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Student can't afford tablet for girlfriend, so builds her one for $125 (geek.com)
147 points by ukdm on Nov 25, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 51 comments

>One thing Wei may not appreciate is Sun taking the time to stick rhinestones all around the edge of the casing he so lovingly created

What's wrong with her personalising this? That piece of editorialising was unwarranted, I'm sure he was delighted that she fell in love with it enough to put her own mark on it.

To the critics below: it just made me sad because if my boyfriend made me something awesome like this and I wanted to decorate it, I don't want him to feel bad if others comment on it - as if it were something so girly to ruin his hard work (and I own zero rhinestones).

I think this is the result of a lack of cultural understanding. In East Asian countries, it is very common for women to decorate their cellphones (and tablets now as well, I suppose) with adhesive gems. There is an enormous market for such things, on the same scale as cell phone cases in the West.

Now we need a warrant to snark on the internet? I thought the line was funny and not all that serious. And even though I don't share the appreciation of rhinestone bling I agree the personal touch shows how much of a success the gift was.

That is not "personalized" but going with the crowd. Here in China they all do that, the cheaper the device the more glitter is glued onto it.

Tastes are different, so whatever.

I think it was just a humorous comment. I don't see the harm in it. BTW, you just asserted the opposite of the opinion you disagree with without any additional information beyond what the author had ;-)

True, I guess that they just look really happy in the photo.

Because it would say, at least to my instincts, "your case is not quite good enough, I need to fix it". Only after that would I realize that it's a good thing she cares enough to bother with it.

Heh, this reminds me of high school. iPods were a year or three old. I managed to get my hands on one with a catastrophically failed hard drive in pieces, for free. I took it home, reassembled the hard drive and the iPod, got it working, and gave it to my girlfriend of the time.

As best I know, it still works to this day. And the more I have learned about computers, the less I believe it myself- among other things, there were fingerprints all over the platters!

I've taken hard drives apart, removed the platters, wiped them down, shoved everything back together after not finding anything really wrong with it (and this wasn't being careful or nice with the platters/heads) and it has worked fine now for the last 6 years... still not sure why at one point it stopped spinning up.

By all accounts Wei is a badass hacker in the truest sense of the word. Being able to source the parts on the cheap and basically put it together by himself is remarkable and a testament to good old-fashioned hard work.

I'm going to make a generalization here and say that most Americans have lost this kind of DIY spirit. Instead we just whip out our Visa/Mastercard and decide to just buy what we need on credit. Yes, a solution to the problem nonetheless. But the amount of learning that you gain from doing a project like this should not be underestimated.

>I'm going to make a generalization here and say that most Americans have lost this kind of DIY spirit.

I disagree - most Americans in my experience are perfectly willing to DIY, just not in the same areas that you or I may DIY. When my car needs a new timing belt, control arms or brake pads, I'm perfectly happy to do the work myself. When it comes time to acquire vegetables, I'd much rather go to the local supermarket or farm stand and buy the them.

On the other hand, my mom has a mechanic do all her car work and grows her own vegetables. I could go on about my friend who makes her own pottery and stationary, my brother who does his own carpentry, a friend who makes his own beer, etc etc. We are all DIYers in our own way.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

My problem with DIY (for whatever is not software development) is that whenever I try something, it's never perfect from the first try and the second time around it is just boring and I don't bother with it anymore.

For example this kind of project I wouldn't try if I'd be in the same situation, as the quality of the assembled box matters here and there are dozens of things that could go wrong, making me exceed the $125 budget (I've been in this exact situations before, several times :))

I would feel bad about giving a broken device to my girlfriend and if on a budget, old-fashioned flowers work great ;)

I'd be willing to bet that's a global phenomenon, anywhere people have enough money to "just whip out [their] Visa/Mastercard". For places with money like that, you're also getting closer to the 'time is money' adage, and spending many hours on a build amounts to working for well below minimum wage. Unless you love it, it's essentially not worth it, and those that do love it will do it anyway (see the DIY crowd on Instructables, Hackaday, at Burning Man, etc).

I used to be all about the DIY stuff, but 'time is money' really is true. When I was broke, spending all weekend changing the timing belt on my car in the rain made sense. Now it doesn't.

> I'm going to make a generalization here and say that most Americans have lost this kind of DIY spirit.

Utterly false, you are simply out of touch with DIY culture, which is growing. In audio alone (a tiny fraction of DIY), people design and build incredible tube amps, horn speakers, etc. using a combination of hand craftsmanship and cutting edge computer simulation.

Sound-wise, for under $2k, it's not that hard to surpass what you'd buy for $200k. It's a world-wide phenomenon but nonetheless huge in the US. Check out http://www.diyaudio.com for example.

Well, actually as much as I love DIY stuff, if I can find a good and affordable solution for something, I'll buy it - no need to reinvent the wheel, so to say.

But yes, that does lead to people just giving up if there's no solution already available.

