Instructables

The Cardboard Computer

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Picture of The Cardboard Computer
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Hey everybody!  This is the cardboard computer case I made.  I had an old ancient Dell Dimension 2400 that was in serious need of a make over, just in time for the Cardboard and Duck Tape contest! Even though it seems like it would be very hard, taking apart a computer and putting it back together again in a cardboard box, really isn't to hard.  There is no soldering involved, just a lot of patience:)  If you aren't sure whether or not you can do this, Google a disassembling guide for your particular computer.  It's a ton of fun and the results are very rewarding:)

I considered painting my cardboard box or somehow making it look like it isn't cardboard, but then I decided it would be pretty cool if it really just looked like a cardboard box, so that is the design I went with.  I hope you like it:) 

If you like this 'ible, Please vote for it in the Cardboard & Duck tape, Up! 3d printer, and the Make-to-Learn Youth Contests.

For the Make-to-Learn Youth contest I have to answer four questions about what I learned doing this project:

What did you make?
I made a case for my computer out of cardboard.  The case the computer had was big, ugly, and weighed a ton!  So I decided to make a smaller better looking case for it.  In fact, the whole computer in its new case weighs less than the old case alone!  I wanted it to look cool, but also be obvious that it was made of cardboard.  That was why I didn't paint it.  The case is made entirely of cardboard, except for the catch I used to hold the lid down, it is a magnetic snap that was supposed to be used for a purse.  I used an Xacto knife to cut out the parts, and used mostly hot melt glue to hold it together.    

How did you make it?
I came up with the idea of making a case out of cardboard when I was looking through the contests on Instructables a few days ago.  I saw the Cardboard contest and knew I just had to make something for it, and I came up with this!  I made this without any help, and it took me two days:)  Some of my ideas for it changed as I went along, for instance at first I was going to cut all of the holes in the cardboard sort of squiggly, but then I decided straight lines and geometric shapes would look better (and curved lines are WAY to hard to cut;).  

Where did you make it?

I made it this completely at home.

What did you learn?
Wow. I learned a LOT from this!  I never thought I would be able to do it!  It was much easier than I thought, the hardest part was remembering where everything went.  It was also a challenge to fit everything into the cardboard box, and mounting the parts in the box so that everything was sturdy enough.  I learned a lot about how computers work when I was looking up guides for taking the old computer apart.  I also learned that the only time super glue sticks to ANYTHING is when you don't want it to.  Like sticking my fingers together, for example;)  Seriously, though I had a great time with this project, and learned a lot:)

 
 
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Don't let it overheat!
I hate how everyone is saying this will catch fire, there is a fire hazard but it is very small, I'm not gonna explain it because so many others have, but i did the same thing with an old PC my brother gave me, i took it out of the case and built it into my desk, my mother and step-dad saw it and flipped saying "you're gonna burn the whole house down!" which no there was no fire hazard, as the PC had an open front and was very well ventilated, had to remove it from my desk, but once I am able it is going right back into it, cause it just looks awesome.
jackowens10 months ago
This would be a really cool project. To speed up the old Dimension, maybe you could put a 30GB SSD in it. That would run you about $50, but it would make a world of a difference. Anyways, I really like this idea, too bad I just got rid of two Dimensions at a garage sale :P
sunFlow3r (author)  jackowens10 months ago
Thanks! Putting in an ssd is a really good idea, I might just do that:) I use it for a media center so any speed I can get is great:) I already added a GB of ram and that helped alot too.
andrea biffi11 months ago
you're a real geek! ;-)
sunFlow3r (author)  andrea biffi11 months ago
Haha I take that as a complement ;)
of course it is! :-) let us know when you'll find out you last third nature!
jensenr3011 months ago
Very neat! xD
sunFlow3r (author)  jensenr3011 months ago
Thank you!
MrPapaya1 year ago
I wouldn't worry TOO much about the flammability of the cardboard. The most hazardous part of a PC is the power supply. It is enclosed in it's own steel box. Any flames from a short or failed component are likely to occur & stay within the PSU case. They would generally not last long enough to ignite the cardboard, anyhow. A PC is protected by quite a few fuses other than the main AC power input fuse. Many of these fuses are tiny, surface-mount components that we don't even recognize as a fuse.

