Take a look at our
ThinkPads.com HOME PAGE
For those who might want to contribute to the blog, start here: Editors Alley Topic
Then contact Bill with a Private Message

[Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

Old(er) Thinkpads with New(er) Intestines: X62/T50/T70/X210/X330 etc.
Message
Author
atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

[Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#1 Post by atagunov » Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:25 am

I deeply respect 51nb/HOPE for their success in delivering new motherboards for a range of classic Thinkpads.
I wish every success to xytech in his endeavour to join the club and produce boards for X220/230 next year

Meanwhile I had a somewhat crazy idea: would something similar be practical to do using Intel NUC boards instead?
Say in larger bodies at least like 15" R60/R61

I wonder how power hungry NUC-s are
The idea would be to get a larger board manufactured matching the shape of R60 own board with same mounting holes
The new board would have

- power circuits - batteries deliver 11-12V; the NUC needs 12-24V (or perhaps 12-20V); hmm; could it be abused to run at 11V? 10.5V? as a first cut we could charge the batteries externally I guess
- display controller (there are some available for hi-res X220 upgrades; not sure if they can be leveraged somehow..)
- some sort of controller for the keyboard and trackpad (this should be similar to what there is in Lenovo own external USB keyboards...)
- some external ports that would need to be "forwarded" to the NUC
- mounting holes for the NUC

I imagine the NUC could even be replaceable/upgradeable. Of course the position of CPU radiator would be important.

How crazy does it sound? Which Thinkpad bodies could it work with?
X220, 2 *T520

zephray
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2018 11:06 am
Location: Norwood, MA

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#2 Post by zephray » Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:33 am

Heatsink might be the one biggest challenge. I am not aware of any cheap heatsink customization/prototype/manufacturing sort of service online.

For the circuits, things should be fairly straightforward, we need a battery charger chip, a DC-DC converter chip, and a microcontroller for power management, keyboard scan, etc. If eDP screens are used, they can be directly connected to the DP output of the NUC.

Power consumption is probably going to be an issue, but I am not sure.
Collections: ThinkPad 230CS, 235, 240, 240Z, 535E, 560E, 700C, 701C, 750C, 755C, 760XL, 800, S30, TransNote, T23, X23, X31, X32, X40, X41, X41T, T42, T43, T60, T61, X60, X61, X61T, X61s, X201, X301, T400, W500, T420, T430, X230, 5499 OnlineNote, PS/2 E, WorkPad Z50

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#3 Post by atagunov » Mon Aug 17, 2020 9:01 am

zephray wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:33 am
If eDP screens are used, they can be directly connected to the DP output of the NUC.
I guess ideally we'd keep using the same 1400*1050 and 1600*1200 screens we already have for those bodies. Is the interface on those known as "LVDS"?

Of course the idea is to plug into DP on the NUC. However.. the NUC I got around here has the following connectors only

- 1* HDMI
- 4 * classic USB, not sure about speed
- 1 * USB-C which is marked with DP symbol
- 1* Ethernet
- headphones (no mic?)

Perhaps it's possible to "intercept" DP somewhere on the board.. Before it reaches HDMI.. I don't know if there is any sort of converter before HDMI jack or if it is possible to get true DP signal out of that HDMI jack..
zephray wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:33 am
Power consumption is probably going to be an issue, but I am not sure.
On the other hand they may be no worse than XQ9300 :) Think they reach 30-40Wt max these NUC-s and potentially they can be throttled to use less..
X220, 2 *T520

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#4 Post by atagunov » Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:26 am

Okay there are these boards that allow one to connect HDMI output on NUC to HV150UX1-100 display in a 15" R60
They could work for a rough prototype: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/153052400686
Not sure how much power they consume

To be honest I myself would probably be unable to get this idea into the stage of a working product. But if there's enough space inside/the issue with cooler could be worked around this could future-proof T60/R60 bodies indefinitely :) Just keep putting new NUC-s there
X220, 2 *T520

lulujyc
Freshman Member
Posts: 71
Joined: Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:08 am
Location: Beijing, CN

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#5 Post by lulujyc » Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:51 am

I've actually been using a T420s that had a HP Probook 10510U+MX250 board inside for a while. As for the screen any 16:9 EDP screen will work fine using the HP screen cable. Ports are accessible through the CD-ROM port (empty now). Keyboard it used a daughterboard like the one in SK8855 and is wired to an internal USB. Touchpad and fingerprint should be possible but I've got no plans cutting the case to fit the HP ones.
X61HK (8250u, SXGA, 16+512+1t, macOS)
T4200s (10510u, 1080p, 16+256+1t, macOS)

