Introduction: (Suit)case Mod

Picture of (Suit)case Mod

Here's a modified case for my LAMP development server. It's not exactly finished and it doesn't meet even modest safety standards, but it runs Linux and looks good doing it.

At first I put the computer in a leather satchel, which gave it a nice worn look, but had neither the layout nor the protection I need, especially since the poor machine also runs DJ software (Mixxx) at parties.

Step 1: The Innards.

Picture of The Innards.

This isn't exactly going to be in step-by-step format since, well, frankly, you shouldn't follow what I did step-by-step.

I already had all the components stripped down and (except for the monitor) mounted to aluminum plate, so most of the work was simply arranging them appropriately in the case and attaching them with a lot of rivets and a little double-stick tape. This was slightly complicated, since the wireless card has to dodge the support for the monitor when the case is closed.

Note the unshrouded power supply, which I certainly wouldn't recommend copying –it's just what I had on hand. I have no idea whether the aluminum foil lining the case (attached with spray glue) actually provides any degree of shielding (at least it's grounded), but it felt better to attach the parts to it than to the bare hardboard.

Step 2: Attaching the Screen

Picture of Attaching the Screen

This is without a doubt the most difficult part of the build. The briefcase has a thin aluminum skin over hardboard, so I was able to cut the rectangle for the screen using a straight edge, a box cutter, and a lot of pulling.

I attached each side of the screen (it had pre-tapped mounting holes) to a piece of hardboard and a bit of aluminum angle, then bolted the whole assembly in place behind the cutout.

The internal electronics are attached with double-stick foam tape to the back of the screen. Note the open transformers. Cover those!I promise, unless you're as friendly with your cardiologist as I am, and enjoy the thought of wearing a Holter, you don't want to leave these guys exposed (Take my word for it –I just might be talking from personal experience.).

Step 3: Installing Connectors

Picture of Installing Connectors

Since the intention always was to be able to run the server with the case closed, I installed this port (actually a weatherproof exterior outlet cover) using the same straightedge/boxcutter method as the screen so that I could still run cables to the motherboard. (The phone jack adapter is just there to hold it open for pictures.)

Step 4: Venting.

Picture of Venting.

To vent the power supply, I cut yet another hole and installed it such that the fan blows through the hole. I also relocated the power connection and switch to fit right next to the fan.

This is far from adequate to ventilate the entire case, but does just fine for the power supply so long as the case is on its back and the front is propped open. To run with the case closed, I would need to reverse the direction of the power supply fan then add two more "pusher" fans to the side and some vents on the side with the handle (the "top" of the case when it's closed).

Unfortunately, if I cut vents near the handle or latches, I would also need to do a good bit of structural reinforcement, and since this would be a bit of work and the current setup is happily functional, I haven't got around to doing that just yet.


tinker234 (author)2012-02-21

wow cool i might use mineral oil take a look

abadfart (author)2011-07-31

very nice im thinking of making one out of my gaming computer so its easier to take with me when i move around alot

Electronics Man (author)2011-07-09

This is awsome...(I want one)

CyclonicNinja (author)2011-04-25

I have done this with my xbox, instead the screen faces inward instead of outwards. It worked perfectly and looked good, unfortunately my mum didn't think so and had me pull it apart.

XOIIO (author)CyclonicNinja2011-06-22

not really your xbox if your mom controlls what you do with it, is it?

CyclonicNinja (author)XOIIO2011-06-24

Technically it is my Xbox as I bought it with my own money from which I earn through a part time job, she just didn't like the fact that I pulled it apart and made a "useless object" out of it.

XOIIO (author)CyclonicNinja2011-06-24

Well then thats stupid. It isnt useless and she has no control over what you do with it.

XOIIO (author)2011-06-22

Well done! I've been planning on doing this and I just got a pretty good motherboard, and your way of mounting the LCD is pretty good, soI feel more confident about risking it.

nooriginalloginnames (author)2011-01-13

Does anyone know what model/brand suitcase this is?

compaqxp123 (author)2010-11-29

Looks like the old Compaq Portable III in some ways, just a lot more powerful.

donovin (author)2010-11-04

this is a sweet mod, i got a case and am going to mod it slowly after some careful designing and diagrams. this is definitely going to be bookmarked to come back to for some inspiration. one thing I'm going to do to mine is add a router running DD-WRT so I can have Wi-Fi just a bout anywhere. It will probably be something like this link but without a the case

Crashmaxx (author)2007-10-30

This is awesome! I can't tell you how long I have had a similar case and wanted to put a puter in it. In the end I went with a large ammo box instead, which is still cool. But this is all in one and portable! Perfect for LAN parties and such.

