than that, everything is working nicely. Will post a boot up video.

edit

I love stats...I could kick on google analytics forever...anyway, Interesting seeing the browser stats now that I'm getting majority of hits thanks to digg and reddit

Browser Visits % visits
Firefox 972 40.45%
Chrome 909 37.83%
Safari 339 14.11%
Mozilla Compatible Agent 72 3.00%
Internet Explorer 51 2.12%

I know it's only a couple thousand hits but still....look at poor IE down there at 2%. If this were a political opinion poll he'd be sacked.

glacierdave
16th August 2010, 01:39 PM
Hey Bartron

re: the wired trackpad, if you didn't mind drilling some holes in it, you could always run out some cabling from the battery terminals in the trackpad and splice into the wiring on the MBA to drive it. At least then it wouldn't need lifting out for battery replace.

bartron
16th August 2010, 02:23 PM
Hey Bartron

re: the wired trackpad, if you didn't mind drilling some holes in it, you could always run out some cabling from the battery terminals in the trackpad and splice into the wiring on the MBA to drive it. At least then it wouldn't need lifting out for battery replace.

There are so many think I could do in terms of industrial design to make this better. My ultimate would be an aluminium enclosure, bent to shape and the keyboard/trackpad secured in place. At the moment it's a bit bodgy because things are in place temporarily with duct tape and I haven't put in the clips to hold the keyboard in place.

I'm going to lower the height a bit more, clean up the edges and put some clips in but not sure if I could be arsed spending any more money on it. If someone wants to buy me a keyboard and trackpad then sure but ultimately this will be an underpowered desktop and I'd like to take away a useful keyboard and trackpad once the fun has worn off.

If apple made a USB trackpad then it's would be a no-brainer... :)

auspad
16th August 2010, 05:36 PM
You still have the original trackpad right? Couldn't you just scrap the magic trackpad and use the original MacBook air one? Because then it would be wired... And they do make those small keyboards as wired, then you stick the whole thing in there permanently.

bartron
16th August 2010, 05:39 PM
You still have the original trackpad right? Couldn't you just scrap the magic trackpad and use the original MacBook air one? Because then it would be wired... And they do make those small keyboards as wired, then you stick the whole thing in there permanently.

I could but I'd have to cut it out with an angle grinder. It's soldered in place.

Plus the click button is dodgy and sticks.....and doesn't look half as good as a magic trackpad :)

yagankiely
17th August 2010, 03:02 AM
This is certainly making the rounds.

mmulhern
17th August 2010, 08:20 AM
Sir, your wonderful creation has now been showcased on CultofMac!

MacBook Air Innards Merged With Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad | Cult of Mac (http://www.cultofmac.com/macbook-air-innards-merged-with-wireless-keyboard-and-magic-trackpad/55071)

bartron
17th August 2010, 09:13 AM
Crikey..:confused:

It's also hit engadget.com and gizmodo.com....and it's not even fully finished yet.

ah well...by the end of they day it will have fallen off the front page(s) and I can get back to posting about it here without all the "hey, why not attach a screen to the top, you could make it fold down over the keyboard" comments.

bennyling
17th August 2010, 10:03 AM
Hey Bartron, you could totally make this 1000x more awesome by attaching a screen to the top and then making it fold down over the keyboard!

:D

glacierdave
17th August 2010, 11:40 AM
Hey Bartron, you could totally make this 1000x more awesome by attaching a screen to the top and then making it fold down over the keyboard!

