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{TUTORIAL} How to Make a PS3 Laptop! =D

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{TUTORIAL} How to Make a PS3 Laptop! =D

Post by Admin on March 30th 2011, 4:41 pm

In this tutorial i will be showning you how to make a ps3 laptop!!1
(NOOB FREINDLY OF COARSE)

**ALSO**
i want you to quote me if your trying this or you have successfully have done it

I took the pictures and my freind took the videos !

SPECS

» PS3 Slim Hardware, with cool-running 45nm architecture. Very VERY quiet.
» 17″ widescreen LCD with HDMI-DVI digital connection.
» Built-in power supplies / compartment for the AC cord.
» Push button volume control with stereo speakers.
» Sleek white monochromatic styling with pin stripes.

Videos
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A good rule of thumb when taking apart electronics is that if you can't find the last screw to remove a shell - or ANY screws to remove a shell as with the PS3, it's probably under a warranty sticker of some kind. On the hard drive / base end of the PS3 is a sticker of this sort -- poke through it with a Phillips screwdriver to undo the top shell screw. The shell will then slide off to reveal...

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...the inner shell, as shown above. When first opened the PS3 looks quite similar to Darth Vader in that scene from Empire Strikes Back when the dude sees him with his helmet partially off What, you don't see it? Whatever, at this point we'll find the lion's share of screws that must be removed to continue disemboweling the PS3.

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When taking apart expensive electronics it's often a good idea to use masking tape to label each screw hole with the type of screw you find in case you need to put the unit back together at some point, as shown above. Next you have to remove the card reader. To remove the card reader door, simply lift and snap it out.

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Before the inner shell comes off we'll have to insert a flat-head screwdriver in the hole on the upper right corner. This will snap off the shell and allow us to continue.

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With the inner shell removed the 60 gig PS3 will appear as shown above.

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First off is the card reader module. Use a pair of tweezers to carefully rotate down the clasp on the ZIF (zero insertion force) socket holding the ribbon cable. You can then remove the cable and the module. Use it to prop up a leg on a wobbly table or something, a card reader isn't of much use in this project. (Unless you're madly in love with it for some reason.)

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Next is the WiFi antenna, with a connection just like the one on the Wii and Xbox 360 WiFi adapter (see my other projects). Use tweezers to carefully lift it up and off the board. Save the antenna assembly for later. The WiFi will work without it, but it's good to put back on anyway.

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Next, disengage the ribbon cables and remove the WiFi module and touch switch PCB in the same manner as the card reader.

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Let's move onto the power supply. Start by pulling out the AC power plug from the back. Then unscrew the ground connection from the motherboard frame. Fun fact: disconnecting this gets rid of the ground loop hum heard when using the analog audio.

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You can now unscrew and lift off the power supply. Now we see the main 12 volt DC input plug -- quite hefty, isn't it? We'll reduce the height of this later.

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Next comes the Blu-ray drive removal. Notice how it's not actually bolted in place or anything, just held by good old cheap mechanical retention.

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The connections going to the drive are a 90 lead thin ribbon cable and a small connection for power. Due to complexity of this ribbon cable (and the fact that it isn't something simple like the SATA interface on the 360) we'll have to use it for the final product. For now, use tweezers to CAREFULLY lift up the flaps on the ZIF sockets to detach the cable from the PS3 motherboard.

**Also note that one of the chips on the drive's PCB has a pad because it uses the RF shielding as a heat sink. We'll need to remember this later on and be careful not to run the drive for more than a minute or two (during the testing/experimentation process) without some sort of heat sinking in place.**

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At this point the PS3 should look like the above. The large clamps in the center are clearly for the CPU/GPU heat sinks. At this point we could leave the main unit as is and mod around it, but attaching USB port extensions -- and nagging curiosity -- mandates we have to break it down further.

