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I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

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Publius_Ovidius_Naso
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I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#1 Post by Publius_Ovidius_Naso » Thu May 07, 2020 11:52 am

Hi, this is my first post in the forum. I've recently been introduced to Thinkpads thanks to watching certain youtube videos and channels, and I think the classic keyboard is out of this world. I managed to type on a 14.0-inch screen, 4:3 T60p shortly before the quarantine measures hit, and I cannot believe we don't have these kind of keyboards anymore. Basically this is my idea (after seeing zero suitable 15.0-screen T60 or T60p units in the local market):

- 4:3 R61 with a 15.0 inch screen, don't know the screen resolution (I saw this unit locally on sale the other day, seller suspected the mobo was dead, no ram, no hdd, no charger)
- the motherboard of a post-2008, 4:3, 14.0-inch screen T61 without the nVidia defect
- the BOE Hydis UXGA screen with LED backlighting + modified cable and inverter

Is this idea feasbile? Will the ports fit? Will I have to dremel and/or remove anythung in the parts before I put them together? Is everthing just plug-in-and-play? How much will it cost me compared to getting a T60 with UXGA screen? How difficult will it be for me to source the parts, sans the R61? Thanks.

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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#2 Post by wujstefan » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:19 am

Close, but 15,4" 16:10 simply fits better (including port placement).

I have just built such machine, but with T61p motherboard.
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#3 Post by atagunov » Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:18 am

For 15" 4:3 T60 body it's quite clear cut: both 14.1 4:3 and 15.4 T61 motherboards fit but 14.1 4:3 is easier to fit and allows you to keep using the ultrabay (either DVD drive or an extra battery). This is because 15" 4:3 T60 is actually using a T60 14" 4:3 motherboard + a small extension ("interposter") board to help it reach the Ultrabay and HDD. You just keep using that old interposter board with that "new" 14.1 4:3 T61 mobo.

15.4 T61 board (and they can only be 16:10) can be used as well but requires more dremel cutting of 15" T60 body and if you want to keep using the Ultrabay your devices will be sticking out a couple of centimeters - this is what I've been told. I imagine they won't lock in place either - the nice ultrabay locking mechanism will probably not work any more.. Also you have a problem with HDD/SSD - your compartment is now too small for one. There are 2-3 solutions. One is to use an SSD like BX500, take it out of its casing and just plug on the really tiny board inside of BX500 onto the motherboad - then it should fit. You need some solution to keep it from falling out accidentally though.. Alternatively you can take a saw and cut BX500 short - again possible since its own pcb is so tiny. Another option is put a full-sized SSD where your ultrabay used to sit - but then you need quite a bunch of wires to connect it to motherboard. I think people may have also used some mSATA to SATA adapters and 2042 m.2 SSD-s, but I have little knowledge of which SSD-s/adapters are good for the purpose.. I personally have got a BX500 lying around in case I want to do this :)

What is the situation with a 15" 4:3 R61 body? Does it also use a 4:3 14" motherboard with an interposter? I thought it was and 15" 4:3 R61 was exactly the same as T60 in terms Frankenpadding.. but I don't really know :)

In theory where a 15.4" 16:10 T61 board fits so should a 14.1" 4:3 T61 board fit since they mostly have identical port layout. Well maybe there's some difference in modem port location but apparently that can be broken off the board or worked around with a dremel when needed..

Re >= 08/08 T61 machines in my experience finding a >=08/08 nVidia 15.4" is bloody difficult but doable. Doable here means allocate a few weeks and keep searching ebay/all other online auctions in several countries like crazy; get on the nerves of the sellers who were unfortunately enough not to post TYPE sticker photos; keep consulting the list; be prepared to find that some sellers never respond; see an auction with the right photos but 3 thinkpads on offer/two sold and wonder if the last one has got a good date.. In the end you will probably find one. But it will take hell of a time. Finding a >=08/08 14.1 nVidia seems nigh impossible. Maybe it's different in your area or maybe you're just darn lucky :)

In the end if you do want a 14.1 nVidia >=08/08 it may be that the only possibility is to purchase one from TuuS if he hasn't sold his last 2 boxes yet (link for prices).