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#6 Post by atagunov » Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:00 pm

lulujyc wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:51 am
As for the screen any 16:9 EDP screen will work fine using the HP screen cable
Good hint on the HP board, thx! Perhaps I should have put 15" 4:3 into the title of this topic though, as I see it as an especially worthy challenge to kit T60/R60 out.
lulujyc wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:51 am
Keyboard it used a daughterboard like the one in SK8855
Right, guess this being a T420 makes it simpler.. Finding a daughterboard for T60 style keyboard might be a bit more difficult. Even for T420 did you have to kill off a good SK8855 to build this Thinkpad/HP combo?
X220, 2 *T520

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#7 Post by atagunov » Mon Aug 17, 2020 4:29 pm

Some info on making a keyboard including T61's work as a USB keyboard: link1, link2. Seems trackpoint can be made to work too.

Unfortunately still no idea how to make trackpad work. Looking at the connector there appear to be 3 + 4 + 4 traces from trackpad alone..
Easier to replace whole trackpad as a whole?.. How easy?.. on R60/T60..

Update: a little bit of info on what pin-outs trackpads on non-Thinkpad notebooks may have: link
X220, 2 *T520

zephray
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2018 11:06 am
Location: Norwood, MA

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#8 Post by zephray » Mon Aug 17, 2020 9:32 pm

atagunov wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 4:29 pm
Unfortunately still no idea how to make trackpad work. Looking at the connector there appear to be 3 + 4 + 4 traces from trackpad alone..
Easier to replace whole trackpad as a whole?.. How easy?.. on R60/T60..
There are T61 schematics online, you can find the pinout there. The touchpad connector has one pair of USB signals for fingerprint, and two pairs of PS/2 signals. The touchpads take the PS2 signal from the TrackPoint, merges it with its own data, and outputs them on a new PS2 port.
Collections: ThinkPad 230CS, 235, 240, 240Z, 535E, 560E, 700C, 701C, 750C, 755C, 760XL, 800, S30, TransNote, T23, X23, X31, X32, X40, X41, X41T, T42, T43, T60, T61, X60, X61, X61T, X61s, X201, X301, T400, W500, T420, T430, X230, 5499 OnlineNote, PS/2 E, WorkPad Z50

lulujyc
Freshman Member
Posts: 71
Joined: Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:08 am
Location: Beijing, CN

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#9 Post by lulujyc » Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:02 am

atagunov wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:00 pm
lulujyc wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:51 am
As for the screen any 16:9 EDP screen will work fine using the HP screen cable
Good hint on the HP board, thx! Perhaps I should have put 15" 4:3 into the title of this topic though, as I see it as an especially worthy challenge to kit T60/R60 out.
lulujyc wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:51 am
Keyboard it used a daughterboard like the one in SK8855
Right, guess this being a T420 makes it simpler.. Finding a daughterboard for T60 style keyboard might be a bit more difficult. Even for T420 did you have to kill off a good SK8855 to build this Thinkpad/HP combo?
Ha that'll be too bad. A thinkpad modder in China known as hearttolin made the keyboard daughterboards which are compatible with SK8855. A 51nb forum member has also made a micro-usb version of the T60 keyboard adapter so it should be good.

The tutorial to made old notebooks like T60 alive again is to find a compatible motherboard, 3d print a bracket to replace the roll cage, draw a PCB to make older screens work (probably the hardest one), wire the battery, and install the keyboard adapter.

16:9 TPs should be easy as there're many new screens available.
X61HK (8250u, SXGA, 16+512+1t, macOS)
T4200s (10510u, 1080p, 16+256+1t, macOS)

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#10 Post by atagunov » Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:07 am

lulujyc wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:02 am
A 51nb forum member has also made a micro-usb version of the T60 keyboard adapter so it should be good
That one probably doesn't cover trackpad does it?.. In any case if the board is readily available I guess it might be interesting to source a few

<joking>If it goes on like this I may end up learning some Chinese instead of Japanese :) All I "know" now are about 2k Kanji according to RTK system</joking>
lulujyc wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:02 am
The tutorial to made old notebooks like T60 alive again is to find a compatible motherboard, 3d print a bracket to replace the roll cage
...so you don't feel like the NUC are a worthy candidate? I'm going to have a closer look over the next couple of weeks.. Got all of 15" R60, 15" T60 and a NUC.
That NUC is to eventually to serve a different purpose though.. It seems one would at least need to unsolder the USB tower on the NUC or it won't fit into a Thinkpad
lulujyc wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:02 am
draw a PCB to make older screens work (probably the hardest one), wire the battery, and install the keyboard adapter
Yup, only it's trackpad/keyboard/trackpoint - in this order for me :)
X220, 2 *T520

axur-delmeria
Senior ThinkPadder
Senior ThinkPadder
Posts: 2752
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 5:49 am
Location: Metro Manila, Philippines

