Install a Touchscreen in Your Netbook

Clear Space for the Controller

The touchscreen controller card doesn't take much space, but jamming it into the tight case is tough. I almost fit it underneath everything, but it slightly bowed the motherboard; tighten the screws too much, and I would have cracked something. Instead, I made room by cutting away the right speaker and a plastic tab above.

Grab the big plastic part that contains the touchpad, and use a Dremel or other tool to cut the tab on the back of the right side of the wrist rest. (When working with the part, you'll turn it over, so it'll be on the left.) Cut off as much as you can, but you don't need to obsess.

Cut the right speaker wire halfway between the speaker and the plug, and solder a 3-inch wire extension to one of the sides. Unscrew the speaker. Before you take the speaker all the way out, you'll notice that the speaker part favors the left side of its black, plastic enclosure. You're going to cut the right side away.

Working with a Dremel or other cutting tool on a medium speed, carefully start by cutting plastic back on the long, corner edge farthest away from the speaker part. Make a careful incision to affect just the top of the plastic, and pry it up.

You'll now see the metal speaker inside and the internal wire positions. Cut away as much of the plastic next to the speaker part as possible, including one of the screw mounts. Avoid the wires.

Resolder the speaker back to the wire. Screw and tape the speaker into position in the rightmost screw hole, facing down. The touchscreen controller will sit over the motherboard and the gap where the speaker had originally been.

Line the back of the controller with electrical tape to protect it from scuffs and prevent an (unlikely) short circuit. Position the controller board rotated slightly clockwise, with one corner well over the gap you created. The top corner should nestle closely to the bottom heat-sink screw and avoid screw holes on the motherboard. Also avoid the white dot above the original speaker position; the upper case rests here. (Sight with the upper case to see if it seems lined up properly.)

Tape the touchscreen controller in place. Reattach the Wi-Fi card, and run its wires back in the original path. Tape the touchscreen wires in place in the same channel or in the edge of the hard-drive cavity. (The hard drive will fit tighter if you do this, but there's just enough room.) Make sure you don't cover any screw holes.

Feel the Difference

Now it's time to put your baby back together. Reattach the LCD bezel and the plastic layer that contains the touchpad, connecting that ribbon cable and connecting the power-button cable near the top. Reattach the hard disk and RAM cover. Replace the screws along the way.

You did it! Windows 7 will automatically recognize the touchscreen, and you can calibrate it in the Control Panel. Your netbook might not look any different from the outside, but you've extended its life and given it an interface upgrade.

Product mentioned in this article

(1 items)

  • Dell Inspiron Mini 10
    3/5

    Despite a decent design, this netbook's screen and limited storage don't make it the ideal platform for a TV tuner.

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