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Thread: micro-atx systems




  1. #21
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    May 2003
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    Thanks much wordbiker! I got your post information, as well as your PM. But I cant reply with a PM for some reason. Wow, your modded case looks radical! Very nice.

    The funny thing was, soon after writing you again, I finally did find it on my own prior to your response at the InWin site (I had previously scanned that site pretty thoroughly but didnít find it.). Size is the most important issue for me, then weight, so I will probably make my own enclosure by ripping off a standard (mini) tower with a full sized 3-400 watt PS. But, one alternative for me might be to mod another InWin case I saw downtown for 60 bucks. Itís about 13 x 13 x like 6 or so, itís as thin as you can be with full height slots. It comes with a 180 watt PS, so Iíd have to mod that but it is small and thin, even smaller than your ďveryĒ nice setup.

    As to making my own, I already went out and spent just over 100 bucks on some angle aluminum and some alum straights too, plus a new rivet gun and such. Iíd have enough to do about 2 cases though. I figure on creating an open frame that is roughly 10x7x10 or so and then custom fitting everything into it. Itíll be like a slightly larger version of those ďlittleĒ Shuttle cube XPCís and such, but with three times more internal upgradeability, which Iíll probably use, and it will be cheaper, but slightly larger. Iíll probably just rob a standard tower case of itís motherboard backplate and the PS and the lights and power control switches and then just mod them into my open case frame, and then after itís all fitted into the best smallest configuration, Iíll skin the thing with something like thick aluminum tape (like trailer tape for semi trailer repair) and power vent it too.

    Iím a truck driver and am still moving from one home to another so I have very little free time, but as time avails, Iíll try to show pics of the DIY micro PC project if I can. BTW, I can get online via my Verizon wireless phone almost anywhere there is a digital market with Quick-to-Net, but itís about 1/3 as fast as standard dial up service, but is very stable. Mobile ISP is VERY nice to have when your almost always gone form ďhomeĒ. Take care and thanks much for your informative responses.

    Wiggo - Ok, but the thread was about micro atx which is a purposefully smaller form factor. So I assume he wants a smaller unit on purpose. As to multiple posts, :scream: each one was to a different person or audience. My internet etiquette protocol understanding would suggest that itís better to address different issues and different people/persons with a different post. Plus some of my posts were time sensitive in that my first posts were not being responded to, so I posted again to anyone who might be able to help. Sorry if I gave the appearance of too much clutter. (actually, I'm ranting back just to share back, I'm really glad to get responses, even yours!) :

    The__Tweaker - Hmmm, size is more important that you assume, a ďbig truckĒ is not really that ďbigĒ when you live in your truck all week long. And Micro ATX form factor provides everything you suggested only with less inches to spare, quite a few less inches, so thanks, but no thanks. :)

    There, three in one post, with each person highlighted in hopes of not being passed over for not being personally mentioned in the opening greeting. (Now someone will probably tell me that my post is too long and confusing since I am addressing different people.) (smile)

  2. #22
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    Jan 2003
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    LMAO.....very well stated 1way. Quite succinct. Please post pictures of your project, as I am quite curious. The only concern I would have is dust. I'm not sure if it is apparent from my picture, but I have done as much as possible to filter any air going inside the case. 2 of the 3 intake fans on my machine are filtered, and the 3rd will be very soon. I'd be a bit leery of a totally open system. Also (This is the carpenter in me) take care to give your framework some shear....diagonal bracing so that it will take a jolt to the corner and not become a parallellogram. Most of all, enjoy building your computer to suit YOUR needs, not anyone elses'. :thumb:
    <img src="http://www.statgfx.com/statgfx/folding/?&username=Wordbiker&border=0,255,0&tr ans=yes&template=fah_original&.jpg" alt="www.Statgfx.com" />
    Revenge is just a respawn away....Pagosa LAN Parties

  3. #23
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    Wordbiker Ė Excellent suggestions! I planned on cross bracing each face with flats or something, but your right, the corner to ďopposite 3D cornerĒ may be susceptible to squashing forces. Hmmmm, perhaps some sort of structural corner pieces (braces) might address that problem, wherever they might be found or created. (?)

    I plan on skinning the open frame with some sort of thick aluminum foil or something similar, perhaps semi trailer repair tape that is used to patch up small holes in trailers, itís somewhat flexible, but way thicker than heavy duty aluminum foil and would do a great job of sealing the area and would be easy to modify with a pair of household scissors. Iím not for sure on that issue yet though. Being dust free is important for good ventilation, I very much appreciate the heads up on that issue too, dust filters will be utilized in this project.

    Itíll basically be a 9.7x9.7 inch motherboard mounted vertically, that will be the vertical side profile size. Then I will mount a CDrom vertically, parallel to the motherboard and on the same side as the motherboard chips, since I just learned that most new CDrom drives use click tight tray holders to facilitate vertical installation(!), which should shave off about 3 inches or so from my original 10x10x10 cube idea!

