Acer Aspire One Solderless Touchscreen Mod
Several weeks back I purchased an ‘Easy and Fun TouchKit’ for my Acer Aspire One and finally got around to installing it two days ago. I purchased the kit off of ebay for $95 plus $25 shipping, but you could also purchase it directly from the FidoHub website.
The touchscreen kit features a solderless design, so installation was fairly uncomplicated (with exception to wire management). I video taped the install process, divided it up into three parts and uploaded them to YouTube. A link to each video is included below for anyone who would prefer a visual guide to work with as well.
Part 1: Dissassembly
I didn’t follow the instructions from the Touchscreen Kit exactly as they had them. Part of the issue was that this was my first time taking apart the Aspire One and I felt more comfortable going with my own instincts as opposed to their sparse outline. Although I’d never before done this level of customization to a laptop-style device, I’ve been building my own desktop systems for quite some time and understood, overall, what needed to happen. So I am outlining how I did it, which worked for me. This part of the install basically involves just stripping the Acer Aspire One down to the bare chassis.
Although I took video of the entire process, I didn’t use my camera to document more detailed aspects of the installation. Instead, I’ve just posted images that were part of the Install PDF that came with the TouchKit.
Step 1: Remove LCD Housing Caps and Screws
There are six screws on the LCD housing that need to be removed. Use your fingernail or a fine tip of some sort to pry off the screw caps. I highly recommend organizing all of the screws you remove into sections and then using post-its to label what part of the netbook each section goes to. I failed to do this and forgot which screws went where by the time I got around to putting things back together. Keep tabs on where you put those screw caps – I ended up losing one of them in the mess I inevitably made throughout the install process.
Step 2: Remove Battery and Chassis Screws
The photo below illustrates the screws you need to remove on the chassis. The instructions from the kit also specified to remove the back door for the controller fitting (where the black arrow points to in the photo) – but I didn’t bother with this. Instead, I just slid the TouchHub controller in from the left side of the chassis interior where it is to be installed and fed through the wires.
Step 3: Remove Keyboard
Ok – so this was a pain for me at first. The problem was that I didn’t realize from watching other videos just how hard I had to push in on the three little clips at the top of the keyboard. The credit card method didn’t seem to work as well for me as using a very small flat-tip screwdriver. The process took me awhile because I was nervous about scratching the chassis or breaking one of the clips. If you’ve never done it before, my advice would be to just keep in mind you need to use a fair bit of pressure to push in each clip. You push each clip upwards towards the top of the chassis. Once it has been pushed up enough, the lip of the keyboard should hopefully pop up a bit to keep that clip pushed back. After you get a corner up, it is helpful to slide in a credit card or similar to hold it there while you use your fingers to pry up the remaining edges. Be mindful not to just yank up the keyboard, as you still need to disconnect the the keyboard and touchpad in the next step.
Step 4: Disconnect Keyboard FPC Ribbon
After freeing the keyboard from the housing, tilt the top side up so you can reach underneath and disconnect the keyboard from the system board. Although the photo below illustrates it, I had not paid proper attention to the lip I needed to lift up (#2 below) in order to free the cable, though eventually figured it out after realizing the cable wouldn’t just pull free. You could also disconnect the touchpad cable (#1 below) in this step, though it doesn’t prevent removing the keyboard, so I did it in the next step.
Step 5: Disconnect TouchPad and Unscrew Keyboard Housing
If you didn’t already do it in the step above, disconnect the touchpad from the system board (the blue ribbon cable you see in #1 above). Next, unscrew the six keyboard housing screws as illustrated in the photo below.
Step 6: Remove Keyboard Housing
I found this a little tricky the first time. You essentially just use a combination of your fingers and credit card to pry up the edges of the keyboard housing. Use gentle, but firm pressure to ensure you don’t snap off any of the plastic around the hinges or the clips which secure the housing to the chassis. It took me awhile, but what worked best was first freeing the bottom three sides and then gently prying the housing away from the hinges.
Step 7: Remove LCD Housing
This was fairly simple with exception to it being a little tricky around the hinges. Again, just use a gentle but firm pressure to release the housing clips from the chassis. It worked better for me to start at the top and work my fingers down to the hinges.
