Shop workbench computer

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Project by DickB posted 08-29-2012 03:29 PM 6124 views 30 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my shop computer that I put together some time ago. The components consist of an HP Thin Client computer, an LCD display, a wireless keyboard, and a USB Wi-Fi. I got the computer and display off eBay for under $120 IIRC. It’s not super powerful, but works well in the shop for viewing instruction manuals or repair manuals, and playing mp3s. The location over the workbench works quite well.

To build it, I removed the display and computer from their cases and installed them into this simple box with a picture frame style front. Both the display and thin client computer use power bricks, which I mounted inside the box. This keeps everything together in the one box. The display had a row of buttons to control volume etc. I made wooden buttons for these, and added a power button for the computer itself. The intergalactic icons for the buttons were cut on a Silhouette SD vinyl cutter.

-- Dick,

21 comments so far

View KeithS's profile


13 posts in 2414 days

#1 posted 08-29-2012 03:32 PM

That is VERY cool, Dick!! I’d love to set up something like this.

One question…how did you handle, if at all, the heat build-up from the CPU?

- Keith

View DickB's profile


67 posts in 2464 days

#2 posted 08-29-2012 03:43 PM

The HP Thin Client is low power and fan-less. I just drilled a few 1” or so holes top and bottom for convection cooling.

-- Dick,

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2346 days

#3 posted 08-29-2012 03:52 PM

A nice personal touch and love how nice it all looks…....

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Camero68's profile


64 posts in 2326 days

#4 posted 08-29-2012 04:18 PM

A cool way to combine nature and technology! Nice.

View WoodenFrog's profile


2737 posts in 3058 days

#5 posted 08-29-2012 04:19 PM

Awesome work! Really a cool project!
I like the Buttons! Nice Touch!

-- Robert B. Sabina, Ohio.....

View Tom Godfrey's profile

Tom Godfrey

488 posts in 2321 days

#6 posted 08-29-2012 04:39 PM

That’s what I call nice. Man you are uptown on this project. Like that shop setting also. I would be ashamed to post pictures of my shop.
Would like to have more information on how you were able to take the laptop apart and install it in the cabinet. Well I really don’tknow enough to really ask questions. I have a Hp laptop that I use for my shop and sure would love to be able to do as you did. HELP

-- Tom Godfrey Landrum South Carolina (

View DickB's profile


67 posts in 2464 days

#7 posted 08-29-2012 05:22 PM


I did not use a laptop, I used an HP T5700 Thin Client. I’ve posted a picture of it, removed from its plastic case. There’s one listed on eBay right now – actually several for $39. I don’t have the exact dimensions, but it measured about 6” x 6” x 2”. It came with a small solid state drive which I replaced with a notebook hard drive that you see in the photo. You can also see the large heat sinks that, along with the low power draw, require no fans.

The display was a standard desktop display and I simply removed the guts of it from its plastic case. The specifics would of course depend upon the particular display. Again listed on eBay for $41 right now.

-- Dick,

View Michael Wilson's profile

Michael Wilson

588 posts in 2636 days

#8 posted 08-29-2012 07:04 PM

Nicely done! Sure beats printing things out then running back downstairs only to have forgotten a page.

View geofftirr's profile


18 posts in 2489 days

#9 posted 08-29-2012 09:11 PM

how are you keeping dust out? or are you just opening it up and blowing out every so often.

View DickB's profile


67 posts in 2464 days

#10 posted 08-29-2012 11:09 PM

Nothing special. Since there is no fan, I don’t think that a lot of dust is getting in. I suppose I should open it up and check. But I think if I just blew compressed air in once in a while it would clear out any dust that got in.

-- Dick,

View geofftirr's profile


18 posts in 2489 days

#11 posted 08-30-2012 01:34 AM

you should probably open it occasionally as powered electronics have the bad habit of electrostatically attracting dust from the Air. At the tv stations I have worked at the engineers actually have to go through the racks from time with a little electronics vacuum and clean out the build up. The other side to that is that dust accumulation does actually cause increased heat build up and thereby shorten the live of said electronics.

I have never installed something like this in a shop but I would have to think that even with dust collection that there will be enough in the air to be sucked in.

View woodforge's profile


3 posts in 2255 days

#12 posted 08-30-2012 02:54 AM

Dick, you beat me to the post…lol.

I have a mini-itx pc that I used in my truck for a couple of years. I am currently working on integrating it into my shop. ( It can be used as an online reference, documentation, and media server. I am going to take it a step further and connect the tools to the pc…more to follow.

As far as dust, you can use flexible copper conduit to make a vent “tube” that coils around the processor and uses air flow to cool the core. It gets sealed to the case at both ends so there is no direct contact with the computer components.

View Drunken Woodworker's profile

Drunken Woodworker

70 posts in 2397 days

#13 posted 08-30-2012 03:10 AM

Great idea!

-- Visit my blog at

View grfrazee's profile


388 posts in 2285 days

#14 posted 08-30-2012 02:22 PM

Nice project. Now I want to take the old laptop I have sitting around and re-hack it to make something like this.

-- -=Pride is not a sin=-

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3281 days

#15 posted 08-30-2012 03:29 PM

The shop cabinets are rather nice too. How about you post some pics of your shop?

-- Greg D.

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