Lenovo Sensei

Hey everyone, I was chosen as one of the top 4 designs to compete in Lenovo's Mod Contest! I've been working on this project for a few weeks now, so let's get you up to speed.

Here is my concept/idea:

The Lenovo Sensei is an A700 IdeaCentre with a built-in HD projector underneath, creating an indispensable teaching aid that could replace the age-old dusty chalkboard. Having both components integrated together would enable the teacher to instruct his or her class more dynamically. Assignments could be projected onto a large screen or wall in front of the class. The teacher could run education software, play videos & DVDs, and keep track of all the students' progress, all in one compact unit. Think of it as the chalkboard of the future! Features include:

* 23" widescreen LCD monitor with Touch Screen capability
* Slot load blu ray drive
* Integrated DLP projector 1280 x 800 Resolution
* Hybrid laser/led technology, 3 low wattage power modes
* HDMI connection between A700 and projector
* Well-ventilated housing to keep system cool
* Cabling kept to a minimum, with only power cords emerging out of unit
* Buttons on projector relocated as well as other I/O ports to maintain functionality

With everything that the all-in-one Lenovo A700 offers, paired with the detailed display capabilities of the DLP projector, the teaching possibilities are virtually endless!

Here is the A700 set up on my desk. Came with wireless keyboard, mouse, and an air remote control.

Removing the back panel, you can see the slot load blu ray drive and the computer cover.

Taking the computer cover off reveals the hard drive enclosure and the motherboard. I was surprised to see a full-size drive and not an SSD.

Here is the DLP projector I'll be integrating. It's a Casio A240. I chose it for it's low profile and energy efficient lighting system. It has 3 power modes: 270W (Eco Off) / 190W(Eco On Level 1) / 130W(Eco On Level 2)

Rough placement of the projector, centering the lens with the A700.

I'll take some measurements from here, and construct a cardboard template of the new base that will house both components. I've been doing some design mockups in Sketchup, so once I finalize that, I'll post up some preview pics.
Thanks for looking, and good luck to the other modders! :D
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More about lenovo sensei
  1. Made a short video of my idea:

    Lenovo Sensei Concept

    Gives an idea of the overall concept & functionality.
  2. I've been playing around with different designs for the base, and finally settled on what I think will look the best and be functional at the same time. The next step was to figure out what materials to use to make it. The following is my first attempt, making it out of aluminum sheet. It didn't work out too well, so I'm calling this a prototype. :P The real deal will be made out of acrylic. To save time (now that the contest deadline is quickly approaching), I sent drawings to Moddersmart to have cut from 1/4" acrylic.

    In the mean time, here is my prototype construction:
    I first printed the design out and taped it together, and down to the aluminum sheet.

    I scored all the lines through the template, into the sheet.

    I had provisions for 1/2" edges on the top and bottom of where the fins will go. (more on fins in a moment)

    I also allowed 1/16" for the folds.

    A close up shot of the score lines.

    The whole thing cut out, ready to be folded.

    Got the sides folded, and here I'm bending the front. I cut a piece of mdf to fit inside and run the length of the bend.

    And we have a 3-sided box! The back was to be bent upwards to match the curve of the side pieces. This is where I stopped and after close examination of my (not-so) handy work, I decided it wasn't good enough and abandoned it.

    This is one of 30 or so fins that will be stacked on either side of the projector (15 on each side). The projector gets extremely hot, and needs adequate ventilation. These fins will help facilitate getting fresh air into and out of the base and projector.

    The prototype, however, has been quite useful for testing placement, so it hasn't been a total loss. Here I'm placing the fin to see how it will look.

    And with the projector in place. I designed the fin's shape to follow the projector's curves around the lens area.

    Speaking of lens, I need some kind of center piece to bridge the gap between both stacks of fins. I wanted to match the curvature of the projector, so I quickly whipped up a jig to bend a piece of acrylic.

    The acrylic fits in it like so..

    After clamping it down, I stuck the whole thing into the vice and used my heat gun on the acrylic piece while gently pulling it down.

    For the second bend, I moved my backing block on the jig.

    Clamped it down, stuck it back into the vice and bent away.

    Checking my bends, and marking the ends for trimming.

    Once trimmed, I knocked out a couple end caps and glued them in.

    Looks about right!

    Still need to cut an opening in the center where the projector lens is, but I'll wait until I know exactly where they will mate up.

    While I'm waiting for the pieces of the base, I will be adding a bit more functionality to this computer. That will be in my next update, so stay tuned!

    Ok this brings you up to date. I have less than two weeks to finish this for the contest, so I'll be working on it every day!

