Requesting a couple details for eyes-free framework DIY installation

Hey all,

I am taking on the challenge of getting a Framework 13 13th gen intel DIY edition ready for use without being able to see. I’m a blind developer intending to use the device and, while the quickstart guide is immensely helpful, some details are only conveyed through the included images which … well …I can’t see :slight_smile:
I have just a couple clarifications I need in order to finish this up:

  • Aproximately where, and in what orientation, is the SSD to be placed?
  • I only see one fastener that currently isn’t seeminlg doing much, which is towards the upper left corner of the rectangular area to the left and below the RAM slots. Is this the relevant fastener for the SSD, and is it meant to come out all the way before the SSD is placed?
  • Where is the port for the touch pad connector on the mainboard located?
  • And finally, what orientation is the input cover in when placing it key-side-down in order to plug in set touchpad cable into the mainboard?

I intend to write these clarifications up in a document for others in my situation to reference but as of right now, I need these answers in order to do this properly :slight_smile:
Thanks in advance,


I think these are all fantastic questions, and I, too, have noticed that the guides only provide some information visually. I’m also blind, and it would be great to get more precise descriptions on the physical location of not only these items, but others as well, such as the Wi-Fi module and antenna cables, display cables, audio module cable routing, and other things to assist those who can’t see, to work on a Framework laptop or mainboard. I’ve never purchased one for myself, but I’ve been keeping a close eye on Framework’s blog and these community posts for another reason entirely. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one to see how others respond.


These days, you don’t need pretty much any of those to get started with a DIY laptop in most cases. It’s storage, RAM and the input cover. Unfortunately in the latest version of the Framework, the input cover comes separate, requiring a step we previously didn’t need to perform, and the bottom fasteners have been pre-loosened which is actually really convenient. So a case of you win some, you lose some :slight_smile:

No idea if that helps:

Starting in the area between the lower left corner of the left RAM textile(?) “flap” and the battery, going left over the (probably) empty RTC battery tray (round) you’ll hit the SSD slot. The SSD is going in left to right (with the chips on a single-sided SSD at the top side). You’ll have to remove the fastener (probably completely but I can’t exactly remember) which is located about halfway to the left outer edge of the laptop before you can place the SSD.

If you mean the connector for the single input cover cable (which combines touchpad and keyboard), that’s located in the lower right corner of the rectangular area between RAM slots and battery. It’s left of the wifi card.

The orientation of the input cover is correct if (with the keys down) the touchpad is located next to the battery side of bottom cover. The finger loop at the end of the input cable will then probably face downwards, so you’ll have to gently turn the end of the cable over, put your finger through the loop (the strip goes over the finger) and then you should be able to plug the end into the connector on the mainboard (the cable might seem a little short, as far as I can remember, I moved the input cover slightly over the bottom cover/battery to make it easier). Then you just have to turn over the input cover and place it on the bottom cover.

I wonder if it would have made sense to add some Braille (denoting RAM, battery, wifi, SSD, … areas) to the transparent protective mainboard cover that comes with the 13th gen DIY…


That’s really helpful actually. Just one more question, does the SSD slot run horizontally or vertically? Just making sure i’m looking at the right thing.


Oh, that would have been really nice. And since it already needs to be shaped, it might have been close to free, besides the extra effort to verify the design. Though making new molds now is probably costly. Hope they can do that when a new design is needed.

I’m not so sure any braille or tactile markers denoting certain areas would be needed, you can generally figure out which area does what by how they feel. Ram is different than an M.2 2230 slot, which is different than an M.2 2280 slot. And, if various connections on the mainboard are different as well, those can also be identified, since they would theoretically only work with what they’re designed for. I’ve never worked on a laptop beyond replacing a hard drive, but I’ve worked on desktops before, the principles of locating items would undoubtedly be similar. Unfortunately, since braille isn’t commonly placed on computer components, this would probably drive up the cost more than it might otherwise be.

That is skipping one important detail: people who’ve never seen these slots before will not have any clue which one’s which. I was able to find the ram slots because they have mylar over them. Even with instructions in this thread though I can’t find either part I asked about for the life of me, though. So I wouldn’t say it’s quite that cut and dry.

The SSD slot and the mainboard touchpad / input cover connector?

For the SSD, to add to what next_to_utter_chaos said, the SSD slot is at the very bottom middle of the mainboard. It might help to find the cpu fan, middle left on the mainboard. Above the fan are two flattened tubes. They are right next to each other, touching, these are the heat pipes. They travel to the right and curve to point downwards, away from the display, and each pipe has a small pip at the end. They end right above the SSD slot and point to it.

The SSD should have an off-center notch cut out of its connector end. When the SSD is facing up, in the right orientation to be inserted, the notch is towards the battery. The mainboard connector has a peg that fits into this notch, which you should be able to feel.


