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Mobile Extended Desktop (Laptop Mod)

Discussion in 'Portable & Small Form Factor' started by pinkfloydeffect, Oct 25, 2014.

  1. pinkfloydeffect

    pinkfloydeffect Member

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    As far back as I can think I have always had two monitors; started with a 21" tube monitor and a 14" LCD, then that 14" with a 15.6" LCD, then two matching 21" LCD, now I use dual 24" LED on HDMI I just can not go back to one monitor work space.

    I have the need to do some work on the road, and have been looking at options for mobile monitors for laptops. Its really too bad this is just a CGI prototype it would be a seller! Then I found the almost comical monitor built into the side of a micro-small form factor tower:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]



    I found these mobile monitors but I do not really care for the fact they are hard to match in size and quality to an existing laptop display:
    [​IMG]



    Even Apple is doing it by combining an iPad with your MacBook:
    [​IMG]



    Then I found the Monitor2Go and I believe this is my route! It is basically a laptop without a keyboard, drives or mobo:
    [​IMG]



    I think the only thing they are missing is the tablet hinge feature the top CGI has otherwise you would not be able to view them as closely. I need to buy a tablet laptop that has HDMI out and an expansion bay so I can run a large HDD and a SSD for my OS, then find an identical model tablet laptop on ebay for parts. Strip the keyboard, the mobo and drives, there is a simple printed circuit board you can buy that connects to any laptop display and drives it from an HDMI input jack that way the two can be linked with a small HDMI patch cable. The original battery molded into the base can be used to power the display and it still leaves internal room for accessories such as a usb hard drive, usb battery pack, mini sub-woofer or even a fold/collapsible full size keyboard. The displays would match exactly (or at least easier if I purchased two replacement displays from the same lot) this is my Photoshop below it reminds me of the Playstation and Xbox laptop mods only without a game console system inside:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2014
  2. zero_velocity

    zero_velocity Member

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  3. BluBoy

    BluBoy Member

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    Why not just two laptops and run synergy between them?
     
  4. OP
    OP
    pinkfloydeffect

    pinkfloydeffect Member

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    Unmatched screen as mentioned above as something I would like to avoid.

    Never heard of it, but that may be along the lines of what I was first thinking; why not combine the hardware of two identical laptops so I could even access hard drive, share ram and share CPU threads to make it run like dual socket server hardware.
     
  5. mtma

    mtma Member

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    So are you after a portable desktop, or a laptop?

    The W700ds is probably the closest commercial product to what you're after, however it doesn't meet things like the screen size requirements. It's also a desktop replacement and not a laptop.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    pinkfloydeffect

    pinkfloydeffect Member

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    Laptop, not a portable desktop.

    That is a pretty expensive unit and does not provide any of my requirements.

    So I picked up a pair of Dell D630 laptops, the one on the right has a dead backlight but otherwise fully functional (or was) I have gutted the mobo, optical drive, keyboard, mouse pad, card reader, heat sink and speaker:
    [​IMG]


    There is a lot of freed up room inside the base now for everything from extra hard drives to a mini subwoofer and usb hub, original battery stays in place to power the display along with anything else in the base including the display driver:
    [​IMG]


    This is the video driver board I want to wire to the existing internal battery, unfortunately the D630 only supports VGA output and I am not sure that will appear the same as the dedicated directly driven/cabled display but we will see. The best I can do is upgrade the motherboard to one with the Quadro NVS 135M video chipset:
    [​IMG]


    I now need to retrofit a tablet PC hinge so I can get the swivel feature which will be tedious:
    [​IMG]


    This is what I will end up with, the screen on the right needs to be replaced anyway, but if I am going to buy a new one I am wondering where to get an LED conversion in the same size?? To get the displays to sit flush the laptop on the right actually has to be pulled forward:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
  7. CoHmodderSolo

    CoHmodderSolo Member

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    interesting what you're doing there... keen to see where this goes mate. 1 screen's just not enough isnt it? :D
     
  8. OP
    OP
    pinkfloydeffect

    pinkfloydeffect Member

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    Never enough lol and matching is key, I think I can even run a T9500 in this if the board allows the 6M Cache.

    Problem is the ballast needs to be relocated into the base for the new swivel hinge to fit, also that wireless card...luckily the wireless card is not in the conversion laptop:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    I split the ribbon cable so the ballast portion goes back into the base, I just need to extend those two backlight wires:
    [​IMG]


    Now it can be put anywhere but the LCD driver board uses an aftermarket ballast anyway:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  9. eixt

    eixt Member

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    Have you seen the lenovo usb monitors. They are meant to be very good. Powered from USB and good refresh rate

    edit: nm you want them to be idential to laptop display...
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
  10. EvilGenius

    EvilGenius Member

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    If you want another LCD for these flick me a PM. I have a foot high pile of dead D630's that suffered from the nvidia GPU bug.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    pinkfloydeffect

    pinkfloydeffect Member

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    I am going to buy a new set from the same lot so they match and run them in equally. What bug? Was that the Quadro GPU? I was going to search for a mobo with the Quadro GPU
     
  12. EvilGenius

    EvilGenius Member

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    Nvidia released a bad batch of GPU's, G84 and G86 I think it was. The majority of them bricked themselves. Trawling through my memory here.. I believe the problem was the chip becoming unevenly hot, then cold/hot/cold etc over time which eventually lead to its failure. 'Fixes' released from manufacturers at the time were bios updates that essentially ran the fans a lot harder to keep the chip cooler at all times.

