Lately I've received an increase in queries about the DIY Mini-ITX laptop project that I was working on. Some assume that the project is dead. It's not; it's just sleeping. See the video above for details.

DIY Laptop Project?

If you missed it, I demonstrated a battery powered Mini-ITX machine end of 2017, and announced plans to design a DIY Mini-ITX Laptop Kit. After several updates over 2018, all updates suddenly stopped.

What Happened?

  • I aimed to get the project finished by October 2018 (in time for AmiWest 2018), but managed to get only a prototype laptop screen done instead. Watch the video to see the laptop screen
  • Most people on the DIY laptop mailing list were AmigaOS fans who want an Amiga laptop. It was clear that the A1222 Mini-ITX motherboard in my prototype wouldn't be publicly available any time soon. Hence, the laptop kit wouldn't be worth much to the majority of potential customers (at least, the ones who had expressed an interest)
  • Having spent a lot of time and money on the project, I was running out of money and needed to focus on something that would pay the bills
  • So, I sadly had to put it on hold, and focus on other work

What Went Wrong?

  • I tried to create the end product in one go. This caused me to waste a lot of time trying to get things "perfect" first time round. As an engineer and software developer I'm used to rapid prototyping and iterative design. In this case, the cost of prototyping and not wanting to waste too much material on prototypes got the better of me
  • To make matters worse, I lacked access to the equipment needed for the manufacturing processes I was hoping to use (e.g., designing sheet-metal components without any sheet-metal equipment to prototype on)
  • My most expensive mistake was buying a huge 3D printer to do the prototyping on. It took almost a month to assemble (full-time), and was plagued with problems. The Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) wasn't accurate and reliable enough for what I was doing
  • I should have aimed to build a simple prototype first, and then iteratively improve it

What's Next

  • I hope to restart the project this year, with the aim to finish it
  • I have continued thinking about the project, and have new ideas
  • I'll take everything I've learnt so far, simplify the project, and make it happen

Got a Project That's Stalled or Been Derailed?

You haven't failed yet... unless you give up. Think about what went wrong, and what you could learn from it. Also think about what went right. Then, use the lessons learned to succeed in completing the project (and/or succeed with the next project).

Interested in the DIY Mini-ITX laptop project?

Click here to sign up to the mailing list. It's the best way to stay up-to-date. And, it'll let me know how many are interested.