It would be awesome to see more stuff like:
- BIOS with core/libreboot
- mainboard replacement (e.g. to support USB 3) 
- better screens 
- something to deal with that awful touchpad
There is already people out there doing it and clearly TP's are some of the most used laptops on this planet for a reason so there is a market.
That being said,
I think it's still a small market. All of TPs I mean, new, used & yet to come (I've got a solid theory that ThinkPads may outlast the heat death of the universe, paper coming soon(tm) ). Seriously, the reason is that the used market is precisely interesting because it's cheap (it's almost a commodity market at that point) whereas the new market is becoming niche like all laptops, like desktops before — think that, for all their glory, GPUs only sell in the single-digit millions to consumers per year — no wonder the juice for these lies in enterprise.
So I think you've got room for maybe a few small businesses, small custom shops of a single to few employees, shipping worldwide of course (and I'm not a logistics expert but this is the kind of space where ideally you really want to 'shopify' directly from factory to customer because each cent will be hard fought for). Most of what people use to tweak TPs is already cheap as hell on Aliexpress or eq.
I wish it weren't so. Please tell me I''m wrong about this.
My hope with ThinkMods is that I can offset the overall cost of the brand by having a number of different mods; creating a store where you might pay slightly more than Aliexpress knockoffs, but you get a reliable mod shipped quickly to your door without worrying about returns, or if it'll even work.
I also want to be the first to design new mods. There will only be Aliexpress knock-offs of existing mods. ThinkMods will always have the newest and most innovative, with the service to back it up - and I will always do my best to keep costs down.
I would just encourage you to allow yourself to make enough margin to not just keep the business afloat but grow it — notably to fuel your apparent desire to design great things, enforce great QA, etc. These things have a cost, that people are willing to pay for as you suggest, and it is always a disservice to everyone to undervalue one's work. ;-)
So, seeing as how your heart is in the right place — go TPs! — rest assured you won't overcharge any time soon. People will tell you if that day ever comes. :wink again:
Have a great one, and thanks for the awesome initiative. Best of courage and success to you!
There is still people who love the old one's because of the excellent keyboard and the tough shell while the new models have bad keyboards and a really fragile shell (it just does not feel sturdy anymore).
Maybe the market is not big but I said it is there and not how far you will be able to scale that. Probably enough for a bunch of people to become millionaires.
I switched away from TP after my last model from 2006 was not modern enough for my taste anymore and I didn't have the time to upgrade it myself. Without USB3 and limited because of the CPU it is not an option for me anymore and I would have loved to let a company upgrade it so I can use it 10+ years to come.
And there is still an x200 that I will keep for some x-mas tinkering time to try the libreboot-mod myself.
After all I would be very glad if I could find an x201s some day and mod it / let it be modded by a company so it is not only usable to do some retro stuff but actually useful in the modern times.
The logistics will only get cheaper, faster and more secure and I would not see it as a problem. At the moment we see AMZN pushing into the market while China builds it's "Belt and Road" project. All of these developments will have a positive effect on logistics for consumers and vendors probably.
The hardware for mods may be cheap but you have to add the working hours you need to achieve a mod. Of course it may be reduced by experience.
I often think about doing things like: Is it worth the (cheap) money AND my time?
Sometimes I do it though it is (more) expensive because I also learn a lot but other times I am in a hurry and already stressed enough and would prefer to outsource this kind of work. Especially in the field of customizing (electronics) there is a lot of market share for (small?) companies to be earned.
He bought it from 51NB (China) and exactly describes how the buying process including returns and repairs could be improved upon by locating stores/branches in other regions of the world as well.
If you would scale this endeavor all kinds of mods can be thought of and I see no problem to choose the one's you want to have. Think of a configuration app that let's you choose a model/chassis and then configure the TP the way you want.
I am sure it will be a great success and also more people will want some of these when they see how lousy their HP, Acer,... (up to and including new Lenovo) laptops are built in comparison. Climate debate will also lead to more people trying to get used electronics because it is more sustainable.
~2012 models are most popular - too many compromises in one direction or another when you get newer.
All of the options above are bootable (not sure about eSATA, but can test).
One more option is nice, of course, though not sure that booting off ExpressCard SSD could be directly supported by the BIOS.
In my experience, the most
demanded mod was HDMI adapter for DisplayPort, just to attach an occasional larger screen/TV.
