Gauging interest in build-your-own case kits

Spotswood

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I'm thinking about offering DIY PC case kits. A kit would include all of the material and hardware to build the frame of an ATX or microATX PC case (along with pedestals).

The frame would consist of 15mm t-slot extrusions cut and pre-tapped for easy assembly. The case would be designed to accept a Lian Li replacement motherboard tray. If there's enough interest, I might also offer panels, doors, etc. Some incremental variation in the depth and/or height of the case would be offered.

Here's what the basic frame of a traditional microATX tower would look like:

microATXCaseFrameV1.jpg


Some extra extrusions would also be included in the kit for mounting storage and/or watercooling hardware.

Note that a kit could be assembled with the PSU placed at the top or bottom and the motherboard tray oriented in either ATX or reverse-ATX orientation.

Your thoughts and comments would be much appreciated!

EDIT: I've decided to expand this idea to where these kits would be modular (see my posts, below).

:eek:
 
Last edited:

The1stCAV

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Good idea - but have you checked out Mountain Mods?

I just ordered their Ascension, which is basically a 18" frame, and you can chose your panels on what you need. I went with a dual PSU and triple 120mm back, a 9x120mm front that houses two 5-5.25 drive bays, and then a clear plexi top, a clear plexi side and a solid side. The motherboard tray I chose is a horzontal solution as opposed to the more traditional (what has become traditional since the desktops got replaced with towers) solution so my motherboard will be at top laying flat (horizontally) while the rest sits below. This frame you show above is almost the same thing with the same variable options that Mountain Mods does.

Good idea, never hurts for competition if you can do a better mouse trap, but if I were you, go check out MM and see if you have a unique play on this or if they basically are further along already on your idea, Always good to know the competition.

http://www.mountainmods.com/

Please do not misunderstand, I am not trying to discourage a dream, just trying to inform. I made a very good living for many years off a website I built that went up against the industry giant who already had a firm foothold in the market, yet I was still able to build a better mouse trap regardless and am still making money off that site today. So just because someone else is already doing it does not mean someone else cannot do it better - just good to know what the competition is doing.

Best wishes in your endevours.
 

999

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Spotswood is a very talented craftsman who has built a lot of custom alum cases and things like rad boxes. I can pretty much say with certainty Id choose to have a case frame made by him over Ben's (MM). I don't see this idea competing with MM though as this seems to be a more custom barebones/diy product than buying an MM. But that's just my impression.
 

oliveash

Weaksauce
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I had a very similar idea myself, but lack the talent and equipment to make it happen. I'd be happy to share my thoughts with you if you're interested. PM me.

As far as interest goes, I'm VERY interested and would almost certainly be in line if you bring it to market.
 

Spotswood

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Kinda reminds me of the Antec Lanboy Air with the whole customization aspect.
My goal is for these is to be even more flexible than the LanBoy Air.

i think its a really good idea. would help a lot of noobs like me save time
Thanks and I hope so too!

Good idea - but have you checked out Mountain Mods?

I just ordered their Ascension, which is basically a 18" frame, and you can chose your panels on what you need. I went with a dual PSU and triple 120mm back, a 9x120mm front that houses two 5-5.25 drive bays, and then a clear plexi top, a clear plexi side and a solid side. The motherboard tray I chose is a horzontal solution as opposed to the more traditional (what has become traditional since the desktops got replaced with towers) solution so my motherboard will be at top laying flat (horizontally) while the rest sits below. This frame you show above is almost the same thing with the same variable options that Mountain Mods does.

Good idea, never hurts for competition if you can do a better mouse trap, but if I were you, go check out MM and see if you have a unique play on this or if they basically are further along already on your idea, Always good to know the competition.

http://www.mountainmods.com/

Please do not misunderstand, I am not trying to discourage a dream, just trying to inform. I made a very good living for many years off a website I built that went up against the industry giant who already had a firm foothold in the market, yet I was still able to build a better mouse trap regardless and am still making money off that site today. So just because someone else is already doing it does not mean someone else cannot do it better - just good to know what the competition is doing.

Best wishes in your endevours.
Yeah, I'm aware of what MM has to offer, but these are more for the DIYer.

Spotswood is a very talented craftsman who has built a lot of custom alum cases and things like rad boxes. I can pretty much say with certainty Id choose to have a case frame made by him over Ben's (MM). I don't see this idea competing with MM though as this seems to be a more custom barebones/diy product than buying an MM. But that's just my impression.
Thanks for the vote of confidence!


I had a very similar idea myself, but lack the talent and equipment to make it happen. I'd be happy to share my thoughts with you if you're interested. PM me.