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#11 Post by axur-delmeria » Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:06 am

I've looked at some NUC boards, and most (if not all) of them have the processor and heatsink on the underside of the system board, while the ports are on the top side, making it taller than the T60/61 chassis.
Daily driver: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

Backup: X601 Core 2 Duo T8100
Toy: X60F Core Solo U1300
On loan: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M
In pieces: two retired but working X61Ts
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E; X61 7676-A24; and a BOE-Hydis HV121P01-100 in failed SXGA+ mod
:cry:

lulujyc
Freshman Member
Posts: 71
Joined: Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:08 am
Location: Beijing, CN

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#12 Post by lulujyc » Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:19 am

atagunov wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:07 am
lulujyc wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:02 am
A 51nb forum member has also made a micro-usb version of the T60 keyboard adapter so it should be good
That one probably doesn't cover trackpad does it?.. In any case if the board is readily available I guess it might be interesting to source a few

<joking>If it goes on like this I may end up learning some Chinese instead of Japanese :) All I "know" now are about 2k Kanji according to RTK system</joking>
lulujyc wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:02 am
The tutorial to made old notebooks like T60 alive again is to find a compatible motherboard, 3d print a bracket to replace the roll cage
...so you don't feel like the NUC are a worthy candidate? I'm going to have a closer look over the next couple of weeks.. Got all of 15" R60, 15" T60 and a NUC.
That NUC is to eventually to serve a different purpose though.. It seems one would at least need to unsolder the USB tower on the NUC or it won't fit into a Thinkpad
lulujyc wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:02 am
draw a PCB to make older screens work (probably the hardest one), wire the battery, and install the keyboard adapter
Yup, only it's trackpad/keyboard/trackpoint - in this order for me :)
Nope but do you really need the trackpad if you're having a good old trackpoint :D

NUC boards are not the best options because they don't provide a battery port...

I can help you to grab a few boards, just drop me a dm :)
X61HK (8250u, SXGA, 16+512+1t, macOS)
T4200s (10510u, 1080p, 16+256+1t, macOS)

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#13 Post by atagunov » Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:38 am

axur-delmeria wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:06 am
I've looked at some NUC boards, and most (if not all) of them have the processor and heatsink on the underside of the system board, while the ports are on the top side, making it taller than the T60/61 chassis.
Thx! Indeed the CPU is on the bottom. The NUC motherboard height measurements are:
  • from top of power-jack on the upper side of PCB to the bottom side of PCB: 12mm
  • from the bottom of pcb to the face of the naked CPU: 1-1.5mm
  • the tallest component on the bottom side of PCB that can't be removed: about 5mm
Now for the bodies:
  • the whole of R60 bottom including all layers of plastic/etc is under 25mm
  • the whole of T60 bottom including all layers of plastic/etc is about 21.5mm
This means NUC mobo can be fit into 17mm of space out of which bottom 3mm can be used for heatsink and heatpipe.
Seems a bit tight in T60 but perhaps some custom cooling can be fitted into the R60

This assumes the tall USB socket on top side of NUC PCB is to be removed.
The bottom side of NUC PCB also has a rather tall fan connector jack; it can stay or it can go.

There seems to be little motivation to remove power jack on top of PCB as the memory sticks are just a little less tall.
Maybe 0.5mm can be shaved of by cutting off the top of power jack with a dremel grinder
Last edited by atagunov on Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:39 pm, edited 6 times in total.
X220, 2 *T520

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#14 Post by atagunov » Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:38 pm

Seems like ASUS notebooks have got processors facing down. Perhaps such a fan/heatsink could be adapted?
X220, 2 *T520

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#15 Post by atagunov » Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:17 pm

I've become curious enough to order an Asus X555L heatsink + fan, like this one.
My NUC is only 15Wt TDP so one heatpipe may be enough.

Unfortunately it seems this fan is 8.5cm wide while the compartment in my 15" T60 is only about 7.5cm wide.
The idea then is to try and combine X555L heatpipe/radiator with stock T60/T61 fan.

