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Thread: NVIDIA Level ION Project by oZEPPELINo and TiTON

  1. #1

    NVIDIA Level ION Project by oZEPPELINo and TiTON

    Hey Folks!!!

    Here is my work log for my NVIDIA ION Build. There were so many great submissions for this contest, and I had my eye on this particular design from the start. I chose the design submitted by oZEPPELINo.

    For the contest, a key criteria was to build a design that reflects the key features enabled by the ION. It is obvious the mITX form factor allowed for a tiny mod. Coming from a competitive overclocking background, where the fastest graphics benchmarks are king. I wanted to highlight the versatility and power of the ION's NVIDIA Graphic Chipset. In order to show case the graphic performance, oZEPPELINo design integrated an LCD Display. With its modular design, the small size and low power consumption were also highlighted.

    So here are a few pictures of the design submitted by oZEPPELINo:

    The way the designed flowed, and the way the parts seem to float, made this the ideal HTPC (Home Theater PC).

    For this project NVIDIA, CPU Magazine, and Modders Inc lined some VERY nice components for us to work with.

    Here is a picture of the ION motherboard made by Zotac. Check out the size next to a can of Dust-Off. That thing is small!!

    Logic Supply provided us with a VERY small powersupply for the case mod. The external AC Adapter really reduced the unncessary bulk within the case mod.

    Corsair provided the perfect companion to a SILENT HTPC system. I blazing fast x64 SSD, and 4 GB of DDR2 memory, which will come in handy when running a 64bit Microsoft Operating system

    I worked with oZEPPELINo to keep my design as true to his submission as possible. We did agree on a few changes that we believe would enhance the overall design. So lets get this work log started!!

    - Ton

  2. #2

    NVIDIA Level ION Project by oZEPPELINo and TiTON

    I wanted this case mod to go back to the essence of modding. I wanted to use material that is readily available to the public, along with tools that most people have access too. If someone wanted to recreate this mod, the worklog could serve as a great blueprint.

    With the very limited case modding window, I wanted to use parts and material that were readily available. There is nothing worst then being in a time crunch and having to wait for UPS or Fedex to deliver parts and material. For the frame, I decided to use aluminum U Channels that could be found at any major hardware stores. I used both 3/4” and 1/4” U channels.

    To cut the aluminum U channel to size and at 45 degree angles, I used a miter saw. The miter saw is great at making that perfect 90 degree or 45 degree cuts. Having the perfect 45 degree cuts will ensure that the corners are joined up perfectly.

    Here is a pic of the alum channel cut to size. In this picture you see the 3 key pieces. There are two pieces that are cut at 45 degree angle at different lenghts. These will serve as the side and top. The piece that is cut at the perfect right angle will be the crossbar that reinforces the structure.

    To join the alum channels together, I used based right angle brackets, with some machined screws and nuts.

    In the original design by oZEPPELINo, the base and back board were a solid fixed piece. For this case mod, we decided to go with hinges. By doing hinges, we can tuck the bottom board behind the main backboard, and hang the entire case mod on the wall like a painting. Here is a picture of the hinges installed

    For the bottom board, the material had to be thin and very rigid. Based on the new specs, we had slightly over 3/8” to play with. Anything wider would obstruct the case mod from collapsing properly. We built the base from an old piece of 1/4” plywood, and it was completely reinforced by the aluminum U channel.

    Here is the picture of the may frame for the case mod.

    There is more to come on the next post.

    - Ton

  3. #3

    NVIDIA Level ION Project by oZEPPELINo and TiTON

    To give a bit of flexibility to the case mod and add another level of complexity. We decided to use an LCD Mount that can articulate in any directions. We were able to get one designed especially for smaller monitors, which saved us on sized and weight.

    By using a lcd mounting bracket, the case mod can be moved and place in any position possible to maximize viewing angle and placement for the case mod. Here is a picture of our test 22” LCD mounted on the LCD arm

    For the LCD Arm to attach to the aluminum frame, we mounted additional cross bars, and attached the bracket directly.

    This may not be NASA, but we ran into a huge problem. The aluminum frame we used could support the LCD perfectly. The problem we had is when the LCD monitor was pulled away from the frame, the weight cause a lot of strain and torsion on the bottom of the frame. The hinges I used could not keep the frame upright.

