October 09, 2014
The "Restomod TV"
April 09, 2013
February 28, 2013
Building an XBMC 12 Home Theatre PC
January 25, 2011
XBMC Guide updated to version 10.0
August 06, 2010
Building a Green PC
February 15, 2010
Building an ION powered HTPC with XBMC
October 10, 2008
The "Cambridge Autonomous Underwater Vehicle 2008"
September 12, 2008
"Florian", the DVD burning robot
September 05, 2008
May 22, 2008
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The "Digg" Case
January 19, 2007
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August 31, 2006
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Nano-ITX in a Football
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The "EPIA Alloy Mod"
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Neatorama's Collection of Case Mods
February 18, 2006
October 24, 2005
The "ITX TV"
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May 25, 2005
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First Nano-ITX Project?
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The "C1541 Disk Drive ITX"
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The "Moo Cow Moo"
July 02, 2004
The "Mini Mesh Box"
June 17, 2004
May 24, 2004
The "ERN005PC" (KANA)
March 13, 2004
The "Underwood No. 5"
Full alphabetical archive on right hand side of page...
By Jason Olmstead - Posted on March 8, 2003
My whole plan was to put a PC inside of some type of super small case and
use it to play ROMs on a TV. Who wants to sit infront of a PC and play old
Nintendo games though? That's what I thought. That's where the idea for the
box came up.
I wasn't sure what to put the box in. Someone has already put a PC inside a
Nintendo, but I didn't want to be a copy cat. I managed to score an XBOX
that was gutted on eBay for about $20, so I decided to use that as my
starting point. I also got my hands on one of VIA's tiny EPIA motherboards,
and a very small ATX/ITX compatible power supply. For the hard drive, I had to
keep it small to keep the whole project inside the case. I didn't want
anything outside of the XBOX shell... the whole idea of this project was to
keep everything self-contained and very modular say I wanted to take it to
someone else's house. The only choice for a hard drive was simple - laptop
hard drive. My friend Chris York had a 3.2GB laptop drive that he sold me
pretty cheap. It had more than enough space than what I was going to use it
for, so it was perfect. I was then able to buy a laptop hard drive converter
on eBay that would allow me to use it on a normal PC motherboard. It works
I was able to get the motherboard to fit in the box after modding it a
little and custom mounting my own mounting posts for it to screw into. I had
to cut all of the mounting studs from the "floor" of the XBOX and use
motherboard standoffs that I had left over from a full-tower ATX case by
drilling small holes and forcefully threading them into the plastic XBOX
chassis. I cut the back of the XBOX out so the ports on the back would be
visible, just like a PC, and use the little port panel that came with the
motherboard to keep it clean. I cut almost everything out with some small
wire cutters, and then smoothed it all out with a Dremel later. I also was
able to keep the plug for the power supply in the same outlet on the back of
the case, although I had to open it up a bit with the Dremel.
I put Windows 98 on it and made a custom interface that any USB
joystick/gamepad can control. All you do is plug it into the wall, plug in a
gamepad or two, and hook it up to the TV via composite video or S-Video
(looks much better) and the audio cables I fabbed up and you're ready to go.
No keyboard or mouse, and with the exception of the two second text-flash on
startup to boot to a LAN (which I can't turn off, sadly) you wouldn't even
really be able to tell it was a PC.
This is how I had the internals set up at first. It looked really clean, but
soon would need to be changed.
I was able to get the power button and the LED on the front of the XBOX to
work with the PC motherboard thanks to some help from my friend/boss, Chris.
The LEDs aren't quite as bright as when an XBOX is powering them, because
there are actually two LEDs in there that light up what looks like one
light, and there's only one light header on the motherboard for power, so I
had to split power between the two LEDs. It's still bright enough though.
This is what the box looked like at this point. I had all of the hardware
inside, had the front buttons and LEDs working like normal, had the hole cut
for the fan, and had the grill mounted. The only thing that had to be
changed was on the inside. The hard drive had to be moved from ontop of the
power supply to the side of it to accomodate the depth of the fan. My
original idea was to use an 80mm fan for the top, but I couldn't find an
80mm fan grill, so I used a 92mm fan/grill instead. The fan hit on the top
of the hard drive, which wouldn't let the top of the case sit flush with the
bottom, so I had to relocate the hard drive. When I did this, I rounded the
IDE cable, and performed some clean-up on the inside.
Rockin the stock look. Except that fan grill that's now on the top. I think
I might pull that off and paint it black. Or grey. I'm using a Microsoft
Sidewinder controller for now. Since it's running Windows 98 it can use
pretty much any PC controller. I eventually want to get a pair of wireless
controllers for it. I think that'd be pretty sweet.
Here's what the ports look like on the back.
Notice the power cord is in the stock location... and the clea, work around
the ports for the motherboard. Also notice that if you look through the
stock fan grill you can see the fan for the tiny power supply. This lets the
PSU exhaust stay functional, but maintains a very stock look. Needless to
say, PSU mounting worked out pretty well.