What kind of sticky foil do people use here?..
X220, 2 *T520

RealBlackStuff
Admin Emeritus
Admin Emeritus
Posts: 21729
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:17 am
Location: Wexford, Éire
Contact:

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#16 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Aug 18, 2020 11:32 pm

I use a 2" wide roll of 3M Scotch Aluminum Foil Tape 3311.
Adhesive Tape: this foil tape with aggressive rubber adhesive sticks well to most surfaces. The vapor shielding tape also adheres to irregular surfaces, irrespective of the weather conditions
Applications: the silver aluminum tape can be used for shielding, patching, seaming, and sealing to protect the materials from moisture, heat, odor, and chemical transmission. It is ideal for use in repair tasks
It's available in a.o. 1/2", 1" and 2" wide and different lengths.
Got mine in USA: https://www.amazon.com/3311-Silver-Alum ... 7EP5I?th=1
but you can also get it in UK, e.g. here: https://www.lenkelt.com/index.php?main_ ... _id=716048
Still NOT a great day for a Guinness! (the Real Black Stuff).
Ireland is on FULL lockdown until 5 March 2021!
Covid-19: Stay safe, so Mask it or Casket!

xytech
Posts: 26
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:17 am
Location: Singapore

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#17 Post by xytech » Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:31 pm

This idea opens up a world of possibility actually. Any smaller laptop/NUC/ARM SBC motherboards could theoretically be retrofitted to any chassis provided it's smaller and thinner than the target chassis.

A PCB shroud could be designed surrounding the target motherboard, meaning the standard IOs (USB, power etc) could be brought over to the new chassis. Desolder all the original ports and solder them onto the PCB shroud. In fact, given the ubiquity of USB-C, every single external IO can be eliminated. Cover every open hole up with a port cover and bam, you've got a fully functional laptop.

What's more, this enables a whole world of tinkering: keyboard + fan + battery can be controlled by a custom controller, akin to a laptop EC. System76 even publishes the EC for their desktop which is based on a ATmega32U4 which is super easy to work with. One of the display out / USB-C can be sacrified for the internal display which can be converted to eDP for internal display compatibility and once again the conversion can be handled by a small microcontroller. In fact, all the important functionality can be done on a separate controller.

The next important question is what platform should this based on? IMO, the whole point of this would be to go open sourced, and the best candidates are chromebooks and chromeboxes. The most powerful chromebooks out there are pretty powerful and since they have an open BIOS/EC, it's easy to implement complementary controllers to control the other aspects of the system. One major downside is the lack of expandability (RAM, HDD etc).

Another interesting idea are ARM SBCs. Modern SBCs are pretty darn powerful and some of them are expandable and small enough for our target. Plenty of ARM SOCs also support uboot (open sourced) and since they're already SBCs, the above mentioned tasks (keyboard etc) could literally be handled by the CPU directly (not recommended of course). Another major benefit is small power draw and minimal cooling required, both of which are amazing for our endgoal.

Intel NUCs are great choices of course but battery management and custom cooling could be slightly more difficult to implement since the BIOS/EC are all closed (probably not too difficult since there's only power, keyboard, fan and display).

Finally, the craziest candidate would be preexisting laptop motherboards. They're not as easy to hack around or fit, but they're definitely something to consider.

To have a perfect machine like this would be significant work, probably more than a fully custom motherboard. I'd think that this would be a great weekend / collaborative project and definitely something to be explored. In fact, a full ARM SBC implemented on an X200 form factor with a new display and speaker would be an awesome hacker's machine. The 9-cell should give more than a day of battery life and the amazing keyboard is perfect for the coders out there who needs nothing more than Linux.

OR

Ya know, just design a whole new device with a drop-in thinkpad keyboard. Takes a lot more effort but something to consider too ;)

P.S. I'm in talks with 17m19, the project lead behind the T700. We've been investigating the 13.5" 3:2 3K Surface Book panel and if it's viable, I'll take on the project (requires redesigning of the display bezel).

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#18 Post by atagunov » Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:01 pm

...meanwhile I was still looking into NUC-s; CPU scores:

X230t (i5-3320M): 2,629
NUC7i3BN (i3-7100U): i3-7100U @ 2.40GHz/2 cores -> 2,719 (my NUC) /15Wt (conf.down to 7.5)/Intel 620 graphics/probably ASUS X555L heatsink, fan in its usual place, ordered, will see if fits there
NUC7i7BNH Intel Core i7-7567U @ 3.50GHz 4,387 28Wt (conf. down to 23) 2 cores Intel 650 graphics
NUC8i7BEH2 Intel Core i7-8559U @ 2.70GHz 8,840 28Wt (conf. down to 20) 4 cores Intel 655 graphics
NUC10i7FNH (i7-10710U): 9,990 /25Wt/probably ASUS G75V heatskink, fan under keyboard on the left - would that vibrate annoyingly?.. haven't found cheaply in the UK, will not be trying yet; but you really need an i7 NUC to get the power

Total height might be 17-19mm.. Depends on heatsink/screws
Last edited by atagunov on Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:51 pm, edited 5 times in total.
X220, 2 *T520

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#19 Post by atagunov » Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:17 pm

Awesome writeup, xytech!
xytech wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:31 pm
a full ARM SBC implemented on an X200 form factor with a new display and speaker would be an awesome hacker's machine ... for ... coders ...who needs nothing more than Linux
What's the maximum amount of RAM that we can get? Response from xytech, different channel of communication:
there are ARM dev kits that have up to 16GB of RAM. Not enough for hardcore users but ARM offers ridiculous performance/watt, not to mention super low power draw
16Gb is good I guess.. Worth looking at particular boards!

