neilhart's Scratch Build # 4 - MicroATX into a small box.

Discussion in 'Others' started by neilhart, Jul 12, 2014.

  1. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Jul 12, 2014 at 6:57 PM #1
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    neilhart’s Scratch Build # 4 - MicroATX into a small box.

    On my bring-up bench I have a MSI Z87M-G43 motherboard which I purchased at the Haswell release last year. At that time I had issues with OSX and this board and had put it aside and went on with a Gigabyte Z87M-D3H that just happens to be in the system that I am now using.

    Anyway this build to give the MSI motherboard a more permanent home. I have an Intel i3-4330 CPU along with 8 GB of DDR3 memory installed. The CPU cooler is a Scythe “Big Sjuriken 2 B”, a 58mm high low profile unit.

    Here is the starting point:

    [​IMG]

    Yesterday or the day before I had used the new UniBeast 4.0 to build a Mavericks 10.9.4 USB installer and installed Mavericks on this system board. And please note that this motherboard has a PMPatch’ed BIOS installed. The OS X installation went off without issue thanks to the hard work of the TonyMacX86 team.

    The design of this case in mostly in my head with ideas that need to be realized by giving them form.
    These concepts include the build process that I want to use.

    The key element is small. I intend to use internal graphics so I will not provide a GPU card slot.

    And I have my last dead G5 Power Mac disassembled and I intend to use it as a mine for raw material for this hack.

    [​IMG]

    And a side note on process. I keep the sheet metal and part fabrication activity in my garage work shop. All test fits require that I wash and wash the parts that I bring into my home office/lab. The
    concept here is to not contaminate the electronics with metal chips and metallic dust.

    More to follow shortly.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
  2. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Jul 12, 2014 at 8:13 PM #2
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Board Standoffs:

    I sorted through the G5 salvage hardware and selected 10 of the shorter board standoffs. Seen here is one that measured using my digital calipers.

    [​IMG]

    I selected this drill bit and set up my drill press. My plan is to thread the bottom of the standoff with a 6 x 32 tapered tap.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The drill is undersize to the existing M3 x 0.5 threaded hole. I drill through the bottom of the standoff. Note all of the metal from this one standoff. I usually clear the metal chips two of three times as I drill each item.

    [​IMG]

    And then I use a battery power hand drill motor to power tap the 6-32 threads into the bottom of each standoff. Note that I use WD-40 (a light machine oil) on the tap to assist in cutting the threads. I usually back out the tap out two or three times to clear the metal chips.

    [​IMG]

    Then I washed the standoffs with soap and hot water to get all of the metal chips out and use compressed air on each one. It is amazing how many very small chips are washed away.

    [​IMG]

    Seen here is the product of my efforts along with M3 screws from the G5 PM salvage bin.

    [​IMG]

    And the standoffs installed on the MSI motherboard. This is the basic step needed so that I can get the height of the IO panel.

    Another side note. I use glass top work surface in my home office/lab for several reasons. The glass is relatively flat (good for measurements) and allows me to cut paper and plastic, using xacto knives, and I tape wires in place (extra hands) and solder on the surface.

    More to follow.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
  3. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Jul 13, 2014 at 4:57 PM #3
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Base fab:


    I envision a three sided base part. This will be the front, bottom and back of the system along with flange for mounting the top. The top could actually be a compound part with the left side, top and right side (to be decided later).

    I decided that I would go with a 10 inch by 10 inch base with front and back risers of 3.25 inches. I plan to add another fold to each side for a mounting lip. With the MicroATX be 9.6 x 9.6 inches, this plan does not leave much room for error.

    I am starting with a G5 PM left side panel that I have removed the loop handles. Here is my first cut to true up the panel and select relatively un-disturbed edges.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then setup to rip the 10 inch piece needed.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And the check to see how far from being square to the world… not!

    [​IMG]

    And setting up to trim to the final length of 18 inches.

    [​IMG]

    After the second cut I have this piece to work with.

    [​IMG]

    And a quick layout before taking a break.

    [​IMG]

    More to follow.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
  4. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Jul 13, 2014 at 9:38 PM #4
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Base details:

    After a break I went back a completed the “scores”, a 60% deep saw cut four places as indicated in the last photo above and seen here.

    [​IMG]

    Then with a hand file I spent about five minutes on each score forming each into a “v” groove as seen here. This is to aid in the folding as my little rig can not bend 3 mm aluminum.

    [​IMG]

    I then used my newly purchased mini-break to make the first bend.

    [​IMG]

    As seen it did work and made the job possible. This break is from Harbor Freight Tools and was 40 USD (money well spent in my opinion).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I then located the IO plate on the rear panel surface and used the scroll saw to make this cut after drilling 4 blade access holes.

    [​IMG]

    And then the hand file to the line.

    [​IMG]

    And here is the base with the IO panel and motherboard setting on it (as seen from by workstation).

    [​IMG]

    And then some more views on the turn table.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I am nearly through for today. I plan to epoxy the standoffs to the base with the motherboard correctly located using some quick set Loctite. Once the epoxy cures, I will remove the motherboard and drill through each standoff giving me the perfect hole locations. Then re-drill the holes for clearance of # 6 screws and countersink each hole.

