Monday, March 12, 2007

Porter's got a hard case!

I'm sure you all remember how porter got all linuxified a while back. I forgot to mention that the little warrior also has some hard core, well at least heavy cardboard, armor to keep him and his gear safe from getting punted across the coffee shop by my big clumsy feet.

I can't stand soft cases for laptops. Sure they last a long time and you can jam them fuller than a soccer mom's purse, but the I'd rather have a broken case and a working laptop than a case that's fine and a broken screen on my laptop. Hard cases also tend to be lighter so they're not a Burden in My Hand, by Soundgarden.

This thing is perfect! It fits the Solo 200STM with no goofy straps to adjust the case size at all, leaving just enough room for a finger on both front corners. Now this case might look just a bit familiar to some of you happy Wal-Mart shoppers. That's because this is NOT a laptop case. What I did was take porter to local retail chains and compare his size to the DVD/CD and other case systems they had. I started out with this one from Best Buy which is a case for the Nintendo DS and a bunch of accessories.

I was quite disappointed with this full aluminum case ended up being 1/32" to small to fit porter. It turned out for the best tho, because the DS kit only had about 1/2" of headroom. The Vaultz one I found at Wal-Mart that fits with about 1/32" EXTRA on each side, is quite a bit thicker leaving about 2 & 1/2" headroom and a net pouch in the lid.

Here's what you'd need to do to convert the Vaultz into a perfect Gateway Solo case.
1. Remove the sleeves from the ring binder.
2. Take a drill or sharp (soon to be duller, I'm such a hick) screwdriver and drill out the rivets.
3. Remove the entire metal assembly that holds the rings for the binder in place.
4. Use about 8" of Velcro strapping as a hinge lock. Use the hard plastic part. (The hinge lock hard to see in my photo there, it's on the right hand side and slips beside the case and under the laptop and under the PC Cards on the top. I got it almost in 2D mode look for the little black line.)
5. Take whatever other Velcro stuff you can find to make pouches or separate the webbing on the "top" part of the case.
I ended up with this. Notice that the power cable and an extra CAT5e fit just fine in the netting once I split it into two sections with a Velcro thing I pulled out of my Glock 23 kit, and I have room for my Schrade Multi-tool and a packet of PC Cards. One's a USB2.0 Adapter, there's a SD MMC card, a super compatible PrismII based card and another 10/100 NIC. I use alot of this stuff in other machines on the job.

There's also enough room under the base of the machine for a couple of the pages from the DVD/CD binder so I can have 16 or so DVD's in the case for LiveCD's or utilities on the job.

I've taken this case out on many jobs and to local businesses. I either work or write a bit out in public and this case gets just as many comments as the tiny laptop does. People wonder why I need to have my music with me, or "What's in the Magic Box?" I just pop it open and show them that I got my whole computer in there. They just can't believe it, to them a laptop "bag" should be about three times as big.

Not only is it super stylin' it was also cheap. Compare with these other cases that don't have the perfect fit and cost $50+. I think that I got the winner right here.

Never be afraid to take a few minutes and find new uses for the cheaper stuff that store sell. Other laptops would fit into other cases and portable systems for toting your Wii or PS3 around. Bring your laptop down to the store and see what it fits in, get a case that is unique and suprise people when you pull your road warrior out rather than a CD or PSP.

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