The point of this project is to make a working very portable computer with everything you need to run it (comp, screen,
keyboard and mouse). It should also have lots of connections (all the ports on the front, the firewire/usb header, 2x pci
riser, and a CD drive). It should also use normal computer parts for ease of upgrading. The parts in the finished comp are;
- Epia M10000 (non-Nehemiah unfortunately)
- 40 GB HDD that I found around the house
- No name ATX PSU (230w)
- Samsung 352B cd-rw/dvd combo drive
- Terratek TValue Tv card
- Standard 60mm fan
- Some wires and switches and LEDs
- Lots of Aluminum (1mm) plate
- 100+ M4 screws
- 30 M3 screws
- 50 M4 blind nuts
- Blue Styrofoam
- A good shop w. plate bending machine
To begin with I had to figure out the layout for all these components, I set up some criteria for myself that were
that the parts would have to be put out so that;
- All the ports and the CD would be one the inside facing one direction
- There would be reasonably good airflow past all the heat-generating parts
- There would be space for a divider that would stiffen up the computer section, which would have to be straight
- There would be some margin to the HDD mounts that should take up some vibration and shocks that the case takes.
Then I started looking around for a suitable aluminum case. All the cases that I could find were either far too small or too
large, and they were also far over my budget (around $100-200 for a nice aluminum case), so I decided to make my own one,
from 1mm aluminum that was some nice corrosion-resistant high strength alloy, usually used for boats (all the aluminum cost
less than $30).
Then I placed all the components on the metal plate and started marking up what to saw away and drill and so on. Then I
drilled the holes and made a CD holder bracket. Finally I bent the inner chassis piece and pushed in the included bezel, at
this point it looked like this:
After that I made a vertical divider and mounted all the parts on the chassis
I felt that the harddisk was really exposed if it was just bolted down to the chassis, so after a bit of testing I made a
suspension system for it, it is for 1" long thick black rubber pipes (dia. of about 3/4") that are mounted with a screw to
the chassis and a screw to the four attachments on the bottom of the hdd. This also lowered the noise coming from the hdd.
After looking at it for a while I noticed that I was missing a few things, I wanted to be able to control the chassis fan,
the proc fan, and I wanted some cool-looking LEDs instead of the standard low-power green/red ones. So I attached some new
LEDs to a salvaged ATX power/LED cable (I didn’t make a reset button because I never use it), and fastened the LEDs with some
I also made my own 3 position fan speed control with a 3-way switch and some standard resistors. Here is a simple drawing of
Note: the drawing will only work if the switch disconnects the two poles when in middle position.
To calculate the values for R1 and R2 you will need an ammeter. To calculate the value of the resistor we use Ohms law
(R=V/I). The value V is the voltage dropped over the resistor, if the fan is to run at 9V then the dropped voltage is 3V
(assuming everything is running off of 12 (the fan connector on all motherboards is 12V)). To calculate the current run the
fan on the voltage it is meant to run at on medium speed (say 9V) and measure the current. If the current was 50mA
(1000mA=1000 milliamps=1A=1 Amp) then we can calculate the value of R1 to be R=3/0.05 =60 Ω.
To calculate R2 (say want it to be 7V) we take the voltage after R1 (9V) and subtract the value we want, leaving 2. This
means there will be 2V over the resistor to give a voltage of 7V to the fan.
Then connect the ammeter through R1 and the fan, and then measure the current (say 35mA). The place values for V and I in and
calculate R (R=2/0.03 =57 Ω
After I made my own semi-Zalman fan-mates I attached a power button.
After that I attached all the components and the cables (ide, mobo power, CD & HDD power, audio etc.). I also made a
home-made cable for the screen. Normally I would use two power outlets, one for the screen, and one for the comp, but I put
them together (making sure to have a glass fiber sleeve over each cable).
Now all that remains is the outer chassis.
To begin with I marked out the height and length of the outside, and then bent it.
That worked well, and I ended up with this:
After that I jogged the overlapping part and put in some M4 blind nuts
Then came the most annoying part, lining up all the holes from the inner chassis and then drilling holes on the outer
chassis. The most difficult part was the hole furthest in;
I then made a bottom section, and a lid where I can place the keyboard and the mouse held back by a cloth piece. I
also made a screen holder bracket.
I then made two foam holders for the screen that I cut out with a heat-wire using two metal templates as a guide.
These screen holders were then placed into the chassis
And then the screen slides neatly into the slot
And finished, running Windows Xp
This project has worked out to be a really good semi-laptop (it weighs a total of 9 kg with the screen), and
performance is good. The M10000 has enough power to do some things you would otherwise not expect. It can display video from
a TV card at 720x512 and record at 320x240 compressing to Divx 5.03 with no dropped frames. It can also play 2D games well,
such as Red Alert 2, Diablo 2, Tiberian Sun, and so on. It can strangely enough even play Powerslide at 30 fps at 800x600 at
16bit (Powerslide is a 3d racing game from 98-99, there should be demos available at sites around to net, to be able to play
it on anything winnt based however you need to patch in to version 1.04 and check the nopoll should box in the command line
options application that comes with the 1.04 patch).
Images can be found in a zip at www.angelfire.com/space/itdoi/mitx/index.htm