Inside the Novena

April 06, 2015

Note: sorry, this isn't really done yet. Enjoy the photos!

With much excitement, I'm unboxing and building up my Novena laptop. The Novena, created by Andrew "bunnie" Huang and Sean "xobs" Cross, successfully crowdfunded in May of 2014 and shipped units starting in December 2014, an impressive performance for a large crowdfunding project.

If you're interested in a Novena you can get one at Crowd Supply.

In a style that has been sorely missing from the computing world for decades, the Novena laptop is actually delivered as a kit, complete with schematics. As such, this article won't strictly be a "teardown", but also a "buildup"!


Let's take a tour. But first, if you're following along at home, a few notes of warning:

  • Although this laptop begs for users to get comfortable "under the hood", you assume ALL responsibility for any damage to your laptop or connected devices.
  • Be extremely careful when handling the LCD panel: it is very fragile.
  • In cases where I have indicated directions (e.g. left, top) those directions are from the photographer's point of view while holding the camera.

Tools used:

  • #0 Philips, ??mm hex, and ??mm hex screwdrivers (included with the laptop kit) #0 and #00 Philips screwdrivers
  • #00 flathead screwdriver, for use as a spudger when releasing stubborn flex connectors
  • #7 tweezers
  • Drill with 5/16" bit, for adding SMA connectors to front panel


. It's cardboard. It has a printed Novena logo. It has a handle. Apple packaging may as well give up and go home at this point, because we're already in Nerdvana.

The box contains a well-padded stack of parts and an additional box containing small parts. Let's get the small box out of the way first.

Inside, there are a number of parts, including four small bags carefully labelled with the parts contained inside and the sub-assembly they are used for. I promptly tore of the labels and threw them away. Tools are also provided, and not just crappy handle-less Ikea trinkets. These are real screwdrivers.

In total, we have:

  • Three screwdrivers
  • An entire bottle of loctite
  • MyriadRF board
  • ROMulator board
  • ...

In the stack of parts, first we're greeted by a packet of paper, with a URL for documentation and a complete set of schematics. You can also find the schematics online. The paper says, "The contents of this kit are intended for use by qualified developers only, in a laboratory or office environment."

Next, a beautiful lime green anodized bezel, and the LCD itself. This looks like it wll break if I look at it funny, so it stays in the packaging for now.

Finally, the main event. The laptop enclosure, with motherboard, SSD, and battery mounted inside.

I know what you're thinking: it's already assembled! Don't worry, we'll rectify that shortly. But first, take a moment to enjoy the satisfying clack of the release latch.


LCD Bracket

The first thing to remove is the LCD bracket, which is held on for shipping by a partial set of three M2.5 screws.


Solid State Drive

General Purpose Breakout Board (GPBB)

  • remember loose standoffs





If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please send them my way!

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