Ok, so I guess youtube vids are frowned upon so I'll try this again with pictures instead.
I started this project because I travel quite a bit for work and usually end up with quite a bit of down time in hotels. Being more of a PC gamer, I initially built a pretty much no compromise custom PC in a custom case to take with me, but because of running multiple full size graphic cards, it was kind of large and cumbersome. Over time, I realized I was no longer lugging it along with me because of the inconvenience factor. So then I started eyeballing the dusty old Xbox 360 -- it was purchased for my son but he ended up gravitating to the Nintendo / Wii / Mario end of the spectrum so the Xbox didn't get used at all. Initially I thought about just bringing the whole thing along, but I stumbled across Ben Heck's projects and then eventually onto some other portable mods which spurred me to make one myself.
Here is a pic of my first attempt at an xbox laptop / portable. It's based on a design I came across while looking at other people's work on YT. Most notably, the bottom chassis is built from a single sheet of aluminum which was bent into a tub using a metal brake. The entire top half was taken from a Dell XPS 17 inch laptop with a 1080p screen (led screen, casing, etc..). I ended up having to adapt my own hinge system as the Dell hinges were not easily usable. And while it is far from being cosmetically pleasing or complete, it is perfectly functional and portable, if not a little on the bulky side...
Which brings me to my next project -- making a smaller and more portable one. With my first one, I left all the rear ports intact and kept the optical drive. As I've researched more into the RGH / dual NAND mods out there, that really seems to be the best bet to add some more functionality to the Xbox while still retaining the ability to use XBL.
To start off my project, I settled on using the complete monitor housing from an Asus Zenbook UX31E. Mostly because it's very, very thin. Also, using the whole laptop housing gives the added benefit of including Wi-Fi antennas. This is important because the Wi-Fi module will be inside an aluminum box, essentially.
For materials, I'm using .080 thick Aluminum sheet in 3003 alloy for the tub and .125 thick aluminum sheet in 6061 alloy for the top plate. 3003 is fairly rigid while still being maleable enough for my purposes. The 6061 is *very* rigid and will provide a good, solid mounting plate for the monitor housing as well as provide structural support for the entire device.
To bend the tub into shape, I am using an 18" metal brake available from Harbor Freight for about $40. Because it's cheap and not the sturdiest thing ever, it is important to invest in a few clamps to make sure the piece doesn't move while it is being bent. And pretty much, the rule of thumb is if you have more room, add another clamp!
Since I have already gone so far as making the tub, I took a couple shots showing the metal brake and a typical setup.
As far as cutting and working the aluminum sheet goes -- woodworking tools do just fine. Be prepared to go through more blades than normal, but they reasonably good cuts, etc... For myself, I just used a jigsaw to make cuts and an angle grinder to fine tune things -- though be careful with the grinder as it can take off more than you want in a heartbeat.
The completed tub:
One thing that confounded me initially was that you have to make sure that when you are calculating the outer dimensions that you factor in the thickness of the material and the radius of the bend. In my particular case, because the 3003 is soft enough, the bend radius was equivalent to the material thickness -- so for each side, I needed to account for .16 inches. (bend radius of .080 + material thickness of .080)
The top plate was made by just tracing the outline of the monitor housing on the aluminum and cutting. The housing hinges were then bolted to the top plate. Notice that both the top plate and tub are notched out to accomodate the hinge.
At this point, I had to remove the actual lcd panel from the monitor housing because the stock lcd was both broken and not compatible with any LVDS driver board I could find. I settled on a Chimei panel N133-BGE-L41 which was in a frame so I had to completely disassemble the panel to the bare sheets to get it to come even close to fitting. The Asus monitor housing is held together completely by glue so using a hair dryer I was able to get the bezel off without bending it and installed the new panel. Unfortunately, it hasn't gone back together the way I would like because it is still slight too thick. I've since found another model of panel -- Chimei N133BGE-LB1 that is quite a bit thinner. I don't have any pictures of the previous LCD transplant operation, but when I get the new one, I'll show you how the monitor goes together.
Both of the panels are 1366x768 resolution, which is plenty for a 13 inch monitor. I wish I could have used a 1080p screen, but there just isn't an LVDS driver board available for a screen that small with that resolution.
Continued next post.....
Speaking of LVDS boards, here's the one I'm using -- it is specifically for 1366x768 13 inch screens using a 40 pin interface. Compatibility for raw panels is a bit of a bear to sift through as part numbers and manufacturers change frequently. In addition, most of the places that sell the raw panels are very stingy with data sheets and specs...
At this point, I've turned my attention to the motherboard -- I've removed pretty much all the ports except the HDMI out and the power plug. I'll be using the VGA for the onboard monitor, but keeping the HDMI will allow me to plug it into a TV at a hotel if available.
One of the other obstacles is obviously the huge stock heatsink. To solve this problem, I'm using an all copper model which I've cut to fit (Dynatron A48G 1U).
Just today, I received some M3x5mm standoffs for use in the case. After testing for clearance, the heatsink has about 1mm to spare from the top plate which is pretty much perfect since I want to force as much airflow as possible through the fins, etc... My next steps are to get the motherboard fully mounted in the case so I can begin finalizing the placement of the other components (2 hard drives, LVDS board, audio amp, Rf board, and Wi-fi board) I'm also awaiting the arrival of the TX Demon so I can get to work on some soldering / modding...