Project: Lego Skeleton [56K GO AWAY]

elleana

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[First worklog, so go easy please!]

After a few months' of searching in vain for the perfect HTPC case, I was ready to throw in the towel. Nothing was available on the market which perfectly matched my size requirements. I toyed briefly with the idea of getting a custom case machined, but I figured I wasn't really up to that. Surfing randomly, I recalled a few weblog posts about Lego computers, and right there I decided I'd like one and the rest, as they say, is history.

Right off I knew I wanted to work solely with Technics parts, as they were my favorite Lego as a kid. It'd be ideal to combat the poor airflow problems experienced by most Lego computers (since Lego being plastic is a heat insulator) Thinking about it further I realized it would be perfect to make a case inspired by the Antec Skeleton, which I am also a fan of. My basic design would be along the lines of the Skeleton - PSU/drives downstairs, motherboard + GPU, etc upstairs.

Okay - enough with the talking, on to the pictures.

I initially wanted to plan out the entire case and then buy what I needed, but I got impatient and decided to order a huge bunch of parts off Bricklink. I figured that since parts were dirt cheap, why not?


All the parts thrown into a box. Rummaging through it just for fun made me feel really nostalgic!



This is what I'm using to mount the motherboard standoffs. They'll eventually be put together in a grid, used to support the motherboard from below.



I had to use epoxy to make sure the standoffs were securely mounted. Hopefully, this will be the only place where I have to alter the Lego.



While waiting for the epoxy to set I started working on the DVD drive mounts. I'm using the LG HD-DVD Blu-ray drive combo.



This picture's poorly focused but I think the idea is there...



Mount is done, ready for the case to start to take shape.





That's as much progress as I was able to make today. Work is being a bitch, and having to work 12-14 hour days leaves me exhausted at the end of the day with little time and energy to work on this. I hope to finish somewhere around Christmas though :)

Stay tuned!
 

axan

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interesting idea, looking forward to how this develops
 

kniah

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Cool project. "Perfect" HTPC/matx cases are hard to come by. Looking forward to seeing how this turns out!
 

elleana

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Thanks for the support guys. Pretty stoked up about this as well.

Small update - had about 20 minutes to work on this, so managed to mount the LCD screen. I'm using the Matrix Orbital Typhoon tri-led version.



Using the same mount as the DVD Drive, the LCD should fit nicely on top.

 

Randominal

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for those interested in lego computers and such check this out. Although this worklog looks to finish with a much slicker product since its all uniform.
 

elleana

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For some reason, photography == fail today. I need a camera that can do better macro shots.

Anyhow, the LCD screen has been mounted to the frame, which is slowly but surely taking shape.


The right side will be the edge, so I'm trying to leave it as clean as possible.


On the other hand, this edge will be inside the case so you can see the axles sticking out.


I seem to be running out of some parts (the bricks, mostly) while having oodles of others. Might have to wait a while to replenish the bricks I need.
 

dystopic

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nice to see someone going out of his (or her?) way to build a case out of legos, rather than it being a half-joke done with stuff laying around. i'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

also, bricklink is awesome.
 

elleana

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for those interested in lego computers and such check this out. Although this worklog looks to finish with a much slicker product since its all uniform.
Actually, I took my inspiration from this guy. Also sporting the clean black look.

nice to see someone going out of his (or her?) way to build a case out of legos, rather than it being a half-joke done with stuff laying around. i'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

also, bricklink is awesome.
Well I had to start from scratch, since all my Lego from my childhood has long since disappeared/been given away. And yes, bricklink is without a doubt one of the best set up specialty shopping sites ever.
 

skudmunky

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Sub'd, wanna see how this turns out. Looks like it will be something well designed and put together instead of the normal "rainbow warrior" LEGO cases a lot of people slap together.
 

MC FLMJIG

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You have a ton of black legos!!!! I was looking awhile so I could do this too. How did you get so many black ones!!!

I was actually thinking of spray painting black!!! Then - I got a cheap Qpack. Still a ta too big me thinks
 

elleana

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You have a ton of black legos!!!! I was looking awhile so I could do this too. How did you get so many black ones!!!

I was actually thinking of spray painting black!!! Then - I got a cheap Qpack. Still a ta too big me thinks
Yup, so far I'm out about $60 in parts (excluding shipping). I expect I'll have a lot of leftovers though, cause I overordered some but underordered others so I had to make a few smaller orders for parts I still need.
 

BIGJ

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hmm I believe I have seen that drive before, I'm glad to see it got there safely and that it is being put to good use!

Looks like a cool project! I will keep an eye on it!
 

elleana

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Interesting. Would there be any ESD issues with this?
Not that I'm aware of. Plenty of people have built Lego computers with no complaints. Only issue would be heat, and I'm trying to keep the case as open as possible to improve airflow.

hmm I believe I have seen that drive before, I'm glad to see it got there safely and that it is being put to good use!

Looks like a cool project! I will keep an eye on it!
Well I think you have! And I know this is kinda overdue, but left you heat! (forgot to do it previously)
 

Rockstar

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so how much did you pay for all those legos? can you show me a link exactly where to get your setup? :)
 

GenesisFactor

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subscribed!

have you thought about making a hot swappable case? I know how to do it, but it will take extra pieces...
 

elleana

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so how much did you pay for all those legos? can you show me a link exactly where to get your setup? :)
First batch cost about $60, but I bought a lot of pieces I thought I would need but probably won't use. Just placed an order for about $20 more of pieces which I didn't buy enough of the first time round.

