Project: Stuttgart


Oct 28, 2012
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I have recently moved to Germany and have had to abandon my car building hobby due to lack of tools/garage/etc so I've decided to build another computer + case. The plan is to build two of these boxes. I've never worked with wood before in my life so I need 1 box to practice on. This will be made from pine (cheap and easy to work with). I will iron out all of the design kinks and then go on to build one out of a nice hardwood. I have no tools here so I've hit the local flea markets to gather what I need. Around 100EUR later and I'm all set!

So, the idea is to build the box you can see in the drawings below. Inside the box will be the motherboard and hard drives. PSU will be located externally and everything will be routed into the box via a large connector (have not found it yet). Air intake will be at the bottom (will show this later) and the exhaust is from the back.

Hardware which goes in will be:
  • Corsair Vengence LP 16GB
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
  • EVGA GeForce GTX650
  • Samsung 840 Series SSD 256GB
  • MSI Z77A-GD65
  • Western Digital Black 1TB 3.5"
  • Das Keyboard
  • Intel Core i5 3570k
  • SeaSonic X650 Gold PSU
The plans:


Everyone has one of these.....

German flea market findings:

1st Cut:

Groove for plexiglass top:


One side complete:

Few Hours later:

Back to the flea market, two of these guys for 10EUR!!!

Holes cut and test fit:

Glued, sanded, imperfections filled (have a gluing picture somewhere too):

Corner Detail (pine is too soft!!!!):


More Stain and gauges fitment:

Post stain corner detail:

Let me know what you guys think! Any input is welcome! Also, anybody an expert with wood please throw out suggestions as I'm just winging it.. :)

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The gauges will represent hard drive usage (will be redesigning the insides to represent a 0-100% scale) and the second one will be ambient light (metered with a custom circuit which will also drive the case lighting, making it dim with ambient light). The ambient light wont be on an absolute scale, I will just create a Dark-Light type of scale and throw it on there.
yeah, but how are you going to translate HDD usage into a DC voltage to drive the meter?

Neat idea by the way, I love old analog movements
Ahh sorry, didn't totally get the question. So, for HDD usage, motherboard has an LED output. My gauges are 0-60 mA scale. I will use the output of the motherboard to drive the gate of a MOSFET which has a resistor connected from 5v to Drain. Source will be connected to Ground. I've not yet designed the circuit but I will pick values that will give me 0 mA for 0% and ~60mA for 100%.

Ambient light will be driven from a photoresistor (or two depending on what sensitivities I find). I will just create a voltage divider at the gate of the MOSFET built up from the photoresistor and a regular resistor. The change in voltage at the gate will drive a change in current through the MOSFET. Again I will pick values such that Bright = ~60mA and Dark = ~0mA.
This is gorgeous, I've thought about doing something similar for ages, but never got around to it. Keep it up!
Haven't subscribed to a build thread in about a year, but just did this one.

Looks like it could be pretty darned awesome!
Update 2:

I ordered all of the hardware from Newegg in America so I will have to wait until I get over there to pick everything up. Also ordered a few goodies from FrozenCPU. Didn't get as much done today as I wanted. Tomorrow I'm going to try to do a few more things.

Germany's finest (not the best but its what was in the fridge):

Got the plexiglas to size by clamping/scoring/breaking. Here it is while I was sanding/filing. This piece will function as the motherboard tray. I didnt finish the edges yet as I dont have the motherboard and this piece will still need work.


Standoffs (drilled out):

Standoffs (shortened):

Mounting for the motherboard tray (entire box still needs another coat of stain/sanding/fixing small damage):

Here is the motherboard tray on the case. The air intake is in between the case and the motherboard tray.




Air intake detail (ignore the nasty corner, needs filling/sanding/stain):

Till next time, cheers!

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Update 3:

Started the day with cutting/sanding/filing this aluminium box. The bottom is open and it will be mounted inside the case to hide the exhaust fans. I'm going to spray the front black and sand out the tops of the "heatsink" so it will only have black in the grooves.





Start of the grill:

Added the aluminium cross pieces:


Stuck with wet stain:


Bottom part of the case sanded and stained, detail of standoff:

Motherboard tray in place along with new exhaust grill:



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Beautiful work, hopefully the pine holds you're noticing it ain't called a soft wood for nothing.
Hey guys! Thanks for the comments, really helps keep the motivation going :D

I am not stationed here, I am not part of the army. I'm on a work assignment for a few years.

Small update this week as most of the bits I need to continue are waiting for me in the States.

I've got the 1st panel meter mostly working. This one is showing ambient light. The gauge is a 0-60mA current sensor. I've built a small circuit which uses a photoresistor to bias the transistor and supply a current of around 0mA for no light and 60mA for full light.


The capacitor proved to be not large enough to smooth fast changes in light so I will implement a larger one when I get my hands on one. Here is it on a breadboard:


Finally the "finished" product. I will make a permanent board for it once I get it functioning as I like.


Check it out in operation:
Video 1
Video 2

As you can see it is very sensitive to fast changes in light so I need a larger cap to slow things down.

Till next time, Cheers!

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now we are talking

eager to see how you implement network activity to the meter
I quite like how much you are accomplishing with such a small budget. Keep it up!
Did some work on the exhaust fan cover. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Anybody have ideas?

I agree its looking great. A suggestion I have might not really matter unless your looking at it closely but I saw tiny bits missing along the nice flat lines. I suggest cleaning those up if you can.
Sorry no update for a while!

Update 5:

I finished the circuit for light detection and LED dimming. Here is the schematic:

The gauge functions as it did before. I've added a comparator which compares a static value (adjustable for average light/dark condition in the room) to the current measured light value. When the threshold is crossed, the MOSFET will be enabled and the 120ohm resistor in the bottom right of the schematic will be shorted causing the LED's to become brighter. The large capacitors make the transition smoother. The third cap is for a smoothing of the measured light value so the needle of the gauge doesn't react as fast to changes in light.

Building it up on a breadboard (testing functionality):


Building on a PCB:





The video is while it was on a breadboard because its more difficult to show the transition at night (now). Will update with more videos once everything is installed in the case! Enjoy :)

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I would move the sides of the case so that they but up against the front and back of the case. This would hide those edges and give you a cleaner front panel.
I would move the sides of the case so that they but up against the front and back of the case. This would hide those edges and give you a cleaner front panel.

I would tend to agree with that, though it is a matter of personal aesthetics. In the OP he states that this is a prototype and he plans to do a hardwood version in the future.

Crappy cell phone pic of the hardware :) I forgot to get put the SDD on the order so I need to get that before I head back to Germany.

Regarding the front panel, I have several ideas I've been playing with. I'll post up the design of the new one when I settle on it. :) Cheers
I would tend to agree with that, though it is a matter of personal aesthetics. In the OP he states that this is a prototype and he plans to do a hardwood version in the future.

Agreed, I saw that this was his prototype and that he was looking for feedback.
Update 7:
Finally got back from the holidays and organized enough to work a little bit. Today I built an enclosure for the PCB which controls the lighting and the light gauge in the front. I installed the power button. Cut the aluminium for the motherboard to mount to (not pictured). Finally did some test fitments of the motherboard and took some pictures in the process. Enjoy :D

Building the frame for the PCB board:

Recess cut and test fit of PCB:

Frame/PCB/Notches for wires cut:

Aluminium plate to cover the PCB cut and drilled:

Complete box:

Button, gauge and box test fit:

Motherboard with lighting:

Looking from the back at the back of the front panel:



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Hey guys, its been a seriously long time since an update on this project. However, I am on version 2 of the case, it is nearly finished but I am still working on it when I find the time. Since the last update I have completely rebuilt the case as the original idea to have an external power supply was not very practical for moving and placing the case on my desk. I have redesigned it to have place inside for the power supply.

For the moment the case is still made out of pine but I am planning on V3 which will be (finally) made out of hardwood.

Also since the posts before this I have added a Samsung EVO 250Gb SSD. The computer feels so fast now, its incredible. It got a 7.4 on the windows experience score (highest I've ever seen on one of my computers).

I have too many hobbies/other projects/work to keep steadily working on this thing, hence the extremely sparse updates.

Onto the pictures:

1. Here is the first assembly of the V2 case.


2. I ordered a cheapo USB/Audio board from China and made this bezel for it from aluminium. Turned out nice except for the screw on the top right which ran away and deformed the aluminium a bit.


3. Backside of the V2 case.


4. Looking inside, you can see the motherboard standoffs and the HDD mount and PSU mount. SSD is not yet installed in this picture.


5. Had to get creative to cut a 120mm hole in plexiglass. Worked great.


6. Cutting....


7. After cutting


8. Finished hole.


9. Windows mounted in case. I think I will eventually remove this aluminium molding, I don't like how it turned out.


10. Fan installed. This is the only fan I run in the case aside from the PSU fan. I keep it at minimum speed (40%), finally its pretty quiet.


11.Some pictures of the mostly assembled case. The plexiglass on the bottom needs to be redone to go the length of the new case (on the to-do list).







12. Soviet Russia gauge!


13. After doing a bit of wire cleanup inside. There is still a bit of wiring work to do.

I will post more pictures soon. There will be some updates in the near future!

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A few days ago I was in France and found some totally destroyed brass handles at an estate sale. After some hours of cleaning, sanding and polishing, they look pretty nice. I decided that they would work well on the case as there is no easy way to carry it at the moment. They are countersunk into the wood about 11mm, I cut out the pocket with a dremel and an end mill.

I also picked up a mouse sander this weekend so I can finally go over the entire case and make it look good.

Here are the results (not painted or finished yet, but I needed my computer back so I reassembled everything):



More to come soon...
Nice. Love the wood case! The brass handles are mandatory. You said you are painting them? Black or other? Either way awesome update man. Good luck with the build.