Then yet maybe you don't want an nVidia board and you're okay with Intel X3100 graphics? Then you don't care about the date. Finding a 14.1 board is still more difficult than 15.4 but doable. And you can do as I did - order from TaoBao via superbuy.com or another agent (or maybe TaoBao ships directly to your quarters?..)

Finally there's this "to hell with it" option of fitting a pre 08/08 nVidia T61 board and praying/hoping for the best. When it dies just find another T61 :) Maybe it will never die on you. I may go this route btw.. I have a crazy plan of perhaps building a rather complex station allowing me to replace these chips.. so hoping I would build such a station in the future I can first build a Frankenpad with an old nVidia and hope to replace the chip later. Sourcing the chip is going to be fun though.. I either have to desolder it from another T61 board (but maybe I can cannibalize a 16:10 14" T61 which are more common and not sought after as much).. or ordering something from ToaBao/AliExpress.. and hoping it works.. there's no guarantee ;-)

BOE Hydis UXGA screen with LED backlighting (HV150UX2-100) are getting a bit difficult/expensive to procure.. If you were okay with CCFL backlight look in this topic for a <= $100 AliExpress seller who sold one good screen to a member of this forum (HV150UX1-100). As a side-benefit you don't need to mod your cable or inverter. You just loose the ability to use the machine outdoors in strong sunlight as easily since your screen is not as bright... But then is that really a good idea? To use Thinkpad in direct sunlight?.. Ugh.. I'd probably rather not!

If you do insist on getting the LED backlight option, you obviously have the inverter/cable modification service from RealBlackStuff (link). You can also attempt to mod both yourself. Here's some info on how to mod the cable from RealBlackStuff here and for the inverter you'd need to a) remove the transformer (here) and to solder on 4 wires onto this really tiny board. These 4 wires will need to be connected to the backlight power input of your HV150UX2-100. To do it really nicely you'll need the right plug to plug into that port. There's some info on the plug here.

=====

Lastly, T60 keyboard is good. However I do enjoy keyboards on my X220/T520 a lot too. X220/T520/T420/W520 all use the same keyboards. These are the last "classic" keyboards fitted by Lenovo. And these keyboards can be fitted on X230/T530/T430/W530 relatively easily. Easier than frankenpadding an R61 :) So consider your choices wisely ;-)
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#4 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:30 am

Easiest would indeed be that 15" 4:3 R61, IF you can find a working/matching R61 motherboard.
They only come with Intel GFX, but have better cooling if you want to put in e.g. an X9000 CPU.
LCD options as described above by Atagunov.
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#5 Post by atagunov » Tue Jun 09, 2020 5:03 am

RealBlackStuff wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:30 am
Easiest would indeed be that 15" 4:3 R61, IF you can find a working/matching R61 motherboard.
Hi, this wouldn't be a Frankenpad however? R61 motherboard in R61 body?
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#6 Post by wujstefan » Tue Jun 09, 2020 6:58 am

RealBlackStuff wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:30 am
Easiest would indeed be that 15" 4:3 R61, IF you can find a working/matching R61 motherboard.
Still numerous devices available in Europe. It's only getting harder to get pristine units.
atagunov wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 5:03 am
Hi, this wouldn't be a Frankenpad however? R61 motherboard in R61 body?
After all you'd be using different LCD, right? ;)
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#7 Post by atagunov » Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:23 am

15" 4:3 R61 supports 8Gb and a can be fitted a nice display, so quite a worthy machine isn't it?

The only reason I didn't go for one instead of a lots more convoluted Frankenpad project is because there is a known process to fit top-grade CPU-s (1066FSB, 4-cores) onto T61 mobos and there is no such process for R61. I guess the main hold-up is the lack of properly modded BIOS-es? Since instructions on modding the motherboards should be similar between T61 and R61..

So CPU upgrades - past 800FSB - is the only only reason to Frankenpad an R61 15" 4:3, isn't it?