    There was a whole lot of complaints that eventually lead to class action law suits. You can read about some of it here:

    http://en.community.dell.com/dell-b...u-update-limited-warranty-enhancement-details


    More on the inquirer here:

    http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1010186/ten-dell-models-defective-nvidia-gpus


    I lost probably 20 of them that I had in service, only a couple survived. They all lived past their 3yr warranty period though so we got nothing out of it from Dell.


    As for 'matching', the dell latitude and optiplex lines are incredibly similar in hardware. They're expected to be able to wear the same image with the same drivers across entire fleets. You can be confident that as long as the screen resolution is the same, they'll play together. The only thing you won't be able to guarantee with screens of this age is how much on time they've had, and thus what condition the backlighting is in.


    Edit:

    If I was spending money on this project, I'd want to be using E6410's as a bare minimum. Maybe use the D630's as a dry run. At least with the 6410's you get a first gen i5/i7 cpu, a platform that responds well to an ssd, and I believe they could have nvs3100m graphics.. although even onboard intel graphics from that gen don't compare too unfavourably with the nvs135.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
  13. OP
    OP
    pinkfloydeffect

    pinkfloydeffect Member

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    @ EvilGenius

    Looks like the Quadro NVS 135M uses the G86M core so I assume the x3100 uses a G84 variation...I know the base x3100 gives you 128MB onboard and shares 128MB for a total of 256MB....claims with Vista between local and shared a "solution" of up to 358MB can be achieved so I assume this can be had with Windows 7 x64. The Quadro claims again with Vista and not XP (assume including 7 x64) that the base local ram is still 128MB but that it shares up to 767MB of system RAM for a total of 895MB! I am not gaming but the extended video ram may help with running a second display?? Another thing to keep in mind on this build with the video is that the spec sheet claims the following two displays are available: WXGA (1280x800) -or- WXGA+ (1440x900). Well I want to know if the higher resolution display was a Quadro ONLY thing or if it can be ran on the X3100!? Is the extra 160x100 even worth it you think?

    "As for 'matching', the dell latitude and optiplex lines are incredibly similar in hardware. They're expected to be able to wear the same image with the same drivers across entire fleets. You can be confident that as long as the screen resolution is the same, they'll play together. The only thing you won't be able to guarantee with screens of this age is how much on time they've had, and thus what condition the backlighting is in."

    ^ I meant your last bit about the matching backlight time/wear, that is why I was going to buy two new displays in the same sales order # and run them in the same pretty much never use my laptop solo. This is good to know about Latitudes/Optiplex parts because I was thinking there was a better quality 14.1" from another newer Dell laptop model I could install in these...any ideas?

    Yes this D630 project is a dry run, readily available parts and both these as is were free to begin with. When I do another upgrade build it will be something with a 17-19" LED monitor and HDMI output for a better quality link connection along with a decent GPU nothing crazy the GPU itself is not a huge deal breaker because I have been using dual 24" HDMI monitors for years on an ATI Radeon HD 2600XT @ 512MB dedicated memory and I have been more then happy....its just dual DVI to HDMI cables for the monitors and that is an old GPU card and I am happy with it; so when choosing hardware for the next build the HDMI output and 17+ quality display will be factors over the GPU itself (I think?)


    This is the unit that was sent out for my display and hopefully it works with the 1440x900 if I choose to run those, it has a remote mounted power jack & settings control board:
    [​IMG]


    The new backlight ballast looks of higher quality then OE things are a bit more spread out, it uses an actual canister capacitor and less but larger MLCCs
    [​IMG]


    The block windings are larger and of a different design, good thing there are setting controls because this thing is going to putout a bit more juice:
    [​IMG]


    I guess this entire blue cable, the separation I did and this ballast will not be needed now:
    [​IMG]


    As far as the functioning laptop I installed a fresh new keyboard, 4GB of DDR2-800 and upgraded the wifi card from the DW1490 to a 4965AGN the old card topped @ 54mbps the new card supposedly at 300mbps but there are cheap internal cards you can buy on eBay that will connect at even higher rates if needed:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
  14. EvilGenius

    EvilGenius Member

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    nvs3100m romps all over an nvs135, and is based on the GT218 core, several generations ahead. There aren't any sudden death bugs associated with it that I'm aware of.

    http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-Quadro-NVS-3100M.24738.0.html

    Is the extra res worth it? Hmm.. depends I guess. If it was up against the devils resolution 1366x768 I'd say hell yes it's worth it. But I never had any problems with 1280x800. 1440x900 is still nice though, although I haven't used it on a 14" screen before, only a 15.4".