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Lifting the main unit out of the case reveals the simply massive (yet quiet) fan inside the PS3. (You could probably install this sucker on a Chevy Metro and get away with it.) But hey, we don't hear about massive numbers of PS3's overheating either, do we? The fan connects to the motherboard via a simple two wire plug.

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Doubles as a NASA wind tunnel turbine.

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Let's continue to take the frame apart by pulling out the built-in 2.5-inch SATA drive. This is done by simply removing the lock screw (don't lose it), lifting the tab and sliding the drive out. Like the Blu-ray drive, it would be too difficult to desolder the SATA connection from the mother so we'll just leave the drive in its original position for the final configuration.

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Next, use tweezers to unplug the PS3's battery. Like the Wii's battery, unplugging this does not cause any critical data to be lost, as far we could tell.

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Now it's time to remove the radiator. Unscrew both of the heat clamps to release it from the motherboard.

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The PS3 uses more heat pipes than any electronic device we've yet seen, although we're light on supercomputer mods.

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The PS3 motherboard with the radiator off. Next, remove the metal frame from around the motherboard. At this point it's only held in place by a few final screws , and some "hinge tabs" at one end, requiring you to tilt the frame up and pull it out.

It's important to note that several ICs on the motherboard have pads which allow them to sink their heat to the frame. They are usually white, gray or black in color. When handling the board be sure these pads remain in their original places so they will contact what they are intended to when putting the frame back together.

Some of the pads may stay on the metal frame, so pull the frame off slowly so you can see where all the pads are and/or should be. If you need to move a pad, grasp it gently with tweezers and peel it off slowly, to avoid crushing or ripping it. Also take care to keep them clean of dust and debris.

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These ICs should look very familiar to anyone who's ever been inside a PS2 -- it's the combo Emotion Engine / Graphics Synthesizer and the RAM (small black squares). If Sony continued including all previous system ICs in new consoles, the PS5 motherboard will be approximately the size of a football field. Notice how there's a heat sink pad on this as well -- be sure it stays in place on the shielding for proper cooling.

Before we move on it's best to clean the thermal grease off of the main ICs before it can make a mess / stain your favorite shirt, or whatever. For best results, remove the grease with some high-grade rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs until they are shiny and clean. To get the thermal grease off the sides or edges, use toothpicks to scrape it off.

Side note: the GPU is called the "Reality Synthesizer" -- it's note quite that good, but hey.

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The bare PS3 motherboard. Overall it's quite thin, except for the USB ports, which unfortunately aren't easy to remove.

Now we'll add a breakout cable for the USB connections. Due to the nature of this motherboard it is rather difficult to desolder items such as the USB ports ,and thus it's easier to simply add connections onto them. For this I've chosen an old computer ribbon cable with a female header receptacle end. This one has the proper number of pins -- four per USB port x 4 ports = 16 pins.

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Shown above is a blown-up of a USB port as seen on the motherboard. The pin-outs are fairly simple,+5, DAT -, DAT+ and Ground. They are always in that order, and ground is always the pin connected to the main surface (fill plain) of the motherboard. You can also check with a multimeter, ground is always -- without fail -- the outer copper edge of the motherboard. See if that connects to any suspected ground pin -- on the USB or otherwise -- and you're golden.

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In the photo above we can see that the pin-outs on the header have been logged into a notebook. This is always a good idea, especially when you have a system that will eventually have a lot of re-wired and/or manually created plugs. It's also important to "key" the header block, either by knocking out one of the holes (I usually stick in and break off the tip of a toothpick) or using a metallic ink pen to label the plastic, as shown above. We'll attach the male header (gold item on right side of photo) in a later installment. The general plan here is to have 3 USB ports available at the front of the unit and reserve one for the built-in keyboard.

Next we need to modify and reinstall the metal frame.

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Using a Dremel and a cut-off wheel make an opening in the metal frame near the USB port section, large enough for the header to fit through. Be sure to wear safety goggles when doing this sort of work!

