This is another version of a project I posted about 18 months ago, the "MidniteBoy" (Mb):
I took the last one apart and re-used the parts with some additions in a new design. I call it "MidniteBoy2" (Mb2).
The main changes are an integrated LCD panel (yes, I had one from a project that became scrap), some improvements on the simulated wood technique, a fan to deal with the added heat, much better user interface software, more Windows chrome removal, and a few other interesting tricks.
Also, this version is made to hang on a wall like a painting instead of sit on a shelf like a PC-style box next to a TV.
Step 1: The Design
In the whole design, I tried to keep the look consistent with how I would make this sort of thing by hand with real wood. To do that, I selected a finite set of natural-looking wood textures. These gave me my four colors to work with.
I then used the texture images and cut out shapes for the design and put them together into single, high resolution images. It was awesomely fun. I highly suggest it.
Step 2: The Screen
The top and bottom panels leave a slot when the back is on so the fan, in a later step, can pull air up through the bottom slot and out through the top slot.
Step 3: The Computer
There is new bracketry mounting the PC to the LCD chassis and to the box.
The WiFi stick is mounted to the LCD chassis too
Step 4: Paint It Black!
For this design, I wanted to end up with a satin finish on the box. To get this, I used matte surfaces then finished the whole thing with a satin protective coat.
After getting the design I wanted for the wood parts, I went to my local print/copy shop and got very high quality prints of my artwork on tabloid-size sheets (11 x 17) for about $2 per page. They came out beautiful too.
The artwork pages were trimmed and glued to the box using 3M spray adhesive.
Step 5: Cover Ups
I also hid the power supply reset button underneath a wood patch. In the finished product, pressing on the correct wood patch on the trim operates this reset. It's neat. It's a secret button.
Holes in the grille for the IR remote receiver, standby power LED, and power-on LED were drilled from the front (carefully) to make sure they were perfectly on the respective grille hole. The LEDs and receiver were then hot-glued into place and wired in.
I used red LEDs and controlled their brightness with different resistor values to blend them with the color of the enclosure. I also did not want the LEDs to be so bright that they were annoying. The mission was accomplished after messing around with them for a while.
Step 6: The Fan
This one is glued to the inside of the box in such a way that it will blow out a 1/4" gap I left in the top, back edge of the box. In this box design, air will enter in a similar 1/4" gap in the bottom, back edge of the box.
Step 7: The Back
I then used recessed screws to screw the back to the brackets.
Step 8: The Software
I spent lots of time scouring the web looking for customizations for Windows XP (Mb2's OS) to do things like changing boot screens, getting rid of the progress bar during a hibernate power down, hiding the mouse using a script, etc.
The UI is very customizable. For instance, the custom Winamp skin, media list, and CD cover use some alpha blending. A background can be defined under the UI. I prefer the black background at this point.
Having the unit hanging on a wall like this is more entertaining than the last method. It works more like an appliance since I don't have to turn on more than one thing and the hibernate power off of Windows XP lets it boot up in a mere 4sec, or so. Using it feels more like using a radio than a PC. It's a lot of fun.