Disassembling the NetBook

A any self respecting hacker knows, the first thing that one does when they get hold of a new toy is to disassemble it and find out exactly what makes it tick. The Netbook being no execption, here are some pictures that I took of the disassembly and the insides of my NetBook.

So firstly, what did (and still does as I managed without problems to reassemble it correctly) a Netbook look like together.

View (closed) of the Top

View (closed) of the Bottom

The NetBook open

The internal Battery

Now comes the fun bit. The secret to getting into the Netbook is to find the single screw hidden under the NetBook decal just above the center of the keyboard. So with this exposed, the covers over the memory expansion slots removed, the bootstrap (Loader version 011 in my case) FLASH and 16 Mbyte DRAM module removed and the front hinge pins removed, the situation looks as follows:

State at end of first stage.

It is now time to remove the single screw and carefully the unclip the front of the cover. This can then be removed forward. This next shot shows this stage:

State at end of the second stage.

Next the keyboard is disconnected from the main board at the "flexable" PCB connector. Once disconnected, the keyboard as a module just lifts up and unclips from slots in the front. This removes the keyboard:

The Keyboard module.

Once, the keyboard is removed, the side moldings can be removed with the three (3) screws. The righthand molding includes the microphone. This leaves the NetBook looking like this:

State at the end of the third stage.

Now the main board is exposed. The battery sense switch (upper left corner) can be simply lifed off and all the screws holding the main board down removed. Care is necessary as always with the flexable PCB connecting to the LCD. It is not necessary to disconnect this, only remove the two screws holding it inplace. The board can then be lifted from the front taking care of the PCMCIA eject button on the right. This does just slip out once the correct position has been found. We can now see the under side of the main board where all the action is:

The Underside of the Main PCB.

Here one can see that the "heart" of the NetBook, an Intel SA1100 (bottom), an ASIC manufactured by NEC (middle) and a Philips (now sold to Xilinx) CPLD (low power, JTAG programable FPGA - notice the 5 pads for programming) (top). These can be seen more clearly in this close up:

A Closeup of the SA1100, ASIC and CPLD

And here is a second closeup, this time of the PCMCIA card slot and power supply circuits. (and yes that is a copy of the ARM Archecture Manual in the background).

A Closeup showing the PCMCIA slot and power supply circuits

So after being pulled apart, did the NetBook ever work again, you bet it it does as this web page was written at 33000 ft over Europe with it.

Craig Newell, 14 Dec. 1999