    If you like this project, and think it deserves to be shown at CES in January at Lenovo's booth, please VOTE FOR THIS MOD! It could revolutionize the teaching industry! Thank you!
  3. I wanted to add some extra functionality to the case (you can never have too much functionality), so I decided that a built-in removable drive bay would suit this mod nicely. If this was employed in a multi-user setting, each person could have their own drive to keep their files, rather than on the system itself.

    I really like these Seagate Free Agent "Go-Flex" drives. This one is a 1.5Tb drive, and is USB 3.0 (unfortunately, the A700 doesn't have USB 3.0 yet, but I can still use the backward compatible cable in a 2.0 port).

    Out of the box, it is sleek and sexy!

    Comes with the usb 3.0 cable and a detachable rear connector.

    The detachable part is standard sata data and power. This will be built into the pocket the drive will slide into.

    Building the pocket: Measured and cut all the pieces.

    Gluing the pieces together to make a box.

    End piece on.

    Drive fits snug inside.

    Looking at the back end, I'll mark the area to be cut away.

    Removing material to make way for the connector.

    Fits ok. Now to glue the connector in permanently to the pocket.

    It's not glued yet, but this is how it will look once finished.

    And once I get the main base put together, I'll cut an opening in the side where this pocket will go, and glue it in place.

    If you like this project, head over to my contest page and VOTE! Only takes two clicks! :D
  4. voted
  5. Thank you shovenose!

    Got the acrylic parts in today, so I wasted no time and started piecing it together.

    A shot of all the base pieces. I made my life a bit easier by just getting a 4" dia acrylic tube and cutting out a 1/4 section, rather than trying to bend a 21" long sheet to perfectly match the curve on the side pieces. I don't think it would have been possible with just a heat gun lol.

    Taped the pieces together for fit before gluing.


    And gluing.

    Another shot of my clamp sculpture. ;-)

    I decided to add some extra support to the mating edges of the curved piece, as it didn't match the thickness of the bottom piece. So I mixed up a quick batch of bondo and troweled it in.

    That's it for tonight. Tomorrow I'll start sanding and smoothing the corners down, then work on the center support where the lens will go.

    If you like this project, head over to my contest page and VOTE! Only takes two clicks! :D
  6. actually it takes 4:
    1. click on the link
    2. hit the vote button
    3. make the little "vote has been counted" pop-up go away
    4. go back here
  7. shovenose said:
    actually it takes 4:
    1. click on the link
    2. hit the vote button
    3. make the little "vote has been counted" pop-up go away
    4. go back here


    Well it takes 2 clicks to vote, what you do after that is up to you! :D
  8. Work continues on the base.

    Transferring the contours from the A700 to the new base using tape. I put a piece of tape over the raised edge and carefully cut around it, then stuck the negative part of the tape to the new base.

    Then removed material following the tape line. Cutting then filing.

    cut and filed.

    Now let's bring it in for a test fit. Not bad!

    Next was to get the lens glued in. I cut a hole for the projector to shine through, and glued in a block for it to sit on, so the lower part sits flush with the bottom front piece.

    I also added reinforcements to the corners.

    An overall shot of the base so far.

    Back shot of the lens. You can see the extra block I put under the lens.

    It's coming along, but I still have a lot to do! Still gotta glue in the removable drive pocket and cut the hole for it, make a stand for the projector and figure out how to secure it to the base, round the edges, and cut holes for the power and ethernet extensions. Then paint it! Gonna be a long weekend lol.
  9. Well, my luck just goes from bad to worse. Came down with the flu thursday night and couldn't do a damn thing but lie comatose in bed 'til this morning. Finally forced myself into the garage (pounding head and all) to try and get some work done on this thing. So please forgive me if this update seems a bit terse. I just want to post and get back in bed lol.

    Made this to mount the projector in to the base.

    Materials used: 1mm alu sheet, 1" square tubing, pop rivets.

    Underside of projector. Utilized feet screw holes and one screw hole in the middle.

    Fastened to projector.

    Marked and drilled holes in base.

    Then marked holes in mounting assembly.

    Chamfered the holes.


    Front shot.

    Side shot.

    Placement of removable drive pocket.

    Modifying projector power cable.

    Fits. Marked side panel to cut opening.





    Will clean up edges more when I sand/prime for paint. Ok off to bed. G'nite!
  10. Managed to get some more work done yesterday (feeling better now btw). One thing I hadn't thought of until now was case feet. Not time to get anything cool, so I went to Lowes and found these.

    Measured, drilled and tapped the holes.