Step 8: Unscrew LCD Panel
Remove the four screws on the LCD panel as shown in the photo below.
Step 9: Disconnect Webcam and Microphone
Now you need to disconnect the webcam module and microphone. The webcam disconnected with minimal effort – but the microphone connector was really, really tight. It took me around 20 minutes to finally separate it. You can see how they look disconnected below. If you have problems with the microphone connection – my only advice is to firmly rock it back and forth until it separates a bit. From there you can pry it further with your fingers.
Step 10: Disconnect and Unscrew System Board
Disconnect and unscrew everything on the system board as outlined in red below. There are five screws to remove and disconnection of the speaker and LCD cables.
Step 11: Remove System Board from Chassis
Once everything has been disconnected and unscrewed, pull out the system board and set it to the side. The top left corner is a little tricky, but if you pull the board down and then gently to the right, you should be able to free everything without much effort.
Step 12: Remove LCD Panel from Chassis
To remove the LCD panel, you’ll need to first unscrew the hinge towards the lower left hand side of the LCD. Once that is done, you can pull out the LCD connection cable that was tucked under it and then lift the LCD panel away.
That’s it. You now have the netbook completely stripped down so we can start installing the TouchKit components.
Part 2: Hardware Installation
This part deals with installing the actual hardware from the Touchscreen kit and re-assembling the Acer Aspire One. Admittedly, if I were to do this again, I would perform the following steps in a slightly different sequence. The outline below will work, but aren’t as logical as they could be. For example, after positioning the touch panel on the lcd display, logically I should have applied the shock absorbers next. Instead, I went immediately to installing the controller board and then applied the shock absorbers after that.
However, because I wanted this installation outline to be a faithful recreation of the YouTube videos, I have written down the steps in the exact same order I did it on the video. It works just fine this way, but it could have been better.
Step 1: Connect and Position Camera Harness
In the video I kept referring to this harness as a ‘USB Harness’, but that was technically incorrect. The USB harnesses are the two in the kit that have the wider connector at the end and aren’t even needed to install the TouchKit.
Instead, I should have referred to this cable as the ‘Camera Harness’. There are two of these cables in the kit and they have a small connector at each end. The guide calls one a ‘Camera Harness’ and the other a ‘Hub Harness’, though they are essentially identical cables. Just something to keep in mind if you’ve come here from watching my YouTube videos and are confused about the verbiage.
So connect this camera harness to the webcam module (outlined in red below), then place it diagonally across the chassis cover so the other end is in the bottom right corner. Secure it with some tape. I used athletic tape, but anything should work. I’ve included a photo from the installation guide as well as a screenshot of my own system during this step.
Image From Installation Guide:
My Own Image:
Step 2: Reposition Camera Connector
Now turn over the LCD Panel and move the connector that used to go to the camera module from the top of the LCD to the left-hand side as shown in the photo below (the left of the LCD if it were facing you). This step is necessary because the Hub harness we will be attaching to it is not long enough to reach to the controller board. This hub harness will eventually be connected to the #1 USB input of the controller board. I’ve included the image from the installation guide as well as my own.
Image From Installation Guide (before and after)
My Own Image (after it had been moved)
Step 3: Attach Webcam Harness to Controller Board
Ok – so although this is the next thing I did in the video, you really don’t need to do it right now. As mentioned above, I would have done things in a different sequence if I were to ever install another touch screen. In this particular instance, it is somewhat of a wasted step, as you’ll just have to disconnect it again later when we install the controller board. So…seriously…don’t bother with this right now unless you just want to familiarize yourself where it eventually needs to go.
However, despite my statement above, I’ve included a screenshot from my video of how this looked. I basically just connected the other end of the Camera Harness that we positioned diagonally to the #3 USB input of the controller board – then set the controller board to the side.
Step 4: Return LCD Panel & Screw Down
Put the LCD panel back onto the chassis and screw it in place.
Step 5: Connect Hub Harness
Plug the hub harness from the kit into that connector we moved to the left hand side of the LCD screen. This harness looks just like the one we connected diagonally from the webcam module.
Step 6: Hub Harness Cable Management
Unscrew the hinge next to the LCD (if it isn’t already) and tuck the hub harness underneath. Go ahead and screw the hinge back in when you’re done, as we won’t need to do anything more with it.
