The allure of touchscreen technology has transcended beyond smartphones. Many individuals now desire the convenience of a touchscreen computer, allowing them to tap, swipe, and pinch directly on their computer screen. While many brands offer pre-built touchscreen computers, DIY enthusiasts might wonder: Can I make one myself? Absolutely! Here’s a comprehensive guide to crafting your very own touchscreen computer…and a method for getting it done (for you) quickly and for under $100.

The Easy Way

To Add Touchscreen functionality to an existing laptop there is a product out there called the AirBar by Neonode. This easy to use and affordable device lets you add touchscreen capabilities to your laptop. From the manufacturer:

AirBar gives your non-touch notebook touchscreen functionalities. The sleek, lightweight device emits an invisible light field over a laptop screen that senses your finger touch. AirBar will allow you to experience the best of Windows by simply attaching it to the bottom of your laptop bezel with the magnets provided, and plugging it into the USB port. You will be able to tap, pinch, zoom, sweep and rotate instantly. AirBar for Windows laptops will work out of the box not require any software or driver downloads. We call this “Plug-and-Touch”. With AirBar attached to your non-touch Windows laptop, you will be able to sweep through music, images and video files, scroll whilst web browsing, or highlight text and paragraphs in your Word, and PDF documents, or pinch, zoom, rotate in your maps, and photos. You can also simply select an app on your desktop or taskbar, a hyperlink or use it to intuitively access functions in Windows that you would not have otherwise, such as edge-swipes. AirBar will make using your existing laptop fun again, and increase your productivity. Many people instinctively touch their laptop screens to select something, but realize it’s not a touchscreen. Well now AirBar is your answer. AirBar is ONLY recommended to work with laptops running Windows, and ONLY for laptops sizes 13.3″, 14″ and 15.6″ so you must choose the RIGHT SIZE for your laptop. AirBar for Windows is NOT intended for monitors, or MacBook notebooks. Please read system requirements before making a purchase.

The DIY Way

Key Components

  1. Touchscreen Panel: Converts physical touch into an electrical signal.
  2. Computer Monitor: Displays the computer interface.
  3. Computer System: The brain, can be a desktop, laptop, or even a Raspberry Pi.
  4. Controller Board: Translates touch inputs into data the computer understands.
  5. Required Cables: Typically HDMI, USB, and possibly VGA.

Materials and Tools

  • Touchscreen overlay kit (size matching your monitor)
  • Computer monitor (if not using a laptop)
  • Computer system (desktop, laptop, or Raspberry Pi)
  • Controller board (often included in the touchscreen kit)
  • HDMI cable
  • USB cable
  • Screwdriver
  • Double-sided tape or adhesive (optional)
  • Protective gloves

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Preparation:
    Turn off and unplug your computer system and monitor. Position them on a clean, flat workspace.
  2. Installing the Touchscreen Panel:
    Wearing protective gloves, carefully align the touchscreen panel on the monitor. Ensure no bubbles or debris are trapped beneath. Use double-sided tape or the provided adhesive to secure it in place.
  3. Connecting the Controller Board:
    Attach the controller board to the touchscreen panel using the provided cable, typically a ribbon cable.
  4. Setting Up Connectivity:
    Connect the controller board to the computer. Use an HDMI cable to transmit video signals from the computer to the monitor and a USB cable for the touch signals.
  5. Booting and Drivers:
    Power on your computer. Most modern systems will auto-detect the touchscreen. However, some might require you to install specific drivers. Check your touchscreen kit for any provided software or drivers.
  6. Calibration:
    Once recognized, calibrate the touchscreen using the computer’s settings. This process ensures touch accuracy. Follow on-screen instructions, typically involving touching certain points on the display.
  7. Testing:
    Open applications, scroll web pages, or play games to ensure your touchscreen responds accurately to your inputs.

Considerations and Maintenance

  • Ensure compatibility between the touchscreen overlay and the monitor size.
  • Regularly clean your touchscreen with a soft cloth to remove fingerprints and smudges.
  • Always turn off the computer before performing any maintenance or adjustments.
  • Backup important data before beginning, especially if you’re modifying a laptop directly.


Building your own touchscreen computer offers a sense of accomplishment and can often be more cost-effective than purchasing a pre-built system. Whether for work, play, or creative projects, the convenience of touch will undoubtedly enhance your computing experience. Are you ready to touch the future?


  1. Can I transform my laptop into a touchscreen device?
    Absolutely! The process is similar. Just ensure the touchscreen overlay size matches your laptop’s screen size.
  2. How durable are DIY touchscreens?
    Quality varies, but most overlays are designed to withstand daily touch usage. Ensure you purchase a reputable brand for longevity.
  3. Do I need advanced tech skills to attempt this?
    Basic understanding of computers helps, but with the right tools and a comprehensive guide, even beginners can successfully create a touchscreen computer.
  4. What if my computer doesn’t recognize the touchscreen?
    Ensure all connections are secure. If issues persist, consult the kit’s manual or contact the manufacturer.
  5. Can I use a stylus with my DIY touchscreen computer?
    Most touchscreen panels support stylus use, but ensure your chosen panel and stylus are compatible.