As far as interest goes, I'm VERY interested and would almost certainly be in line if you bring it to market.
Thanks. Because of our discussions via PM, I've decided to "go big" with this idea to the point of offering the holy grail of PC cases: modular cases!

A modular computer case would consist of (at least) two modules: a motherboard module and a PSU module. Where/how the modules are connected/configured is left for the end user to decide. Later on, additional modules could be added (and later removed), as the user's needs change.

For example, here is a microATX case with three unique modules: microATX motherboard, PSU and two radiator.

 

The1stCAV

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Spotswood is a very talented craftsman who has built a lot of custom alum cases and things like rad boxes. I can pretty much say with certainty Id choose to have a case frame made by him over Ben's (MM). I don't see this idea competing with MM though as this seems to be a more custom barebones/diy product than buying an MM. But that's just my impression.
Me and my big mouth - lol. I wish I had know of you before, I really wanted to have a custom case made, but couldn't find anyone who wasn't booked until the end of 2013, so I made the MM plunge instead (my first MM so I cannot say one way or the other). I need to visit other sections of [H] more.

I will certainly keep checking back, who knows, I may be a future customer - let's see what you got. Best wishes in all you do and pursue! my humble appologies for speaking without knowing your history as a well respected case builder. (slinks away into the corner........)

:D
 

Kelvarr

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So am I understanding right that this project would just be a skeleton (frame) of a case? It wouldn't actually have panels and whatnot, correct?

Depending on cost, I would be interested in this for my server.

A question I have: Let's say I start with a mATX skeleton/frame. I decide later that I want to turn that into a server, but need a bigger frame. Can I just buy some add-on parts to convert the mATX into a Full tower?
 

Spotswood

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So am I understanding right that this project would just be a skeleton (frame) of a case? It wouldn't actually have panels and whatnot, correct?
No. I'm now thinking that it would be best to also offer side panel sheeting (with or without a frame for the side panel).

Depending on cost, I would be interested in this for my server.

A question I have: Let's say I start with a mATX skeleton/frame. I decide later that I want to turn that into a server, but need a bigger frame. Can I just buy some add-on parts to convert the mATX into a Full tower?
Going to a bigger form factor would simply require adding another module to make room for the larger motherboard tray.

I guess, you could tack-on bits of extrusions to the ends of the existing frame, but then that would require larger side panels, which I don't see as being practical.

Its going to be real interesting to see where end users take this.
 

P4B

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I'm getting ready to use two pieces that would normally be used in installing copper pipe in a home. With 2 other pcs im not sure were they came from. Having something like the two pieces that can change size to your need would be nice. I'm trying to mount a radiator between two pieces of wood in a case made out of a old Marshall amp.
 

Spotswood

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I've been testing various combinations of "modules." I added a taller PSU module and verified that all of these could be used to replicate the layouts of the TJ07 and 900D. :)

 

Spotswood

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Planning on continuing this idea all the way down to SFF cases. For example, the bottom module is about the same size as an SG07 or wahaha360's new case design. By adding the top module, you then have a case that is about the same size as Compact Splash (over on OCN).

 

killian133

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how will this be cost effective? everyone wants cheap good quality. this would be awesome quality but sooooooooooooooooooooooooo EXPENSIVE>
 

Stuey83

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There was something like this available before - "Lubic." I believe it was distributed by AeroCool, if that helps.

https://www.google.com/search?q=lubic computer case&tbm=isch

Lubic case-building kits were based around a small-size T-slot profile. There was a conventional-style case kit and a plane kit that allowed for greater experimentation. I was interested in giving it a try but the prices were always a bit high. One day it just discontinued and became scarce. People liked it, but it was never really popular.

It's a good idea in theory but you would have to develop panels and compelling accessories to go with it.
 

Spotswood

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how will this be cost effective? everyone wants cheap good quality. this would be awesome quality but sooooooooooooooooooooooooo EXPENSIVE>
There are enthusiasts, case modders and those will build their PC case from scratch. Niches within niches. This is (obviously) a niche product(s). But I think it fills a void for those who would love to build a case from scratch, but don't have the tools and/or skill to even build just the basic frame. Plus, by leveraging the versatility of t-slot extrusions, every PC component could be mounted almost anywhere in/around the case. :D

There was something like this available before - "Lubic." I believe it was distributed by AeroCool, if that helps.

https://www.google.com/search?q=lubic computer case&tbm=isch

Lubic case-building kits were based around a small-size T-slot profile. There was a conventional-style case kit and a plane kit that allowed for greater experimentation. I was interested in giving it a try but the prices were always a bit high. One day it just discontinued and became scarce. People liked it, but it was never really popular.

