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Thread: PacknPlay

  1. #1


    Hi guys!
    I'm new around here, so I started this mod awhile ago (DEC 07) and I'm just now getting to the "fun" parts So I figured I'd repost the first part of my work log here to catch you up, then add new as I go! First one will be long!

  2. #2


    I know the "briefcase PC" Isn't all that new or original... But This is a mod born out of need... I'm traveling Allot for work by Air. And I'm sick of not being able to game when I'm not home, and giving up the performance of my desktop for a crappy company Laptop... So hopefully I can give this old Idea a new life and in the process keep you all interested in it.

    The goal with this mod was to pack the most computing power that I can afford into a package that can be carried onto a domestic airline flight... Total cost must be less then a comparable laptop

    To make this goal I needed a case that fits within the 45 linear inches (9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches) that most domestic air carriers allow as a carry on. It also means that the case and hardware installation must be rugged. There will also be a space limitation that will be looked at when choosing parts for this build.

    I started off the build by hitting E-bay for a suitable case...$26 later I found this Gem.
    Outside View:

    Inside View:

    With the foam liners removed...

    Now comes the Start of the Hardware...
    PSU and Video Card... A nice Start.

    I'll be using a Micro ATX Motherboard those are 9.6"x9.6" So I need to see how I can lay out the hardware and leave that much space free..

    Is there enough free space????

    Next the Base plate... For a good foundation.

    The Baseplate for the Rig is 1/8" Aluminum.. A Nice solid non-flexible base.
    A paper template of the case was made. This template was then Transfered onto a larger plate of Aluminum..

    After a brief run in with my Jig saw and a quick clean with some sand paper (to knock the sharp edges from the cut edges)
    The Base Plate was ready for a test fit.


    I've ordered the Mother board it's a GIGABYTE GA-MA69GM-S2H AMD AM2. It should be there when I get home this weekend so I can see for sure if I have enough space (not real worried about it not fitting). I'll also re-make the PSU mounting Bracket..I made it once but ended up putting the mounting tab on the top instead of the bottom...oops (pics to come).

    As I'm traveling allot I'm limited in the amount of time I've got to work on this mod... But I've got a good incentive to get it done quickly!! (GAME TIME!!!)

    SO, Other then Shoveling snow I didn't get much done this weekend...
    But I did drop the Mobo into the case to see how it would fit.

    I'm thinking now that I'm going to try moving some of the parts around and see if the wiring gets easier.

    The other thing I found was the perfect Keyboard. It fits in the case with a bit of room to spare on each side. The Keys are a bit tight but I've been using a laptop for so long that I have problems typing on regular Keyboard so it's perfect fit for me.

    Now I said before that I made up 1 PSU mount but found that I had put the mounting tab on the wrong side... Well here it is

    It's upside down, but turned out looking good. I'm hoping to get a new one made up and get a bit more time to work some of the details out.

    Happy Holidays Everyone!!!

    I've been focusing on the HDD mounts lately. Because it's a portable rig I want good shock / Vibration protection. So I went looking for what was on the market what I found was not so great and over priced.... Off to the local ACE hardware where I found expanding rubber stoppers of just the right size, some Stainless 6-32 cap screws and stainless washers.

    So what are expanding rubber stoppers? well there these thick rubber washers with a lip on one end and a integrated brass nut in the other. When the stopper is put in a hole about the same size the screw with a washer is threaded in from the lipped side. The Screw puts longitudinal pressure on the stopper causing it to deform into the hole.

    I used screws that were long enough to go through the stopper and in to the HDD. With this setup there is no metal to metal contact between the HDD and the drive cage. This keeps the shocks received in travel from being transferred in the HDD and damaging it. As well as the vibrations created when the HDD is running from traveling to the drive cage reducing operating noise.

    Ok, so the theory section is over. To construct the drive cage I just put a 90 degree bend in some 1/8" Aluminum. To get a sharp bend I used my moto-tool to cut about 1/2 the Aluminum from the bend point and used a little 18" bench brake, but you could use some angle iron and a vise.
    One side of the cage is mounted to the motherboard tray with rivets (this was done because of a clearance issue under the PSU) The other side is held down with Stainless cap screws.

    I also went ahead and mounted the Motherboard, so I had to show you all how it looked in the case.


    OK, So I've also loaded the OS and played some BF2142 with too
    I've got a good bit of "Dressing" to do yet but I couldn't leave it that close and not "TEST" it.

    More to come!

    Let me know what you think!

  3. #3


    (This One is new as of 9/10/2008)
    It seems that getting the Razer case done has made my modding bug perk up, so I'm back to the PacknPlay. I've been using this as my main Rig (It's really a bad Idea to start using your mod too early, then you never want to finish it!

    I'm designing a motherboard cover in because the motherboard would be exposed when the pc is in use if I didn't, fingers, kitty's, and other conductive things could "fall" into making the pc's life very short with out it.

    For the cover I broke out my sheet of 1/8" expanded PVC (sintra). I've got an area marked out that will be enough to cover the whole motherboard, PSU, and Hdd. I'll cut down to this sheet to make it easier to handle (it' a 4'x 4' mother sheet I'm starting with)

    From the smaller sheet I cut the Covers to fit around the parts like the CPU heat sink, the ram, and GPU. Then I glued on the side rails (pieces to mount to the case, and connect the two covers together).