Step 7: Apply Double-Sided Tape to LCD Panel
My kit didn’t come with double-sided tape, so I just used some cut-up carpet tape, which worked fine. Initially I just taped the left and right side, but then had problems with the touch panel slipping down while I was installing the controller board. So I went back and added a 3rd strip at the top. I didn’t use any on the bottom and had no problems with this. The touch panel can’t really move around after you install the shock absorber strips and re-attach the lcd housing. The strips don’t need to be very long (I used about two inches) and should be applied onto the metal frame around the LCD.
Step 8: Position Touch Panel on LCD
Before you do this, make sure your lcd screen is perfectly clean. Put it under bright light and check for dust, finger prints, hair, whatever. Seriously. This is your last chance and you will be insanely annoyed if you end up looking at crap you can’t wipe off once the everything has been put back together. If you use a liquid cleaner, make sure the screen is completely dry before placing the Touch panel on top.
Once you’ve cleaned your LCD, peel the plastic off the back side of your touch panel and place it as perfectly center as you can on the lcd. The touch panel should have the cable coming off the bottom towards the right hand side. The idea is to have an even amount of metal frame showing around the perimiter, as this is where you’ll be applying the shock absorber strips from the kit.
Step 9: Install Controller Board & Attach Harnesses
As mentioned earlier, if doing this install again – I’d do this step after the next one below. However, this is where I did this step in the video. First, take the adhesive rubber installation from the kit and apply it to the bottom of the controller board. Peel the paper off the underside as well.
If you connected the camera harness to the Touch Hub Controller Board earlier, disconnect it now (I warned you). Now feed that camera harness in through the right side of the controller board slot so it comes out the left side. Once you’ve fed it through, feel free to reattach it back to the controller board. Next, take the soldered wire coming off the controller board and feed it through that same slot, but from the left side to the right.
After you have the camera harness and the soldered touch panel wire from the hub fed through the slot correctly, go ahead and connect the hub harness from the left-side of the lcd. This is the one we attached to the connector that was moved to the left side of the LCD.
Now you can go ahead and slide the controller board into the slot. Be very careful if you are tugging on the right-side wires to assist pulling it through. You don’t want to pull off one of those soldered wires for the touch panel connection. Be gentle or try to pull more on the camera harness wire if you can. Better yet, try to guide it in more with your left hand. Once it is positioned in the slot to your satisfaction, press down a bit to secure the adhesive more firmly to the chassis. It should look something like what you see below:
Step 10: Apply Shock Absorber Strips
The kit includes four, thin rubber strips that need to be placed on each side of the touch panel. These are shock absorbers that will help secure and protect the touch panel from impact to the lcd housing. They don’t go on top of the touch panel, but rather, just to the side so it is on top of the LCD metal frame. If you positioned your touch panel perfectly center earlier, you should have just enough space to place each strip.
Step 11: Tape Wires and Secure Under Hinge
Ok – so honestly – this is the part of the project which gave me the most grief. It is important to secure the wires tightly enough so you can eventually replace the LCD housing without any kind of visible seam. I can’t even remember the number of times I had to redo this. I’m outlining below what eventually worked for me, with the hope that it saves someone time in having to do it over and over again.
First off, take the two wires coming out of the right side of the controller board and tape them together with electrical tape. The kit guide does not tell you to do this – but I promise it will save you the hassle of trying to keep those wires in place later. I also think it adds additional protection so the wires are in less danger of being cut or crimped by the housing or chassis when the netbook is being opened and closed. Initially I had taped the camera harness and soldered wire individually, but then couldn’t get them to fit properly where you need to tuck them under the LCD hinge. So I removed the tape and then did again, but this time, with both wires together. The photo below shows how it looked when I was done. I’d recommend taping at least to where they just come out the other side of the hinge.
Next you need to unscrew the hinge next to the LCD and tuck those wires underneath. Try to push them down on the interior side of the hinge. There’s already a cable there, so it is a tight fit. You just need to use your fingernail or a blunt tip to squeeze the wires in next to the other wire until you can put the hinge back in place properly. Once the hinge is back on, go ahead and screw it back down right away The photo below is the same one from above, but with the hinge area highlighted to show how it should look.
