Introducing...The Craftshiba!


Mar 21, 2000
Starting on a new and ambitious case mod. Sorry about the lack of pictures, I'm working on them.

Start with a craftsman toolbox. I received one from my parents last christmas for keeping my tools organized. This is the one I currently have:

While away attending school, I only took the top toolbox, a 3 drawer red craftsman...the bottom roll-cart I left home because I keep painting and air tools in there, and I have no air source nor need for such tools while stuck in a dorm room.

I also had, sitting in a drawer in my dorm, my old laptop, a toshbia 2775XDVD, 850 Mhz, DVD drive, Video out port, 5 gb hdd, but plastic that was thoroughly trashed - hinges had broken the plastic base, cracks everywhere, plastic corners mashed and silver paint rubbed off. Realistically, a good-running laptop whose cosmetics had seen far better days.

I began by removing the plastic around the screen and mainboard, and for a while let it just sit like this - a bare mobo, LCD, inverter, drives and keyboard lying on my dorm room desk to confuse my roommate...usually had a screen saver running just to show off that it *still* worked.

2 Days ago (Oct 13th) I got the idea to integrate it into my toolbox.

I started by attaching the LCD to the toolbox lid, lower LH corner, using JB weld at 4 corners, with the inverter below (attached to the bottom of the lid) and cables running down into the top of the toolbox

I also attached the speakers from the underside of the plastic laptop surround, which sound pretty good and have their own plastic cases (presumably for amplifying bass from such tiny speakers). These were attached in the rear of the top of the toolbox, facing forward. Wires aren't *quite* long enough to attach both to the mainboard and have the mainboard where I want it so they'll need to be lengthened in the eventual future

I attached the toshiba "status" monitor to the top of the heatsink...this is a little module with caps lock and num lock LED's and an internet button. Not really important but I don't want it flopping around. Used JB weld sparingly for the job and put it on a location where its 1) removable and 2) there wasn't any airflow while the laptop was in its case anyway. Doesn't interfere with the heatsink fan, which is important to keep the bugger from overheating.

Removed the floppy entirely for the time being (just don't need it) and pulled the DVD rom's front cover, leaving the LED and eject microswitch exposed, but allowing the mainboard to clear the toolbox lock and be placed where I want it.

*more to come soon*
Ok more details:

Keyboard: For now, I am going to just use the toshiba keyboard for input, while other things get finished out. Eventually I'd like to use a PS/2 mini-keyboard for input, as the original toshiba keyboard is missing a couple keys and has a trackpoint (nipple) mouse thats easy to brush while typing (which is a pain).

Mouse: I could use the toshiba nipple but its difficult at best to use when the keyboard and button assembly aren't aligned or bolted together anymore. I'm using a USB Targus mini-mouse with retractable cord for mousing duties. Depending on placement I also have a wireless logitech optical trackball, if space inside the top of the box runs low.

Power: the original toshiba laptop power supply is still going to be used as it was with the laptop while it was still a laptop and not a pile of circuit boards. I have cut the plastic around the cord on the laptop side, to gain a little bit more area behind the laptop. Next paycheck I'm planning on adding a power port to the back of the toolbox with wires running to the laptop mainboard (3 wires) to allow the mainboard to be mounted even with the toolbox (right now the power cord interferes with the left speaker and needs to be rotated slightly CCW which looks terrible)

A/V Out: As with the power, when I get another paycheck I'm going to run up to radio shack and buy connectors to put RCA outputs on the backside of the toolbox for LH sound, RH sound, and RCA vid out, next to the power port.

Auto-related activities:
1) ALDL Scanning. this will be done with an OBD1 ALDL diagnostic cable (plugs into DB-9 serial port) and software such as WinALDL. When plugged into an auto this will give me detailed information about engine running conditions and if necessary tell me why the check engine light came on. Helpful when dealing with EFI systems like the one I retrofitted in my '72 Chevy C/10 (hopefully getting a '68 C/30 sometime in the near future to replace the '72 which has since been parted out)

2) Rom burning: this will be done with an MCUMall Dual Power Standard Willem Universal EPROM Programmer, which plugs into the USB port and can reprogram EEPROMs found in GM, Nissan and some Honda autos. Useful for tweaking settings for better mileage or performance.