I suppose SATA-only for disk? No NVM.e? That may be okay..
xytech wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:31 pm
We've been investigating the 13.5" 3:2 3K Surface Book panel and if it's viable ... requires redesigning of the display bezel
So for which machine are you considering it? X230?
X220, 2 *T520

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#20 Post by atagunov » Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:21 pm

Suppose I use 1400*1050 or 1600*1200 T60/R60 display
Suppose I connect it to HDMI output on NUC board via some converter
Seems there are chips to do this: tfp401a SN65LVDS93
I imagine they are more power-efficient than FPGA-based "diy" solutions
There are boards sold on ebay, no idea if they use these chips or not

Question: what would be the least painful way to control display brightness?
What is the best/easiest/most power-efficient way to drive the inverter from diy EC or NUC?


Ebay HDMI->LVDS boards use extra buttons
I'd rather not use extra buttons, nor use boards with their own CPU/onscreen menu/extra power drain

P.S. I think a NUC board can sit comfortably in R60, will try. Interesting NUC boards:
NUC8v7PNB i7-8665U 4 cores cpuscore=6,648 15Wt (conf. down to 10) Intel UHD 630 Graphics, eDP connector
NUC8i7BEH2 i7-8559U 4 cores cpuscore=8,840 28Wt (conf. down to 20) Intel 655 graphics
NUC10i7FNH i7-10710U 6 cores cpuscore=9,990 25Wt (conf. down to 12.5) Intel UHD ? Graphics


P.S. there is a whole host of other interesting questions of course:
- how is the inverter driven in T60?
- how does CPU normally communicate with the EC and/or other components of the system, is there an I2C bus?
- how does the CPU cause the monitor backlight to switch off when it goes into "screen/power saving" mode?
- how does the OS/CPU know this is a notebook and not a desktop, if it's running on AC or BATT and when the switch event happens?

P.P.S. apparently in order to use I2C,SMBus and even GPIO NUC should have "Low Speed Custom Solutions Header"; regrettably it seems only some rear NUC-s designed for embedded use have it: DE3815TY, NUC5i3MY, NUC5i5MY Hmm... I haven't found it on any of the newer NUC-s though, not even on those sold as bare boards, not on NUC8v5PN/NUC8v7PN which otherwise are somewhat embedded-use oriented: have got an extra internal power jack and an extra internal eDP connector.

Is access to these I2C/SMBus connections required to provide a seamless integration between NUC and extra laptop hardware? How possible is it to "break" them out of a regular NUC? The components look really tiny, connections seem covered in some sort of protective vanish. Soldering on new wires seems a pretty challenging tasks even if one knew where to solder them to :( There is some I2C pin on one of the extension headers.. I suppose soldering to its leg is less impossible task but I'm not sure if that is the right I2C and if it is sufficient.
X220, 2 *T520

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#21 Post by atagunov » Fri Aug 21, 2020 4:45 pm

Interesting re I2C/SMBus. Some NUC-s have got two M.2 sockets:
  • key-M, also referred to as 2280, this one is for NVM.e SSD, present on all recent NUC-s, as expected 4 PCI-E lanes, I understand this is "socket 3" in M.2 standard terms
  • key-E, also referred to as 2230, this one is for WiFi/Bluetooth cards, seems to be present on some NUC-s only
NUC7i3DN docs say (page 47) that pins 58 and 60 on key-E M.2 socket are "I2C DATA" and "I2C CLK" respectively. NUC8v5PN/NUC8v7PN docs (page 49) just keep silent about them. However I guess there is hope that they still work the same way :) Wikipedia has got this to say on M.2 socket pin-out:
Key ID = M|Pins = 59-66|PCIe ×4, SATA and SMBus
Going back to Intel pdfs the NUC7i3DN pins are described as
66 = UIM_SWP/PERST1#
64 = RESERVED
62 = ALERT
60 = I2C CLK
58 = I2C DATA

65 = RESERVED/PERp1
63 = GND
61 = RESERVED/PETn1
59 = RESERVED/PETp1
This doesn't quite match info from Wikipedia... But ok. If that is actually I2C it should be possible to solder to it. Where this connector connects to the motherboard there are relatively large legs where wires could be attached. However this M.2 key E connector will also have the WiFi card sitting in it I understand.

