After 5 years of extensive us my ASUS LX5800GX laptop died. I had already soldered the thin wires that connect the computer with the screen [the wires go through the hinges] several times, the USB ports were physically wearing out, the CD/DVD burner had stopped functioning and the internal WIFI antenna was broken. And now the screen backlight had given up. I decided not to repair but search for a new laptop.

My main requirement was that all that was working under XP on my old laptop before - literally - the light went out should also work on the new laptop.
This was not easy, as almost all new laptops are provided with Windows7, and Windows7 does not support my old (SC3) modified webcams.
I could not find a good second hand laptop, so that reduced the options.

So I searched for a new laptop with XP, but the best I could find was a laptop with Vista Business combined with with an XP 'Product Recovery' DVD, which also included the drivers for the new hardware (otherwise the new laptop does not work of course !).

I found a Toshiba L300-22E laptop which met my requirements, at an interesting price and available fromstock from a local supplier.
This laptop does not have a parallel or serial port, so I have to go for a USB based solution to support the long exposure feature of my modded webcams [yet to do].

Toshiba L300-22E laptop
  • Intel® Centrino® processor technology with Intel® Core™2 Duo processor T6400, Intel® GM45 Express chipset and Intel® WiFi Link 5100
  • clock speed : 2.00 GHz; front side bus : 800 MHz; 2nd level cache : 2 MB
  • Legitimate Windows Vista® Business 32-bit Edition (pre-installed, Toshiba-HDD Recovery) + Downgrade to Legitimate Windows® XP Professional (Toshiba-Recovery DVD)
  • 4 Gb memory; HDD 250Gig [5400 rpm]
  • USB: 3 x 2.0 port
  • Battery operation: about 2.5 hours
    Note: Battery Bar is a very nice freeware battery indicator

Universal Laptop Charger EM3973
In addition to the power adapter that came with my new Toshiba L300-22E laptop I also bought this Universal Laptop Charger: nice to have an extra one for use in my observatory!
Datasheet

Flexible USB light
I bought this gadget for almost next to nothing, went to the electronics shop for a red 5 Volt LED and replaced the existing white LED.
Next I installed an ON/OFF switch in the cable and now I have an illuminated keyboard!
Flexible USB light in operation [on my old laptop]
The flexible USB light with red LED in operation: I used the flash of my Nikon Coolpix 995 for this pic, but I assure you that the red light illuminates the keyboard very nicely!


External WIFI antenna for better reception
I had problems with the internet connection between my backyard observatory and the wireless access point in my home.
I bought a wireless USB adapter [Euro 30] and mounted it in a kitchen sieve [bought at Ikea for Euro 1,50].
The reception has vastly improved and it also works fine on campings !
To protect the USB adapter against rain I mounted it in a plastic medicine bottle so now it looks a bit like a lamp.
With the help of this 'sieve antenna' my WLAN - Remote Controlled Imaging runs at maximum speed [54 Mbps].

EM4555 wBUS 300 Wireless USB Adapter
Manufacturer's site

Sweex USB - Serial - Parallel Adapter [1]
As bought in a local shop

Sweex USB - Serial - Parallel Adapter [2]
Modified as per Matthias Meijer's instructions and built in a project box.