    Sensei has shoes!

    Another big hurdle with this project was getting the new base mounted to the A700. I'm happy to say that I finally got that ironed out. I first thought a piano hinge would be perfect for this, and would ease assembly, but there were no simple means of attaching it to the A700. So an alternate hinge system was developed. While I was at Lowes getting case feet, I happened across these 4" gate hinges that possess the reach I need.

    ...at least on one end. The other end that attaches to the base was easily cut off to match the height of the acrylic.

    New holes were drilled in the hinges, and 6-32 case screws were used to secure them to the lcd framework.

    Now we can finally get a glimpse of Sensei in it's correct orientation!



    If all goes well, I can paint the base tonight. Should be getting the fins today as well. Could there actually be a light at the end of the tunnel? Or is that just a freight train headin' my way? lol
  11. btw if ur windering you can only put 10 pics per post
  12. Hey guys, I haven't abandoned this project. In fact, I will be finishing it up this week. Yes, the contest deadline was the 15th, and needless to say I lost lol. However, Lenovo still wants to showcase my Sensei mod at CES along with the others. So I've been diligently working to get it finalized and ready to ship to Las Vegas in time for the show.

    Ok so how bout an update?

    Well, it's not so much an update as it is a teaser. Full update will follow in the next day or so...

  13. I picked up my fins from Pacific Waterjet & Laser last week, and spent the entire weekend on them. They needed a lot of cleanup work around the edges.

    But before cleaning them up, I tested out the spacing.

    A shot from the back.

    Close up of the rear mounting. You can see how rough the edges are.

    Time to work on lettering. The words "Lenovo" and "Sensei" will be mounted in the middle of the fins, one on each side.

    Taking the two middle fins, I cut them straight across, and made a sandwich with a piece of acrylic in the middle, leaving just a tiny bit of overhang.

    After spacing the letters out, I glued them on, one at a time.


    Fast forward past all the sanding and edge cleanup of the fins, and we have a mockup of the lettering in place. Because of the "L" I had to notch the next fin up as well.

    The teaser shot I used earlier.
  14. Skip past more sanding and polishing, and here's a shot of the first set of fins mounted in the base.



    Repeat as necessary for the other side, and we have both sets in place.

    The lettering could be lit up with a few led's, but I'm afraid I won't have time to do it before the show.

    Getting really close to painting the base now! Gotta do some minor adjustments and body filling first.
  15. The last little bits are falling into place. :D

    Had to supplement the A700's exhaust venting, since my new base pretty much enclosed the factory outlet. Here's how it originally exited the unit. The back cover had a matching opening over the black grill area. But now the hot air would just be blowing into the base.

    So an air duct would have to be made to direct the hot air towards the fins and out. So I mocked it up with some construction paper and transferred its shape to some roof flashing and cut it out.

    Then I marked the folds and bent them down using spare box tubing and my vise. A block of wood was used to put even pressure over the bending area.

    The box tubing provided a nice sharp, straight edge over which to bend.

    Top half is done.

    Added a bottom to it and riveted them together.

    Finished piece.

    Finished piece fastened to the A700.

    This, in addition to a separate heat shield I'm making to go over the projector, should help keep the temps at an acceptable level inside the base.
  16. how did you make the sensei letters in the same font/size as lenovo?
  17. shovenose said:
    how did you make the sensei letters in the same font/size as lenovo?

    I had requested their logo in vector format so that I could size it to what I needed, and mimic the font in Adobe Illustrator to make the "sensei" part. The E and the N was a straight copy, but I had to do a new S in that font style. And the I was easy. :)
  18. So how does one paint something in 40º wet rainy weather and no paint booth? Answer: hang some plastic sheeting around a space heater and a heat lamp!

    Here's the base taped off and hanging, ready to prime.

    After a couple coats of black primer.

    Shooting the gloss coat after wet-sanding with 400 grit.

    While that was drying, I turned my attention towards the heat shield. Got it cut, bent, and edges filed so I could test it for fit once the base was dry.

    Got the base mounted to the A700 this morning and did a smoke test.

    An iris-downed shot of the projected image. It's a bit blurry because the Sensei is sitting too close to the wall and it won't focus that close. Also, the date's wrong (should be today).

    I'll post up final pics later today. 'til then!
  19. Found a shot of Sensei on display at Lenovo's area inside the Venetian at CES (thanks to Charles for taking the picture!) At least I now have proof it physically made it there in one piece. Shame they couldn't get the projector to work.

    And here's a video of all the mods, but the guy walks right past Sensei lol. Probably cause it wasn't turned on. :/

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