The "ToAsTOr"
By Joe Klingler
Posted on December 2, 2002
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A close up of the top half before final assembly.

The bottom half with the video card in place.


The motherboard mounting tray, the screws going down are screwed into mobo standoffs. I then dremeled off the screw part of the standoffs on the other side. The four marked holes are where the bolts that go through the mobo tray, crumb tray, and the bottom of the toaster.

Here is where I tested the machine by playing Quake before it was assembled for the first time. I loaded the machine with only the mobo in the bottom half and without the pci video card.

Building the "ToAsTOr"

The first thing I did was disassemble the toaster. This took at least an hour. I then lightly sanded the inside. Then, I masked off the outer chrome and gave it two light coats of Rust-Oleum Rusty Metal Primer. I once painted some exhaust manifolds with that primer and it was perfect after years of use. I took a mobo tray out of a full-size computer and cut out the part that lined up with the holes on the epia mobo. Then I had to mount standoffs on the bottom of the tray to raise it. I did this by drilling holes in the metal and putting case screws through the holes and screwing them into mobo standoffs. Then, I dremeled off the screws that are built onto the standoffs. I needed to shore up one side by a fraction of an inch to perfect the line up with the I/O shield. I just stuck some foam under that side of the mobo tray. There are four bolts that go through the mobo tray, Crumb tray, and the bottom of the toaster. Then, I figured where I wanted the LCD, the cold cathode, Hard Drive and DVD/CDRW. Unfortunately, there was not room. I had to think outside the toaster! ;-) I was able to raise the hard drive so that it went behind the LCD screen. I accomplished this by using a HD bracket that raised it an inch off the surface and raising it further with many rubber washers between the bracket and the inner wall. This left the HD bracket 1/4 of an inch from contacting the dvd/cdrw on the opposite wall!

I had to figure out where to put a power button, power LED, and HD activity LED. I decided on the side of the crumb tray opposite the power supply. I cut out the plastic around the reset button on an old computer. I then ripped out the LEDs and replaced them with blue ones I cut off the circuit board of a blue LED fan. Then I just cut a hole big enough to put a finger on the power button and two holes to see the LEDs. After cutting holes for a small power supply I had, I had a terrible realization. The fan from the tiny power supply was twice as loud as the hard drive and CPU fan put together.

I could not find tiny screws for the DVD/CDRW, I wanted a quieter power supply and was having trouble fashioning a proper bracket for the dvd/cdrw. I killed 3 birds with one stone by buying a mini-itx case and using some of the parts. I cut out part of the motherboard tray that is attached to the cd bracket and used that to mount my DVD/CDRW. I made it very strong by using 2 steel mailbox-mounting straps as brackets. I drilled out the holes for normal case screws and used the same stainless steel bolts, rubber gaskets and nylon locking nuts I used everywhere else. I cut out the air vent from an old blue case to cover the holes from the original power supply. I mounted the dual quiet fans from the mini-itx case right above the blue grills to suck air in the grilles and blow it toward the side of the toast hole that is unobstructed. If I play Quake 3 for 30 mins the top of the case does not quite get warm as toast. ;-) The rest of the time the case is only slightly higher than room temp. It is very quiet.

The two biggest challenges were making the mobo-mounting tray perfectly line up with the I/O panel and making the cutouts for the video card! The video card slightly protrudes out the front and back of the case. On the back I put a screw through the bottom of the card and through the case below the motherboard. On the back of the video card there are wire tires holding it down to insure in transit it does not become slightly dislodged. There is a small slot to accommodate the edge of the video card on the front left of the case. I trimmed the metal with clear vinyl auto door trim. This was to make certain no part of the video card ever touches metal. I used black vinyl "Blackout" auto tape on the exposed parts of the metal brackets so that when you look down in the toast hole the visible brackets are black.

95% of the way through this project my dremel gave up the ghost. I needed to trim the black Bakelite trim on the front because of the small slot for the back corner of the video card. Without a dremel I tried trimming it with a hacksaw. I broke it in half. I used outdoor goop to fix the break. I went ahead and lined the entire back of the Bakelite trim with the goop to strengthen it and hopefully help prevent any future break of the trim. The Bakelite trim is covered by an aluminum piece. I then borrowed a dremel from a coworker and made short work of the trim job.

The computer is a dual boot with Windows XP Pro SP1 and Slackware 8.1. I used 512 MBs of Corsair RAM and an ATI Radeon 7500 video card. It is very playable on Quake 3. It is not fast enough to play Serious Sam 2 with an acceptable frame rate. I must add that the latest ATI driver was MUCH faster than the MS driver. Also, I could not run 3dMark 2001 SE with the MS video driver. It would crash. With the proper ATI driver I looped it 100 times and it ran fine. The DVD playback is flawless.

I want to see if I can get a slightly higher output AC to DC brick since this rig really pushes the power supply to the limit of its output. On the front of the case is a simulated diamond made of glass or plastic. I presume it would glow red from the light off the heating elements when bread was toasting. This simulated jewel appears slightly blue from the cold cathode, but would look killer with a blue LED gooped to its back.

Before anyone sends me email saying the fridge magnet is going to hurt anything... The robot is a sticker and the Felix the Cat is on the side of the case where there is nothing :-)

Joe Klingler