    With the LCD causing too much strain for the aluminum structure, I had to quickly go back to the drawing board to come up with a better and stronger frame. Hmm.. what can it be? Well.. we have to wait for the next post.

    - Ton

  4. #4

    NVIDIA Level ION Project by oZEPPELINo and TiTON

    With the aluminum frame a bust, I had to quickly find a substitute material to rebuild the frame. I know that stronger aluminum U channels are available, or even using strong brackets to secure the corners. With time being very limited, I could not risk losing even more time on this case mod. After going through the scrap materials I had in my mod garage, I came across a perfect pieced of 3/4” oak play wood. I quickly brought out the piece, and used my saw to cut the piece down to size.

    Here you can see the new backboard was able to hold up the LCD Monitor without a problem.

    Now with the backboard, I was not satisfied with how the bottom board appeared. With the LCD fully extended you could see the bottom flexing under the strain. I decided to increase the size of the board from ¼ to ½ thick oak plywood and the hinges from 4” hinges to the heftier 6” hinges.

    With the larger hinges and thicker baseboard in place, you can see that the bottom could not fold flush to the backboard.

    To resolve this problem, I used a plunge router and set the depth to approximately 1/4”. I didn't want to plunge any deeper and risk the board becoming weak. You can see that after the board was reduced a bit, the unit folded completely flush with out a problem.

    With the thicker base, I was also able to shorten the width a bit. You can the frame barely flexes under the weight of the lcd. I like how the monitor hang sinficantly beyond the base of the case mod. I really gives the illusion of the LCD floating in mid air. I have also include a profile picture of the LCD.

    Now with the frame issues put to rest, its time to focus on other aspects of the case mod. Till the next post.

    - Ton

  5. #5

    NVIDIA Level ION Project by oZEPPELINo and TiTON

    With the frame now securely built, it is time to focus on the compartments for each of the components. Based on oZEPPLINo designed, there were a total of 4 boxes. Since the components were upgraded, we reduced the boxes down to 3. The 3 boxes would be for the optical drive, Sold State Disk, and the ION Motherboard. Each of the boxes were built in the same fashion, but with different sizes to accommodate for the particular part.

    Here are some of the key parts that were cut for the SSD. Each modular boxes were comprised with a number of pieces to get the desired effect. Here is a picture of the pieces used to build the inner shell:

    Once the inner shell was built, and outer shell was built, along with several stand offs. For the original design, each box was solid, and you could not see the components. OZEPPLINo suggested incorporating windows on the top and front, which was a great idea.

    After the stand off were installed, a middle piece of acrylic was used. This middle piece was used to both hold up the component, as well as serve as a false bottom to hide the wires. The top that covered the case would be clear, allowing the components to be visisble.

    With the goal off emphasizing the ION's platforms graphic power and ideal HTPC board, we wanted to incorporate a BluRay optical drives to play all the latest high defintion movies on the LCD monitor. For the WOW factor we were able to get a refurb BluRay slot load drive. Here is a picture of the inner gears are parts.

    Once the top was removed, we went ahead with cutting a window into the optical drive with a dremel, and then removing the center hub using tin snips.

    Before installing the new acrylic windows on the optical drive, I made sure to test to see if everything looked good. Here is a picture of the drive during a test run.

    More updates to come.

    - Ton

  6. #6

    NVIDIA Level ION Project by oZEPPELINo and TiTON

    With the frame completed, and the components modded, I wanted to take this mod to the next level. I wanted to do something that was very rarely seen. Most case mods are designed to be seen and look awesome. I wanted people to be able to interact with the case mod. With Windows 7 right around the corner, I wanted to incorporate “Touch” as the way to interact with this case modding project.

    I used a refurbished 22” Samsung LCD. The 22” size was just the right size to highlight the quality of the video play back, and large enough for the user interface.

    Here is the touch screen kit that I purchased from eBay. It is a special piece of glass that has a thin layer of transparent sensors. The glass appears foggy / cloudy. That is because I did not remove the protective film on the glass yet. I wanted to make sure to keep the unit from getting scratched.

    Touch screen kit has come along way. The glass has a ribbon cable that is connected to a small controller board. The controller board is then outputted to a USB Connector that interfaces with the motherboard. Once the drivers for the controller board is installed and the unit calibrated, it is ready to use.