So is this one and only I2C on the motherboard? Can it be useful for bolting on more components? Like battery charge controller, etc? Would the EC connected there get detected and be able to communicate with the CPU? Would operating systems like Windows automatically pick it up?
X220, 2 *T520

RealBlackStuff
Admin Emeritus
Admin Emeritus
Posts: 21729
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:17 am
Location: Wexford, Éire
Contact:

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#22 Post by RealBlackStuff » Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:29 am

atagunov wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:21 pm
Question: what would be the least painful way to control display brightness?
Here are TEN brightness control programs.
More: https://www.nelsonpires.com/software/dimmer
They should work on a NUC as well.

On a different note (I am not connected/related to this), have a look at this eye-protection software: https://iristech.co/
My daughter, who works [from home (no) thanks to Covid-19] with a (company) Macbook Pro all day, went one step further and bought a pair of blue light glasses.
She is delighted with how much less stress her eyes have because of them.
Still NOT a great day for a Guinness! (the Real Black Stuff).
Ireland is on FULL lockdown until 5 March 2021!
Covid-19: Stay safe, so Mask it or Casket!

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#23 Post by atagunov » Tue Aug 25, 2020 6:45 am

This article says EC communicates to CPU via LPC bus on X230(t). NUC7CJY/NUC7PJY have (page 39) "LPC debug header" - 9 pins.
The ACPI standard defines a standard access method for communicating with the embedded controller. This access method involves writing commands to one I/O port and reading/writing data from/to another I/O port (on x86 these I/O ports are generally I/O ports 0x62 and 0x66). There are two main commands defined: Read Embedded Controller (0x80) and Write Embedded Controller (0x81). These commands allow reading or writing one of 256 locations in the embedded controller, each 8 bits in size. (For completeness, I will mention that there are a few other minor commands defined in the ACPI specification, but those are not implemented by the Thinkpad EC.)

It is possible to read and write these EC locations in Linux using the ec_sys kernel module and the ec_access utility..
Of course NUC could already have its own EC.. Probably need to power up mine under Linux and see.. Hmm..
X220, 2 *T520

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#24 Post by atagunov » Thu Nov 19, 2020 12:05 pm

It seems like a NUC just about fits into R60 - straddling between ultrabay and hdd bay after SATA headers have been desoldered. Not into a T60.
But LattePanda is probably a better fit. (More details)

Intriguingly it's declared to be just 115mm * 78mm * 14 mm in size which means it should fit into Ultrabay both on T60 and R60.
Other specs are not shabby either

- 4 or 8Gb RAM soldered, dual-channel
- 2core/4threads 8gen m3--8100y sporting 4.5W - 5W - 8W configurable TDP; CPU score is modest 3,038 about 30% above my T520 and 40% bellow W530; but still about 3x better than T9500 which would be a rather good CPU for a Frankenpad :)
- HDMI output + DP over USB-C + eDP (not sure how many lanes, seems this won't be needed for a T60/R60)
- 12V power input enticingly close to what Thinkpad batteries deliver - though Thinkpad PSU-s deliver 20V.. hmm..
- USB-C power delivery
- 3 more 3.0 USB-C
- built-in WiFi and bluetooth (2 antenna connectors)
- M.2 NVM.e SSD slot full size
- M.2 E-key slot
- could optionally have 64Gb eMMC - is that as good as an SSD?.. don't know

I was very worried about power management in Frankenpad fitted with a "desktop" grade single board computer. But it seems power consumption here may be so low that this is not a concern at all.

Of course this would still need

- a powerboard to interface with/charge batteries
- either a 15" 4:3 eDP panel - do the exist? or another board to convert HDMI or eDP to LVDS
- a controller to adapt trackpad/trackpoint/keyboard to USB interface - (there's Arduino on board.. hmm it's possible that board wouldn't be required)
- some sort of USB hub probably
- connection wires
- a sensibly fitted heatskink/fan/exhaust

It's on 14mm thick but with addition of heatsink it would be more, so I'm not sure what other Thinkpads apart from T60/R60 this might fit, but I suspect pretty much any that originally had a CD drive.

$379-409 apparently.. presumably in US.. I kind of wish to purchase one but in 2021.. UK import VAT will hurt badly :)

Update: it's pretty crazy, apparently there is battery charging circuitry on the board, discussion. Apparently people used this battery.

