How Not To Build A Tablet PC

Just came across this video by Dave of EEVBlog (see below). Now, granted, a little Dave goes a long way — a lot of his videos consist of him ranting about how horrible some piece of tech or another is.

Dave’s ranting is 100% justified in this case. Someone custom-built a Windows XP tablet PC, and they seem to have used it as an opportunity to thumb their nose at just about every single electronics rule in the book.

The power supply board (why they would hand-roll one when they’re a commodity item is beyond me) is particularly craptastic. They went to the trouble of making a two-layer board, only to basically not use the second side. They’re also using quite a few through-hole components as surface-mount components. It’s only a matter of time until those solder joints fail and come off the board.

There are many, many other no-nos visible:

  • Cold solder joints throughout;
  • Holding boards in place with double-sided tape;
  • Soldering directly to rechargeable batteries without tabs;
  • Packaging the batteries together with shipping tape;
  • Leaving loose, unused wires in place (at least they put some shipping tape on them as a talisman to ward off electric short demons);
  • Soldering a USB cable to a board, when a USB-to-mini-USB cable would do great;
  • Using at least three different battery packs one battery pack in three pieces;
  • Using a heatsink pad in a halfhearted attempt to couple the heatsink to the case; and
  • Using a heatsink with no provision for airflow. Where’s it going to dump the heat to, guys?

Dave is known for his over-the-top rants — but he gets a pass on this one. This is weapons-grade craptastic construction. (I suspect that either the company has VERY strong micromanagement — and/or they’re using interns with almost no electronics experience.)

Yeah, it’s serial number 11 — so a few glitches are to be expected. But this thing is almost cargo-cult-like in its construction. I’m really surprised that it works. (It won’t, for long.) And this piece of crap was sent to a client. A medical facility, in fact! I wouldn’t have tried to turn this in as a class project. Its construction would be just too embarrassing. I’ve never seen any student projects anywhere near this bad. Not even from freshmen who are learning electronics for the first time. At least they have intelligence and common sense.

(Warning: this video may cause Computer Engineers to lose faith in humanity…)

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