Every case mod I have completed so far has been built with a specific purpose in mind. For the most part my previous case mod's have been built to perform resource hungry processes like video editing or gaming. This mod will also have a purpose. It is my attempt at "going green." Well, not really, I could care less about tree's, but nice to cut the noise and excess heat production at night when I'm trying to sleep. The purpose of this machine is to be a computer that I can leave on 24/7 to do simple tasks like bit torrent seeding (legal applications of course ), and hosting drives and other resources like printers on my network.
My inspiration for this project was taking a look at VIA's pico ITX platform. I had already conquered big, now it was time to conquered small. Considering my main objective was to use this computer to host my torrenting needs, I wanted the box to be themed with a connection to the internet. I decided to use a Linksys router.
Those who are fans of Southpark know best how the form has become iconic in its relation to the Internet. Not only that but it's about the right size, and will even be able to be stacked with my actual Linksys router. Furthermore, I decided to take one of my existing external 3.5" drives and put it into a second Linksys box. I always hated having only 1 of something that is stackable. Now I suppose I'm going crazy.
First thing I had to do was find some cases. A eBay search brought me to a lot of 3 used wireless access points. They are the normal, older Linksys style; but ever so slightly taller. This was perfect considering I had an old router and found it was simply too small to fit everything I wanted in it.
I ordered the VIA EPIA PX10000G Pico ITX board along with a Serener 120w dc-dc power converter. This thing is tiny! Supposedly I can get Vista running on it with 1920x1200 running so this will be excellent to pair up with my new HDTV, besides which all my network stuff is currently located.
I started by cracking open one of the Linksys boxes. I was surprised how there was very little going on considering the size difference with the smaller box.
Once the board was out and I figured out how everything attaches to each other I began by creating a mounting plate for the components. I Decided to use a thick piece of sheet metal I picked up at a Low's for this. I used the original Linksys board as a template and cut it out.
The mounting plate was now about exactly the amount of space I had to work with. My next step was sitting there and playing with the parts like a puzzle, trying to figure out the best configuration to mount everything in. Originally I thought I had more than enough room, but I wanted to mount all 4 usb headers, the DVI header (to attach to the tv), in addition to the LAN attached to the board, and of course my DC in. All these needed to be mounted to the back panel. In addition the headers themselves took up quite a bit of inside the case.
Once I decided on a configuration I began cutting and drilling in the plate. First, a little area for the Ram and Battery to stick below the plate. Then, all the holes for the motherboard, psu, and 2.5" hard drive. For the hard drive I went with a WD 320 SATA drive. This was more than enough room for the OS and a healthy sized bit torrent partition.
I then cut out the panel where the Linksys connectors originally came out of in the back. I was going to have to make a new one out of sheet metal and attach it in place.
Moving on to the 3.5" hard drive. I have a very simple, generic brand, usb 400gb external drive. I took it apart and pulled out a very nice WD sata drive and little controller. I performed the same task of making a mounting plate and then began drilling holes to mount the drive.
The 3.5" drive fit almost perfectly, though I had to get creative to raise it up a little so the controller could fit where I wanted it to.
The I performed the same task of cutting a new back panel for the connectors, and that was pretty much done.
While I really enjoyed the idea of using the Linksys routers, I wasn't trying to merely hide the computers in plain sight. First thing I needed to do was sand down that Linksys logo. I then lightly sanded the whole thing in prep for some new paint. The paint I choose was close to the original colors, but have a much higher gloss.
All that was left was to do the final assembly.
And here is the final product!
Overall I am very happy with how this project turned out. As I have said before, every time I begin a case I hope it will be something that I use all the time, and not only looks good, but does what I need better than a standard computer case. 90% of the work of this case was completed within a 48 hour period but I really think it turned out great, and I hope you like it too.