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Concerns with Wooden cases/enclosures

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April 10, 2008 8:08:57 PM

Hello. I have a project that I am in the planning and research stage of. I am looking to build a wood or maybe an MDF case to house two systems. Motherboard, multiple hdd, dvd burner, powersupplies, and a KVM. Ventilation will be from a few 120mm fans.

I searched the boards for wood and again for mdf, but only found:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/243548-31-decorative-wood-case-mini

I had not planned to use a backplane, as I don't have a donor case.

Using screw-in standoffs, are there any concerns I should be aware of?

- Heat buildup / thermal mass
- Grounding
- Something else entirely

My plan calls for segregating the drives, mb, and PS, to let each group create their own problems, and to give me more flexibility in the final layout.

I used to build and test systems on plywood with a plasticised/rubber antistatic mat, and never had problems, but this was strictly for testing, and was an open setup. Never ran for more than an hour, and this was on a ship back in 1994-9.

Any tips / pointers for running an enclosed wooden rig?

Thanks,

Við sjámst.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 10, 2008 9:05:12 PM

You will have to take in to account heat build up and grounding. To ground the case draw a wire from the motherboards standoffs and attach it to the case of the PSU that should ground the entire system. Since wood will not conduct heat you will need to provide more airflow (2*80mm high flow fans should work excellent).
April 10, 2008 9:44:39 PM

I experimented with wood once a couple years ago, after someone, I forget who now, built a case a from wood that looked fabulous. I first just used a normal case from which I removed the sides, top, and front panels, leaving just the metal cage, and replaced them with wood. I kept the same fans as first supplied with the case, except for adding a 120mm fan to the top. It looked good and was quieter than when using the metal panels. Unfortunately the wood got wet in a storm and warped.

I next tried a similar idea by placing a metal cage in my boat and building it in using teak wood. No warpage there, but excess moisture along the hull caused problems, so I pulled it out.

Wood can make a beautiful case, but its a lot of work to do it right. As Shadow said, heat can be a problem, so extra fans are necessay. I found that four fans, two intakes, one out the back and one out the top, were sufficient at the time. Use some good wood, oak, teak, or walnut, oil it and then polish it nicely and you will have a case that stands out in a crowd. Last thing, finding a donor case shouldn't be too much hastle. Local computer shops often have old tower cases that will sell cheap. In my case, there's a computer recycler nearby that charges only $5 for one, or they'll give it to you free if you're dropping off some old parts at the same time.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 10, 2008 9:51:03 PM

^ Agreed on the case. And also to get power/reset switches too. it's cheaper than buying those switches separately.
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