Quiet Media PC made from Junk

Do-It-Yourself Systems
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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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