Ongoing Scratch build wooden case HTPC (1 Viewer)

JimCatMP

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    Decided a while ago to try and build myself a case to go with other furniture (reclaimed oak, in big lumps) and have now got a alpha set up (as in it's on the thin edge of acceptable).

    The compute side was easy:

    MSI H61I-E35 Motherboard (min-itx unit)

    Intel Pentium G860 3.0GHz Dual Core - has the right power profile.

    Akasa AK-CC7118HP01 K25 - need a good cooler, this seems to work well.

    Random 4G RAM I had to hand.
    PSU - MINI-ITX 1U Case Smallest 12V 200W
    External 12V 10A Power brick.
    60G SSD
    OS - Win7 Pro, 64 bit
    MePo 1.3 Alpha, external TV server.
    Codecs - LAV default
    HDMI out.
    Plugins - BBC Weather, TV Series & Moving Pictures.

    Add panel LED & big push to make switch from Maplin + some odd and sods, and building the core was 1hr job, including Win7 & MePo install (with RDP support and external content).

    Case - made of 1cm oak - it's cladding, with top & bottom made of 3 strips - the back side of the cladding is flush, so it works quite well. Joins are simple butt joints, nothing clever. Internal steel tray for MB, folded front & back, with some big allen bolts into threaded spacers I had on hand to attach the top.

    Cooling - just a lot of holes in bottom of case + 40mm fan to pull air through - overly noisy anyway, fitting is appallingly bad and I need to re-work it, but on soak test, CPU & case temperatures we're comfortable & static - with MePo playing Lord of the Rings & large update of MP TVSeries at same time.

    Lessons learned - measure 5 times, cut 3 :) Woodworking skills leave a lot to be desired, metalwork skills make my woodwork look good. Lessons remembered - use graph paper, glue to any panel that needs cutting, draw design, cut/drill accordingly - used it to great effect before, totally forgot about here:-<

    Couple of pictures (not even slightly stylish).

    Case1.jpg
    MB1.jpg
     
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    kiwijunglist

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    We love stories like this. If you can add more photos and a build log then this can be posted on our facebook/google+ page and we will add to the showroom section of our wiki.
     

    JimCatMP

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    I'll have a go, most of build log will be 'do not do it this way' though:)

    TTFN - JCMP
     

    JimCatMP

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    Only because Kiwijunglist asked:)

    Build Log.

    1) Sizes.

    Was originally going to use a existing MB & AMD CPU, but overall power requirement meant I'd have to use a real PSU, so decided on Mini-ITX route, this set the outline size.

    Depth was determined by MB + the depth needed for the 12V PSU converter, which is mounted directly on MB + air space, and finally by material - 3 sections of oak cladding used give me 24cm.

    Width - MB + it looked right and allowed space for fan (not enough as I found later).

    Height - again, material - tongue and groove removed, it's 8cm. At 1cm thick, size becomes 10cm.

    2) Material
    Wood - oak tongue & groove, which give a nice flat face on the 'wrong' side. Choice - was working in oak on fireplace & TV unit, so made sense. Source, local DIY shed, standard pack cheap enough to bin if it all went pear shaped.
    Steel sheet - very very thin stuff, easy to work, murder on fingers if not careful (kitchen knifes are not that sharp).
    Big switch, LED & 40mm fan from Maplin, some old jumpers to make new leads for switch & LED, and that's about it.

    3) Computer core
    CPU/GPU, choice on cost & heat output - the Intel unit fits the bill, MB, to match.
    RAM & SSD - on hand, nothing special about either.
    CPU cooler - low profile, low noise, good performance, the Akasa K25 seems to fit the bill.

    Fitted risers to MB so could build on table top. Fitted CPU/cooler/RAM, connected up PSU, SSD & on/off switch and it lives! Install OS off USB, install multiuser termserv hack, add MePo & plugins over net, install existing TVSeries & Moving pictures DB's & thumbs, and in 90 mins, fully working MePo with 1000 or so movies + 150+ TV series.

    4) Build.
    Saw, glue, drill, curse, bleed, curse more, repeat until done or run out of wood (I did - side panels are some ply I have handy after could not decide on how best to fit sides).

    TIP - glue graph paper to panels - metal and/or wood - totally forgot about doing this, would have saves me hours, resulted in less waste & a much better job all round.

    Sand, varnish, sand, varnish (sanding is your saviour - get the most from the wood it's your only decoration), repeat until happy or varnish gone.

    5) Photos.

    Base.jpg

    The base - as you can see, nothing more exotic than a series of holes to allow air IN.

    Switch.jpg


    Switch. The hole above is the recessed LED. When lit, the wood looks like it's glowing red! I'm going to try and fill the front of the hole with varnish & sawdust to a 0.2mm depth - to make the hole 'invisible' but still give me the red glow - may need to up the LED power to do that:)

    back.jpg


    Back - easily the worst part - the fan mount is horrendous.

    System.jpg

    System in place. Bluetooth min-keyboard, Logitek remote, separate NAS for content (4TB), sitting in my oak TV unit:)

    6) Operation

    Only yesterday I actually powered this on in anger for 1st time. 40mm fan, very noisy, has to go, but overall thermal control - better than expected - static after 5 mins, CPU 32, Case 40 in warm room with MePo running.

    So, decided to replace fan, but what with? Have an 80mm units to hand, with speed control, but it's too big....

    As this is proto-type only, decided to get creative (in the best Heath Robinson fashion).

    I have space to fit the fan just behind the power switch, but still want to vent air out of case at rear.

    So, one empty plastic bottle + a card board tube - I have fan ducting at to back of unit....

    FanDuct.jpg

    Yes, it really is that M Mouse (duct tape is your friend) - but it works!!! Not as effective as 40mm fan, but only testing it with fan at lowest speed, so more for noise than efficiency - CPU 45, system 50, very stable and MePo playing Black Book's as my standard 'test' video.


    So - provided you keep an open mind, don't worry too much if it looks fairly crap (because you can always do better next time), scratch building your own case is perfectly possible.

    When the weather improves (freezing bits off working in unheated garage over past few weekend has not made this easier) I'll be at it again, with better plan, better preparation and more practised:)

    Search the net, you'll find some truly stunning wooden PC cases - it's why I decide to have a go.

    TTFN - JCMP
     
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    kiwijunglist

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    Doesn't have to be too detailed just a description of what you did, how you did and some photos of the process / showing off the build process / final result :D
     

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