It's a good idea in theory but you would have to develop panels and compelling accessories to go with it.
Yeah, I remember those kits. I will be improving upon on that basic idea by pre-tapping the ends of the extrusions in order to eliminate having to use any corner/support brackets. No brackets means that panels can be mounted flush. I will also be including a motherboard tray, which will eliminate all sorts of other problems/issues.
 

Spotswood

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Here are 9 combinations of SFF cases, starting with a single core microITX module, progressing all the way up to a case made from 4 modules.




Another series of combinations is possible based on a slightly deeper core module.

 

Spotswood

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I'm going to use this system to build a case for my personal rig. Doing so will allow me to work through any issues and I end up with a case for myself (a first).

Here's the core/main module 225x195x225 (HxWxD).





 
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I like this idea..ALOT. I am a very enthusiastic case modder and would LOVE to have the ability to get a basic frame built for a totally custom mod. I could do it all myself, but with long work hours, more long AFTER work hours in my small PC repair/sale shop, that leaves me so little time to work on my own stuff. THIS would be a great option for somebody like me and I would MOST certainly be interested in buying some stuff from you, especially if I would be able to specify exactly what I would need. I have wanted to build a case with the mobo inverted and located midline in the case and from looking at your pix, I think you would be more than capable of delivering exactly what I would need. Keep at it and I'll be watching. :)
 

Geek.Verve

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I'm now thinking that it would be best to also offer side panel sheeting (with or without a frame for the side panel).
Good idea. One suggestion I would make is to use thick enough sheets to allow you to counter-sink the screws. That's the one thing that keeps me from even considering a MM case - screw heads sticking out everywhere.
 

Spotswood

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@SpeedBump613 and @Geek.Verve, thanks guys!

I worked on a hard drive mounting system. The drives are mounted to the t-slots via rubber grommets.







Most likely another drive will be mounted in the top.
 

Spotswood

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A wide variety of backplates will be available in order to eliminate having to purchase a separate motherboard tray. I had CMadk14 from M3cases.com fabricate a prototype 1-slot backplate (with a 91mm fan hole) for my case:



The t-slot extrusions are incredibly flexible, but I also managed to come up with an easy method to lengthen them. For example, if I wanted to increase the depth of my case in order to fit a dual 120mm radiator, all I would need to do is attach some 60mm long extensions.







This system is very accurate and incredibly strong (nearly as strong as a solid piece of extrusion) and offers unprecedented opportunities for tinkering and prototyping. :D
 

pablopicasso

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This seems real interesting and would allow numerous chances for any DIYer to make their case unique. Reminds me of the Parvum cases as well and reminiscent of Danger Den back when they were in business
 

Kelvarr

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A wide variety of backplates will be available in order to eliminate having to purchase a separate motherboard tray. I had CMadk14 from M3cases.com fabricate a prototype 1-slot backplate (with a 91mm fan hole) for my case:



The t-slot extrusions are incredibly flexible, but I also managed to come up with an easy method to lengthen them. For example, if I wanted to increase the depth of my case in order to fit a dual 120mm radiator, all I would need to do is attach some 60mm long extensions.







This system is very accurate and incredibly strong (nearly as strong as a solid piece of extrusion) and offers unprecedented opportunities for tinkering and prototyping. :D
I like that a lot. I was curious as to the strength of it, but I'll take your word that it is almost as strong.

One of the trickiest parts of it is to keep it somewhat affordable.

One advantage should be shipping. It can ship completely disassembled, and won't need nearly as big of a box (containing mostly empty space).

I don't know if it would be possible, but your manual could be like the instructions in a set of Tinker Toys (remember those?). Here is your "base set". With the base set, *these* (any number of possible configurations) can be made. Enjoy!


On a side note, are you still planning on the slots accepting a pre-fab mobo tray? Or are you just planning on doing the mounting yourself (like in your example above)?
 

Spotswood

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<snip>

On a side note, are you still planning on the slots accepting a pre-fab mobo tray? Or are you just planning on doing the mounting yourself (like in your example above)?
I plan on offering kits sized for pre-fab'd trays as well as my backplates. For my build, I had to go with a backplate, because no one makes a pre-fab'd SFF tray. :)
 

wolfofsin

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I am very interested in one of these kits. How can I get my hands on one?
 

revival

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I think the key to it what the side and front panels look like, I would want a really clean look.
Also a BTX version would be great. ( mb on opposite side)

What is the price of cost effective? 150 with side panels would be great.
 

Outlaw85

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Nice work.

That would be pretty cool, and would be easier to make a dual pc setup.

Wish it were financially feasible. Want to make me one for free (ill pay shipping) as a guinea pig?

Outlaw
 

Outlaw85

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Lol, of course!

We had been chatting about making one for my server but it would be a lot of this and get pretty expensive.

30" x 18" x 6.5"

As you can see, not a small enclosure. It would be awesome to do this though.
 
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