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Trying my first real case mod, any advice = awesome.

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June 3, 2008 5:01:10 AM

I've been thinking about building a shuttle for a while now, for the occasional lan party and whatnot. But since I've been making computers for a while now, I wanted to do something more interesting than just throwing all the parts in a computer case and calling it a day. I decided that I would try to put my next build inside of a briefcase.

I will be using a micro-atx motherboard (exact model to be decided later), an e2180 cpu, 2 gigs for ddr2 800 ram, an average 7200rpm hdd, and an 8800gt. The fun part is that I want to build a 17" lcd into this machine. My plan as of right now is to make an acrylic window on one side so that I can push the monitor flat against it and use this thing without having to open it up at all. If this doesn't work out I will try the more traditional laptop-style setup and just crack it open when I want to use it.

So this is where my project starts: http://www.casesbysource.com/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&S...

Question 1: Do you guys think it would be better to skip on an internal optical drive? I think I could fit in in there, but would it be better to just occasionally use a usb drive to avoid the additional heat problems associated with the internal drive?

Question 2: I want to put a thin (probably 1/4") layer of material on the side that will hold all the components so that I can drill holes into it rather than the case. What material should I be looking for? Would more acrylic be suitable, or would drilling it just lead to cracking? Should I try to find an old case and gut the part that holds the motherboard in place?

Question 3: I plan on using this riser card, http://www.i-tech.com.au/products/7881_SilverStone_RC02... , to make my videocard fit in this whole operation. I just wanted to double check that this will work and I'm not misreading something.

I think those are my biggest questions right now, if you guys have any questions for me I'll be happy to answer. If you see something that will completely derail this project, please let me know.
June 3, 2008 5:23:32 AM

I would like to start off by saying i'm not a modder but was interested in doing a mod of my own. so hopefully these will help you or someone else will correct me if i'm wrong

question 1
i've seen alot of people use laptop style drives in mods like these. i'd look into those. I can't imagine they would create a large amount of heat.

question 2
MDF board http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medium-density_fibreboard. great for building all sorts of stuff.
I dont know how well acrylic will hold up. from drilling.

Question 3
sorry can't help you there. look about right though.

It kidna looks as if the riser card will actually angle the card away from the cpu. this will add to the total length of the setup so make sure you account for that in your measurements.
June 3, 2008 5:50:45 AM

Ah, thanks for the MDF suggestion, that looks like a pretty good candidate for this thing. I'll start calling around to see if any places nearby have it.

Also, I feel pretty retarded for not thinking of laptop drives in the first place, so I owe you another thanks for pointing that option out :) 

About the riser card, this is actually what I want. The way I'm planning on laying things out leaves enough space at the bottom of the motherboard to fit this, and that angle keeps me from worrying about the videocard and cpu heatsink interfering with eachother.
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June 3, 2008 7:09:28 AM

Quote:

Question 2: I want to put a thin (probably 1/4") layer of material on the side that will hold all the components so that I can drill holes into it rather than the case. What material should I be looking for? Would more acrylic be suitable, or would drilling it just lead to cracking? Should I try to find an old case and gut the part that holds the motherboard in place?



Sorry, this is the only one I can really help you with.
I think Lexan would work great for what you are trying. It is a very durable and flexible type of acrylic that you can drill with no problems. 1/4" should give you a decent amount of stiffness over a small area but 1/2" or thicker might be a better choice to insure that there is no warpage of your components.

I would agree that a low profile optical drive should work for you. I do not anticipate any heat buildup due to this component.

Best luck!
Sounds like a very fun project to me!
June 3, 2008 7:43:48 AM

Hah, no need to apologize, help with any single issue is cool with me. This sounds like another strong suggestion.

The case is being shipped right now, so I still don't know the exact details of the inside and everything, but I believe it's a completely flat surface that I'll be working on. If this is the case, would I really have to worry about it warping? It seems like if I used a strong adhesive to keep it firmly stuck to the case, then it wouldn't be able to warp.

The main reason I'm wanting to keep the thickness of this sheet down is that I'll have very little space between the most obtrusive parts of my motherboard/video card and the back of my monitor. If I used a 1/2" sheet to mount my components, and another 1/2" sheet to shield the front of my monitor, that's an entire inch of my limited depth gone.

I have right around 6" of usable space inside the case. From the base of the motherboard standoffs to the top of a stock heatsink is ~3". I'll be using a minimum of 1/2" total for the sheets of to-be-determined material.

So what I'm getting to is that I need a 17" lcd monitor that will not be more than 2 1/2" deep at any of its vital points; the less space it uses the better. Unfortunately, it seems that all sites list the dimensions of the monitor with the stand determining its depth. I'll be getting rid of this of course, so if anyone's got suggestions on brands/models of Desktop LCD's that are known to be especially shallow, speak up!
June 3, 2008 8:00:28 AM

Ahhh....
I missed the part where it would be in a suitcase...
Well, that changes the game a little.

I think 1/8" Lexan should be more than enough to protect a LCD, this stuff is pretty durable.
Assuming the briefcase is sturdy enough and insulated, you can probably mount to it directly.

I am assuming you are going to have the guts in one side of it and fold up a screen?
If so, you may want to cover the guts with another 1/8" sheet of Lexan.
This will give your components some much needed protection and provide a surface to mount an intake and outtake fan.
June 3, 2008 8:10:18 AM

You had also mentioned you wanted to operate the unit in the closed position. If your going to do that then I would make sure the LCD and the motherboard are back to back so you can make some holes on the other side of the case over the CPU cooler and the video card cooler. Also make sure you get a cpu cooler that blows down onto the motherboard.
!