Update: okay the device is Chinese through and through. Not sure if sensible documentation is available anywhere.. It is interesting what it can and cannot do

Interesting though it is this comment is kind of cooling my enthusiasm:
got the Delta recently, but I'm still waiting for the Alpha from the Kickstarter campaign. :(
LattePanda is obviously not able to find a failed shipment or react to our complaints with anything other than excuses.
My company and I are really disappointed. :x :cry: :evil:
Even as an admin and "spam terminator" of this forum I don't get any answers, neither on PM here in the forum nor on a Facebook request. That's why I've stopped my activities here for the time being
So it's sold by https://www.dfrobot.com/product-1728.html This is indeed a Chinese company hmm.. Not supplying a board to the/an admin of their own forum?.. It used to be an amazon but is not in stock currently..
X220, 2 *T520

garcialipka
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2020 6:33 am
Location: Ponta Grossa, Paraná, Brazil

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#25 Post by garcialipka » Mon Nov 23, 2020 6:41 am

Hi all,

First off all, sorry for any language misunderstandings, English is not my first language.
I have been lurking the forum for quite a while and haven't decided (yet) which thinkpad to buy.
However, this is the kind of subject that has been in my mind for a while, use a NUC inside a chassis in order to use a classic thinkpad in the modern world.
After watching the Linus Macmini M1 teardown I thought that maybe that kind of board could be a nice option (of course that price is the kind of thing that must be taken into account).
What do you think?

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#26 Post by atagunov » Mon Nov 23, 2020 7:05 am

garcialipka wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 6:41 am
After watching the Linus Macmini M1 teardown I thought that maybe that kind of board could be a nice option (of course that price is the kind of thing that must be taken into account).
What do you think?
After a very quick look it does seem like Mac Mini is indeed very thin which means the board could fit. The next question then is what money the mainboard can be had for. Of course LattePanda is already on the too-expensive side for this kind of builds.. If we're getting into this kind of money T700 starts being a much nicer fit.

It would have been really really nice if something as cheap as Raspberi Pi was suitable. Who knows maybe in another 4-8 years time there will be 8Gb Raspberi PI around for less than $100? T60/R60 bodies will still be around so maybe then..

As things stand the power board and keyboard/trackpad controller remain biggest issues for the build. Interestingly it seems LattePanda can already be its own power board - being able to charge LiPo batteries intended for some sort of laptops called "Cube". And having an Arduino on board it might be able to be its own keyboard controller too. I still wish it was $200 not $400 for 8Gb version and that it was better supported and backed by a more responsible company..

Finally this whole project remains somewhat virtual to me as I am yet to acquire the skill of finding enough time for things outside work :)
X220, 2 *T520

garcialipka
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2020 6:33 am
Location: Ponta Grossa, Paraná, Brazil

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#27 Post by garcialipka » Mon Nov 23, 2020 7:26 am

Maybe in a few months we can get a Strange Parts video like: "building our own M1 computer from parts bought in Shenzhen"... Dreaming is for free after all...

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#28 Post by atagunov » Thu Nov 26, 2020 2:03 pm

Heh, actually an 8Gb Raspberi Pi under $100 already exists. A very rough guess is it might be around or under T9500 in performance, but 8Gb is 8Gb. On the flip side it's an ARM design which would probably work somehow for Linux lovers but will not for Windows addicts. And it doesn't have NVM.e. Nor SATA. Just sd-card + USB 3.0

On a separate note me - being a slowpoke of course - only learnt today that Intel has possibly lost it's crown as the maker of world's fastest notebook processors with Apple claiming it. Apparently Apple have been developing their CPU for iPhones for years and now have a desktop CPU that slightly outperforms Intel and is on par/slightly behind AMD. It consumes less power too. I wonder what this means. I don't think Apple will be supplying their product to other companies.. So what? Thinkpads will no longer be absolutely best? They may be able to compete riding on Ryzen but they will need bigger batteries or will suffer shorter battery lives compared to Apples? It surely is a sad day. It will also mean that in a few years time franken-macs will no longer be able to run then current Apple software :(
X220, 2 *T520

axur-delmeria
Senior ThinkPadder
Senior ThinkPadder
Posts: 2752
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 5:49 am
Location: Metro Manila, Philippines

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#29 Post by axur-delmeria » Fri Nov 27, 2020 5:50 am

Have you heard of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4?
Image

Plugged into the development board:
Image

It's possible to design custom boards for the Compute module to plug into:
Image

So, with enough skill and knowledge, one can create a sort-of replacement system board for old Thinkpad models, though the VIA USB 3.0 controller chip (used in the regular RPi 4) must be included since the RPi CM4 doesn't have it.

Unfortunately, I'm nowhere near that level. :cry:

Then there's the Raspberry Pi 400:
Image

The board inside is wide and only has single-stack USB ports, so it might be easier to fit inside old laptops.
Image
Daily driver: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

Backup: X601 Core 2 Duo T8100
Toy: X60F Core Solo U1300
On loan: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M
In pieces: two retired but working X61Ts
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E; X61 7676-A24; and a BOE-Hydis HV121P01-100 in failed SXGA+ mod
:cry:

atagunov
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 581
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:11 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: [Idea] Intel NUC boards in Thinkpads?