Not sure what you mean by setup but if you're talking about design, its all in my head right now. I sit down and tinker and figure out the best way to fit things together. Right now I'm kinda stuck trying to fit my power switch/LED. I bought a really nice one from frozencpu, but its really huge and I'm not sure how to fit it in.

subscribed!

have you thought about making a hot swappable case? I know how to do it, but it will take extra pieces...
Yeah, I'm considering making the hard drives (going to have 2, a OS drive and a 1TB data drive) hot swappable but I'm wondering if it'll be worth it. What are the chances I'm going to have to change my drives any time soon?

Or maybe I'll do it just 'cause :)
 

dystopic

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Well I had to start from scratch, since all my Lego from my childhood has long since disappeared/been given away. And yes, bricklink is without a doubt one of the best set up specialty shopping sites ever.
same here; i had about two crates of legos too. i found bricklink a couple years ago when i had a random (unrealized) idea of doing a case mod to look like a Black-Tron space base in the midst of a battle. seeing how little you spent on lego parts has kind of rekindled my interest. it's also inspiring to see that you're doing this almost entirely with lego; i'd planned/assumed on starting with a barebones ATX frame and working from there.
 

Elledan

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Always fun to combine the joys of childhood with those of later pursuits :cool:
 

elleana

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Quick update - project is on hold for the holidays. Been crazy busy, waiting for a new box of Legos to arrive, but unfortunately will be going away til after Christmas so will only be able to continue after New Years'
 

elleana

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Thanks guys. Also have a 46" Samsung A650 LCD coming after Christmas, gotta get this done so I can watch some hidef content on it.
 

elleana

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... and we're back!

Apologies for the lack of updates, being out of town on Christmas vacation + the holiday season = no time to tinker. Or to even lurk on [H], but that's another story.

Anyhow, now that the festivities are more or less done, I've finally had some time to myself to work on this. Managed to fit in one hard drive today, am still mulling over putting another one in.

Mounted on lego rails and ready to go! The drive is a 1TB Seagate '11, which should be plenty for a HTPC.



Because when working with lego you have to conform to the strict dimensions of lego so that everything fits together, I had to measure things out just right. This is the hard disk frame being aligned so it would fit right into the case with minimum movement. Call it a scaffolding, if you will.



Nicely fitted to the slowly-taking-shape-case. The hard disk fits directly behind the optical drive, with some room in between for cables to run.



Building up the external walls...



... and this is as far as I've managed to get today.



Am still stuck on whether to:
(1) Buy a Vraptor for my gaming box, allowing me to cannibalize the 74GB raptor I already have in there for an OS drive for here;
(2) Use a spare 250GB I have lying around somewhere for the OS drive; or
(3) Just leaving it at 1TB. Already have plenty of storage on my WHS so I doubt I'll be running out anytime soon.

Inclined towards (3), but that's just because it requires the least effort. (1) involves reinstalling Vista + games, ugh. But that means it'll not be [H]!

Am off work the whole week (only back to work the 5th, yay) so I should have plenty of time this week to work on this. Keep an eye out!
 

SC385

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Looks good. And I say go with option 4. Buy more hard drives for the WHS :)
 

Elledan

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Being lazy is a virtue too, you know ;)

<<-- very virtuous~
 

illuminate

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looking good man! Great project and Idea. It looks especially cool before you're using all black and not the mismatched ugly colors!
Keep it up!
Subscribed
 

elleana

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Still keeping my options open on the hard disk situation, but looks like its gonna be (3) and laziness FTW :)

Worked on mounting the PSU today. I had to think long and hard about this, since the PSU was going to be by far the heaviest part of the whole setup, and most cases have rails to support the PSU and only four screws going into one side of it. Not exactly suitable for my situation.

I started out by trying to design a 'cradle' for my power supply. (I'm using an old OCZ modular 500W PSU I had lying around, picked it up once when it was going for peanuts and never had a use for it) I tried to make it as failsafe as possible, by setting things up so that any one part could bear weight and not break because of the pressure of other parts. Kinda hard to explain, but maybe bridgebuilders use the same technique?



Here's the same cradle sitting on the PSU (upside down by the way - the fan will be blowing downwards).



My other restriction was the fact that I didn't really want to block the fan, so I had to use as few bricks as possible. I compensated by using cross axles, which allowed for maximum airflow.



Now the PSU mounting is done, its time to fit it with the rest of the case.



Again, what I'm trying for here is to redistribute pressure on other parts so nothing will buckle under heavy load. It seems to be working out so far, but hopefully I'll never have to stress test my design since the box will be sitting next to my TV.



... and this is what I managed to accomplish today. Took me much longer than I thought, because the PSU mounting gave me a huge headache. Ah well, Lego fans will know that most of the fun lies in the building process.



That's all for now, stay tuned!
 

Elledan

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It's kind of hard to see whether the Lego ends and the PSU starts on that last pic :)
 
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