    One of the benefits to using the PVC board is that the parts can be glue welded together using Pipe Glue.

    This makes a strong bond because it causes the PVC on each part to melt a little and fuse together.

    Once the glue dried the parts looked like this.

    The one on the right covers the Motherboard and the one on the left covers the PSU, and HDD.
    I must have test fitted these things like 10 times, and never got a pic of the covers in place. I'll take some this weekend when I'm back home.

    This last weekend my wife and I took a little trip up into the Blue Ridge mountains of Western North Carolina (nice place if you've never been). On the trip we found a bunch of rocks (Quartz crystals, and other semi-precious gem stones). As we found them they gave me an idea...

    I took some of the Crystals, some LEDS, a few pieces of PVC board, and a hot glue gun...

    And came up with a "Power Crystal" to run the PacknPlay (TSA is going to love this :shock: )

    Mind you I put this together in my Hotel room and took the pic with my cell (that's why there a little fuzzy) So it's not finished or mounted in the case yet...(what you don't travel with your dremel, and a hot glue gun?) So I hacked a Usb cable to test out the LEDS.

    I need to make up a circuit to make the green leds twinkle and/ or fade.. maybe add some UV Led's for the Glow in the dark effect... But I like the look.

    That's it for this entry .... Next time I'll mount the Power Crystal, and get some pics of the cover in place.

    Also what am I going to do with these ???

    Till then! Keep your stick on the ICE!


  4. #4


    Awesome project. I've do the same thing. I get tired of lugging a big honking machine around and I have yet to make (in my opinion) the perferct elegant traveling PC. I think the briefcase route is one of the best done and I think yours will no doubt prove to be just as fun to watch in the making.

    The Mobo cover is cool, I've always wanted to try that ever since seeing Dyfiant do his. This should be a really cool project. Interested to see how you tie in the power Crystals too. Great work.

  5. #5
    Clear Coat
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    Oh wow! awesome! Are you going to go the extra step and add an LCD to the upper lid?

  6. #6


    Oh wow! awesome! Are you going to go the extra step and add an LCD to the upper lid?
    Yes, I've got the LCD, and the mount... Now I just need to make sure my CPU heatsink doesn't hit it... If it does I'll have to change it out (the heatsink).


  7. #7
    Clear Coat
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    sweeeeet. I always wanted to do that.

  8. #8


    Hi all,
    It's been awhile, and boy have I been busy! I plowed trough allot to get the Pack-N-Play to a usable point for Showdown Lan ILL. 2008 (Sept. 26-28 )
    So I think I'll break it up into multiple entries, just for ease of reading.
    Where did we leave off... Oh yes the "Power Crystals". For the Crystals I wanted a throbbing
    light effect, kind of like the warp core on that Trek show. So I did some research and bread boarded
    up a circuit to test.

    The test looked something like this MP4 file
    I liked the effect, but not the colors... I think I'll only use Blue, Green and Yellow.
    So the next step was to create a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) , I normally don't like making double sided PCB
    at home (very hard to solder without vias) but I did it this time.

    It took about 8-9 tries to get this but it looks ok so I stuffed it full of parts.

    That was 3 and 1/2 weeks, a half a dozen transistors, and 2 op amps ago.... And it still doesn't work So as you can guess you'll be seeing more of this Circuit
    In future worklogs as I plan to remake the PCB.

    I'm planing on having the power plug into one of the Covers, this way one plug will power both the PC, and the monitor.
    (Power port will be in the upper right corner in this picture)

    As you can see here, there is very little clearance between the PSU and the Wall of the enclosure.

    So the Power plug into the PSU needs to be a low profile model, which no one makes. That's ok I'll mod one!

    I stared with a stock Power cable.

    Then Trimmed it down to size (utility knife works great on this rubberized plastic).

    The wires are reconnected using the crimp ends that are in the plug. It takes a little gentle prying with a small screw driver to open them up enough to get the old wires out and the new wires in, but it really wasn't hard.

    Now the bare wires are given a liberal coating of hot glue to protect everything (everyone) for getting zapped!

    LanImages/PacknPlay/Thumbs/pwr_recpt_thm.jpg" alt="" />
    The Jack came from an old machine (I don't remember for sure what it was, it's been in my junk box for years... An external tape drive maybe?) But it has a nice filter setup and mounts with 2 screws... perfect for this project!

    The finished't it a beauty? (Bonus points for anyone that see's that there is no plug for the monitor in this pic...It took me a few hours to
    Realize I forgot that part...It got spliced in up by the receptacle, but I forgot to snap a pic of that setup)

    Now everything gets test fitted into the enclosure... This Pc was test fitted and re-fitted three dozen times trough out the build
    The most I've ever had to test, because everything is so close I had to make sure no two things got in the way of one another.

    Here's what things look like at this point. (The round hole in the bottom right is for the power switch)

    In the next installment we'll cover what goes in Here!

    Please post Comments!!

  9. #9


    Thats going to turn out awesome, are you going to have wireless mouse and keyboard?

  10. #10


    I do Have a wireless keyboard for it. But my wireless mouse died so I'll be going with a corded mouse for now. In the next few updates you'll see the usb ports turn out to be very easy access Toss on a hub and it's a one cord hookup!


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