BeagleBoard-based Laptop


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==The easy way==
==The easy way==
Just buy a [[Touch Book]], and be done with it. But, that's no fun, now, is it?
Just buy a [[Touch Book]] or other ARM-based [[Smartbooks|Smartbook]], and be done with it. But, that's no fun, now, is it?
==The hard way==
==The hard way==

Revision as of 19:55, 12 December 2009

This page has been created to share information on creating a laptop based on the BeagleBoard.


The easy way

Just buy a Touch Book or other ARM-based Smartbook, and be done with it. But, that's no fun, now, is it?

The hard way

So, you want to actually do this yourself.

Here's what you'll need, at bare minimum:

  • BeagleBoard (revision C3 recommended)
  • Powered USB hub
  • USB keyboard and pointing device
  • Storage device of some kind (in this case, either an SD card or a USB mass storage device)
  • LCD that can be interfaced to DVI/HDMI or the BeagleBoard's built-in LCD controller
  • Some way of powering this LCD (if it can run off of +5 VDC, and its inverter can too, all the better)
  • Some form of case (hinges are important, too)

Other things that you'll want:

  • Speakers
  • A DVI/HDMI splitter, if you're using a DVI/HDMI LCD (for multi-monitor support)
  • USB Wifi
  • USB ethernet
  • Battery and charging circuit

Thoughts of how to do it

Ideally, this would be done cheaply. Seeing as this is DIY, you can cheat. Find a cheap used LCD on eBay? Go for it. Got a dead ThinkPad lying around with a keyboard that would be perfect for this? Why not?


Wood. Ridiculously cheap, easy to work with, and decently strong. No, it's not pretty, and it could be lighter and thinner, but remember, cheap is the name of the game. Plastics and metals can be cheap... if you have ways to work with them.

You could also try an old laptop case... perhaps you can also use the screen and some of the peripherals too. Be aware that the motherboard space in most laptops is small and awkwardly shaped - but maybe the Beagle is small enough to cope.


To get one decently small with reasonable resolution, there's only one option, really... find something out of a broken laptop. Of course, you'll need to hook it to either DVI or LVDS, have fun with that...

Really old laptop screens use a parallel bus - 6 or 8 bits per R/G/B, pixel clock, line clock (hsync), screen clock (vsync). There are chips to convert this to LVDS. But better to find a panel with integrated LVDS, which also means less wiring. used to have a good LCD resource and forum before they went all corporate, but you can find a copy on the Internet Archive.

Keyboard and pointing device

First things first, this is RISC OS, you need three buttons. ThinkPads are your best bet, as they've all (well, all the recent ones) got three-button TrackPoints, although you'll need to adapt the keyboard to dual PS/2, and then USB, somehow.


If you're doing this on the cheap, remember that charging LiIon is difficult, expensive, and/or dangerous, pick 2 of the 3. NiMH is probably the way to go.

USB ethernet

You'll want a device supported by the EtherUSB module. Currently that's:

  • Asix AX88172.
  • Asix AX88772.
  • MosChip MCS7830.
  • ADMtek Pegasus AN986 or AN8511

The OpenBSD aue documentation gives a list of devices that use the Pegasus chip.

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