P.S. I would politely object to calling an R61 with it's own native R61 mobo/1600*1200 display a Frankenpad. To me it's just an upgraded R61
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#8 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:42 am

If you follow wujstefan's R61 story, you'll soon realise why he does that.
I have built about 75 FrankenPads, but I have to agree with him that an R61 is more solid than a T601F.
Never tried a 14.1" T61 nVidia in an R61 though.
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#9 Post by atagunov » Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:57 am

RealBlackStuff wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:42 am
If you follow wujstefan's R61 story, you'll soon realise why he does that.
Oh, right, in order to have a FX570M 256Mb. To play retro games, probably :)

I'd still be much interested to know BTW how power consumption of FX570M 256Mb compares to that of NVS 140M 128Mb when idle and when watching videos (not doing 3d)
Also isn't it true that we only have a way to undervolt NVS 140M but not FX570M? Since we only have special BIOS-es that undervolt NVS 140M? Those from 51nb forum?
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#10 Post by wujstefan » Thu Jun 11, 2020 12:51 am

atagunov wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:23 am
The only reason I didn't go for one instead of a lots more convoluted Frankenpad project is because there is a known process to fit top-grade CPU-s (1066FSB, 4-cores) onto T61 mobos and there is no such process for R61.
R61 can be FSB-modded in exactly the same way :)
atagunov wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:23 am
P.S. I would politely object to calling an R61 with it's own native R61 mobo/1600*1200 display a Frankenpad. To me it's just an upgraded R61
Well this is just the way someone calls it. What's the point? In most cases you're only leaving the mobo and plastics :) If someone wants to call it frankenpad of whatever sort due to LCD swap / LED-mod / CPU swap / RAM increase / SSD / modded bios load / swapped palmrest etc. he's done enough to call it that way :)
atagunov wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:57 am
I'd still be much interested to know BTW how power consumption of FX570M 256Mb compares to that of NVS 140M 128Mb when idle and when watching videos (not doing 3d)
This has been done some time back - take a glimpse at the T6x forum for detailed info. On idle there is not much difference. Actually T61 equipped with undervolted nvs140m consumes less than intel T500.
atagunov wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:57 am
Also isn't it true that we only have a way to undervolt NVS 140M but not FX570M?
Both can be undervolted. Some time ago I dropped undervolting and started overclocking. Undervolted units are prone to failure in just the same way, and sparing 1.2VA (nvs140m) is just not worth losing ability to OC in my taste. For fx570m - 256Mb undervolts nicely. 128Mb has some stability issues as it is a nerfed chip anyway (64-bit bus and 128Mb of RAM).
atagunov wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:57 am
Those from 51nb forum?
These are from Middleton and Highsun. I think the latter guy is from 51nb.
atagunov wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:57 am
Oh, right, in order to have a FX570M 256Mb. To play retro games, probably
My R600 handles them better :) I'm trying this for the joy of trying this :)
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#11 Post by atagunov » Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:46 am

wujstefan wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 12:51 am
R61 can be FSB-modded in exactly the same way :)
Right, but without a Highsun's BIOS you still can't stick the CPU in can you? Especially QX9300.. Less sure about X9100. The BIOS will be missing microcodes and less importantly but still quite annoyingly ACPI tables?

(ACPI tables appear more relevant under Linux; seems 4 cores can be used anyway under Windows but only with the right tables under Linux; the tables can be loaded during Linux startup apparently but I understand this is a huge pain point with getting Linux to use 4 cores on a T61/QX9300 combo)
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#12 Post by wujstefan » Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:13 pm

QX9300 requires more effort due to cooling solution in r61, but is possible.
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#13 Post by atagunov » Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:45 pm

wujstefan wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:13 pm
QX9300 requires more effort due to cooling solution in r61, but is possible.
Hmm.. but do we have a BIOS for it?
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Re: I've been thinking of a R61-series based Frankenpad? Is this feasible?

#14 Post by wujstefan » Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:56 am

atagunov wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:45 pm
Hmm.. but do we have a BIOS for it?
I actually don't know why you are presuming we do not without a simple search :) We have everything needed, but the cooling solution has to be modified. QX9300 core size is larger than polished copper space on R61 fan (it is more rigid, but has less polished copper). Hence part of the core dice(s) do not touch the copper.

This is one of those things one need to see rather than hear :)
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