    (from days long ago)
    I havenít built my own computer in years now, but this project is the best one yet (well, with the exception of my first PC, that was serious business and like years of anticipation, 386dx33 with a whopping 1 meg of ram spread over 4 slots, thatís back when a meg of Ram might cost nearly $50 or so(!!!), and one 5 1/4" floppy drive, with a 1/4 meg ram video card, and approx a 20 or 40 meg hard drive, and like DOS 4.31 or something like that!). Wow, my how time flies. (lol) Over the years Iíve custom built about a dozen computers or so for myself and others, plus a fair share of upgrades and such. Most of that was from 386 to the first Pentium days. But, if you donít stay with it, the technology moves on and you can get left behind rather quickly.

    Thanks for your interest, Iím sure Iíll be able to post pics and stuff, but this may be (perhaps) a few months from completion, but shouldnít be longer than that as Iím anxious to have it completed and in mobile use. I have been ďveryĒ close to buying a Shuttle XPC, they are sweet and so small, but I keep thinking about whatever add-onís being carried externally which would likely entail a somewhat larger per unit size and weight as compared to internal PCI slot cards. I plan on doing some personal video editing as well as watching VCR videos on my thin portable flat panel monitor. Also, I heard that the tiny XPC Shuttle board makes it ďveryĒ difficult to install some of the newer fan cooled AGP video cards. And, I noticed that they put the AGP slot in on the wrong side of the MB! At least itís the opposite of most ATX and Micro ATX boards. But if I had that problem with my own Shuttle, Iíd probably mode the case to allow more room for the vid cardís larger processor and fan unit.

    I appreciate these other posters too, different ideas and different perspectives make one reconsider old ideas. No harm in friendly differences of opinion. I like your see through side panel, plus the accent lights, very clean and trick. I may seek out some ďthinĒ plastic for my sides, I even considered cellophane wrap for a few seconds. LOL Hey, itís light AND cheap. (chuckles)

    I appreciate all these suggestions. Later.

  4. #24
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    Next Iíll have to find an appropriate motherboard. The micro ATX boards are not as plentiful as itís predecessor. I like AMD for itís price per processing power ratio including overclocking, plus the fledgling company had the guts to go against the established industry leader and near monopoly monger, Intel, while still remaining profitable , , , and , , , warding off reverse engineering lawsuits as well as Intelís corporate research and marketing dominance. I still have at least one AMD 486 k6 200ish over-clocked into running like a somewhat slow Pentium, and running strong for like 7 years or so! That saved my buddy around $200 or better as the first Pentiums were pretty pricey even though they had problems with heat and such.

    Iíd like a 400 mghz fsb, but they donít appear to be available yet in the micro atx format. Basically Iíd like something that will remain reasonably viable for a few years. Iíd like an AGP 8x slot, ATA 133, high speed DDR, USB 2.0, firewire, 10/100 lan, and protective overclocking. Then Iíll need a couple of weeks to recuperate from recent financial struggles.

    In the mean time, Iíve chopped the top 5Ē or so from my mini tower case, relocated itís PS into the base of the machine and so far so good. But I have learned that you should do whatever is necessary to keep the unit from bumps in the road. And I should get a line conditioner to help protect my pc from electrical abuse.