3) Rom erasing: not a computer controlled function but if space allows, I also want to put a Datarase II UV EEPROM eraser in the top of the toolbox to erase eeproms for reprogramming

4) Music! When in the garage I love having some classic rock running in the background, so this laptop will have a good selection of tunes out of my regular MP3 collection loaded on it. Speakers will be for portable use, RCA ports for hooking into the garage speaker system. DVD/CD player in the laptop for garage entertainment or playing music not loaded on the hard drive. Plans eventually to move the jog buttons (play/pause/stop/ff/rr) to the front of the toolbox to give the slightest hint (when top is closed) that this isn't your ordinary toolbox, and allow for CD playback with laptop turned off (a nice feature)
Hopefully I'll be able to get some over this weekend...annoyed I have something sweet I just can't show you guys...

Here's the ALDL scanner I just purchased...had to wait for the auction to end before posting a link here :p As you can see from the pics on the left side of the screen, has some pretty cool capabilities with regards to engine tuning.
About damn time I got pictures up...still a work in progress but its up and running now.


This pic shows the top of the toolbox with a bunch of junk in it, including:
Toshiba mobo/PS board
Targus mini-laser mouse
250 gig external usb 2.0 hard drive (was downloading pics with it)
MaStach ALDL Scanner
some various wires
keyboard/mouse pcb

Picture sucks but you can sort of see that the computer is on, and running XP....I need to add a background that is more interesting than the light blue one. Eventually I want to add diamondplate aluminum around the LCD to cover up some of the electronics and make it look cleaner. Eventually I also want to do that on the bottom also but first I need to get everything placed and wired in.


Closeup of mobo, sitting on some plastic sheet to keep it insulated from the metal toolbox
metal board is what used to be the mouse and jog buttons inside the toshiba case
You can see in the rear left the left speaker which is epoxied in place, so is the rh speaker although you cannot see it.


Power supply wires (still waiting on a drill to actually put the power plug port in the back of the toolbox)
Internet/resume button, keyboard status light module (on top of heatsink)
underside of keyboard, ram, usb cable, various rear ports


Mastach ALDL Scanner. Cost me $30 or so off of an ebay auction. Plugs into LT1, TPI and TBI fuel injected GM-Vehicles, serial port on laptop. Hopefully going to get to use this baby this weekend on a friends truck just to get a feel for the program and wiring. Probably also going to get a set of ALDL plugs for GM vehicles since the 4-pin "probe" setup makes me a bit nervous.


My ghetto-ass connector to download pictures from a FREE epson photopc classic a friend gave me.
Camera: Free
Mac communication cable: Free to hack from local shop
Wires: stolen from mac comm cable
DB-9 serial port connector: $1.39 from radioshack

Evidenced by these pics, the connector works!
Yea I'd like to see more of this myself. I've been thinking of getting a ALDL so I could pull codes off my car but didn't like the idea of dragging a PC into the garage.....
ooooo never thought of it that way......definetly continue with this!!!!!
Latest Update:

I've decided that the trackpoint (nipple) and keyboard that's missing keys have got to go...

Both are going to be replaced with USB alternatives for the time being. That said, there isn't enough space front to back in the toolbox to have a bunch of connectors along the backside of the laptop mobo, so I ended up removing the "cage" around the USB connector, and soldered in a usb cable with a semi-square USB end on it to the usb port on the laptop. This USB pigtail curls back accross the mainboard and connects to the targus USB hub shown in the earlier pictures, which has since been JB-welded to the top of a chip on the mainboard (JB weld used sparingly). The 4 rectangular ports of the bus-powered targus USB hub face out along the right side of the mainboard (which is incidentally the side the mouse will be located on). An additional bonus is that the targus hub has a red LED that turns on when the laptop is on, which serves as a quasi-power light (since the laptop lights all face down now).