One of the most interesting examples is CPU/RAM upgrades - I am simply amazed at how many people think that if you can't upgrade it on the manufacturer's site (where they'll rip you off like there's no tomorrow), then you can't do it at all... The same goes for car audio - I'd never leave it to some shop to do it!

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Except s/need/want

Three years ago for Christmas I built my wife a 14 inch digital picture frame from an old laptop and a nice picture frame from the hobby store. It boots puppy linux from a usb stick, and runs through a slideshow of all of the pictures in the SLIDESHOW folder on the thumb drive, so there are basically no moving parts (old laptop with no fan, just a heat sync). It's been running strong for the past 3 years and only needs a reboot when the house loses power. I love DIY projects.

Cute project, but does not sound very energy efficient to me.

I did pretty much exactly the same thing a few years ago. The power supply is about 25W, but judging by the heat coming off the frame I doubt it uses half that. The main power draw is probably the screen. I removed the hard drive and replaced it with a CF card (basically no power draw), and the fans have been replaced with a large heat sink.

For my photo frame, I used cron and set various times for it to turn off the screen.

Obviously it's a luxury in terms of power usage, but given that it pulls about as much power as a bright energy saving lightbulb, it's not really a huge issue. In terms of cost, 25W continuous costs about 6c a day, so I'd imagine the whole frame costs less than half that once you take into account the screen-off time and the reduced power draw anyway.

Great DIY project, but I don't think it was because he couldn't afford one... for $125, you can get a pretty decent tablet in China (a good iPad knockoff or even one with a unique design and a capacitive touch screen).

Maybe he doesn't want to break the law and buy an illegal "knock-off" tablet.

Most of the knock-offs aren't illegal.

There is a minority that put the Apple logo on them, which is clearly illegal, but...

Beyond that the look of Apple's products are protected by design patents and the law on them is much less clear cut and varies by country (see the Samsung case for example).

There are a large number of non-iPad knock offs available for under $125, though. A quick search on DealExtreme will help..

You mean like the Apple logo that's on the tablet in the article's picture?

What should I do with my iPhone with an Android sticker logo on it? Come on man... Jeez.

I'm pretty sure that even Apple isn't really concerned about a hand built, 5cm thick, Windows 7 running, rhinestone encrusted "tablet" being mistaken for an iPad.

So no.. that's not what I meant.

I don't see how is a "knock-off" illegal. They try to mimic the real one, and it looks like crap, but it doesn't mean it's a illegal product. It's not like they're stealing anything.

Well, they're not really illegal in China as far as I understand, as long as they don't slap an Apple logo on it, having the same overall design is fine...

nice try, Apple

Saw it yesterday on China Daily, which is not the most reliable news source, btw.

Looks like this is just an old laptop wrapped into a shiny shell with a touch screen attached. Nice gift for his girlfriend but hardly worth a news story.

Wrapping old stoff up in a new packaging and then printing some expensive brand onto it is actually common in China. You can get "iPhones" here for under 100USD at everywhere.

> Wrapping old stoff up in a new packaging and then printing some expensive brand onto it is actually common in China.

I wonder whether they don't distinguish the fake from original or are fakes considered "cool" despite known to be fakes?

Wait - what about the cost of Windows 7?

Oh, I see - it must have been included on the used laptop he purchased. Makes sense now. ;)

Here in China? 5 Yuan in any electronics market. Usually with Office and Photoshop included (and probably some spyware).

Comes with DIY games Angry Rectangles and Rectangle Ninja.

Kudos to the kid for doing this. Certainly better than selling your kidney to buy an iPad2 (http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/06/02/boy-sells-kidney-to-b...)

On a side note, is that an apple logo I see at the bottom of the tablet? Wonder how apple feels about that? :)

"roughly the same thickness as an ipad" - the photo strongly implies otherwise. It looks nearly an inch thick.

Epic build, I would love it if anyone could find the construction details - hackaday would probably like it too :)

It really looks thick. I am almost sure it is not close to the size of an iPad.

That image has one hell of an alt text.

Looks kinda like a localization failure. If you have e.g. Chinese in UTF-8 but mess up the output (or input) somewhere it tends to look something like that.

It looks like it's GB18030, HZ or GBK. At least those are the ones that render with no unknown characters. I don't read/speak any Chinese dialects so I've got no idea which two encodings are likely gibberish.

GB18030 is a superset of GBK. HZ is generally used on 7-bit only mediums like Usenet.

that is offcourse very cool and encouraging. Will anyone guide me to this kind of stuff, like computer hardware assembling and making. and also where can i found these parts from internet

I assume it's a pirated copy of Windows at that price.

78 dollar laptop running Windows 7?


That was my first thought as well, but what was he supposed to run on it? Unity?

It does look quite bulky though, but that is often the way with DIY things.

Love this title!

That's the spirit!

How long will it be before we see the following headline?

Apple sues Chinese hacker for counterfeit tablet

Cudos to his girlfriend for conditioning him that well.

"but the tablet may end up costing Wei hundreds of thousands of dollars, as representatives from Apple have filed a patent infringement lawsuit against his ass.".

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