    More to follow and I respond to questions if asked.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
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  5. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Jul 14, 2014 at 3:36 PM #5
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Base - first issue

    Per the plan, I epoxied the standoffs into place and then drilled through them to get their correct location. I have used 6 - 32 x 1/4 stainless steel socket flat head screws.

    Then I hit my first bump in the plan. I tried to form the flange at the rear panel and found that my bending rig will not do it! The mini-break just flexes. I tried several different set-ups and was not successful.

    I went ahead and formed the fold for the front panel.

    This is the current state:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Assuming that I can not form the bend/fold, my options are:

    1) Remove the flange material and use angle material.

    2) Reduce the size of the flange and form two of more mounting tabs on each side.

    3) Increase the depth of the “v” groove to the point that I can make the fold.

    4) or ? Any suggestions?

    I will have to think on this for awhile.

    More to follow.

    Good modding
    neil
     
  6. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Jul 14, 2014 at 7:32 PM #6
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Base - first issue resolved

    I went back and cleaned up the “v” grooves making them a little wider and a little deeper. The mini-break still would not complete the fold; it just flexed.

    So I jury rigged a forming block and used an iron bar and 4 pound hammer to encourage the correct form.

    Anyway this is what I had in mind…

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    and the other side…

    [​IMG]

    I am back on plan but have to leave for the day.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
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  7. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Jul 20, 2014 at 2:51 PM #7
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Three sided cover and front panel

    Next up was try to generate a three sided cover using a G5 PM right side cover for material ( 3 mm stock). The trick here is to get the folds correct so as to not have any un-sightly gaps. I generated a test piece seen here. Based upon the fold results of this piece I attempted to fold the full cover.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While I was not entirely happy with the cover, I decided that I would proceed and match drilled the first set of mounting holes, three per side. After tapping the base and countersinking the cover holes I was ready for more fit tests.

    I located the Hitachi 2.5 inch 750 GB hard drive under the motherboard.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Details, details, here I am modding a cable to get power to the hard drive and provide power for a second drive (will be tied back for now).

    [​IMG]

    The 160 Watt Pico PSU that I am using is from a G4 Cube project that I had decommissioned some time ago. Here I have decided to place the power entry port on the lower rear panel.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then back to my garage work shop to cut ventilation holes in the cover (top side and left side).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And then a lot of file to the line…

    [​IMG]

    Then photos of the “small box” as it nearly ready for a test drive.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    But I was not happy with the fit and appearance of the front surface so I decided to add a cosmetic front panel. I cut this piece from a G5 PM center core top panel and found a USB 2 and audio port bracket from some salvage machine. I also pulled the power switch and LED from the donator G5 PM and grafted it along with a blue LED for drive activity to the new front panel.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The location of the ports and switch was driven by small size of the box and the need to clear the Pico PSU located at the front center of the assembly.

    And that brings us to a first final assembly.

    [​IMG]

    More to follow.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
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  8. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    MacBook, MacBook Pro
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    Jul 20, 2014 at 4:41 PM #8
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Final:

    This is/was an 8 day project and it is now complete. My goal was to get this motherboard into a case and off my test stand. The case is an exercise in bending metal. I purchased no new material for this project which was an un-stated goal.

    A case of this design can be used for any current vintage Micro-ATX motherboard and while I am using an i3-4330 (54 W) with this CPU Cooler (Scythe Big Shuriken2B), I did have an i7-4770K (84 W) running on the test bench with the same cooler and motherboard with success. Which means a single fan performance system with internal graphics is very doable.

    Here are the final photos from today.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    One should note that in this project I tried to protect the existing finish on the G5 PM material and I do not plan to apply any additional finish.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
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  9. kiwisincebirth

    kiwisincebirth

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    Jul 23, 2014 at 8:12 AM #9
    kiwisincebirth

    kiwisincebirth

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    How are the temperatures of you HDD. Reason I ask is in my (only) scratch build I located an optical drive under the motherboard, and have had reliability issues with it. I am assuming this is heat related. HDD reliability will be affected by heat.

    Good build BTW

    Kiwi
     
  10. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Jul 23, 2014 at 12:41 PM #10
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    The HDD is directly contacting the 3 mm bottom plate (when standing in the op position this is the right side) which acts as a heat sink. The HDD temps remain is the 30s in my testing.

    What I have noticed is that the HDD noise is very noticeable. This may just be the Hitachi drive or a "feature" of the mounting location. If I were going to use this system as my workstation, I would swap in an SSD to get rid of the noise. As it is, I have it tagged for investigation and will get to it one of these days.

    Over all the system runs Prime95 torture test for 60 minutes and does get into the low 60s C. The HDD remains in the 30s during the torture test.

    Good modding,
    neil

    Comment after thought. Some time ago, I made the decision to not purchase any more 3.5" hard disks and to use only 2.5" form factor drives (SSD system drive, HDDs for data). I have had no problems with these small form factor drives and in fact the "Whiteone" (the system that I am using now) has 4 500 GB drives in a non-ventilated tray running a RAID 0. This system is running 24/7 where I just turn off the monitors when it is not in use.

    neil
     

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