Beginning sometime in summer 2012 I decided I was going to build a compact computer to be a server for a variety of applications. I currently use it as a remote uTorrent client, file storage, secure FTP server as well as the occasional Minecraft or UT2004 server. I built the case out of plywood as opposed to using a normal computer case because I wanted it to be as small and unobtrusive as possible, plus it gave me something to do.
First up are the specs, I had a huge amount of trouble trying to get all the parts to work together and after a lot of buying and swapping components I eventually deduced that whilst it was powered by the originally intended PSU the TV card refused to show up in the device manager at all. After returning that and testing the whole thing on my desk (where the site banner picture came from) I could set about building the case.
- 2.8 GHz Intel Pentium 4
- 2 x 512MB DDR2 RAM
- ASRock G31M-VS2 (Micro-ATX)
- ATI Radeon 5400 Series GPU
- 2TB SATA Drive
- Hauppauge TV Card
- Multi Card Reader
- Laptop DVD Drive
- HTPC Power Supply (350W)
The first step was salvaging the motherboard back plate from an old pc case, because of the convenient standard mounting holes and it provides a ground source. Here you can see it bolted on to the base and with the side mounts, motherboard mounts and feet in place.
After that I cut out the front section and made two holes for air intakes. The dust covers were bought from eBay.
Here’s a shot of the motherboard attached to the backplate, it gives you an idea of how much space I was working with.
Newly attached side sections.
Motherboard sat in the case with the GPU and TV card installed.
The power supply, hard disk, card reader and DVD drive sit on some shaped aluminium strip. Also in these pictures you can see the profile for the DVD drive and card reader has been cut out the front.
Ideally the PSU case, hard drive and motherboard back plate are all a common grounding point, so these are wired together.
The power switch and LED extended with some tape and zip ties.
Card reader and DVD drive sat on their strip.
All the components snugly inside at last.
Birds eye view.
A close up look at the clearance between the motherboard and other components. Hopefully by placing the PSU above the processor heat-sink some of the heat is extracted quicker.
A shot of the extension cards whilst I was trying to figure out how to cut the back profile.
A shot of the front with the card reader and DVD drive in place.
A shot of the back after a supporting brace was added in order to affix the PSU. The HDD is screwed directly to the aluminium strip it’s sat on along with the card reader. The DVD drive proved difficult to mount as they’re designed to slot in a laptop and give you no attachment points. Eventually I just glue gunned it to the strip.
The rear profile cut & drilled.
The top extract fan before I realized there was so little space that it was going to have to be mounted on the outside.
The top and rear attached together just before it was screwed into the hinges (on the freezer workbench).
The case rear affixed.
This is what the remote access looks like, 256-AES provided free by logmein.com. The shut-down timer is started on boot so I can’t accidentally leave it on for days.
And it’s final resting spot in the upstairs office. All that it needs to function is a kettle lead for the PSU and two ethernet cables (one for the Arduino board). This took several months of slowly working on it every now and then but it was fun to do and now has a useful function. I’m going to talk about the gubbins on top in a separate post as it’s more Arduino related. Thanks for reading!
Update 23/01/2014: LogMeIn have unfortunately decided to bump their remote access service from free to $49 a year. Whilst their product is by far the most convenient there is no way I can justify paying that much for personal hobby usage. I’ve now changed the configuration to Teamviewer.