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NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech



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  • NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

    Spider-like fan blades shroud the top 120mm Logysis intake fan.

    The NVIDIA logo on the base is laser cut from 1/4" thick UV Green transparent cast acrylic.

    Powered by ZOTAC 330 ION Mini-ITX motherboard

    Left side of NVIDIA Cube with Power Button

    Cheapskate's conceptual drawing

    Hi everybody! I'm Bill Owen from Mnpctech

    First off, I want to thank everyone at Modders-Inc, Nvidia, CPU for organizing this contest. It was a pleasure participating with some of the best modders in the world. I would also like to thank Corsair and Logic Supply for sponsoring everybody!

    This PC will surely be conversational and guarantee a reaction from people. I'm convinced our design is the best representation of Nvidia's exciting ION ITX platform. Whether our design wins this contest or not, I guarantee it's fun and creative design will inspire future builders and modders for decades to come. Everyone who entered my workshop during the construction was immediately drawn to it. "What is that?! Cool!" Even my 5 year old who has become desensitized to dad's weird projects joined the fold, "daddy, Wat is dat ting?!"

    The concept reminded me of when LEGOS started incorporating UV Green parts into their "Space" sets in the late 70s and continue to today.

    LEGO Cyber Saucer kit, 1997

    UV Green cast acrylic was used for the exterior features

    The Zotac Nvidia ION 330 ITX A-U Motherboard is nearly ready-to-run out of the box. All you add is memory, hard drive and O.S. This makes it less intimidating to first time PC builders and more affordable to d-i-y enthusiasts. If you're planning to build a HTPC. It produces a crisp picture @ 1080p HDMI. It has 1.3 output support, optional dual monitor, 7.1 channel uncompressed audio output. Coaxial and optical audio output and Blu-ray decode acceleration. Yes!!

    If you're PC Modder like me, the ION 330's small size opens the door to your own creativity. You don't have to be a professional modder to imagine multiple ideas for your own PC. The 6.7" x 6.7' motherboard allows you to mount it in something fun like an R/C car body or a toolbox. I've seen people install ITX computers in their car.

    You can find a large variety of ITX computer cases on the market ranging from $39 - and higher at Logic Supply and

    You don't need to make an enclosure from recycled cardboard or incorporate a plant for your ION PC to be considered "Green" or low power. The ION is already low power. Our ION PC is very simple. A 90 watt power brick powers the Zotac 330 ION motherboard, LG DVD optical drive, Corsair x64 SSD HD, Logisys 120mm cooling fan
    , and four 4" cold cathode lights. The lights are not a necessity, but they look cool! You don't need to add anything else. Check out the specs below, you've got six USB 2.0 ports, eSATA, PS2 port, Gigabit Ethernet port. Plus, our pedestal design allows you to rotate the cube 360 degrees, so you can access all of these ports easily. We're using the 5-pin molex connector on the board to power the Corsair x64 SSD drive and lighting.

    Here is the specification list of ION ITX-A-U Motherboard

    ION ITX-A-U Specifications
    Processor 1.6 GHz Intel Atom 330
    533 MHz FSB
    Chipset NVIDIA MCP7A-ION
    System Memory, Dual channel DDR2 667 DIMM slots
    Up to 4 GB of memory
    VGA Integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9400M Graphics
    Supported Resolution 1920 x 1440 (VGA)
    Expansion Slots PCI Express Mini Card (wireless card pre-installed)
    Onboard IDE None
    Onboard Serial ATA 3 SATA (3 Gb/sec.) connectors (RAID 0, 1, 0+1)
    Onboard USB 10 USB 2.0
    Onboard LAN Realtek RTL8211C GbE 10/100/1000
    Onboard Audio Realtek ALC662 5.1 channel HD codec
    Back Panel I/O 6 USB 2.0 ports
    1 VGA port
    1 DVI-I port
    1 HDMI port
    1 eSATA port
    1 LAN port
    1 PS2 keyboard port
    2 S/PDIF-out ports (coaxial/optical)
    3 Audio jacks: line-out, line-in, mic-in
    1 DC jack
    Onboard I/O Connectors 3 SATA connectors
    4 USB 2.0 via 2 pin headers
    1 RS-232 COM pin header
    1 Front panel audio pin header
    1 Front panel pin header
    2 Fan pin headers
    4-pin Molex connector (for peripheral power)
    BIOS AMI BIOS 8 Mb flash memory
    System Monitoring & Management: System power management, RTC timer
    Operating Temperature 0ºC ~ 50ºC
    Power DC 19 V @ 4.74 A
    Form Factor: Mini-ITX (17 x 17 cm)
    Includes Driver CD

    CPU fan
    90 W AC adapter & cord
    Wireless antenna
    3 SATA cables
    1 SATA power cable
    User manual

    Nvidia ION Cube Concept becomes reality. "The mind of cheapskate must be a very wild and strange place."