:D

Especially if it was really really thin and had tapered edges! :cool:

Ken-f
17th August 2010, 01:09 PM
You made it to engadget!!

carlow1
17th August 2010, 02:02 PM
Seen it on 9to5 mac also.

bartron
17th August 2010, 02:15 PM
According to google analytics the top 20 referrals are coming from:

1. reddit.com 36,585
2. (direct) 11,568
3. engadget.com 10,644
4. gizmodo.com 2,679
5. facebook.com 2,386
6. arstechnica.com 974
7. macgeneration.com 670
8. crunchgear.com 645
9. cultofmac.com 546
10. macworld.idg.se l 455
11. macitynet.it 412
12. google.com 386
13. mac4ever.com 330
14. es.engadget.com 290
15. macstories.net 263
16. taisyo.seesaa.net 213
17. dvice.com l 212
18. forums.mactalk.com.au 198
19. twitter.com 187
20. xlr8yourmac.com 177

hopefully some of those are clicking through to mactalk...share the wealth and all that (if everyone that visited gave me $1 I'd be a happy chappy....clicks from ads don't pay that much though and views only pay much much less :(. The trackpad has, however, paid for itself :thumbup: )

nibbles
17th August 2010, 04:10 PM
That's awesome, what can I do to my iPod touch that will make it onto engadget & gizmodo?

sparky13
17th August 2010, 04:32 PM
Great work for getting it onto all these sites :)

Mecha
17th August 2010, 04:32 PM
Grats on the exposure Bartron. Keep up the good work.

bartron
18th August 2010, 09:55 PM
I think I might have borked something. Was working earlier today but between then and now I've snapped a bit of the MagSafe connector (fixable) and the power button, power LED, IR, and funny black thermal thing have all stopped working. All of those latter bits ultimately connect to the same place on the motherboard so it may be the connector or the breakout daughterboard that ties them all together...not sure which yet.

It still boots, but it's crippled for the time being as kernel_task takes 150% CPU (i.e. The kernel is deliberately throttling the CPU) and the only way to turn it on is to connect mains power while the battery is disconnected.

Hopefully I can figure out what's happened but if not this whole thing may be dead in the water :(

Edit: ok, the power button works...definitely a connection issue so it should be fixable. I'm very conscious of the fact that I only have only one of everything. If something breaks, it could put things to a halt.

edit2: back in business baby....although the power LED isn't turning on but I can live with that (or without it...as the case may be)...Game on. :)

auspad
19th August 2010, 09:20 PM
Got a vid yet? Would love to see it starting up...

bartron
19th August 2010, 09:52 PM
Got a vid yet? Would love to see it starting up...

Hmm...not yet. It's kinda in pieces at the moment and I want to save the boot video for when it's complete (or at least, looks complete).

Due to the above setbacks plus some other work related stuff I probably won't have anything until the weekend.

cosmichobo
19th August 2010, 10:45 PM
Apple take 18 months to design a new computer... Take your time. :)

But we want that video dammit! ;)

bartron
19th August 2010, 11:03 PM
Apple take 18 months to design a new computer... Take your time. :)


And it shows. There isn't a component inside the MacBook Air that doesn't need to be there and no cable is longer than it needs to be. It really is a fantastic feat of engineering that they managed to cram what they did into that case.

bartron
20th August 2010, 04:29 PM
So I took to the battery cables today to try and lengthen them a bit. For this I would recommend you have all the right tools. This means wire strippers, soldering iron and heatshrink so you don't create a short.

All the bits

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4141/4909748802_05f9c7719a.jpg

Hmm...decisions decisions.
For this little hack I went for standard aluminium wire...same stuff that I found inside the batteries wire

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4119/4909749160_c4e9219aee.jpg

Here's the connector with the new wire extensions attached and heatshrinked. That little section of heatshrink you can see on the rightmost wire is there to identify it as "pin 1". Without it there is no way to know which way the connector connects and who knows what would happen there.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4136/4909749498_fd309ff746.jpg

Here's the wires being attached to the battery one by one. The battery is being held (loosely but not too loosely) in a clamp while everything is hooked up

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4097/4909150991_6eef6d5531.jpg

Perfect - the battery sits in place nicely and the connector reaches without too much slack. Here you can see power connected up and charging the battery. It also still boots off battery so that means I got it all hooked back together properly :)

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4138/4909750596_ebc79924f9.jpg

Here's a closeup of the wire extension connected to the motherboard. The black tape is there just to keep the wires bunched and protect the motherboard somewhat.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4096/4909151715_991bfef156.jpg


Sorry for all the "crappy" photos that I've taken along the way. The only camera I take with me all the time is my iPhone 3G. I do have a dSLR but it's a bit bulky to be carting around the place all the time. I 'would' have an iPhone 4 (been hanging out to get one) but so far there is a 4-5 week wait and most places have stopped taking names anyway.

