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 Post subject: DIY M-ITX slim case with a twist & KB mod
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:09 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:23 am
Posts: 46
Location: Finland
Hi all.

Time to start 2010 with a new computer.
Ta-daa:

Image
So here it is.

Specs and cost: (Yes, I'm such a cheapskate)
MB: Intel D945GSEJT ~60€
Cpu: Single core Atom 1,6GHz
Mem: 1GB DDR2 so-dimm ~25€
Wireless: Wlan ~free from and old laptop
Bluetooth (usb) ~12€
HDD: 2,5" 160GB Hitachi SATA ~free from an old laptop
all other parts: free (leftovers and such)
OS: Ubuntu 9.10 ~free of course

Case dimensions:
30cm x 20cm x 3,8cm

Power figures:
Idle: 13W
Load: ~18W max
(I guess wireless keyboard and mouse helps a bit here)

Some time ago i happened to have a chance to buy an Intel D945GSEJT motherboard very cheaply. It had been some demo model or something so it only cost about 60€.
I immediately knew this was my chance to make a slim computer. I had been planning something like this some time ago.
Before the motherboard arrived, I was already making the case. I just cut some wood and thin plywood, glued and screwed them together and hoped that the motherboard would fit inside it. The design was such that the motherboard would slide into the grooves I had made on both sides.
I first planned to fit a slim DVD-drive into it too, but that would have made the case too big. Instead, I drilled quite a big hole to the other side. There was just enough space for a fan. I wasn't sure if it would be needed but JUST IN CASE.

When the motherboard arrived, I tested it to work and fit into the case. It was just perfect.
After that I made the front of the case from 2 Lian Li 3,5" aluminum covers. I cut the sides off and put them together by gluing a piece of transparent acryl on the other side between them. That piece held those parts together and acted as a support for the power button too. The part between those aluminum pieces is there intentionally so that the power led can glow there.

The case seemed a little dull so I wanted to make it a bit more exciting.
I happened to have some leftover wallpaper so I used that. It's fairly thick with a rubbery grey coating. The black shiny parts are a bit thinner. I just glued it on and it now looks a lot nicer and has some personality.
Here's a view from the side.
Image

The motherboard has a built-in DC-DC converter so I only had to get a 12V transformer. I used a (free) 12V 2A transformer that's mainly used with an external HDD. It worked fine. Actually, even a 1,25A transformer worked. I just wanted to get something bigger JUST IN CASE.

A lot of other stuff was made too but I guess pictures will make more sense than my mumbling.
As you will see, the whole case is just one big ghetto mod dressed up nicely.

First off, here's the transformer.
Image

Here's the computer functioning nicely. Blue led and all!
Image

The computer can be held horizontally or vertically any way you like.
Image

Here's a view from the back. There is a USB Bluetooth module and a Logitech wireless receiver connected to the back.
Image
The back is open for a reason.

This side reveals the horrible secret! There's a fan in there!
Image
The fan is actually from and Asus motherboard. Some of you might have some experiences with this. It has a horrible clicky bearing noise.
Now for the good part: There was a setting in the BIOS to set the fan OFF on light loads. I've never seen it actually go on no matter how hard I've tried to torture the CPU and GPU.

Now, let's have a look inside.
Image
I've covered some parts with black duct tape just for the looks. There's the usb-port -thingie under it. There's some aluminum tape on the back 'cos I wanted to try if could somehow get a small boost on the wlan. For some reason the signal strength sucks quite badly.
Probably the hardest part here was to find a SATA-cable that would fit there. It's only about 2cm distance but there is no way to get a cable that would fit there like that. I had to use a long and flexible cable, and creatively route it so that it would fit.

This is where the HDD lies. The whole front part is filled with soft rubbery foam. I carved a bit off from it to put the HDD into.
Image

Under the HDD there are bit's of the same soft foam to dampen it further. I also put 4mm bitumen to the top of the drive. I've noticed it to be a very efficient way to make any HDD quieter.
Image

Here the computer is hanging out nicely with my current main computer (also M-ITX)
Image

And here's the whole set again. The case has a nice camouflage. Hard to notice on certain lighting conditions.
Image

And that's it!
Oh yeah, it's quiet.

I have a couple of things still to do:
1. find a black dust filter for the fan
2. improve the wireless lan antenna.
3. find another HDD. Okay, I cheated a little. The HDD was free 'cause it has bad sectors. It will fall apart some day. The computer has worked well so far despite of this.

