Posted on May 22nd, 2008
Normally I don't see the point in buying limited/special editions of computer games as they come with items that you will find yourself throwing away after a while. But not pre-ordering my GTA IV early enough meant I had to order the special edition. I'm glad that I did. It came delivered in a normal cardboard sleeve but inside all the extras were packaged inside a safety deposit type box.
During a quiet period at work, with no stealing cars or gunning down innocent folks because they gave me a dodgy look, I had been playing with different operating systems on a Mini-ITX system. As one does, I took it apart and admired the size of it, or lack of. During a conversation about the versatility of the Mini-ITX breed and how they could perform as a HTPC yet look ugly in the off the shelf cases, the following dawned on me.
Enter The Box
This time around I would not be throwing the specials away or searching for the best selling price on e-bay. The box measures 18cms wide and the motherboard measures 1cm less. It was a match made in gangster heaven..
I'm not a very creative person and would rather fix a problem with some VB Code then a drill but this just seemed like a great idea. The box was just wide enough and it was long which meant that I should easily be able to fit the rest of the 'bits' inside.
The donor PC. As you can see - apart from the fans - there are no moving parts with this PC so noise isn't a concern. The OS (so far I have chosen Slax) runs straight from the 1GB CF card connected to the IDE controller with a Compact Flash Adapter. Having no internal hard drive meant that I could be generous with the spacing of components.
As I am useless with a drill and precision measuring I enlisted the help of a man with great skill and buckets of tools. To whom I do thank. Who cut out the back of the box to mount the motherboard plate (amongst other bits). This meant that the motherboard could be upgraded as and when required.
With the motherboard in place and fitting so comfortably I wondered if this box had been engineered for this purpose.
The motherboard was secured with risers that were screwed in from underneath.
To arrange the rest of the components into the box it was a case of suck it and see, and drilling a couple more holes to mount the power circuit board. The front headers I was a bit wary to include but as a friend pointed out to me they were part of the original system so I had to include them.
I went back to the man with the 'skills n drills' and we found a good place to mount it (as of cable length) and also decided to cut out an exhaust hole for the fan. The fans are next to silent and as the case doesn't really have any ventilation I thought it best to mount one on the CPU heat sink and the other as an exhaust fan.
Switches & Power
A power switch would be a good idea (also was almost forgotten about) and as the PC uses an external power supply connector we mounted them both on the back above the motherboard plate.
One of the more awkward things in this project was fitting the front ports for USB and such like. This turned out to be a side mount as I didn't really want to destroy the front of the case (and the cables didn't reach without an unwanted stretch).