Step 12: Connect Touch Panel to Controller
Now that your wires are secured properly under the hinge, go ahead and connect that wire coming from the bottom of the touch panel to the soldered one from the board (which we taped off with the camera harness). Just slide the ribbon into the end. I don’t believe it matters which direction it is connected.
Step 13: Tape Down Loose Wires
Now we’re going to secure those lose wires above the hinge with some electrical tape as shown below. Technically this step could be done after the next step (which deals with securing the touch panel connector, but this is where I did it in the video. You’ll probably have to readjust the wires and tape again a little later.
Step 14: Secure Touch Panel Connector
And finally, we need to tape down and secure the touch panel connector on the bottom. This was really tricky for me. Eventually it required bending and squishing that ribbon cable down far more than I was comfortable with. I thought for sure I had kinked it too much – but everything worked fine when the system was all back together. Also, even more difficult in this step is placing that black connector where the touch panel and controller board wire meet so that the LCD housing will snap close properly. If it isn’t placed just right, the housing won’t snap or will end up with a visible seam. In the end, it required placing the long side of the black connector perpendicular to the LCD chassis. The black connector itself was about 1/2 – 1 inch from the right corner of the LCD. The photo below is awful quality, but it shows the position that ended up working for me:
Once you get the touch panel connector in place, I recommend taping it down to keep it in place. I used athletic tape because I wanted something loose and not too sticky (since I had ended up re-doing it so many times) – but electrical should be ok if you’re sure you have it placed right. Also, whatever loose wires are remaining from the touch panel connector, wrap around the perimeter of the lcd and tuck under the black tape we applied on the right earlier. In the end, it should all look something like this:
Step 13: Put LCD Housing Back On
I probably don’t need to say this – but before you put the housing on, make sure you peel the remaining plastic from the touch panel if you hadn’t already at some point. If your wires are tucked in properly, the LCD housing should snap back on without any visible seams. The bottom side is the most difficult. Even with the instructions above, you may need to go back and tweak some of your wires. However, as long as the housing snaps all around, having a slight seam showing isn’t that big of a deal. I guess it just depends on how anal you are. Personally, it bothered me to have a visible seam, so I spent an obnoxious amount of time re-doing it until there was none.
When the LCD housing is in place, go ahead and screw it back on. DO NOT OVER-TIGHTEN. The guide explicitly states that over-overtightening can crack the touch panel. Just screw until you meet resistance and then perhaps just a nudge more.
Step 14: Reassemble Netbook
Using the reverse of steps outlined in part one, put your netbook back together. I’m not going to outline this in detail, but instead – just highlight a couple of points to remember.
- As you return the keyboard chassis, you may need to readjust the wires going over the chassis hinge. Just take care not to pinch your wires in between where the chassis and housing meet.
- Don’t forget to position and seat your wi-fi properly during reassembly. After replacing the keyboard housing, slide the wi-fi lever over to ensure it is working properly.
Step 15: Boot Up to Confirm Working
After your Aspire One has been put back together, quickly power it up to ensure everything is working. If everything looks good, then move on to part 3, which deals with installing the touchscreen drivers and testing to ensure the touch panel is working.
Part 3: Driver Install & Test
I never got around to documenting this part of the install. However, you can watch a simple walk-through on my Part 3 YouTube Video.
DRIVER UPDATE 02/16/2010:
After recently doing a clean install of Windows 7, I downloaded and installed a newer version of the touchscreen drivers directly from the EETI.com website. I noticed a definite improvement in smoothness when using the browser scrollbar in Firefox with my finger. Everything else seems about the same.
Webcam Not Working
I didn’t have this problem initially, but after upgrading RAM and installing Windows 7 a few months later – my webcam no longer worked and was listed as an unrecognized device in Device Manager (despite attempts to manually install drivers and disable/enable device). I was able to resolve the issue by doing the following:
- Uninstalled unrecognized usb device from device manager
- Removed all webcam drivers & software I tried installing
- Shut down netbook
- Unscrew & pop off lcd bezel
- Disconnect and reconnect usb harness from webcam module at top of LCD
- Boot Up and Check Device Manager
After doing the above, my webcam showed up under Imaging Devices as ‘Acer Crystal Eye webcam’. It worked fine (in Windows 7) without installing the LiteOn drivers from Acer’s website.