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I have taken an interest in a current effort to create a (mini- or micro-) ATX motherboard with a custom CPU.

But ideally, I would want this system in a laptop instead. I got this idea, how hard would it be to rip out a motherboard from a laptop, such as the EeePC or Thinkpad, and replace it with a custom board?

Could parts of the laptop electronics be reused, such as the power supply etc? Or are laptop motherboard form factors etc changed too often for this to be useful as a semi-reliable source of laptops to be remade? (The goal being a laptop Natami built to order, or in small runs.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What does "recad" mean? \$\endgroup\$
    – Amos
    Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 13:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Amos, to change the CAD layout from ATX to something suitable for laptops. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 8:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ The "custom notebook" page on the Computer Component wiki lists a few first steps towards customizable laptops and "open hardware laptops". \$\endgroup\$
    – davidcary
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 5:19

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Laptop electronics could be reused but you might have trouble finding/using the connectors. For one, they're TINY - full of flex cables and iddy biddy surface mount contacts that you certainly won't be able to hand-solder. Also, some of the connectors are proprietary so you'll be reduced to scavenging them from old boards - have an SMD rework station handy. Or, they might just be plain hard to find. If it's a connector dedicated for use in a computer you might not be able to find it in quantities fewer than 1000, or the places you'll find them don't sell in the US or really anywhere other than China/Hong Kong/Taiwan. As far as they're concerned there's no reason to sell them abroad - everything's manufactured in that area so why ship?

But as far as designing the PCB I doubt you'll have too many problems. You'll have to generate CAD drawings of the interior to determine where to put mounting holes, place connectors, etc. You'll have to watch out and make sure you use the right parts - I'd imagine laptops have low-profile everything so don't assume you can use standard height components. You'll have to keep an eye on how you're dissipating heat - the cases are probably designed for one and only one solution for removing heat so if you can't fit the same heat pipe they use on your board you might be out of luck.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! So, to borrow from Mythbusters, plausible, but not likely. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 12:11

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