    The first time I looked at cheapskate's drawing, my head just spun "How will I find TIME to build it?" I started to mentally edit the design to save time, without compromising it. The biggest revision would be the huge multi-layered acrylic base. We can save time by emulating it in aluminum instead of multiple acrylic pieces.

    Before I start showing you everything, please understand that I'm a professional PC modder. I have the resources to build cheapskate's design efficiantly, but don't let this deter you from building your own case. There is multiple online communities like Modders-Inc with members who can help you get started with PC scratch building and modding.

    There is also online services and communities of Skilled Trade Professionals that can help you with Laser Cutting, and CNC Machining for Hobbyists is a online machine shop that offers free CAD software that is proprietary to their services. They provide CNC Milling, CNC Turning (Lathe), Rapid Prototyping, Laser Cutting, Waterjet Cutting, Plasma Cutting, Punching, Bending, Casting, Wire EDM, Plastic Injection Molding and more.

    Online community forum of cnc machinists, laser/waterjet cutting specialists, and CAD Designers that allow you to post "RFQs" (Requests For Quotes) How to submit to RFQWork

    CNCzone is nnother community of skilled Machinists you can join for FREE and discuss or seek help with CAD/CAM software, professional machinery, Electronics, mill conversions, lathe conversions

    This laser cutting service will work with PC modders.

    Laser Cutting Service, Inc.
    803 41st Street North
    Birmingham, Alabama 35212
    205-595-7070 FAX 205-595-7021

    I apologize for not showing more in-progress photos. I simply didn't have the time to drop what I was doing and take photos. However I do feel that I caught the best highlights when I had the time to.

    The is the core of the cube. It looks very simple, but it's actually a very detailed design. It's constructed from 10, individually laser cut 1/4" thick acrylic pieces. Anyone besides cheapskate and myself will need to call OnStar in order to open this, j/k.

    More photos of the core

    I chose to cnc mill a 1' x 1', 3/4" thick sheet of aluminum, purchased for $50 locally. I want to take cheap's ideas even further, I want the channels between the squares illuminated Green. My first plan was to mount 5mm Green leds around the inside of the base, but CC lights disperse more light. You need power inverters, 1 per 2x CC lights. We have a total of four 4" cold cathode lights. I had already purchased the 3/4" thick sheet, so the inverters would be relocated inside the cube.

    Heres is the base 99% finished, after it was anodized Black, assembled with center pedestal and 1/4" thick sheet of UV green acrylic base plate. It's glowing from the ambient light coming in from the window. Notice the NVIDIA logo silhouette, this was the last detail to be covered with illuminated 1/4" thick UV Green NVIDIA logo.

    nvidia_ion_cube_casemod_mnpctech.com9k.jpg" alt="" />

    Our pedestal design allows you to rotate the cube 360 degrees. You can turn the PC for a different look and easily access all of the rear ports.

    Thread Update, Page 2 10/07/09

    NVIDIA ION CUBE heat sink inspired case badge

    Cheapskate designed a heat sink style plate on the rear of the NVIDIA Cube, it's highlighted Green in photo below.

    I thought it would be cool to create a real heat sink from 6061 aluminum, with the NVIDIA logo engraved on it.
    An interesting way to create and display a case badge of the NVIDIA Cube.

    NVIDIA's iconic logo engraved in 6061 aluminum.

    SEM self etching primer, Black. matches type II anodize black perfectly.

    Updated 10/09/2009

    Beneath the base, the power brick cord and sleeved cold cathode wiring.

    1/4" UV Green acrylic under aluminum base

    4" cold cathode light illuminates the NVIDIA logo from beneath.

    Updated 10/11/09 More photos of the core

    The core of the NVIDIA cube is constructed from 1/4" thick cast acrylic pieces that were laser cut.

    Updated 10/12/09

    The NVIDIA cube's core is mounted to the top of the pedestal base.

    Laser cutting 12" x 24" , 1/4" UV Green acrylic sheet. The file is a pre-outlined lay up of each part, like a model kit.

    After peeling off paper backing.

    a_ion_cube_casemod_mnpctech.com9z.jpg" alt="" />

    I am ION man!

    Assembling 5.25 optical drive & 2.5" SSD tray with Weld-On #3

    Corsair SSD!

    Updated 10/13

    MB tray installed, Corsair SSD and DVD fit beneath it.

