Introduction: DIY Paper Tray Computer Case

Picture of DIY Paper Tray Computer Case

This is my first Instructable.

The intension of this project was to build a small computer case to a computer car. Using a small touch screen monitor and applications as Multimedia(MP3, Video, Photos, etc), GPS, wireless networking, surveillance, SMS and e-mail reader, car diagnostic via ODBII, etc.

This requires a combination of components with low power consumption. This project requires only 130 Watts. And uses a DC-DC power supply connected to the car battery.


Main parts
- A pair of acrylic paper tray as seen on image
- A small and low power consumption motherboard - I used a MSI 945GCM5 Socket LGA775 to Intel Processors. Small and cheap. You can use a Mini-ITX (Via EPIA) but this motherboard performance is a joke.
- A Pentium Celeron Processor. I used a Celeron 420 1.6Ghz. This processor is one of the best Celerons ever made and requires only 35 watts! This amazing processor is build with the Conroe-L core. The same used in the Core 2 Duo processors. In fact it's a core solo processor nice and cheap!
- Memory. I used 1Gb 800Mhz DDR2
- Hard Disk Drive. I used a common 80Gb IDE HDD. Optionally you can use a notebook HD or even flash memory(pendrives) as HD.
- A small wireless PCI or USB card
- A big can to make the cover of the computer case.

Other parts
- Small computer fan for the case
- Power switch
- Hdd led
- Power led
- Internal speaker(optional)
- Fan grill
- Power connectors
- Screws, nuts, jigsaw, drills, knife, scissor, sandpaper, pliers, etc, etc, etc.

Step 1: Cutting the Tray

Picture of Cutting the Tray

Now let's cut the tray.
I used these paper trays because the moderboard fit exactly inside. But you can use something else.

Cut both paper tray to fit motherboard. The motherboard will be fixed in bottom tray. Use screw and latches to this job(last image).

Step 2: Making Holes for Fan (pun)

Picture of Making Holes for Fan (pun)

I discovered that my old kettle cover has the exactly size for a 120mm fan grill hole.

Measure where the processor fan will stay and mark the position.

Heat the kettle cover on fire and melt the acrylic until cut it as seen on images.

Step 3: Drill, Drill, Drill

Picture of Drill, Drill, Drill

Verify where the secondary fan can be placed and drill another lateral hole for the secondary case fan.

Drill holes to fix the hard disk at the top cover. Again verify before where the HDD can be placed.

Drill holes to fix the top grill.

Now we are ready to manufacture the brass cover to close the computer case.

Next step please!

Step 4: Manufaturing the Panel

Picture of Manufaturing the Panel

Find a good brass can and cut it using a big scissor, jigsaw or dremel.

Make a model in cardboard of the panel as seen on the picture. The cardboard model is easiest to work and will help you to foresee and correct defects.

Using a nail, make the holes where the screws will stay. Don't make them too big. The screws will enlarge the holes when they were fastened.

Cut the exactly space to fit the motherboard panel for the connections.

Drill holes in the acrylic trays to fix the panel you made.

Step 5: Finishing the Panel

Picture of Finishing the Panel

Fix the power connector wiring harness to the panel.

Fix the motherboard connector panel.

Bend the extremities of the panel where the screws will fit

Now it's time to put all together.

Step 6: All Together Now!

Picture of All Together Now!

This step looks like to mount a ship inside a bottle.

There are a small space for all components.

Take patience and don't force components to fit or you may damage your project.

Use the spacers of the paper tray to hold them together

I hope you enjoy it. Forgive my bad English.



siafulinux (author)2012-04-10

Brilliant! Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks.

McAndrews (author)siafulinux2012-04-10

Thanks a lot! Have fun!

sk8er6 (author)2009-09-17


silent_thunder (author)2009-03-22

this is one of the best instructables i have seen

McAndrews (author)silent_thunder2009-03-23

You're very generous. Thank you so much! I currently use this computer as my backup with a remote desktop connection.

lnoels (author)2014-08-16

I like the way how you make the hole for the fan

abadfart (author)2011-08-11

what did you do for a power supply?

