My Homemade Laptop/Tablet


Posted June 5 2015:

The SoC chip boards that have hit the market in the past two or three years have allowed those with ideas about building their own laptop or tablet to enter the physical realm from the fantasy one. There are a number of such boards available, with names like Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, and Odroid. I went with the Odroid C1, purchased from (via the ameridroid distributor) for a number of reasons, which I’ll elaborate upon in later pages.

The idea of using these boards constitutes an assembly operation, similar to the way one could construct a bicycle from parts procured from a special bike shop. For instance, the aluminum flat-bar that I used to hold the LCD in place works like a champ and cost me about $4.00 for a three foot section purchased at Lowes Home Improvement store.

In the photo (above) my homemade “brick tablet” has been assembled. Here it is shown running NetBSD, and displaying one of my web pages on its monitor screen, using the Epiphany browser. By the way, Epiphany is reasonably snappy in this configuration.

homemade-laptop-inside2ZFigure 2: The infamous “improvement store” straps, along with the bolt size normally reserved for bridges. One strap remains to be installed.


The picture (above) shows the (NetBSD-7.0 earmv6hf version) operating system booting on the homemade tablet.  The Odroid C1 normally ships with either Android or Linux (if the micro SD is purchased separately).  I prefer the BSDs (and other lesser known operating systems). I’d eventually like to see Haiku-OS running on the device. Note the heavy quarter inch carriage bolts that hold the LCD in place. They give the laptop/brick/tablet a metal-strapped strong-door sort of look, dontcha think? I’m one for overkill. My last netbook was dropped and broken, so this time I decided to do it myself.

The dimensions are a little brick-like. I think I embrace the brick, because I can fit my junk into it.  The laptop is a little over ten inches wide. It’s 10.25 x 7.5 x 2.4 inches (w x h x d). The enclosure was not expensive, but was pretty hard to find. I don’t know why it was so difficult to find enclosures in this size group. I wrote the vendor’s info down in several places, because I didn’t want to do the web search again. The term “laptop” is perhaps a misnomer. This “laptop” might be more aptly described as a small all-in-one computer or brick style tablet. The touchscreen is pretty decent, so I suppose I could use the little computer while it’s perched on my lap :-).

I like a thicker enclosure because I can add more “stuff” like circuit boards or other parts to it, for experiments, and not have to pull my hair out trying to squeeze those things into the box. This setup accommodates the tinkerer, but not the sort of person who would rather use the quarter-inch thick tablets that are currently the market rage.



Yes, the bolts need to be drawn up a little tighter. We’re still in prototype phase. I’ve taken it apart quite a few times, so it’s all intentionally loose at the moment. I used an electric jigsaw to cut the hole for the LCD, and used it also to cut the flatstock aluminum. I don’t have anything but standard home-style power tools here, but I think it came out pretty well.


Read more about the laptop …

Note: the author does not have a recent, applicable background in circuit building, or battery related issues, so this is presented as the work of a hobbyist, and is not meant for duplication by others. Readers should look elsewhere for desing advice and info.

Note: NetBSD is a trademarked and copyrighted operating system (see details at   This author and site has no affiliation with NetBSD.

Note: The Odroid site is and is not affiliated with this site in any way.

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