    Ok I think I might need to clarify what I said a little further. If you take 2 dell latitude D630's with the same screen resolution, I'm 100% certain the screen from one of them will plug into the other and operate without any issues. If you take the screen from a different model latitude, E6400 for example, I have no idea if it'd still work or not. Chances are the LVDS cables would be different and you'd be unable to plug it in. I haven't been paying too much attention to the technical side of how you're getting all this working, but if you're relying on the connectors remaining the same, you're going to need to stick to the same model line, and probably resolution too. A few years back I bought a 1920x1200 screen for an E6500, thinking I'd upgrade my E6500 with a 1440x900 screen. Couldn't find anything to say it wouldn't work... received the screen and discovered it wasn't compatible, had a different LVDS cable and required a 2nd cable for additional power.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    pinkfloydeffect

    pinkfloydeffect Member

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    Either I am confused or you are; they did not come with an nvs3100 they came with a Mobile Intel® GMA X3100, the NVS series was the 135M only as far as I am aware for the D630.

    Well, at the minimum I would like to run the WXGA+ LCDs offered in D630's on the Intel® GMA X3100 which I am not sure will support 1440x900 resolution. I tried connecting my native 1920x1080 24" desktop monitor to the x3100 VGA output and run it as extended desktop. The internal display remained 1280x800 and I was able to run the external @ 1920x1080 but there was a drastic 4 sided letter-boxing.

    I slowly drove the resolution down and the letter-boxing slowly went away until I reached 1400x1050 then all I had was letter-boxing on the top and bottom but this IS a 24" monitor so...anyway. There is no 1440x900 option it jumps from 1400x1050 to 1600x900 and @ 1600 I begin getting side letter-boxing.

    I assume if the x3100 can drive an external @ 1400x1050 then it can handle the WXGA+ display. I am not sure if this is the way it works but...if you borrow 40 vertical pixels and apply them horizontally to make 1440 it still leaves you with 1010 available vertical pixels for the 900 needed?
     
  16. EvilGenius

    EvilGenius Member

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    Sorry I read x3100 and didn't realise you were referring to onboard video for the D630. I assumed you were referring to the nvs3100m that is in the E6410's I mentioned earlier.



    I can't offer any further insight on resolution support for onboard graphics though. All of the D630's I've played with came with the nvs135. Those I can tell you will happily run the laptops 1280x800 screen as well as an external 1920x1080. The x3100 appears to support dual screen up to 1920x1200 though, so I'm not sure why you're getting letterboxing. I'd suspect a driver issue. Have you tried creating custom resolutions?
     
  17. ToothpickBandit

    ToothpickBandit Member

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    Interesting project, will be keen to see how it progresses.

    Where did you buy that driver board? I have a laptop that has just died and would like to try recycling the screen.
     
  18. OP
    OP
    pinkfloydeffect

    pinkfloydeffect Member

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    No I have not tried a custom driver I will when I get to it I suppose if needed.

    eBay is where the driver board was bought from.


    Stripped down to its base:
    [​IMG]


    Everything in red must go to fit the driver board:
    [​IMG]


    This is where I will put the backlight ballast board (for a few reasons)
    [​IMG]


    The old modem opening needs to be lowered a hair (and the top piece needs to be notched) to fit the power jack:
    [​IMG]


    I thought the bases were made out of a special plastic, they are aluminum! This will need isolation of some sort and it will have to be really thin, things like the original power jack opening will be Bondo'ed over and smoothed:
    [​IMG]


    Had to remove and lower a few things here to make the fan work blowing in another direction:
    [​IMG]


    This is how I will be setting it up, still leaves the center of the back open for a swivel hinge, I can run a 3rd HDD/SDD via USB, I can also run the DVD drive via USB. The original battery @ 11.1v has not been tested yet with the driver board which calls for a 12v adapter, I will put a switch between the power sources and if everything goes good I can look into possibly building a charging circuit but for now the battery will have to be pre-charged in the other D630, with the fan reversed it will blow cool air forward instead of back which will go right into the clear casing around the ballast board once I cut an opening in it and link with some tape....I may tunnel it off the ballast board over the driver board and out the back or just run another fan:
    [​IMG]
     
  19. EvilGenius

    EvilGenius Member

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    Not sure if this is relevant or not, but the chassis on these is Magnesium-Alloy, not Aluminium.
     
  20. Retard3dDonk3y

    Retard3dDonk3y Member

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    DuoScreen

    Very interesting project!

    These guys may be of interest to you :thumbup:

    [​IMG]
     

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