One last thing. I never did have any actual use for this computer. I just love doing this kind of things.

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Last edited by N-K on Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:40 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:40 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 28, 2009 1:48 pm
Posts: 19
Location: UK
Quite the curios those mini-ITXs :)

Out of interest, what was your design considerations for this choice of form factor?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 11:48 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:23 am
Posts: 46
Location: Finland
infrasonic wrote:
Out of interest, what was your design considerations for this choice of form factor?


This particular motherboard made it easy to "design" the case.
It has most components integrated and it's really small so I could use any scrap materials I could find.
Most design choices were made on the fly. I have a problem X and then I start looking for some excess materials I could use to solve it.

I've been really lucky with both of my cases. For example that 3,5" bay cover just happened to fit on that gap. My original plan was to use wood on that part but I kind of destroyed the piece accidentally so I had to come up with something else.

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DIY ITX case1 DIY ITX case2 HFX mini NSK3480 Coolcube mini


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:08 am 
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Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 9:09 am
Posts: 1935
Location: Northern California.
Nice. love the wall paper two-tone look.


Believe it or not, I actually sketched an idea for a very similar case before bed last night . Basically I envisioned a thinner, but also wider version of the m350 that has room next to the mobo for a hdd or two.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:17 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:05 pm
Posts: 188
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Just curious, what kind of monitor is that on the desk ?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:57 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:23 am
Posts: 46
Location: Finland
whispercat wrote:
Just curious, what kind of monitor is that on the desk ?

It's a BenQ FP241VW. 24" with a good MVA panel.
I bought it about 2,5 years ago mainly 'cause it was different and unique looking. (and it has brushed aluminum on the sides of course. mmmmm brushed aluminum...)
It cost a fortune but it was worth it.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 10:37 am
Posts: 187
Location: UK
wow that looks very nice !

im still on matx right now, but my next build will be a mini-itx, probably an ssd, and hopefully completly passive

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specs:E8400@4ghz,4gb ddr2 1066, DFI LP jr p45-t2rs,Super talent 64gb ssd,8800gts @ 513/792/1674, 8800gt @ 555/800/1782 corsair tx650
Cooling:XSPC Acrylic top, MCP355, D-TEK FuZion v2,XSPC RS360 Black,swiftech MCW60,D-TEK FuZion GFX+uni sink,EK-NB S-MAX
Server/htpc: Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX-I-E - E5200 - 4gb ddr2 800 - 2* 1.5tb f2 drives- Pico PSU - minja


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 1:45 pm
Posts: 310
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Very nice system! The wallpaper looks really good on it, like some of those factory decaled laptops. I wasn't aware that there were any non-ION atom boards with DVI (and integrated DC/DC), nice find...
If I happen to come across such a deal, I'll probably build a mITX system inside my old Nintendo just for the hell of it.

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Gaming rig: Tt Tsunami,P5Q Pro,Q9450 w Ninja,8GB RAM,4870 1GB w S1,WD 640GB,SB X-Fi Plat,ZM-MFC2.Kama PWM in PSU,others S-FlexEs.
HTPC: NSK2480,GB GF9400,E5200 w/ Minja,4GB RAM,WD GP 1.5TB,Nova DVB-S. Minja PSU fan,S-FlexEs case fans.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:18 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:23 am
Posts: 46
Location: Finland
UPDATE!

I swapped that crappy Asus fan for a better one. It's from some laptop and it has maglev bearing so it's pretty quiet.
The problem was that it runs on 5V. I tried it on 12V and it went nuts.
I put some of those Noctua ULNA adapters to it and it seems to run fine with that. Still, it never starts running because of the BIOS setting but JUST IN CASE!
The fan was a a lot flatter than the previous so I could fit a 1cm thick dust filter between it and the hole.

The Dinovo keyboard that I'm using with this computer is pretty good and quiet, but when I use it in winter, the wrist rest can get a bit cold. (it's aluminum)
I still had some wallpaper left so I made a quick mod to the KB.
Image
The wallpaper is thick enough to make it comfortable to use. It's only attached from the back with black duct tape. Holds well and it's easy to remove.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:35 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:56 pm
Posts: 74
Location: Detroit, MI
Really like the small case, quite artistic as well.

I recently commented on the same motherboard from another build, and thought it might be relevant to your build.
Adding hardware video acceleration to your board on the cheap, while remaining slim:
http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/vi ... =30#494794


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