project: smallest case using standard size parts


Limp Gawd
Nov 21, 2003
Well heres my new project for the summer break from uni, time to put those "design" skills from my degree to good use . . .

The basic idea of this project is to find a new home for the xp1700 system i aquired a few months back, as the case i got it in was appalling. The horrible plastic facia was so badly designed i threw it in the bin, leaving me with a metal shell with no front :D
The intended use for this PC is going to be as a DVD/mp3 player/ playstation replacement for the lounge of my rented house at uni next year, hooked up to the TV. I would hav preferred to get a SFF pc, but the components were dirt cheap so the new plan was to see how small a case i could build using a ATX mobo and full height cards.

After a bit of thinking i decided the way forward would be to mount the mobo at the top of the case, rotated 90 degrees to normal in order to make the best use of space. The room at the front of the case normally reserved for drives would not be needed, as they could go at the bottom of the case. This has the added benefit of giving easy access to the io connectors if the PC is going to be placed underneath the TV. The heavy components (PSU, dvd rom) are at the bottom of the case to give it added stability.

Material of choice would be 12mm thick MDF board, as i havent got a ready supply of suitable sheet metal, and also due to its sound deadening properties.


After a few sketches, this is my chosen design, quickly mocked up in 3D using proEngineer wildfire:


^ The black frame in the middle will be fabbed up from sections of MDF, screwed and glued together. The two white sides, which also feature integral carrying handles, will be hinged at the bottom, behind the "feet" to provide access to the components.


^ shows layout of drive cages and mobo tray, scavenged from previous POS case. :D



^ This photo was taken early in the build (ie yesterday hehe) and shows the general layout of the components. Overall size of the case will be around 400x400x200mm, much smaller than my tower, and also a lot smaller than the family dell 4500 which uses a mATX mobo . . .


^ The mobo tray, dremelled from the old case, will make mounting the mobo much easier.

-drive cages:

The main problem i had was mounting the drives. I had to have room for 1x 5 1/4 inch drive and 2x 3 1/2 inch drives. However, the old case had the big drives at the top and the small ones at the bottom, due to space i had to mount them the other way round. Bring out the dremel . . .


^ these parts were fabbed up using bits cut from the old case, and pop riveted/epoxied into this:

which has been mounted to the bottom of the case using 4x M4 bolts.



This involved cutting the mounting plate from the old case to allow me to use the holes for the PSU. This piece of steel also acted as a bracket to help join the base and back of the case together.

This is as far as i have got, more progress and some tarted up photo realistic cad stuff soon :D
Yeah, its a good layout. Just have to make sure the mobo is mounted securely. And what about feet, the sides could act as the feet, but if you take off one side the case will lean becuase it has no support.
using WOL, i see. cool:D

case looks pretty cool. i'm gonna have to build my own case one of these days:p just need some time... and money...

good luck.
I say make a cover for the top I/O panel as well, maybe route the cables from the top under a cover to the back so that you can easily manage your cables, and give the top a little more style to go with the rest of the sexy design