McAndrews (author)abadfart2011-08-11

I used an automotive DC-DC power supply to use it as a carputer:

Computothought (author)2011-01-14

I could see using an old vcr case.

arikyeo (author)2010-09-08

Where did you get the paper tray from? I tried to find them in the megamart but found none matching the size of my mobo.

McAndrews (author)arikyeo2010-09-08

Thank you for your comment. I don't know where you can find it in your country. Here, in Brazil it is made by Acrimet:

ipodgeek (author)2010-02-04

Awesome instructable!  Very nice design and you did a great job on your computer.  Only thing missing is a CD drive.  I'm thinking about building a car computer for my VW Bug and might use this idea for it.

JoUcO (author)2009-10-18

Very nice!!!!

Blackice504 (author)2009-09-29

thats cool nice for a little router pc too. Rack mount anyone!!

xenint (author)2009-08-31

On this step (2) I had to do a facepalm, I can't believe I hadn't thought of this sooner. I didn't have a kettle like yours but was able to (carefully) use an empty can of fruit that was approximately the same size as the hole I needed. Thanks to you I was able to install fan holes in my machine last night. Needless to say this was a brilliant idea you had. I just couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of this before! Thank you

McAndrews (author)xenint2009-08-31

"Need is the mother of invention". Thank you Xenint!

xenint (author)2009-08-29

Nice project (and clever) I was wondering what size (fan) hole you have near the antenna , I know the top one but not the side.

McAndrews (author)xenint2009-08-31

It's a 2 inch fan hole. Thanks for your comment!

xenint (author)McAndrews2009-08-31


kdjo (author)2009-07-02

Ja!!!! tanto tiempo buscando un case y lo podia frabricar yo. Gracias por la idea, ahora colocare un mi servidor de correos central con un mb viejito que tengo.

peu123 (author)2009-04-07

Just love it, wish I had read it before or thought of it, right now modding my case to fit in a drawer from my metal desk.

stephenniall (author)2008-11-30

I love the idea I may do it soon But add another bit of the tray to the top with a Small monitor Fitted and a touchpad (Maybe ) ! Great instructable

agis68 (author)2008-11-13

Nice job dude!!! I will try it soon. 5/5

Sandisk1duo (author)2008-09-13

looks about the size of an Xbox 360? About how much did this whole project cost?

trooperrick (author)2008-06-11

Cool, hows the static with that? I wouldn't want it damaging anything. Great project! I may try with some other materials.

Stephen B (author)trooperrick2008-07-16

I saw another plastic case instructable where there was a lot of talk about static, but honestly I really dont think it would be a problem as long as everything is well grounded. I think of it like, I can release a static charge on a regular metal case which should get routed to the power unit inside and eventually the earth, so should any charge built up in this case.

nathan42100 (author)2008-06-15

nice job. i wouldn't have thought of that. One suggestion would be to trace the ports and take a 3rd piece of acrylic to cover it up. Dust is not good. Looks nice too.

McAndrews (author)nathan421002008-06-16

Thank you. I'll consider your suggestion.

joejoerowley (author)2008-06-13

Really Cool! Throw some RGB LEDs in their to take into the next level!

McAndrews (author)joejoerowley2008-06-13

Good idea! Thanks!

Scammah (author)2008-06-12

Great job man, it inspires me to do something like this.

gmjhowe (author)2008-06-12

nice job, i had the same idea, using metal trays, (the ones with like a grid of holes) but it was too much hastle, maybe a plastic set of trays is what i need!

bumpus (author)2008-06-11

thats a very clean finished project. i like it

McAndrews (author)bumpus2008-06-12

Thanks for your comment!

NeonLime (author)2008-06-11

Wow! This Looks Great! :P Also, Your English Isn't Bad At All, I Admit I Didnt Read The Entire Thing But From What i Did Read, Theres Not Much Wrong With It :P Nice Job!

McAndrews (author)NeonLime2008-06-12

Thank you friend!

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