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Next, break off the 3 mounting tabs from the top surface of the metal frame - note how they are a different color than the frame itself. This will make the overall motherboard assembly a little thinner and easier to work with. Be sure not to bend the main metal frame, otherwise it might not fit correctly back onto the motherboard or correctly heatsink the ICs that use it.

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It may also be useful to drill out the stamped rivets to remove the brackets. Try and keep the dust off of the heat sinks pad if at all possible.

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At this point the top half of the metal frame should look like the above. We won't need to make any adjustments to the bottom half of it.

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Next we'll reattach the heat sinks / radiator. Spread a thin layer of Arctic Silver thermal compound over the CPU and GPU as shown above and described on their packaging. (See site for details.) We usually do this while wearing latex glove (the kind that aren't powdered). This is much cleaner and keeps skin oils off the surface.

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Now we'll reattach the heat sink clamps. Be sure they are tight and screw down evenly (to the same depth) to ensure the clamping is even across the chip surfaces. Also, remember to plug the big fan back into the motherboard!

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At this point the PS3's main board can be used again, as shown in the configuration test above. Note how the Blu-ray drive is in its original position so the chip on it can be heat sinked to the frame. In the next page ill show you how to arrange the parts of the PS3 to fit them inside of a laptop-style case, the design of the case, and the LCD screen that we'll use.

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You may have a case of some sort that you could use and a little screen to put on top of it but in case you want a custom case, ill show you how to do mine!
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After tearing down a system I put it back together. In the case of modern systems this usually means cleaning off the CPU/GPU dies and heat sinks and putting a new thermal compound in. I usually use Arctic Silver, yeah it’s expensive, but so is my stuff and “a little dab’ll do ya”. (I’ll old enough to know what product that slogan is actually for – sigh)

Here’s a fun trick – scanning things. It’s not all that accurate, but it’s good for a base reference and to double-check other measurements against. Oh, and there’s my rarely-used metric dial caliper.

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This is my favorite cheap trick, and no, not the big hair band. A quick and dirty way to see if you’ve drawn the parts correctly is to hold them up the screen and close one eye. Sure it’s not super-accurate, but it’s slightly more “green” than printing out a copy and checking that way. OK, I don’t give a crap about green, I just don’t want to lean over and turn on the printer… which is always off… BECAUSE I am green! Ha ha!

Actually, no again, I just like saving money on electric bills. Which… um… is why I have dual 24″ monitors. Ahem. Moving on...
It’s always fun to pull the pieces out and see how they fit together. Well, I know HOW they fit together, I guess the more appropriate word is IF.

Now, take your measurments to place that will rout for you (or on the off chance you have a roughter just lying around) and go ape SH*T. YOu can deside the materials i chose a simple plastic and alluminum combo. I wanted to do wood but it doesnt work its expensive AND heavy ... but it looks total bad ass. Just make sure you ask or have a sturdy material.

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Now no matter how well you design everything to line up, there’s going to be some imperfections. Parts are CNC’d in the real world (and the Sabre 408 isn’t as young as it used to be, in fact it’s 10 years old!)

So one trick I like to do is to use a countersinking bit (the V-shaped one above) to cut a slight cone in each receiving screw hole. This way, when I put the halves together, even if the leading screw doesn’t QUITE match the receiving hole, the sloped slides will guide it in. Kind of like docking a space ship, but with 9000% less rocket science.

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Here’s the Gateway 1775W LCD in the screen frame. Most of this unit is very similar to the 360 portable design. There’s a 1/2″ piece of material for the LCD, and a 3/4″ curved piece on top of that. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time, and this frees me to up put my creativity elsewhere.

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As before, this unit uses an HDMI-DVI adapter cable from Tiger Direct. They are pin compatible except for the audio signal. There isn’t QUITE enough room for a full DVI plug, so I cut it off, desolder the jack, and wire it manually, as shown above. I’ve reskinned the cable with heat shrink tubing, and added the +5, +12 and GND for the LCD controls.