    After the LCD has been disassembled, the touch screen class fits perfectly on top of the unit. Double sided tape is used to securely hold the pieces together.

    The touch screen usb controller is tucked away on the back of the LCD unit, and the USB cable is ran directly to the computer. Very little mess and clutter.

    Even though the monitor will be the primary interface with the case mod, I still installed a VERY small blue tooth dongle into the computer. This way any blue tooth compatible mouse and keyboard can be used without having to worry about any clutter from wires.

    Still more modding to go

    - Ton

  7. #7

    NVIDIA Level ION Project by oZEPPELINo and TiTON

    With the monitor pretty much taken care of, it was time to get this mod toward final assembly. Even though the edge cuts on the frame was good, I reused the original Aluminum U channel to give the edge and corners a clean sharp appearance.

    After the edges were added, sheets of acrylic was used to give a nice smooth skin for the case mod. Doing an acrylic skin would be easier then trying to prep and sand the plywood to achieve the same effect.

    Here are pictures of the boxes used for a test fitting. This part was critical in the wire management to make sure the wires popped out at the right area.

    Once the test fitting was done, clear paths were marked on the plywood. I used a plunge router and a guide to remove enough material to hide the wires, and at the same time maintain the strength of the wood.

    Here is an example of how snug the cable management was for this case:

    The power connector for the Pico PSU provided by Logic Supply was ran directly to the edge of the alum frame. This allowed the ac brick to sit out of site.

    The power for the pico Psu was about 8 inches. I had to cut and splice a few more inches to allow the wires to be ran cleanly to the edge.

    Here is a picture of the acrylic skins and the modular boxes drying after being sprayed with Satin white paint.

    Here is a close up a modular box. You can see that the contents will be seen from both the front and top. The bottom area were the wires will be ran will be opaque to keep the wires out of site.

    Here is a picture of the wires being ran with the acrylic skin on top. There was a lot of pushing and tugging to get the wires at the proper length and angles.

    We are almost done!!

    - Ton

  8. #8

    NVIDIA Level ION Project by oZEPPELINo and TiTON

    Ok.. we are coming VERY close to the end of this mod. Now its time for final assmebly,.

    Check out the Zotac ION motherboard and Corsair memory sitting in its modular box. The fan was placed under the motherboard to help with the airflow, but still kept out of site.

    Here is the optical drive after it has been painted and window installed sitting in its final location.

    And check out the SSD Drive in its own box.

    After mounting the drive.. I heard these words from my daughter in my head, “BORING!!!”. Hmm.. the SSD doesn't match the rest of the components. Each components you can see the guts and inner working, like a finely crafted automatic watch or time piece.

    So I had to get to modding the SSD. Now.. don't you love these little stickers, “Void If Broken”. As modders.. you have to break some eggs to make a cake

    Once the sticker was broken, I started to take the SSD completely apart. Here is with the cover removed.

    Now.. here is with the SSD installed back in its modular box. It now ties very nicely with the other components:

    For the lines in the case.. I used UV Orange accents. I know the other modders would probably use UV Green. I decided the UV Orange would look great and be different. It goes nicely with the color of Zotac, which so graciously provided all the ION boards for the modders and as prizes to the designer. I figure it would be great to give them some appreciation. Moddersmart was kind enough to support this case mod with the UV Orange Acrylic.

    - Ton

  9. #9

    NVIDIA Level ION Project by oZEPPELINo and TiTON

    Hey Folks,

    I wanted to thank everyone that was a part of bringing this awesome event together. I want to thank CPU Magazine, NVIDIA, and Modders Inc for inviting me to participate in this awesome event. I want to thank the sponsors for providing some kick ass parts to mod with, and the great prizes for the participants. And I want to thank everyone that submitted a design for this contest. Seeing over 400+ entries was just mind blowing. This really shows that there is alot of people interested in case modding. There were so many cutting edge designs and concepts that I would never have imagined. I do hope that we will see more of these type of events, and more people modding.

    Once again, thank you for this great opportunity, and for supporting the modding community.

    Kind Regards,

    - Ton "TiTON" Khowdee

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Salem, Oregon, United States

    NVIDIA Level ION Project by oZEPPELINo and TiTON

    beautiful mod!!!! I can't wait to see more pictures. I love how you want the extra length to showcase all the hardware in its nekkid glory.

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