    2x cold cathode power invertors

    MB tray inside the Nvidia ION cube

    Trim piece on the rear of the Nvidia ION cube

    Assembly of some the cool exterior features of the Nvidia ION cube.

    This is the wheel located on the corner of the shell.

    I use scotch green tape 233+ to temporary prop acrylic pieces together as the Weld-On #3 acrylic cement cures. I use this syringe applicator.

    Spider-like blades are the grill for the top 120mm fan

    It has to be the single coolest feature of the entire PC.

    Updated 10/14/09 More photos here

    Installing acrylic switch plate for 22mm Lamptron vandal switch

    Black anodized aluminum pedestal rod for Nvidia ION Cube

    Installing left front exterior trim for optical drive

    MB tray for Zotac 330 ION, power switch wiring was shortly after, out of necessity!

    1.6 GHz dual core Intel Atom 330 processor with NVIDIA MCP7A-ION chipset and GeForce 9400M graphics.

    I love all of the included features on this ITX motherboard.

    Thread updated

    This is our 120mm anodized black machined aluminum fan grill. This is the first product that Mnpctech started manufacturing in 2001. So for sentimental reasons, it was important that I utilized a part of our product history in this build

    Logisys 120mm cooling fan

    Black PSU and Cable Sleeve Kit,

    120mm anodized black aluminum fan grill installed in the ceiling of the cube. The grill's 4-7/8" x 4-7/8" dimensions gives you an idea of just how small the ION cube is inside.

    Vista and Zotac's included MB driver software loaded fast & flawlessly. I have the ION connected to Acer's P235Hbmid Black 23" 5ms HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 50000:1

    HDMI @ 1920 x 1080 on 23" Widescreen looks real nice too

    Click Image To Case Mod Store

  • #2
    NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

    Kick-butt start there.

    Oh... inside my head is like a cross between Tijuana and Disney Land.


    • #3
      NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

      hell of a start there.
      -=Dare not ever meddle within the affairs of we dragons for you are crunchy and flavor very well with barbecue sauce=-


      • #4
        NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

        eeeeexcellleeent! Great start can't wait to see this thing come together!
        Nothing is as it seems, nor is it otherwise.


        • #5
          NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

          i know your already in the planning staged for this.. but it MIGHT look better to have a thin layer of green lexan beneath the base to let light through and ad one of those star trecky plasma lightning plates beneath the lexan...this way you get the glow and a beastly lighting effect.. the glass plates are common items at most spenser gifts in malls.. just a thought.. you know.. added flair

          just my 2 cents.
          -=Dare not ever meddle within the affairs of we dragons for you are crunchy and flavor very well with barbecue sauce=-


          • #6
            NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

            This is looking awesome! I've been waiting for the work logs for so long!


            • #7
              NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

              Looks great Bill! What's the weight on that base, out of curiosity?


              • #8
                NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

                whoa....nuff said, this is going to be a tuff one to beat..... :roll:


                • #9
                  NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

                  Thank you for tuning in. It will be mounted on UV base. I haven't bothered weighing it yet, maybe 2lbs or less.

                  WELD-ON #3 is great for bonding acrylic, but very watery, so using a needle syringe will help control applications. You must set-up the pieces as it cures, which for me was usually 10 mins.
                  You can buy both of these items from

                  Laser cut 1/4" thick UV green transparent acrylic NVIDIA logo for alum base.

                  Logo will be mounted on 1/8" clear acrylic base with Weld On #3, the paper is kept on to avoid fingerprints

                  Click Image To Case Mod Store


                  • #10
                    NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

                    That looks so awesome. Something about laser cut acrylic just gets me excited.


                    • #11
                      NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

                      Logo porn!! It looks fantastic!


                      • #12
                        NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech


                        Machined aluminum pedestal for the Nvidia cube. Custom mounting plates for corner of the Nvidia ION Cube

                        Hard coat anodized type II finish, Black by Hard Anodize Inc in Edina, Mn.

                        Hollowed core for main power and cold cathode cables.

                        Click Image To Case Mod Store


                        • #13
                          NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

                          Anode shadow in the grooves Bill? Prolly just me being picky as I prefer your killer polished stuffs =)


                          • #14
                            NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

                            yeah... to match the arcyllic the metal would have been alot better in a polished back.. but thats just my opinion.

                            likey not enough time to have the parts powder coated AND get everythign to fit properly.
                            -=Dare not ever meddle within the affairs of we dragons for you are crunchy and flavor very well with barbecue sauce=-


                            • #15
                              NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech

                              I am drooling rather a lot here...

                              Anyone got a bucket?

                              looks great!!

                              Have fun all,