Make hidden channels for cable runs by cutting
only the pages well underneath the top. You
might find that certain components on the printed
circuit board are deeper than others, and I cut
many extra “wells” so that the boards would lie
flat. It’s easier to subtract than to add paper, so
try to get it right the first time so that the parts
fit snugly and won’t rattle around. For additional
depth, you can add extra pages beneath your
current piles. Work in layers and use binder clips
to keep loose stacks organized.
6. Cut the cover. After I splayed the Palm Pilot
screen from the board, all of its buttons (including
the power button) faced the book cover. To provide
access to these buttons, I used the case as a
stencil to trace the buttons on the cover, and then
drilled out the centers and used needle files to
shape the holes.
7. Connect the electronics. Test-fit all of the
electronic parts in your paper piles. Note the
length of any connecting wires and make sure
paths are cut for all connections. If wire-stripping
and soldering aren’t your strong suits, make the
wires a little longer so you’ll have a few extra tries.
First, connect the keyboard to the PDA by cutting the wires leading to the keyboard’s cradle
connector and soldering them to the corresponding
traces on the Palm’s main board. My keyboard
used only 3 wires, which extended from a small
auxiliary board. Save the cradle connector so you
know where to solder the wires.
Then connect the sync cable, if you’re using
one. As with the keyboard, cut off its connector
and refer to it as you solder the cable’s wires
directly to the contacts on the Palm Pilot main
board. Mine used 5 contacts.
My sync cable joined the keyboard wires in a
huge soldery mess. The whole serial cable business
was a lot of extra work.
Finally, hook up power. My PDA’s battery
compartment was molded into its case, so I cut
out the battery springs and soldered the leads
to an external battery holder. After everything’s
soldered, fire up the parts to ensure that they all
work and the connections are strong.
8. Glue the pages together. Start from the edges
using slightly watered-down Elmer’s glue. Brush
it on the edges of the stacked pages and immediately clamp them under stacks of books so they
don’t curl. Give it plenty of time to dry. Plastic
The PDA book computer is powerful enough for writing
and other word-processing tasks, and distinguishes you
from all the laptop clones at the coffeehouse.
wrap placed above and below your parts will help
keep them from sticking.
9. Attach the ribbon. A length of ribbon keeps the
screen at the proper viewing angle and prevents
the laptop from tipping over. It’s tricky to find that
exact balance point before everything’s assembled.
First, attach the ribbon to the “screen” side of
the book, and leave the excess hanging over the
top. Then, attach the screen assembly to the lid.
Find that perfect screen angle, and tape down
the free end of the ribbon. Attach the keyboard
assembly securely over the ribbon so it won’t
slip out. Use strong double-stick tape to stick
the pages to the covers.
10. Finishing touches. Remember that blank
end-leaf paper you saved? It’s time to make
your last precision cut and create a paper
screen bezel. This will be the most visible part
of your laptop, so make it nice! Trace the Palm
Pilot’s screen bezel and then straighten the
lines with the ruler. Double-stick the bezel over
Congratulations! You’ve built your own piece
of recycled retro-geek-chic! Decorate the
outside with stickers or the book jacket of your
choice, and enjoy the extra table space at the
Allen Wong is an idea guy who lives in Los Angeles and
spends his spare time inventing for a parallel universe.