There are 42mm long M.2 drives and as all M.2 cards, they are 2mm wide. The largest 2242 SATA drives are 1TB from such reputable brands as Kingspec and Dogfish and I strongly recommend avoiding them like the plague. I'd stick with the Transcend MTS 430S at 512GB, it's the first SSD in such a size with a DRAM cache, launched last year. (At least the first retail, no idea what goes on with industrial SSDs.)
Full height Mini PCIe cards are 30×50.95 mm. You can indeed buy an msata to 2242 adapter and it's cheap as dirt because it is completely passive, just the PCB with the right edge connector with the M.2 key B connector mounted on top. Zero electronics necessary. It's just SATA.
For the sake of completeness, I must note some newer 2242 drives are key M / NVMe / PCI Express and I haven't seen such an adapter yet. The Sabrent 2TB Rocket is the largest 2242 SSD I am aware of and it's key M.
The ExpressCard slot on my x230 is completely unused ever since. But storage... Oh boy, I always need more storage.
Otherwise, this appears to be a (rare) good example of a well-planned crowdfunding campaign. The actual design is either completely or almost completely de-risked via one or more prototypes. Both the funding goal and anticipated timeline appear reasonable, and make it clear that the funds are being used for production rather than for development. Number of reward items in each category is capped so that sudden unexpected popularity doesn't doom the project.
>make it clear that the funds are being used for production rather than for development
Well, that was true until now! The catch is that all "profits" will go towards development of future mods. The existing Expresscard adapter is pretty much fully thought-out.
The perk limits were set for a 100-unit production run. I'm okay exceeding that, and will be increasing the first run to 200 units, but that's probably going to be my cutoff in terms of the campaign. After the campaign I'll be selling them perpetually at the ThinkMods store.
It also seems like the maker is producing these in small batches in his home lab, so 3D printing makes sense. That said, the CAD model of v2 seems to show some kind of ejector or retention mechanism (in green, again on the left) which could be tricky to print reliably.
In this case, though, I meant commercial part more like "generic component that you could buy from fifty random aliexpress suppliers" rather than simply "part produced commercially."
I will be fine-tuning the final part to look and feel a lot better.
Until recently I was planning to just order them from 3dhubs, since it has decent per-unit pricing for bulk orders, but now I'm going to be buying a printer and doing them myself. This will allow me to print whatever chassis is needed, make revisions whenever needed, and also make it far easier to prototype future mods.
The ejection mechanism looks off-the-shelf.
I can't think of a more rugged, long-lasting, and well-performing laptop than the Thinkpad series.
As a result, I can see this product being a total hit. Most of my students buy used Thinkpads because they're inexpensive and easy to upgrade, so I'm going to show them this link!
For those of us who find chiclet style keys a step in the wrong direction, and maybe even prefer matte displays to glossy, older Thinkpads is pretty much the pinnacle of laptops as a productivity tool.
I can use the touchpad with my thumb without moving my hands as well.
Opening it up to add more memory and larger SSD was nerve racking. I was worried I might snap the tabs on the “glass fiber” shell. Better than an Inspiron or Pavilion but not confidence inspiring. I don’t look forward to replacing the battery in a couple years.
Most are no longer so easy to service and come with soldered components. Cooling systems tend to be mediocre. Noisy and can no longer be tweaked. ThinkLight is gone. Keyboards with big ESC and some important dedicated keys are gone, etc.
I wish they brought back machines like the x220 with modern internals and silent cooling.
The similar thing happened again with the T470 and T480; the T470 is a fantastic machine when it comes to overall build, and the T480 has a few downsides but adds a much-needed spec increase (WQHD panels, 4-core CPUs) without too much drawback.
The T490 was a complete revamp and seriously sacrifices everything that made the T series respectable.
I bought their "51nb X62" model Thinkpad a few years back from an eBay user, though unfortunately it eventually died.
It was a motherboard replacement of the old Thinkpad X60 from many years ago. Replacing the old single core CPU with an Intel Broadwell era i5 and up to 32 gigs of memory
You could also install an M.2 SSD in it I believe. Along with USB 3 and other useful new features
I bought a USB3 card , but the write speed is only barely faster than USB2 for flash media. (interestingly, the write speed is much faster when uploading an image to my FPGA dev board)
I am a bit afraid this mod will have the same problem.
Instead of plastic, it would be better to use a material that can conduct heat.
My mod doesn't have that problem, so the only heat generated will be from the drives themselves, which don't put out much.
I've been looking for an upgrade to my 2242 PCIe drive but they rarely appear, and usually by the time I find one you can't actually order it anymore.