#30 Post by atagunov » Fri Nov 27, 2020 7:40 am

axur-delmeria wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 5:50 am
Have you heard of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4?
Neat. People have managed to gaft dual channel LVDS on 40-pin connector too: link. So that compute model has one PCI-Express 2.0 lane, around 500Mb/sec. I wonder if there might be a nicer way to connect one of the more modern SSD-s there. Via some SATA interface? Or can any NVM.e work on a single lane?

Power board remains an unsolved question. I haven't seen anything which would be immediately suitable. I suspect Thinkpad battery design is generic enough to be used with a generic power board, but I still don't know any board which could be used. Alternatively some flat LiPo like those for Cube could potentially be used.

Currently it is closed and with planned redevelopment it is at risk of being lost, but next to where I live there's Richmond Maker Labs site, so called "Little House" where they have a laser cutter. I'm suspecting it might be possible to cut PCB to shape to mimic the general outline of a T60 motherboard. Of course it would be a double-sided PCB only but it would be sufficient to make traces to USB ports on the outside, maybe to place an HDMI port somewhere and make traces to it, to add battery connector and some other connections.. Well it's not like I have the skill to actually mess with electronics nor like I have learnt to make enough time for hobbies (trying to work on it..)

People have done it before, but in their case the power board is the original one from Sony Vaio PCG-K25 and doesn't look like such a great fit because it is a 14.8V battery - e.g. 4 18650 cells connected serially while our fav. Thinkpad batts have got only 3. Hmm.. but then the battery tells the charging board what voltage it wants.. That powerboard might still potentially work?.. Who knows.. Another interesting link, DELL Vostro 3360/DELL Inspiron 5323 motherboard is said to be useable with Sandy or Ivy Bridge processor..

There are some power boards named DA0GD2BB8E0 for some Sony VGN-C.. machines floating around. In the very least they operate 6-cell batteries of the right voltage and have the same number of pins on battery connector which is similar but not identical to those used in Thinkpads. One would still think that having schematics for such a board around would be needed, for example to figure out where to connect the on button to (and it would be a new physical button of course tucked somewhere). Circuit board schematics for DA0GD2BB8E0 however doesn't seem readily available online, at least I couldn't find it. Though PDF linked from here may actually match this board.. GD2 Charger Board built on Quanta platform.. If anybody thinks I understand this that person would be bitterly mistaken :) I have no clue how to read circuit diagrams like this, how to match them to the board etc..

If that is the right diagram then the batteries DA0GD2BB8E0 is designed to work with have 7 pins which are: +, battery id, data, clock, battery present, system present, -. Hmm.. no pins for thermistor, e.g. this power board cannot check battery temperature. Disappointing.. Also it seems clock/data are passed directly to the main board. E.g. this powerboard does not talk to battery and cannot for example learn with what current the battery would have preferred to be charged with. Instead the main board con choose one of about 3 different charge currents via another input to this board. So this board is not bad, presumably turning around 20V input voltage to something more palatable, possibly 12V and passing through power from either PSU or battery into the laptop. On the other hand it does less than what I had hoped it was doing. E.g. it is not talking to battery at all. Is that the case of all notebooks? Is it instead the job of embedded controller to talk to the battery?


Hmm.. okay power board (actually known as docking board because it also has the docking connector) from Sony VAIO-SA aka MBX-237 aka Foxconn V030 might be suitable.. one, another, on ebay. I've also seen that board referred to as "sony vpse series vobo mp docking power cnx-467 board". Or is it cnx-458?.. The battery is 11.1V which is kind of close. I think I've found circuit diagram here. The circuit diagram is a real murder.. It's so HUGE.. Good thing there's BQ24725RGRR which should pair nice with BQ8030 family of chips in ThinkPad batteries.. They should be able to talk SM BUS to each other.. But really that circuit diagram is too big to make sense of it.. Just to understand how to use the board.. BRRR

Interestingly the board seems to have two battery connectors, both 7 pins but one has an extra plastic key while the other doesn't. Might be able to support ultrabay batteries :) It's a bit funny but I couldn't find any on switch signal on the diagram. Theoretically it should have been around W_CN5 which seems to be the flexible cable going to the motherboard.. But I don't see it.. Or is there no off switch? Is the board always on? Hmm.. it probably is.. and it seems in the very minimum it may need be fed back 3.3V to operate correclty
X220, 2 *T520

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “51nb and other modded Thinkpads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests