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Extreme Case Modding (and other home tech geek queries)

Discussion in 'Tilted Gear' started by Lucifer, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. Lucifer Slightly Tilted Donor

    Location:
    The Darkside
    I've got an old radio (1930's era), which with Seamaiden's permission, I've taken the guts out of with the intent of turning into a home server to store all our photos, music, movies, etc. It has a cool dial which we would like to save, but it does take up a fair bit of room inside the box.

    What I would like to do is purchase 2 cheap computer cases, cut them apart with the Dremel, drill new rivet holes, and pop rivet them back together to fit the inside of the radio. Ideally I would end up with 6 hard drives horizontally at the top of the case, the power supply at the bottom on one side and the mobo on the other, leaving space for the dial in the middle bottom.

    I've got my eye on a mini-ITX mobo which seems ideal for the home server, but will the holes fit the standoff holes in a micro-ATX case (of which I can get 2 for $20 each)?
     
  2. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    Dimensions of the radio's internal space would help, pictures of it's innards with those measurements would be even better. But for starters I would say that rather than try to frankenstein two seperate cases like that I would suggest looking for a case with the motherboard tray that you want and then working from there. Adding the mounting stuff you want directly into the radio might produce better results.

    As far as the screw holes if you look at this image you can see that it won't be a problem. the ITXes are pretty small form factors but they're still using standardized parts wherever possible. There's a screw hole (silver) on the bottom left of the mini-ITX board in that pic, it's the same as a regular ATX mounting hole.
     
  3. Zen

    Zen Very Tilted Donor

    Location:
    London
    Yes ... please do pics and measurements.
    I'll sure be interested to follow the progress of this project :)
     
  4. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    Any updates on this one? I'm interested in seeing this get pulled off.
     
  5. Lucifer Slightly Tilted Donor

    Location:
    The Darkside
    Sorry, no updates as of yet. We are in the middle of a potentially long transit strike, and as long as I'm on strike pay, all extras are off.
     
  6. Zen

    Zen Very Tilted Donor

    Location:
    London
    OK. And I hope the result of the industrial action will go well for you.
     
  7. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    Woah, they actually do that? I live in a right-to-work state, just talking about unionization is dismissable here. A strike usually translates as a mass-layoff.
     
  8. Lucifer Slightly Tilted Donor

    Location:
    The Darkside
    Well, I live in Canada, so different rules
     
  9. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    Living in a first world country WOULD make a bit of a difference there.
     
  10. Lucifer Slightly Tilted Donor

    Location:
    The Darkside
    At long last the transit strike is over, 6 weeks, which was quite long enough for me, and now that I'm job secure for another 5 years, the case modding can continue!

    I'll post some measurements soon, but I got some pictures today:

    The empty inside of the radio:
    [​IMG]

    The old chassis with most tubes and wiring removed:
    [​IMG]

    The cleaned up chassis with the radio dial replaced:
    [​IMG]

    Case of choice for installation, a Rosewill Redbone U3, with the side panels removed:
    [​IMG]

    The drive cage sectioned from the case:
    [​IMG]

    The motherboard tray, also removed from the case:
    [​IMG]

    The idea is to attach the motherboard tray to the left side of the case and the drive cage to the right side. I want to put the powersupply under the chassis, but that remains to be seen if it will fit. I'm going to mount a 140mm case fan where the speaker would go, and build a custom backplate from acrylic to help keep out dust. I mainly went with the Redbone U3 case cause it could handle 6 hard drives, and was on sale cause I knew I would be sectioning it.

    The specs for parts is as follows:

    Qty.​
    Image​
    Product Description​
    Unit Price​
    Savings​
    Total Price​
    1​
    [​IMG]
    Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EARS 1TB 5400 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    Model #:WD10EARS
    Item #:N82E16822136490
    Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
    In Stock $109.99 $109.99
    1​
    [​IMG]
    ASUS M4A88T-M AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
    Model #:M4A88T-M
    Item #:N82E16813131657
    Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
    In Stock $99.99 -$10.00 Instant $89.99
    1​
    [​IMG]
    Thermaltake TR2 TRX-650M 650W ATX 12V v2.3 / EPS 12V v2.91 Modular Active PFC Power Supply
    Model #:TRX-650M
    Item #:N82E16817153116
    Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
    In Stock $94.99 -$4.00 Instant $90.99
    1​
    [​IMG]
    AMD Athlon II X3 450 Rana 3.2GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX450WFGMBOX
    Model #:ADX450WFGMBOX
    Item #:N82E16819103886
    Return Policy:CPU Replacement Only Return Policy
    In Stock $77.99 $77.99
    1​
    [​IMG]
    Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model CT2KIT25664BD1339
    Model #:CT2KIT25664BD1339
    Item #:N82E16820148474
    Return Policy:Memory Standard Return Policy
    In Stock $23.99 $23.99
    Subtotal:
    $392.95

    More photos soon as the case mod continues!
     
  11. Bear Cub

    Bear Cub Goes down smooth. Donor

    All that, and not one pic of the OUTSIDE of the radio?! Come on man, you've got us jonesin'.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  12. martian

    martian Server Monkey Staff Member

    Location:
    Mars
    The only word of caution I'd give you is to be very aware of air flow. Wood is insular, which means that you need to make sure you're actively moving heat out of the case. Take a moment to consider how air is moving, and keep an eye on running temperatures.

    I'm assuming the "speaker" fan will be pulling air in and that you'll be exhausting out the back or bottom somewhere. That should work, but you might want to consider sticking a second fan somewhere down there. I don't generally like the idea of relying on a PSU fan as the only exhaust.

    If it were my project I'd also go with 8 GB RAM. For the cost of RAM right now it doesn't make sense to me to go with any less.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  13. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    PLEASE tell me you haven't bought all of that yet, because you should NEVER use an off-brand power supply. For the price off that thermaltake you could get a real power supply from Corsair, Seasonic, or PC Power & Cooling.

    That being said I think your general idea is sound, although I would hack the dial onto a griffin powermate or similar inside and sneak some stealthy functionality into it. Heat will be a major concern but that front grill looks to be about 120mm so you have a good front intake at least, the real issue will be rear exhaust. Virtually nothing is airtight, intake is good but not nearly as important as having sufficient hot air exhaust preferrably from the top rear of the case.

    Also if you plan to attach a monitor or use any expansion cards you're going to need the part of the case with the narrow horizontal strips near the two rubber holes (for water cooling tubes). You don't want the weight of an expansion card being supported solely by the socket on the mobo, having that metal L bracket on the plug end of the sound/video/whatever card supporting the weight and stabilizing the whole thing is a big deal. Especially for modern video cards that are big enough to club a seal with.
     
  14. Lucifer Slightly Tilted Donor

    Location:
    The Darkside
    I haven't bought any of it yet, just the case. I went with the Thermaltake PSU cause it was modular and I wanted to cut down on cables blocking the airflow. Also keep in mind this is a home server just for music, movies and pictures. It won't be running a monitor, video cards or sound cards, or extra usb cards. I'm putting a 140mm case fan in the front and 2 120mm case fans on the back, 1 directly behind the drive stack and the other near the top on the left side for the mobo.

    I don't have photo of the outside of the case, but here is an illustration I did of it in Photoshop/Illustrator CS4:

    [​IMG]

    This is an option for PSU:
    Newegg.ca - CORSAIR Gaming Series GS700 700W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC High Performance Power Supply

     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
  15. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    Corsair makes modular power supplies as well, I've got one of them in my computer right now and it's a nice sturdy little fellow. I recommend this one for your purposes though, it should be more than sufficient. The reason staying on-brand is important though isn't about power, it's about reliability. Specifically you can rely on a Corsair, Seasonic, or PC P&C power supply not to explode. Off-brand power supplies are notorious for this kind of thing, or sending out a DC spike that kills all your hardware (and possibly you as well), or simply being a completely godawful piece of crap with a really impressive spec sheet stuck to the side that flat out lies about its capabilities.

    As for cooling with 140mm intake and 3x120mm exhaust you should be alright. That front grille might get dusty though, hope it's an easy to clean material. Also if those push-buttons are still there you could probably find some generic USB push-switches to make those actually functional too.

    I have one question though: Do you intend to only ever use this as a headless file repository? Depending on where it is in your room it might make a good XBMC box.
     
  16. Lucifer Slightly Tilted Donor

    Location:
    The Darkside
    Thanks for the PSU tip, that Corsair does look better than the Thermaltake. I'd thought about using it as a XMBC, but we already use Tversity and stream to our TV through our PS3. This one will be just a headlesss server. Eventually, it will hold all our music as well as whatever movies we've downloaded.
     
  17. Lucifer Slightly Tilted Donor

    Location:
    The Darkside
    Parts were ordered and arrived; I went with 8GB of RAM as recommended as well as a Hitachi Deskstar 2TB 7200RPM HD. I also ordered an OEM of Windows Home Server 2011, which I have wanted to try. It was only $48 so I won't be too bummed if it sucks.

    Today was the first day of the build and I spent most of it modifying the radio chassis to accept the PSU:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The motherboard tray was too long for the case, so I knew I'd be cutting off the bottom to make it fit.
    [​IMG]
    I cut across right under the bottom row of standoff holes, which are not needed for my mobo. Bit of a panic when I tried my reduced fit tray, only to discover that it was too wide, so back to the Dremel and I trimmed about an inch of the back, almost up to the standoff holes. Now it fits:
    [​IMG]
    Strangely enough, that red label states that the radio is illegal to operate without a Private Radio Receiving License. I guess in the '30's they regulated who could listen as well!

    I screwed the tray to the case with rubber washers between the tray and the case. I've read in other forums about people who screwed the standoffs right to the case, but I think I will stick with the tray.

    I had to cut about 3 inches off the bottom of the HD cage (which is actually the top, as I have the cage upside down. This photo shows how I will have it in the finished case. The cage will straddle the original dial, with the HD's at the top.

    [​IMG]
     
    • Like Like x 4
  18. b2653009 Slightly Tilted

    That is pretty damn awesome. I can't wait to see the final product! :D
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. martian

    martian Server Monkey Staff Member

    Location:
    Mars
    You need to be running CentOS on that bad boy.
     
  20. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    Or Mint.

    I can see where you're going with the layout internally, looks like it'll help with airflow although wiring the motherboard could get tricky depending on which way it's facing. As far as the standoffs go your method should offer some noise reduction benefits with the rubber washers, which could be nice in a wood box like that. It looks like a pretty solid build coming together well, it'll be really nifty if you can manage to give some of the original hardware some functionality too.

    One thing to watch for though is making sure all of your metal is grounded. Ordinarily the PSU would take care of that since the whole case would be in electrical contact with it but in this design, with everything split up and mounted in different places, it'll be worth doublechecking.