The SSD slot (I describe it when empty) is just at the bottom of the mainboard, and centered slightly on the left. (By the way the bottom of the mainboard is not the bottom of the whole, because there is the battery sitting at the bottom of the mainboard. So I meant just above the battery.)
The SSD slot is a smooth rectangular area of around 65mm length (horizontally) for 20mm height.
On it left is a screw thread (that serves to secure the SSD when installed) and it protrudes about 2mm.
On its right is the SSD connector per se. It is a M.2 connector. Its around 5mm wide (horizontally), 20mm height (vertically) and around 3mm thick.

The leftmost screw thread of the slot is below the CPU fan (a circular feature, with apertures through which you could sense the fan blades rotate), but around 15mm on the left of its exact middle point. And its around 15mm below the bottommost point of this fan assembly.


Yes it is meant to come out all the way!

These are both extremely detailed instructions that provide a lot of good information someone could feel. Just reading these, I appreciate the time and thought that went into these descriptions, it makes me more confident about potentially getting my own DIY one day.

Thank you.


@Blake_Galbraith Extremely glad to help, and I believe this feeling is shared by all the other posters!
I think you can count on the community for that.

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Oh hey, are you aware that there seems to be an upcoming braille laptop which is supposed to use the Framework mainboard? Framework’s CEO, Nirav Patel, mentions it during the Framework Next Level Event | 2023 Launch Event at 1 minute 27 seconds. Time link:

It’s from a company named Orbit Research. Though oddly, Orbit doesn’t appear to mention that it uses the Framework mainboard on their page about it. But the images match what Nirav showed exactly, the specs match too.
I don’t see a price, just a form to submit for them to inform you when it’s ready to ship. I imagine it will be a good bit more expensive than just a regular Framework.

@junaruga found a couple links about it.

One link mentions, “It is the only product that puts users in complete control by offering them complete configurability before they purchase it and full upgradability after.”

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Sort of. Typically the SSD works best inserted at a slight angle (less than 45 degrees), then rotates to flat. I think they do this to protect the pins in the connector from sliding forces, instead they just have to deal with spring-like force as that part of the board pivots up towards the pins. The mechanism that contacts Nintendo Entertainment System cartridges do this a bit as well- the cartridge ramp will accept the cart then pivot slightly when the user presses the mostly-horizontal cartridge completely flat.

The WiFi card behaves very similarly. In fact the RAM also goes in at an angle, but there are little clips that will click into place once the RAM is rotated flat. The NVMe SSD has a tiny notch dividing the connecting edge roughly 90/10, the smaller of which should be furthest from the screen hinge and the notch opening pointing right. The NVMe SSD is thus inserted left-to-right on this board. The WiFi card is inserted right-to-left with the connecting pins divided about 60/40 with the shorter set again being furthest from the display hinges. Some WiFi cards have multiple notches, in which case your best bet is to try and feel the two tiny antenna connectors, which should be on the upward side of the board and away from the connecting edge.

Going overkill on the description, just in case anything else was missing from the guide.

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These are also great descriptions to assist with DIY or component replacement.

I am aware of the Optima Braille Laptop, but that’s off the topic of this topic, and would already come pre-assembled, anyway.

Though it’s not really needed any longer, would anyone be able to describe how to insert an RTC battery on the mainboard? Are there any tactile indicators on an RTC battery that might assist with proper orientation of the battery when inserting it?

Thanks once again for all the responses from everyone.

The RTC battery is a ML1220 (before I had started CR2032, which is incorrect) that should be positive side up when inserted. The positive side is completely flat, but the negative side has a slim ring around the perimeter and a slight… chamfer? Bevel? The corner is rounded. You should be able to feel the ring with a fingernail.

Battery insertion also starts at a slight angle with the flat side up and the initial corner inserted being furthest from the hinge. There are two small plastic tabs that will hold in the “south” end of the battery and a metal clip on the “north” end. Depending on parts supplier, this may differ slightly, but if in doubt understand that to remove the battery the metal clip is pressed away from the center of the battery and the battery will pop up because the conductor at the bottom of the battery “socket” is bent slightly. If you can find the metal clip side, start the battery on the opposite end (still positive, flat side up). If the battery is placed correctly, you will push down until that clip slides over the flat edge of the positive side of the battery, holding it secure. The battery should not be able to slip side to side when you are ready to push it down, unless you use enough force testing side-to-side to have it slide up and over the edge of the socket.

BTW, the downward force to insert the battery is straight onto the mainboard, not downward toward the south end of the board, Press like the coin cell battery is a button.

Beware, the RTC battery holder can break if too much force is used. Probably more likely when trying to remove a battery though, as you need to kind of leverage it out, if I recall correctly. It seems some people have cracked theirs.

A little off-topic: 11th gen and 12th gen use both a smaller ML1220 as rechargeable RTC battery, I would have expected the 13th gen Intel to stick with the same size for its optional RTC battery. Did the mainboard design change that much, so a bigger tray for a CR2032 could fit in?

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