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neilhart's Scratch Build # 3 - Mini-ITX Tower

neilhart

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ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
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Pretty tricky with those 24pin PSU wires and SATA cables. Have you seen these yet? http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=445
Seems like they would be great for slick cable management like you've got going on here.
Yes I did see those and I intend to get some on order. My original plan was to get this case ready for one of the new Z97 Mini-ITX motherboards with the M.2 and SATA Express features and a mild overclock. Most likely I will have to redo the 24 pin cable and the SATA cables and will consider those cables.

I think that this is my last hack for the time being. I am out of work and finances are tight.

The MSI GTX 760 ITX GPU arrived today and is very nice. I am running some benchmarks and checking temps. This GPU was in the budget but is the last big expense on my list.

I will have another project update in a few days, but not the final as I plan to incorporate some touch switches which are just on order today.

Good modding,
neil
 

neilhart

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Another update:

Good progress over the last few days. However I have some touch sensors on order and will wait for them before starting on the control panel area of the front panel.

As I was installing the MSI GTX 760 ITX card, I found that the top inside drive bank support piece actually interfered with the fan on the GPU (seen here).



And this photo shows how tall the GPU is as compared to the case width. The power cable to the GPU will interfere with a flat cover. See my solution below.

I selected a noctua NF-A9x14 14mm thin case fan for the front panel. And located it to push fresh air towards the GPU and chip set.





Then started on the left side panel to provide some interest and clearance of the GPU power harness I decided to use a section of a G5 PM air dam panel. I sectioned the panel on the table saw and then modified the lower section of my folded front/left panel.







And here is the system as it stands this morning. Note that I have added a air vent to the rear panel.
The tangle of wires emerging from the left side intake fan port will go away as I complete the control panel area.



Of interest the front panel fan drops the GPU temp by 5 degrees.

More to follow.

Good modding,
neil
 
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Love the re-use of the G5 bulge. I have half a dozen of those pieces hanging around the house and workshop unused and unloved.

I hope this isn't your last build for a while Neil. Always enjoy reading them and seeing your latest thoughts.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Dell Optiplex 9030 All in One
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i5-4690K
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Mac mini
Classic Mac
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Pretty tricky with those 24pin PSU wires and SATA cables. Have you seen these yet? http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=445
Seems like they would be great for slick cable management like you've got going on here.
I love those Silverstone SATA data cables. They let you put drives where you would not believe they could fit. I used one in my Haswell Mac Mini build and they can be folded and stowed anywhere. Seriously, the bending they can take you would swear would break a usual cable but they still work faultlessly.

I am currently using them for mounting drives underneath mobos in space tight builds.

Edit: Crikey, I just noticed what you did with the 24 pin ATX cable - that is some time consuming work to route each cable through an individual hole, crimp it and re-plug. Kudos. I am just doing a small high power build now (working on a new scratch build) using a Silverstone PSU - the Strider 850W Gold modular - and I am going to take the easier route of using their short cable set with flat cables: http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=438&area=en they may not look as good, but should allow some nice management in tight places - I'll let you know!
 

neilhart

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i7-7700T
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GTX960
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iOS
Love the re-use of the G5 bulge. I have half a dozen of those pieces hanging around the house and workshop unused and unloved.

I hope this isn't your last build for a while Neil. Always enjoy reading them and seeing your latest thoughts.
Yes this thing is made up of mostly G5 PM raw material (lowers the project cost) and is a great example of "doing it my way".

I was tempted to de-solder the power connector on the MSI GPU and solder in a cable. If the card had been a year old that is what I would have done, however being new I thought that I would not void the warranty so soon.

What do you think about the industrial look of the countersunk flat head screws? It will be interesting to some and not acceptable to others I imagine.

More to follow.

Good modding,
neil
 
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Yes this thing is made up of mostly G5 PM raw material (lowers the project cost) and is a great example of "doing it my way".

I was tempted to de-solder the power connector on the MSI GPU and solder in a cable. If the card had been a year old that is what I would have done, however being new I thought that I would not void the warranty so soon.

What do you think about the industrial look of the countersunk flat head screws? It will be interesting to some and not acceptable to others I imagine.

More to follow.

Good modding,
neil
I think it is great to find ways to re-use original G5 stuff - let's face it we probably have a fair amount of it hanging around….I know my house is practically drowning in a sea of computer parts.

And I like the industrial look of the connections. As home/small scale modders it is not easy to devise invisible fixings so I find it better sometimes to make a feature of them. True, it is not the way we would expect Apple to do it, but for a scratch build that's not really the point is it?