Ah well....all in good time I guess :)

auspad
20th August 2010, 05:27 PM
You know, the next best thing I would do with that would be to scrap the keyboard and trackpad, and the plastic case. Then, buy a touch screen monitor and use that instead.

Something lIke this: Mimo Monitors - Welcome (http://www.mimomonitors.com/)

nibbles
20th August 2010, 05:41 PM
I disagree auspad, that defeats the purpose of having an all in one keyboard and you might aswell get an iPad

auspad
20th August 2010, 08:41 PM
well it would still be portable, because of the macbook Air's battery and it would be the most powerful touch tablet out there

ZacDavies
22nd August 2010, 01:37 AM
Hey Bartron, looks like you could make your peripherals USB powered

http://www.razorianfly.com/wp-content/uploads/usb-magic-trackpad-1.jpg

RazorianFly The USB Magic Trackpad – [PHOTO] (http://www.razorianfly.com/2010/08/21/the-usb-magic-trackpad-photo/)

bartron
23rd August 2010, 12:30 AM
Hmm...might try my own take on that trackpad power hack :)

Anyway...here's a clip of the thing booting. Why people want to see it I don't know...prove it works or something. It's always been able to boot, the hard part is getting all the bits into the case :)

Once I get a couple of spare parts I'll do a proper video...but yeah...it boots ;)

5sSfl7NNaWs

Goodbye
23rd August 2010, 08:44 PM
Just saw you on Abduzeedo!

The Perfect Office #51 | Abduzeedo | Graphic Design Inspiration and Photoshop Tutorials (http://abduzeedo.com/perfect-office-51)

bartron
26th August 2010, 04:56 PM
Whis this is all done I'm tellign it to boot UAE in full screen...just once :)

Here's my attempt at merging the two together using the old Amiga logo font and boing ball. I could probably use the Amiga rainbow tick using the Apple rainbow colours...hmm..

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4139/4928215547_ca459d7dcb_o.png

and my replacement top case arrived today so I'll be able to replace the busted (?) data cable and distribution board.

ZacDavies
26th August 2010, 07:34 PM
Try the old Apple font

Apple Garamond Font | dafont.com (http://www.dafont.com/apple-garamond.font)

bartron
26th August 2010, 09:02 PM
Try the old Apple font

Apple Garamond Font | dafont.com (http://www.dafont.com/apple-garamond.font)

The point of using the Amiga font is that it's the Amiga font (it's called Bodoni BTW...in case anyone was interested :)).

edit:
The original Amiga logo
http://www.ko-gathering.com/wiki/images/8/82/Amiga_Logo.jpg

The rainbow double tick didn't last long and the boing ball became the defacto mascot of AmigaOS so my take is a bit of old + older + new.

ZacDavies
26th August 2010, 09:38 PM
Sorry man, was posting whilst rushing some work - upon re-reading the post I replied to I understand how pointless my post was :D

Carry on

bed
27th August 2010, 10:37 PM
Whis this is all done I'm tellign it to boot UAE in full screen...just once :)

Here's my attempt at merging the two together using the old Amiga logo font and boing ball. I could probably use the Amiga rainbow tick using the Apple rainbow colours...hmm..

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4139/4928215547_ca459d7dcb_o.png

and my replacement top case arrived today so I'll be able to replace the busted (?) data cable and distribution board.
As an old Amiga fanboi I think this is awesome :D

jaclynnn
31st August 2010, 04:59 PM
i have a damaged macbook air! it kinda looks like how it was when you picked it up but the screen isnt completely detached as of yet. But my display, webcam, and keyboard lighting isnt working anymore.
I was wondering if you still have the spare parts for these?
Is it possible to buy the part that holds the top and bottom together? the part that runs from the right to left hinge. Thats the part that is snapping and i want to replace it! But when i look for parts I dont see it.