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
April 14, 2007
The "Digg" Case
January 19, 2007
December 07, 2006
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October 02, 2006
The "DOS Head Unit"
August 31, 2006
The "Janus Project"
August 05, 2006
The "Leela PC"
June 26, 2006
Nano-ITX in a Football
May 17, 2006
The "EPIA Alloy Mod"
April 11, 2006
Neatorama's Collection of Case Mods
February 18, 2006
October 24, 2005
The "ITX TV"
October 06, 2005
August 05, 2005
The "Waffle Iron PC"
July 21, 2005
July 18, 2005
July 07, 2005
May 25, 2005
The "Accordion ITX"
May 16, 2005
May 15, 2005
The "Mini Falcon"
May 13, 2005
The "Bender PC"
May 11, 2005
The "BBC ITX B"
May 10, 2005
April 20, 2005
March 09, 2005
The "Cool Cube"
January 30, 2005
First Nano-ITX Project?
January 17, 2005
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December 15, 2004
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December 03, 2004
October 06, 2004
September 17, 2004
August 26, 2004
The "C1541 Disk Drive ITX"
August 25, 2004
August 13, 2004
The "Quiet Cubid"
August 06, 2004
July 14, 2004
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...
The "Lego 0933 Portable PC"
By James Watson -
Posted on July 6, 2003
I've always wanted a small portable
PC for when I'm visiting my parents in Scotland (to be
PC is well past it's sell by date) and Mini-ITX seemed
like the obvious solution, but what about the case, then
why not just make one myself, out of Lego, so that's exactly
what I did. The machine is base around the EPIA M9000 Mini-ITX
motherboard at 933 MHz, with a slim line DVD-ROM drive
and 30 GB laptop hard disk drive.
I'd like to apologise in advance for the quality of the images,
they were taken with a Nokia 3650, the only digital camera
I had available at the time.
first thing I needed to do was to work out just how to
layout all the components, I needed a plan before I even
considered constructing the machine, so to this end I came
up with the image to the left, the original was a multi-layer
Paint Shop Pro image so I could view each layer individually
and stack them properly, as you'll see the finished layout
is pretty close to this design, which given the that I
drew this layout up from dimensions from the Mini-ITX store,
is pretty incredible.
My first prototype wasn't really a case
(as you can see from the photograph), but it did give me
a clear idea of how the components would fit together,
the main reason for this was that I was awaiting my bulk
order of bricks and was working with bricks I already owned
to make this layout prototype. I did learn a few things
at this stage (and one almost fatal mistake) I learnt that
I needed 26x24 bricks for the case, that a slim line DVD-ROM
drive is exactly 16 blocks wide.
The almost fatal mistake came because I couldn't fit the
hard drive as pictured above, so I mounted it sideways,
sitting over the Northbridge heatsink, now with hindsight
I should have realised that this would be a problem,
but when I'd put the components together and installed
windows on it the hard drive hadn't got warm so I assumed
it wouldn't run hot, and would be safe enough. As you
can also see in this picture the IDE cables are a bit
unwieldy, and have a tendency to want to be connected
the wrong way up on the drive, meaning lots of twists
and kinks in the cables. I was now sure that I could
build this PC the way I wanted it, I was just waiting
on the Lego bricks before I could start.
Well my Lego had arrived, I was almost
ready to go, but being prudent I decided that I should
build another prototype of the full case before going ahead
and super-gluing the whole thing together, this was to
prove to be a blessing without this I would have run into
serious heat problems and ended up with an unusable machine.
I don't have any pictures of this phase of the construction,
but I do have some pictures of the machine up and running.
hole in the top this was supposed to be a vent for the
processor fan, however this machine overheated not because
of the processor, but the Northbridge heatsink, which as
noted earlier I'd blocked with the HDD and IDE cable, this
mean I needed a redesign, for which I went back to my original
plan and mounted the HDD to the left of the case.
I started by taking my final prototype, turning
it upside down and working from the bottom up, stripped the
original case down and started building the new machine from
the ground up, gluing as I went.
This was the easy part, a glued a bunch of
plates together to form a base, and then built a 2 deep wall
all the way around with space for the DVD drive, the DC to
DC converter fits into bricks with a slot down the side,
this has the dual effect of both moving the board half a
block to the right, and holding it in place inside the machine.
(Notice the big fan, I was thinking about using this for
cooling, but decided against it since it was too hard to
I'm rather pleased with this little construction,
this is to hold the bottom right corner of the motherboard
in place the corner of the board slides nicely into the slots
in the two bricks, solving the problem of keeping the board
in place very nicely.
And you can see it in place here, notice the four circular
bricks just outside the case, those are the feet for the