Eventually I wish to keep the hub and mouse, but replace the USB keyboard with a wireless keyboard thats PS/2. For the time being I'll keep an eye out for a PS/2 connector to switch the connector around 90 degrees

The power connector has been de-soldered from the mainboard and a cord added with a different power connector (one that's shiny on the outside), so the power supply plugs into a connector on a cord now instead of the back of the mainboard (also a pain since there's no space along the backside - now the mobo can sit plumb in the top of the toolbox). Still no holes drilled in the toolbox yet - something about me being too busy to bring it to the SAE shop on the other side of campustown and drilling the hole in the backside for power.

I also went shopping today!
As usual I spent way more than I intended to at craftsman, but I just got paid so I guess that's alright. Bought myself some anti-skid mat and lined the top of the box with it (way better looking than the seran wrap) and the rest of the box (looks nicer than scratched paint on the bottom of the drawers). Also bought myself some dividers for the drawers (and re-organized the toolbox with them).

Replaced my bent and a little rusty socket strips with some new plastic ones that look badass, flex less and the sockets fit much more firmly in them (they "snap" in like on a ratchet head). Also bought a couple of wrench wrap organizers and a flex-head ratchet. And got craftsman club discount today. The girl working the tool store checkout was sure cute.

More pics on the way...but right now, epoxy is drying!
Future plans as of 11/5/04

Power plug - get the damn hole for it drilled! While I'm at it, probably also drill holes for A/V out.

Power source - buy a nice strong magnet and some rubber pads so it can be left on the back of the toolbox (and also not scratch it)

Speakers - get some small diameter wire and extend the current speaker wires so that they can be hooked up simultaneously. Mono sucks.

CD Controls/Power button - purchased several red mini pushbutton switches and a few black ones from radioshack. Determined wire orientation in the jog button I just need some wire to be able to hook the switches up to the mainboard. Right now my plan is to have the buttons arranged as follows:
Black - power
Black - CD only power
Red - RW
Red - stop
Red - Play/Pause
Red - FF

buttons will be located inside the inner left edge of the top of the toolbox...when closed, as mentioned above, I want this to appear almost completely stock (from the front anyways).

Display - The way it is right now makes me a bit nervous....I'm sure that a good slam could easily destroy the LCD, so I am planning on adding a pair of small gas shocks to dampen the movement of the top. Still no aluminum yet, but since the display is in working form, I don't really care.

Scanner - The ALDL scanner has a damn long cable, so long in fact that I think it may very well end up being too long to look descent when curled up. Probably going to shorten the serial cable side to just as long as it needs to be and secure the box to the side of the toolbox, and then make a retractable (think phone cord style) probe to plug into the car side of things. Although I must admit, this has me considering making a wireless probe for the ALDL scanner....and that would be hot. Still need to move the serial port 90 degrees or change to a pigtail...may be able to get away with using a USB to serial converter, haven't tried yet.

Tools - Next craftsman trip I need to bring the manager a picture of this thing, just to brag and see if the store's interested at all...mostly just to humor me. Also saw a really really sweet digital torque wrench that I think I'll be buying, and some other things I'll probably end up purchasing next paycheck.
Not to hate, but I am confused as to why this is even considered a MOD?!? You removed the old case and then put the parts into the craftsman toolbox. Uh How is that a mod? If you had modded the puter itself into the box, I could see that being kool, but just putting the pc parts in the box - not so [H]ard...
skuzbucket said:
Not to hate, but I am confused as to why this is even considered a MOD?!? You removed the old case and then put the parts into the craftsman toolbox. Uh How is that a mod? If you had modded the puter itself into the box, I could see that being kool, but just putting the pc parts in the box - not so [H]ard...

roachm said:
I believe its unfinished...

FYI, it is unfinished, which is why its in "worklogs" and not "case mod gallery"

Its already consumed my time, money, and skills with an X-acto, soldering iron and dremel, just like nearly every other "in-progress" work on this forum

I consider it a mod because it is required/is requiring/will require lots of changes to fit inside of the craftsman toolbox once its finished, including:

(done) moving power port away from back of mainboard
(done) moving USB port away from back of mainboard (also added hub for USB kb, mouse)
(in progress) adding battery connections for portability
(in progress) changing location of/adding buttons for power, jog controls and fitting in toolbox
(not started) moving PS2 port away from mobo
(not started) adding aluminum sheeting to protect vital parts from dust, dirt, idiots
(not started) adding gas shocks to dampen motion of toolbox lid