Pumpkin$ (author)Crashmaxx2010-03-24

Please post the ammo box mod. I NEEDS IT lol.

dombeef (author)Crashmaxx2009-01-02

Can you show a picture?

Pumpkin$ (author)2010-03-24

Improving upon this, I'm gonna use a plexi-glass shield over the hardware that the Keyboard can be set on (In the bottom) and the Keyboard is gonna be wireless, so I can pull it out of the  case and stand in front of it. Possibly Ipod-Touch controlled!!! (Note: I hate apple, but it's a necessary evil)

santy22 (author)2009-09-22

nice and "Sweet" case! LOL PUN

Lance Mt. (author)2009-07-22

Why not have the monitor face into the box? You could also throw in a spot for a temp keyboard. Just that it would protect the screen and save some effort.

jjjjack (author)2009-05-18

looks like somethin youd see n a james bond movie! : ) hahaha, i like!

cotton (author)2009-01-21

no offence theres a rats nest in this and this is a bad idea if its server that stays in realy long like for a weeb beacue all the heat unless itsopen then

notveryreal (author)cotton2009-02-08

There are ventilation fans.

cotton (author)notveryreal2009-04-22

still the head and stuff is a problem _

MattGyver92 (author)2009-04-07

Impressive. Although, I myself would have the LCD facing the inside of the case to keep it from getting scratched and just make a dashboard to hide the guts, good job. Nice case by the way, where'd you get it? I could use a case like that for a portable xbox project...

T-K (author)2009-04-02

Mixxx is an awesome program, considering its free. Great idea!

austin (author)2007-04-03

next try to carry that through an airport.

MJTH (author)austin2008-10-16

Haha thats what I was going to say!

bwpatton1 (author)MJTH2009-03-26

Airport security- "HEY THAT GUYS GOT A BOMB" *SCREAMING* ................................

hcold (author)2009-01-05

This would be very cool with a micro-ATX board and Pico power, set-up. Well done.

cotton (author)2007-12-05

lol i want it and it looks ike a copy of this other thing i saw on youtube

Darkshot (author)2007-10-14

put neon on the sides of the monitor too make it look cool and just not look so rough or EL wire lights which hook up to computers i think

Darkshot (author)2007-10-14


TheMadScientist (author)2007-09-11

If I had a suitcase like this, It would have been modded to hell a LONG time ago...

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2007-09-01


DIY Dave (author)2007-05-15


binnie (author)2007-04-17

sweet! i cant wait till i build one, but i still prefer rackmounts :)

stone3408 (author)2007-04-10

That is sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet! Nice craftsmanship. I would go with the lexan screen very cool.

jongscx (author)2007-04-05

Heh... methinks we have the same source for computer cases...

bluebomb (author)2007-04-03

This is a really good start to a good equipment case mod. I agree you need to look into some better ventilation. That little power supply fan will never keep the whole system cool with the lid closed. I really like the fact that you threw a screen on the top of it, adds a really nice touch. I would get some rubber molding or cut some tubing to hide the ruff edges around the screen though.

What are the system specs? Guess it doesn't have to be too impressive for a LAMP server.

Oh and this is my equipment case mod:

reflectedstatic (author)bluebomb2007-04-03

Thanks. It's always really cool to see a very nice completed project for inspiration while stalled on one of my own. You have a lot more LEDs and much better looking switches than I do, not to mention the super-slick analog meters. That's a really nice setup all-told, and probably much sturdier than mine. It'll definitely need a couple more fans before really trying to run it closed. It idles at around 47 degrees C under no load when closed and standing up with the fans at full-speed. That climbs scary-fast when it's actually asked to do much of anything. The edges of the hardboard around the monitor still aren't trimmed out because I'm still trying to decide whether to put a permanent lexan shield over the monitor or just make a removable aluminum shield. I have no excuse other than laziness for not trimming out the rest. The hardware is a bit overkill for a LAMP server, but it also gets to stretch its legs pretty regularly with graphics editing. AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (nice choice on yours, by the way) on an MSI K9NGM-2 with 2GB DDR2 677; 80GB Seagate (I don't really store much on it, obviously); RT2500-based MSI wireless/bluetooth card; occasionally with an HP Lightscribe 710i DVD+/-R (freebie from my brother) when I actually need to use media (the case doesn't exactly close when it's in place). The monitor is a cheap-ish Samsung 17" (can't remember which model) in the ever-awkward 1280x1024 aspect ratio. It has a horrible native gamma, but I actually kind of like that, because it forces me to choose colors very carefully in the graphics work I do. All told, it works pretty well.

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