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Attaching the pin striping. As anyone who’s done this will tell you, it’s the age-old balance of enough soapy water to make it adjustable, but not so much that it never dries – a problem on the edges and corners. My amazing $10 Harbor Frieght heat gun can help with that.

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Check out how thin the LCD portion is! It almost completely fits in the 1/2″ plastic screen frame. Also you may be wondering why the main part is green – my plastic order was shipped to the wrong address, so I had to use what was laying around and paint it later.

I almost always paint my cases with Kylon for Plastic, available at fine hardware stores everywhere. It was kind of lame, I had to buy an entire can of light gray just to paint the button area. I couldn’t just vinyl it since the plastic face was textured.

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Attaching the hinges. Again these are the expensive-but-great 16 torque-lb friction hinges from McMaster-Carr. I used to make my own hinges, but my retired engineer uncle gave me some great advice – “Don’t build what you can buy.” Right on – and yet I made a portable Sega Genesis.


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The completed screen module. The HDMI plugs into the back of the PS3 and is held in place when the case is screwed together. The power wires go to a plug which connects them to the LCD’s power supply.

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Onto the main unit! The console isn’t as heavily modifed as my Xbox’s (thank God) but there’s still a lot of busy work. I start with the panel buttons PCB. This is the part with eject, power and LED’s. On the PS3 it also glows, but I’m omitting that part.

Using thing Ultra-ATA hard drive cable I “pin out” the eject and power tact switches (they have a common ground) as well as the red, green and blue surface-mount LED’s.

It’s not too hard to replace SMT LED’s for your own projects:

» Using a small power supply (2 AA’s work well) check the polarity of the LED by making it light up. Mark which end is + and -.
» Heat up your solder iron, the hotter the better but make sure it has a small tip for accuracy.
» Blob solder onto the ends of the LED, heating it up.
» Push the LED off the board. Be sure not to slide it into anything important.
» Carefully attach new wires to the SMT pads where the LED was.
» Dab hot glue onto the wires so if they are pulled the glue will take the force, not the pads. This prevents pad destruction and tears.

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The base of the unit. The button PCB is screwed to the front, in roughly the same spot it should be. This allows the existing, fairly long ribbon cable to reach its original plug. Again, I am good an soldering / resoldering, but I stil avoid it when I can. (Saves time for when I do have to resolder everything)

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Power supply. The PS3 PSU had an interesting case which looked like an ink toner and easily pulled out of the unit. I ditched that to save space for wires and installed it “bare”. There are some consideration of course. See above? I don’t want to mess with these adjustment potentiometers, so I’ve blobed on hot glue so they’ll save their settings until eternity!

That’s a good rule for hot glue – only slather something with it if you’re SURE it’s working and doesn’t need changing. Because if it does removing the glue is a pain! (I usually carve it off with an X-acto)

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More recycling! I love square-shaped blister packs – like the ones PS3 controllers come in – because I can slice off and keep the plastic for later insulting. Ironically, “later” in this case was the PS3 laptop. Seem appropriate. Anyway, even though the solder-side leads shouldn’t touch metal when installed, they might, so this is a precaution. When doing this, be sure to cut out holes for the screws / screw access. (I forgot the first time)

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Funky Foam – the best crappy kids crap on the market. Whenever I’m at Hobby Lobby I grab a bunch, and it’s cheap! (Internal memo: Hobby Lobby will be a good place to meet women when I’m 45)

Anyway, it’s this thin, adhesive-backed foam that comes in many colors. In the above example I’ve used 2 layers of it to keep the PSU board from sagging. I also used it to space the edges of the LCD and to space out the back of the LCD so the lid holds it in place.

I also used this foam on a prop I did for the “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” movie, which is something I’ll probably talk about when that movie comes out, not sure if it’s in the final cut.

White Funky Foam is also useful for making base “feet” – you can buy 12 felt feet at Ace for $2.99, or make 100 feet for $0.79. I should have realized this 6 projects ago!