I've seen several catastrophic PC failures. Smoke & heat, perhaps a spark. Never seen flame. The heat generated by the components of a PC generally don't go higher than the inside of a car on a sunny day. Does your car ignite? In fact, you can bake cupcakes at 350 degrees F, yet the paper cups do not burn up. This is TWICE the temp of most CPUs.

A steel computer case DOES serve a very important function. A PC generates a lot of radio frequency noise. The case limits this noise. It also serves to keep all the components properly grounded.  Grounding & RF are much more of a concern than fire with this project.
sunFlow3r (author)  MrPapaya1 year ago
Thanks for the great explanation and thanks for reading:)
VadimS1 year ago
Why does everyone complain about the cardboard catching fire.
The fact is cardboard has a flash point of about 225c and ABS is only about 300c.
Cool project, I wouldn't use it for my own, but for a cheap kid's computer why not.
sunFlow3r (author)  VadimS1 year ago
Exactly! It was just an old computer I had lying around, so I decided to do something cool with it:)
Br4nd0n321 year ago
Very creative, and can customize easier. It's seems flamable maybe a v2 with water cooling or something to make it safer :)
sunFlow3r (author)  Br4nd0n321 year ago
Thanks! It may be a little flammable, but it stays pretty cool:)
I would'nt worry too much. The flashpoint of paper is 451 fahrenhiet...not sure what that is in celsius. So far I've owned roughly 40 or so computers none of which has caught fire. That being said, it's a totally cool project and my grandkids would modify something like this continously.
Congrats sunFlow3r. Do a few more and inspire the rest of us
sunFlow3r (author)  opadave1 year ago
Wow... Thanks for such a nice comment:) I really appreciate it! Yes, I'm not to worried about it catching fire, it stays nice and cool. Besides I'm pretty sure a computer would shut down way before 450 degrees anyway;)
Very Cool and Fun too :)
sunFlow3r (author)  Tarun Upadhyaya1 year ago
Thanks:)
smitty161 year ago
I have built a computer from scratch and I wold not recomen caseing it with cardboard
1 because its a fire hazard
2 because it looks loke a red neck computer
But if you realy want to build one out of cardboard I would recomend buying 2 to 3 case fans for it
SunFlow3r made a cool project, I don't think there is a fire hazard. Bad things start happening to computers if the hot parts get above 80-100 C, which is ~200 deg F- well below the flammability of paper. This project could be fun for a child's computer, it could be drawn on and decorated.
what if a wire shorts out
that isn't going to start a fire
it isn't imminent to start a fire but it is likely
sunFlow3r (author)  Phil Cyr1 year ago
Thanks! I appreciate it:)
sunFlow3r (author)  smitty161 year ago
It actually stays very cool with just the one fan, however I may get another anyway. I actually like how it looks:) I think it's cool:)
TekoMuto1 year ago
I made one of these once and the result was this:
I am still worried that it will catch fire, but what if we were to put a small chunk of dry ice in there, a really cool smoke effect from inside
Vitamin-A1 year ago
Cool... but why?
sunFlow3r (author)  Vitamin-A1 year ago
Why not???....... It was just an old computer I had lying around, so I thought I'd do something cool with it:)
batman961 year ago
HAHA, I had that same pc, a friend gave it to me, but it was missing the plastic heat sink shroud so I made a new one from card stock and tape.
Pretty cool. Only sort of a fire hazard
Awesome project! Using skewers on the side was an awesome touch.

Thanks for sharing and good luck in the contests!

GM
sunFlow3r (author)  GorillazMiko1 year ago
Thanks!
When I first saw this Instructable, the first image that flashed through my mind was a computer on fire with people screaming in the background. Then I saw the ventilation you created in the casing. How long have you had this computer running for, and has there been any signs of the computer overheating enough where it could it get damaged due to the case being made of cardboard?
sunFlow3r (author)  GorillazMiko1 year ago
I just finished it a few days ago, but I've ran it for probably about 12 hours and it has stayed very cool. In fact, I can touch the heat sink and it is warm, but not hot:)
Patjoe991 year ago
Its all fun and games untill your computer lights on fire
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