Posted on May 15, 2005
One of the goals of the project was to make the engine lite up. The toy came with stickers for the engine design, but that wasn't enough. I bought some EL wire and cut some grooves in the back to run the wire through. The one I got was pretty long so I wound up running it throughout the case as well, securing it with a hot glue gun.
So now it was time to start putting the computer together. You can see here the hard drive mounted under the DVD platform. In this picture I used round IDE cables and had stripped off the casing believing it would be easier to route just the thin wires, but it turned out being a pain and I wound up using regular round cables as you'll see at the end. You can also see the cooling fan mounted at the side (right over the power switch) and some LEDs mounted in the front which were going to be for power/hdd etc. I also wound up changing this as you'll see.
The main use for this computer was going to be as a multimedia PC hooked up to the TV. The mini-itx board already has TV out, but I wanted a TV-in as well. I bought a small USB based video converter and stripped off the case. You can see the board for it here. Unfortunately the VIA board doesn't seem to be fast enough to handle the video input and the input is pretty useless.
Next were the I/O connectors. They are mounted in the back and provide S-Video in and out, audio in and out, SPDIF out, and ethernet. I had never really known the wonders of hot glue until I worked on this project, but you can see it was used liberally. The connectors came from Frontx and had to be whittled down and spliced shorter. I think this was another place for improvement and I should have made my own connectors. One nice thing about the Front connectors was that they have direct motherboard connectors so you can save some space that way.
In this picture, you can see the motherboard stacked up on the drives. Near the bottom, you can see the transformer for the EL wire (left of the fan) and the switch to turn it on (just to the right of the fan). You can also see a change in the LEDs at the front. I changed it to have just two LEDS (green power & red HDD), but added an IR interface. The black blob near the green LED is a LIRC compatible IR receiver. The black blob at the bottom is another one, but is hooked up to nothing and is just there to give a symmetrical look.