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DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
In the beginning...
I didn't put a lot of thought into the design.
Making a box to fit the components was about the extent of it. One of the goals was for it to be set under a TV. I
winged it, putting in supports, etc. where needed.
What size? I was constrained by the TV cabinet's 600mm width and
225mm depth. With the standard mobo and expansion
cards, it would be difficult to make it under 175mm high. The
depth suited my Shuttle AV49n, which was 305mm by 190mm. Width was about right to take the mobo, PSU and one hard drive
mounted on edge. I cut the cabinet down to about 140mm, keeping
the base, and the top to 35mm. The thing is that if you are making your
own case, you can tailor it to suit what you want.
As you see I cut the old AT case chassis down leaving only the expansion slots and base for the mobo.
I used an old PII board as a template.
If I had had an ATX case to play with, I would have kept the I/O slot.
The next step was to install a bulkhead to isolate the PSU from the main
compartment. Just in front of the PSU, I cut a 70mm hole in the bottom. As the rubber feet on the bottom of the case are about 20mm thick, plenty of air is available for cooling the PSU. The same space was used for the DVD drive as well. I created a space the width of the DVD drive plus the
thickness of two strips of rubber with brass pins. These
would replace the screws in the drive. The rubber comes from a sheet, about
200mm square used by shoe menders to replace worn heels. I used the
same method to mount the hardrive to the floor. Woodscrews then fixed
the rubber strips to the bulkheads.
Strips of rubber to help damp the vibrations from the DVD drive.
Working aluminium needs care, as it is so easily scratched. I
cut out holes in the aluminum door pushes, for USB and audio
sockets and a "display" made from a glass microscope slide and backed by a
piece of green plastic bag. Holes were also made for the power switch, reset
switch, 5V/12V toggle switch, the big knob from the stereo (which is a dummy
but looks nice). Then there was the hole for the DVD drive as well. Finally,
a new facia for the DVD drive was made; if the stock one wasn't beige, it would have
been a lot less trouble.
Before all the other holes were cut in the front panel aluminum.
Behind the display are power and HDD LEDs, the remote
control sensor for the Hauppauge PVR 350 card and a homemade sensor
designed by a guy called Igor Cesko connected to a serial port and
using Girder 3.3 software. (http://www.cesko.host.sk/girderplugin.htm) There is a guy who makes them up and sells them on
ebay for a few GBPs. He even includes a freeware copy of Girder. This
is also activated by the Hauppauge remote (or any old remote) and
allows me to control VLC player, Media Player, and Winamp, or indeed
any other windows application. These sensors always seem to end up on
the floor, so having them built in was a plus. Also it was two less
wires for the tangle at the back.
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