  5. #25
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    I would agree 1way, even a stationary PC is subject to voltage increases and decreases, and due to tips from computer savvy folks more experienced than myself, I have taken steps to address that problem, in the form of a UPS with a voltage regulator. It's quite a heavy unit, and if you were willing to give up the battery backup aspect of the system, a voltage regulator alone I'm sure would contribute to the lifespan of your overall system.
    I was also looking to an AMD system for my particular needs, for many of the same reasons. No matter what arguments I have heard, the AMD processors are not only a viable option to an Intel processor, but in some ways are a superior choice. Market share aside, it suits my needs and budget quite well, and without doubt, the nForce 2 chipset is the best platform at present for AMD CPUs. I would focus your search for a mobo in that direction, as even within my meager searching abilities, found several attractive choices with many available options, and more appearing daily. I was impatient with building my system, and chose the Albatron KM18G Pro mobo, even before reviews had come out on ANY nForce2 mobos in the Micro-ATX form factor. I did fairly well, as the only reviewed complaints I have read since it first ran are that it does not allow much "Top End" overclocking. Perhaps that is true for the present, but it is my firm opinion, from discussions with potential clients to existing users, as well as the past trends of electronic components, that smaller is nearly always better. There are considerably less sacrifices IMHO with the latest generation of micro-ATX mobos for size versus performance and options. If you have a specific need, such as yourself, for a smaller overall size, it makes sense. If there IS no performance or options loss, which, let's face it, most folks will never max out the capabilities of their computer before scrapping it for a new one......why go for a bohemoth machine that takes up your whole desktop, room, whatever?
    I built this system not only for my own needs, but as a demonstration (and experiment) in building a computer that is smaller than expected, yet gives nothing up in realistic terms for resistance to obsolescence. If you look at the product cycles of the big manufacturers, I would boldly suggest that my machine is well ahead of the curve of obsolescence. By choosing this path, I also hope (perhaps vainly) that the support for these boards will increase, as will the BIOS upgrades that would allow them to compete in performance with the top full ATX boards. Once again, IMHO, all that is missing from these boards is what is typically wasted. So you lose a couple PCI slots.....what-ever. The chipset is the same, it allows the best consumer-level graphics cards to be added, has nearly every option available that any full ATX board offers, though you may need to choose which options are necessary for the purpose intended...What else do you really need?
    1way, I hope your experience is a wonderful one, and I'm glad to find a comrade out there that at least as form-factor is concerned.....agrees with me. It is everyone's science-fiction dream to wear a powerful computer upon their wrist, or perhaps it will be a wireless link to a much broader interconnected distributed computing network, decentralized, but yet subject to creativity and improvement. Guys and gals, it's smart and creative folks like 1way that define what we all really want. Electronically, things are always getting smaller, but it is up to us to define the market demand of what is truly useful to all of us. AMD and Intel work for US!:cheers:
    <img src="http://www.statgfx.com/statgfx/folding/?&username=Wordbiker&border=0,255,0&tr ans=yes&template=fah_original&.jpg" alt="www.Statgfx.com" />
    Revenge is just a respawn away....Pagosa LAN Parties

  6. #26
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    Woops....got off on a rant and forgot to address a few specific issues...:o
    1way....I would suggest that you avoid the tape that you mentioned to skin your creation. There is a reason that computer cases are made from rigid materials. Prime example: Computers, generally, are cooled by the movement of air, and a flexible encasement would be subject to the vacuum or pressures inherent in air cooling. Basically, it's either gonna suck, or it's gonna blow, neither good options. Once you get your framework assembled to accomodate the hardware, plastic, metal, or any other rigid medium would be a better choice for puncture-resistance, shock resistance, water resistance, and general welfare of your precious electronic components. Plastic seems a good choice to me, and I'm surprised it isn't used more often. Non-conductive, strong, cheap and light...it'd make for a wonderful portable computer casing....oh yeah, most laptops are encased in plastics...but they are limited.
    Keep us posted :cheers:
    <img src="http://www.statgfx.com/statgfx/folding/?&username=Wordbiker&border=0,255,0&tr ans=yes&template=fah_original&.jpg" alt="www.Statgfx.com" />
    Revenge is just a respawn away....Pagosa LAN Parties

  7. #27
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    Word Biker Ė After more consideration, Iím thinking of modifying an InWin L545 by first throwing away the heavy outer cover, removing the PS and 3.5Ē bays, chopping off the entire top section, relocating the PS and 3.5Ē bays into the case after making some room for them. So far I like the idea of see through plastic, some glowing fans/cables, and adding extra cooling fans as well. However, optionally, I might keep the stock size configuration (minus the heavy outer cover) in favor of it being more portably thin. Short cubish, or taller thinner. Hmmm.

    As to the semi-flexible tape. Itís not flexible as in stretchable at all, itís just somewhat bendable, although if you patch a small area and you affix it taunt, itís pretty solid and unyielding, especially if you double tape. But I perhaps you are right. This tape would work best for hard to reach and hard to conform areas. Instead Iíll probably use thin acrylic and perhaps seal it with shiny metal tape and or rubber edging. I canít wait, Iím getting psyched just thinking about it.

  8. #28
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    That case was actually my first choice 1-way, but I wanted the capability of a full-sized video card, and didn't think it'd fit. I got to look at the case you're considering firsthand, and the very pleasant salesman said a full-sized card would fit. I suppose it would depend on just how large the card was. He said they built a lot of systems for Point Of Sale using that case, and that the stock PSU, although weak was quiet and reliable.As you may already know, noting that you mentioned having to mod a power supply in, that the PSU that comes stock with this case is a smaller form-factor, and with that particular form-factor, you're limited to about 230Watts max. If you have no need for additional graphics processing, it'd probably run a mobo with onboard graphics, like the nForce 2, and will do just fine. I'm using mine now and it'll even play a lot of games.
    I like the idea of replacing the metal casing with plastic. With a little craftsmanship, lighting, and perhaps painting the interior, I'm sure it'd look pretty sweet.:thumb:
    <img src="http://www.statgfx.com/statgfx/folding/?&username=Wordbiker&border=0,255,0&tr ans=yes&template=fah_original&.jpg" alt="www.Statgfx.com" />
    Revenge is just a respawn away....Pagosa LAN Parties

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