Converting a Virgin Webplayer into a PC
Author: Wayne Eggert
Last Updated: 03/23/02
**Update** Mail Notification LED now works!
Internet Appliances have been very popular the past several years, not because of their intended use as web browsers, but because they usually offer the ability to be hacked and converted into fully capable computers. So, when I found out I could snag one from an online auction site for a decent price, I figured it would be a great use for the extra laptop hard drive I had collecting dust. After all, who doesn't need another computer? =] If nothing else, the parts alone were worth the price of the gadget, so I really had nothing to lose!
These are really the only tools you'll need throughout the process. Needle nose pliers, a small phillips head screwdriver, a flat head screwdriver, and (optional) a chip extractor. You'll also need a 44-pin IDE cable if you're installing a laptop hard drive. If you'll be installing a desktop hard drive or don't have a laptop at your despair to transfer files to a laptop drive, you'll also require a laptop IDE converter. Each of these should run you roughly $7 and $12 respecitively. You'll also need to purchase a USB ethernet card if your Webplayer only has a modem.
Step 1: Removing the Case
First, I wanted an idea of what I'd be tearing into. There are two screws on the bottom of the unit that have to be removed, and another two that are underneath where the LCD screen rests on the top of the unit (remove the black plugs that cushion the LCD and you'll see the screws). Once these screws are out, it's rather easy to get the top cover off. The two side covers should also detatch as you pull the top off. The front cover is easily removed (tilt the LCD down and then pull the front cover back), though there are wires attatched to it, so don't plan on taking it completely off yet. What you should be left with is something similar to the picture on the left.
Step 2: Time to Dissect
Now the fun part (no matter if it's a frog in Bio or electronic components).. DISSECTION!! Unscrew the modem and pop the modem cable out of the connector on the modem ports. The modem can then be pulled out of it's port and set aside. I'd suggest keeping the screws next to whatever components you're removing, since there will be a lot of them! The pcb board with the modem ports is next to come out. Following this, begin removing screws from the motherboard (there should be seven total, counting the two near the LEDs in the front. Once these are all out, you can lift the motherboard up enough to get the metal plate in the back of the unit out. If all goes well, you should see something similar to the left-hand picture.
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