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I don’t know what happened to the original screws for this PSU so I had to find some the same size. And the winner is… Xbox 360 heat sink screws! Great, now the thing will overheat! (Yes, I’m that superstitious)

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The power cord, coiled into the case like a snake. A groove allows it to stick straight out from the plug (right side) when in use.

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As you can see, I could have easily made the unit smaller on the X axis, but I would have had to use a 4:3 (non-widescreen) LCD to do it, because the Gateway 1775W is about the smallest 720p screen around as it is.

I thought briefly about using the same model the Atari 800 had (it has a VGA mode, as does the PS3) but to me next-gen means widescreen so it was a concession I chose not to make.

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Panel buttons. I forgot to rout the backing plate so I had to make it out of bits of junk. There isn’t a whole lot of room above the Blu-Ray drive, so I bought special thin tact switches to ensure they’d fit. Along with the LED’s these are wired to a female header receptable that fits into the button PCB wires I did earlier.

I got through a TON of headers these days – especially with my pinball machine – but as always, I highly recommend modders use them. Search Digi-Key, Mouser etc for “male headers” and “female header receptacles”. (No, this isn’t becoming a porn site) Common pitches (space between pin centers) are .1″ and .079″ (or 2mm)

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The audio amplifier and digital potentiometer volume control. I love this amp – it’s simple to use, cheap, small package and stereo. Unlike some amps where you set the level beforehand and the amp just… amps it you input the source signals into this and it amplifies them both based off a voltage level you put on a pin. (0 – 5 volts). It grabs the +5 volts from the LCD’s power supply.

This voltage pin is set by the wiper controls on the digital pot. So basically by pressed + and – volume it’s like turning a virtual knob on a voltage divider. Note the yellow pot – this limits the high-end voltage reference and is basically a “volume limiter”.Unlike the 360 laptop this thing isn’t “fighting” over the fan noise, so I can set a reasonable volume level to ensure the PSU isn’t overly taxed.

The audio amp is non-stock and running out, but alas, here are the Digi-Key part #’s:

Digital Pot: X9511WP-ND

Audio amp: 296-18249-5-ND

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The two halves of the unit ready to go together. Again most of my stuff these days goes together the same way: screen is its own module, connects to base, inner lid portion is attached and screwed to base, screen portion is attached via the hinges.

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The panel buttons are faux brushed aluminum, with the grain going left and right. That may sound like a small detail, but those are the kind you need to get right!

I used clear-when-off 3mm LED’s so they would fit with the monochromatic color scheme as much as possible.

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Fan vent above the main fan in the PS3. About 30% of the case design time was spent on this area alone.

I knew the position and size of the vent hole, and then made a cool lid for it. But the tricky part was how to work this into the design of the case. I settled on a “ying yang” balance where a secondary circle around the vent goes to the edge of the case, and is replicated by the edge of the gray. The top of the buttons are level with the bottom of the vent, and the upper slit vents are lined up with the left edge of the circular vent and then mirrored to the right from center.

Finally, the LED positions were “cough positioned”, as I like to call it. That’s when, after a bunch of symmetrical, carefully planned stuff, you select the LED’s then cough as you tap ARROW UP until they “look right”. It’s an old trick from working with clients, it makes inaccuracy funny and thus OK!

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Rear of the unit. Since everything went to schedule (finished it on the day I predicted, rare) I took the time to add pinstripes in the back as well. Good to have plenty of sharp X-Acto knives for this stuff!

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Side view. The design of the case is very simple looking. That doesn’t mean it is simple, just that it is very functional and clean. I am equally proud of this kind of work as I am an overly complex piece like the recent Atari 800 laptop.

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You can see the USB ports on the bottom, and another vent. Hey, couldn’t hurt! The Blu-Ray drive has an opening to get to get. I made it as narrow as possible and still able to get the disc out. Again, always ALWAYS leave “slop” room when doing things like this.

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