my new htpc - slot loading modded ahanix mce301 case

dualblade

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 19, 2000
Messages
4,180
so here she is, sitting on the rack and showing off her sexy self. sorry for the slightly odd lighting and shadows, but i have to go to class and don't have time to set up well distributed lighting for a better shot. i'll have more pics soon to detail how i mounted everything and the other internal mods you can't see from here. suffice to say, it looks a whole lot nicer this way then with a big 'ol plastic dvd drive behind the flip down door. i've very happy with the way things came out, as you can't even tell that the case wasn't slot loading from the factory. it uses a laptop slot loading drive behind the front panel, with a mounting system i rigged up for the job. i also changed around the cooling method, using a power supply with a 120mm fan on it. using a holesaw, i put a hole in the bottom of the case, made it an exhaust fan, and made it pull warm air from inside the case. to do this i drilled holes on the inside panel of the power supply and made a block off plate to stop it from pulling air from the back. again, i'll have some more pics of this up later but i have class now

mce301.jpg
 

dualblade

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 19, 2000
Messages
4,180
and now for other mods/procedure

in the next two pics, you can see the front panel before mounting. i had the slot made by a local machinist, realizing there's no way with a dremel i'm going to make an accurate cut through 1/2" thick aluminum. i gave him the specs but he did the cutting, and it cost me $40 (but he did a really good job). i had him machine out part of the back panel as you'll see in the coming photos.

13.jpg


here you can see the back of the panel where the panel was taken down to 1/16" thickness 1/4" above and 1/2" below the slot. this is so the drive could mount as close as possible to the front of the panel, so the cd could be pushed in and retreived with reasonable ease. also, i figured that less metal would result in less scratching of discs, which this seems to have accomplished well.
14.jpg


the mounting plate that the cd rom sits on top of is right here. i then used double sided sticky pads to affix the cd drive to the plate because they provide easy attachment and some vibration dampening
18.jpg


in the coming photo, you can see the mods done to the front of the case to accomodate the slot loading drive. the 4 posts are what the mounting plate sits on top of. the hard drive bracket was scrapped completely and the 4 circled holes are what the hard drive is screwed into. i screwed a motherboard standoff into each of the bottom hard drive mount holes so the drive would be spaced off the case bottom a bit. the right angle red lines was the bit of case that i had to cut off (there was material inside the lines) so the drive would mount correctly. it was a small bit of material and didn't really effect chassis stability.
15.jpg


this next pic show the mods for a power supply with a 120mm fan
16.jpg

i cut a hole with a holesaw so that hot air could exhaust via the bottom of the case. i also had to make new mounting holes for the ps because the stock holes put it upside down (fan facing upwards instead of downwards). i wanted to utilize the power supply as a rear cooling element, since the only active cooling in the case is next to the hard drive in the front corner. the factory operation of the power supply is that the 120mm fan is an intake, and the air passes through the power supply and out the back. i wanted the ps to take in air from inside the case and exhaust it via the 120mm fan. i did this by blocking off the grill on the back of the power supply with a plate, shown here
17.jpg

i opened up the power supply and turned the fan upside down so it would be exhaust instead of intake. i then used my drill press to drill a ton of holes (swiss cheesing is fun!) in the side of the power supply panel, so it would be able to draw in air from the inside of the case.

here you can see the block off plate doing it's job blocking off the back of the power supply
19.jpg


and a bottom shot of the unit with the fan running, exhausting air
20.jpg


the system is attractive, functional, and quiet so i feel i've done a good job in my modifications. i also still have a free 5.25" bay behind the door so this leaves me with options and expandability. if some new drive or device comes out that i want to add, it can be done. i was thinking of possibly getting a 5/25" to 3.5" bay and putting a memory card reader in there. on the plastic piece that turns the 5.25" opening to a 3.5" opening, i could drill some holes in the excess space and mount front av in ports for the tv tuner, but this will be down the line. for now, i'm satisfied with my work and my car just decided to break itself so i'm onto an automotive project next it seems.
 

dualblade

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 19, 2000
Messages
4,180
specs are:

- athlon 64 3000+
- zalman cnps7000b* see notes on this
- 1gb corsair value ram (now only $88!)
- msi rs480 chipset matx board with onboard video and sound with spdif output
- 120gb reasonably quiet western digital hard drive (just an extra i had around)
- seasonic super tornado s12-380 (the new one with atx2.0 spec and 24 pin motherboard connector)
- pvr150mce lp tuner
- Teac DV-28SL93 slim dvd/cd drive

all my media is actually stored on my main pc and accessed via network. for this reason, i thought it would be kind of a waste of money to put in a dvdrw drive. i have a nec nd3500 in my main machine to handle dvd/cd burning tasks.

with the zalman, i think using their mounting kit is a bad idea if you're going to use the msi mb that i did. on zalman's site the 7000 is listed as incompatible with the msi motherboard but i figured i could make it work. the part of the factory mounting bracket that goes under the mb is held on with glue and has to be carefully pried off if you're going to use the zalman mounting hardware. the thing is, the factory part is a really sturdy metal plate and the zalman part is a very flexible plastic plate. sure, it's reasonably sturdy in your hands but with the tension of the heatsink screwed in, it flexes, and the whole motherboard along with it. noticably. i saw this as a bad thing and figured out a way to use the factory mounting bracket with the zalman heatsink which only involved slightly machining down the factory bracket to make the heatsink a bit tighter against the core. to tell you the truth, i think this is probably unnecessary and it could likely stay stock. sorry, i didn't take pictures of this.

i think this system is more than enough for anyone except if you need tons of hard drives, or if you need something better than the integrated video. if you can live with a single (or dual if you filled the empty 5.25" bay with a hd) hard drive and onboard 9600 video, it's the perfect htpc. even if i had more space, i'd still keep additional hard drives in a different case, connected by gigabit ethernet if i needed the bandwidth, as to cut down on the heat in a relatively small chassis.
 

Trepidati0n

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Oct 26, 2004
Messages
9,248
Nicely done. Only thing I would recommend is buffing the slot load edges. It isn't the metal that will damage the disc...it will be the "sharp" edges. High grit sandpaper will do a nice job.

-tReP
 

Aku12

Gawd
Joined
Jun 19, 2002
Messages
645
very sexy case..

im actually looking into the black version of this. I wish that came standard, but i plan to use my dvd drive very seldomly as i will be ripping all my dvd's to HD through my workstation and transferring to a server.
 
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