Be careful: this is key M and it's not unlikely you have a key B slot. The largest key B 2242 drive is, on paper at least is https://paypaymall.yahoo.co.jp/store/etrend-y/item/1194784/ but I have never seen it being in stock after it launched (?) last year. Otherwise, the SN520 is the largest obtainable at 512GB. https://geizhals.eu/western-digital-pc-sn520-nvme-ssd-512gb-...
I think the mod would be much better if there were a way to have it protrude out of the laptop with a 2280 form factor drive, so that more parts would be usable in it.
example test on T410 https://pt.aliexpress.com/item/32260935657.html
180MB/s max read out of a drive easily reaching 600MB/s in normal circumstances https://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/6961/plextor-m6e-black-edi...
TLDR: its ALWAYS inferior to simply using SATA drive in HDD slot.
This will allow raid10 setup with 3 drives for best read performance, e.g. "--level=10 --layout=f3"
You can also do the o3 if you want best write performance
Some of the future mods though look very cool. I particularly would like the Unifying Mod & WHQD mods.
So it's actually less than SATA 3 speeds (600MB/s)
And vintage ThinkPad enthusiasts are not typically concerned about weight unless they're going for "more is better".
Besides the standard mods (swapping the screen and upgrading to the W-series heatsink), I noticed that there was a spare spot on the PCB that looked like it was made for some component. Looking up the teardown of the more professional variant, turns out that it was missing a connector for a mini-PCIE slot. An ebay hunt and hours with a soldering iron later, I had a seemingly-working miniPCIe slot. Didn't really have a use for it though, other than bragging rights.
I eventually killed that laptop by bricking the BIOS, and then ruining the motherboard while trying to resolder the SPI BIOS chip.
Now, I have a 701CS lying around. Been trying to find the right hardware to restomod it.
T440p supports this as well! It has a secret third M.2 2280 B-key slot with SATA3 lanes going to it.
As a 7 year old Thinkpad user: 4th generation Core is absolutely fine for me. I can get a refurbished and kitted out replacement for some 200 euros. I could upgrade the RAM from 8G to 16G, but in my daily use I've seen no concrete reason to do so yet. SSD is great, though. Maybe I spend a few more minutes compiling software on this machine than I would on a more recent laptop, but I'm not losing sleep over it.
I can see why you'd want something more out of, say, a gaming PC or something you use for resource intensive analysis applications, machine learning etc. but getting a laptop for that seems like a waste of money to me, compared to getting a desktop computer that you can upgrade incrementally.
I'm interested, though. What is it that people do where you feel that your laptop needs to be more powerful than this?
More importantly, they are the most recent laptops that you can fit with non-chiclet keyboards.
I left a good one in it while docked but unplugged, the dock apparently killed the battery.
I'm pondering whether changing the 16550 cells make senses
I love the keyboard and trackpoint, and older Thinkpads are rugged in a way that new models have apparently given up on. I bought the Thinkpad 25, which was basically a 2017 mid-range laptop with the old keyboard. It's adequate, but flimsier and less reliable.
I have more modern think pads as well but I plan to keep the t420's for a while. They're solid reliable expandable and great form factor :)
For the entire ThinkPad lineup spanning 5 generations? Oh yeah, definitely.
Edit: nevermind, he found a thinner connector. I should've read the Indiegogo page before commenting :)
Other than that, this adapter would be great for any laptop with an ExpressCard slot. I can't believe no one's made one before. Kind of late now that new laptops don't have the port, though.
I have an old X200 laying around and I was thinking of reactivating it, but it's from 2008..
If you're talking about a dongle and not a mouse itself, I've got a mod coming for that too~
The founder is on the https://www.reddit.com/r/thinkpad subreddit and discord, https://www.reddit.com/u/yttriumtyclief or Discord http://discord.gg/Ybdz7AS @yttrium.
Launch post on the subreddit a few days ago: https://www.reddit.com/r/thinkpad/comments/evtje2/its_finall...
With NVMe now a thing it feels as if the express card slot is ready for a comeback.
Also if you just want to cram more drive in your laptop
“What's the speed limit?
The ExpressCard slot is limited to a single PCI-E 2.0 lane. This means the real-world speed bottleneck is 500MB/s, which is roughly the speed of SATA 6Gb/s (SATA 3).
Pre-Sandy Bridge models (T410/X201 and older) are limited to PCI-E 1.1, which is roughly 250MB/s.”
¹ — https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/thinkmods-expresscard-nvm...
Personally I wish(ed) if there were 2.5” shaped GPU than SSD though
Good luck with finding a decent GPU that small, let alone with power and thermal profile to support being in an expresscard slot.