Also for this kind of thing I find it more interesting to investigate the engineering side - and exploring different configurations and improved functionality/concepts is where I get the satisfaction. I find the featureless black boxes on the market generally boring and projects such as the ones you are doing are all about being more challenging.
 

neilhart

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Another update:

I have been working on the front panel adding audio and USB ports along with “power on” and “case lamp” switches. As you will see below, I had found some interesting touch switches and wanted to include them in this solution. I decided to not put USB3 ports on the front panel mainly because I could not find any in my collection of parts and the source that I had used for the BenFenix front panel upgrade kits was out of stock with no availability date projected.

From the last update the front of the case was sadly unfinished as seen here.



From my component salvage box I decided to use this USB2 board that had Mic and Head phone jacks. Originally the assembly had 4 USB2 ports but I needed only two so I cut printed circuit board (two layer so I could easily see where to cut). The sheet metal bracket seen in black here and the front panel was about the correct size but I cut both to my size requirement.



I had decided to use portions of a black plastic cover, sized for a 2.5” drive slot, for my touch pad surfaces. Here is the front panel with the audio and USB port bracket mounted and window slots cut for the touch switch assemblies.



I made up the mounting brackets shown here along with the small wide “u” shaped stiffener brackets. The black plastic “touch pads” and touch sensor circuit cards along with the relays that I used.


Touch Sensors:

The stand alone touch sensors used are momentary and toggle capacitive units from Adafruit.

Link: http://www.adafruit.com/category/35

Part numbers: 1374 (Momentary) and 1375 (Toggle) @ approximately $6 USD.

I have each touch sensor pulling up a relay and the load is managed by the contacts of the relays. The relays are 5 to 6 VDC and “Power On” touch sensor is powered by pin 9, the 5 VDC Standby Power and the “Case Lamps” toggle touch sensor is power by 5 VDC from a 4 pin Molex run from the PSU.

Relays:

Link: http://www.newark.com/nte-electronics/r40-11d2-5-6/signal-relay-dpdt-5v-6v-dc-2a/dp/10M0344

Part number: NTE RD40-11D-5/6 @ approximately $4.5 USD.


Things are never easy and I lost a day when my first wired up touch sensor did not work. A very simple circuit that took me several hours to understand and determine that the used relay was defective. Solution was to purchase new relays and junk the used ones. And I know better then to assume… so I just chalk it up to ego getting in the way of good practice.



I used my ink-jet combination printer copier and copied the circuit cards. Then cut out near life size images of the touch sensor boards. I glued the cutouts into place in the plastic touch pads and used these to drill holes for the touch sensor LEDs to show through the pads.



And from the front.



The surface wiring took a little while to sort out and then I made up some (4) LED holders and placed them to help illuminate the viewable portions of the hack. This is really a matter of taste and some will not like this feature. So the system is nearly complete and runs very well as seen here.



This project is nearly completed. I need to identify the Z97 ITX motherboard for the “high” performance that I envision. Also, I have decided to go for a pair of 120 mm noctua fans for the CPU cooler (on order due mid-week next).

More to follow.

Good modding,
neil
 
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Hi Neil,

I have been enjoying all your mods, since the first ones. It's always nicely finished.

Came across this one, after reading the HiRise hack from DJ_aris (and because I'm trying to find builds with the GA-B85N)

I love the way you designed your case, just as you need, without extra space. And the tiny footprint. It looks like a FT03 Mini, but personalised.


It's good that you turned the PSU to suck fresh air. It seems better that way.
Did you place a dust filter?


How is it in terms of noise level?
 

neilhart

Moderator
Joined
May 25, 2010
Messages
2,738
Motherboard
ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
CPU
i7-7700T
Graphics
GTX960
Mac
MacBook, MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
iOS
Hi Neil,

I have been enjoying all your mods, since the first ones. It's always nicely finished.

Came across this one, after reading the HiRise hack from DJ_aris (and because I'm trying to find builds with the GA-B85N)

I love the way you designed your case, just as you need, without extra space. And the tiny footprint. It looks like a FT03 Mini, but personalised.


It's good that you turned the PSU to suck fresh air. It seems better that way.
Did you place a dust filter?


How is it in terms of noise level?
Well no dust filters. The machines that I run regularly get cleaned once every 6 months or so using compressed air. Dust is not a big problem in this area.

Now for noise. The Thermaltake Water3.0 fans are just slightly noticeable at idle with the system sitting on the table about 6 feet from me. And under stress-test load they get rather loud. So I have ordered a pair of noctua NF-F12 (120 mm) fans and plan to test with the low voltage/low RPM setup and see if it is more acceptable.

When complete, I plan to put this machine on my left side table, about two feet away from me, and use it as my main system for a while. The noise must be very low for this.

And while the B85N works very well, I am intending to upgrade to a Z97 Mini-ITX motherboard that has M.2 capability and run an overclock of 4.2 to 4.5 GHz.

Good modding,
neil
 
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