Miika's DIY Silent Aluminum-frame HTPC

Do-It-Yourself Systems
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I went to a glass company and bought aluminum 24 x 24 mm profile tubing used for building shower cabinets. I experimented with making joints as shown below.

Experimenting with the joint.

At the same time, I was placing orders for the components. With all the components at hand, I took the exact measurements for the aluminum body. It took me few evenings to get the body done, but the result made me more than happy. It was a great feeling holding the assembled framework in my hands for the first time.

The framework.

Now I needed to figure out how to attach the components to the body. I went to the local Toyota dealer and got some sheet metal from the workshop. I cut and painted the bottom plate for the case, then attached the motherboard using the same bolts and screws that are used normally.

The bottom plate with the PSU holder.

I cut out the 5.25” bay from an old ATX-case and bolted it to the aluminum body. After adding some strength to the bay with aluminum profiles, I bolted the DVD drive into place with some rubber between the drive and the bay to absorb vibrations. The hard drive rests freely on top of a piece of open-cell foam under the DVD drive. An extra heatsink was also attached to the hard drive. For the power supply I had to make supportive bars in the bottom plate and a brace to attach the PSU to the aluminum frame with screws.

The optical drive bay.

Brace for the power supply.

The Installed Antec Phantom PSU next to case exhaust vent.

Now it was time to measure and order the covering plastic panels. Installing the side pieces to the case was not a big deal. At the same time, I installed a 12 x 12 cm steel mesh to the left side of the case. With a little trimming, it fit nicely in the aluminum profiles' groove with the left side panel. The power button was also attached to the panel.

The power button seen from the inside.

On the right side, I installed a 120mm fingerguard. The rear plate was troublesome with the I/O panel and support for the graphics card, but finally that went alright. I bolted the GPU into the top-back profile of the case. The I/O panel was glued to the plastic.

The intake fan.

Back panel with slot for grasphics card and I/O plate glued in place.

Back panel and inside of system.

Because of the unusual placement of the PSU, the power cord had to be routed under the case to the back of the computer. In the picture, the frame holding the weight of the Antec Phantom is clearly visible. There's also an extra cord to assure that the grounds of the GPU and PSU are connected to the bottom of the case where the motherboard is fixed. The six screws holding the motherboard and the two screws securing the optical drive holder can be seen as well. The front feet of the case were selected to match the feet of the amplifier. The bottom plate was fastened to the aluminum frame with cutting tip screws.

The case seen upside down.

The last and most intricate job was the front panel, where I had to make the hole for the optical drive. The piece covering the hole took a few shots to get it right. I chose not to put any USB ports, LEDs or buttons to the front panel to maintain a clean look.

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