I had this sweet old toaster sitting around that I'd gutted years ago. Until recently, Mini-ITX offerings haven't included sufficient horsepower to do 1080p decoding smoothly. The Nvidia ION chipset changes all that, since it support VDPAU extremely well, and ZOTAC's motherboard are very full-featured, allowing me to keep my 3-drive software RAID, boot HD and even hook up my burner with USB. The board I used even has WiFi!
There's a bunch more information at my website if you're interested. On to the instructions!
I completed this project in an evening, and didn't take any pictures along the way, so this is an attempt at reconstruction of what actually went down. I'm also typing this using the very toaster PC that this instructable is about, so this may be a bit more difficult than it could be.
- Old toaster body (this is a Sunbeam I found for $10)
- ZOTAC IONITX-A-U Atom 330 1.6GHz Dual-Core 441 NVIDIA ION Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo (any Mini-ITX board will do, but this one is AWESOME!)
- Some RAM (I had 4 1GB modules in my old box, so I stole 2)
- A boot hard disk or SSD (I used a WD Raptor that already had Ubuntu on it)
- General computer equipment - monitor, cables, keyboard, mouse, etc.
- Metal Hardware Assortment from Electronic Goldmine
Step 1: Cutting the Case
I used a plama cutter (overkill, I know) to take this section out. I just eye-balled it, and tweaked around the motherboard until it fit about right. Make sure to do the correct side of the toaster! It helped me to lay the motherboard inside the case and approximate where the connectors lined up. Be careful of ESD though - it could easily kill your brand new motherboard!
NOTE: The picture below is of the front of the toaster, but the back looked identical. Pick which end of the toaster you want to be the back and cut that end.
Step 2: Adding Standoffs and Glue
In the picture, which I took after the fact, I've already hot glued the standoffs to the toaster body. Make sure you connect any hard-to-reach components to the board before mounting it inside the toaster. SATA, USB headers, and RAM should all be installed prior to hot gluing.
Make sure you don't allow any of the components on the side of the board touch the toaster body either. I found I could drip hot glue pretty accurately through the slots in the top to hit the upper standoffs on the board. I also added those cute little feet on the right - they just make it sit slightly more level, but they're not strictly necessary.
Once you let your glue set up for at least 5 minutes, your board is mounted! Don't be afraid to use more glue than it looks like is needed - it has a hard time sticking to the smooth metal surface. It's non-conductive, glob that stuff on there!
Step 3: Hook Everything Up!
I measured the power consumption again with my Kill-a-watt. Idle, the computer with all the drives hooked up consumes' between 60 and 70 watts, a 100W savings! That's 2.4KWh per day I'm saving, and I can do all the same things I needed to do before. I just processed some video from my camera that I uploaded to YouTube (it's on the next step), and that took absolutely forever since it was 100% Atom processor instead of Nvidia chipset. But, I do that so rarely that it doesn't really matter. Overall, I'm very pleased!
Step 4: Optional: Enable Wake-on-LAN
- Go into the CMOS
- Chipset -> South Bridge Configuration -> On board Gigabit LAN boot ROM -> Enable
- Boot into Linux
- $ ethtool eth2 # change to whatever interface it shows up as
- $ ifconfig eth2 # write down the hardware address
- Make sure it has a 'g' after the Wake-on-LAN options
- Find another computer and install Wake-on-LAN client software (to send the messages)
- Shutdown your ZOTAC
- $ wakeonlan -p 7 [MAC address of ZOTAC] # That's PORT 7, not PORT 9 - the default
Step 5: Optional: Add More Powahh! (Sorry, Scotty...)
Just find an old power supply with a molex male connector, and a SATA to molex female extension. Then solder the old molex male onto a spliced area on your ZOTAC power thing. It's pretty simple - if you understand basic DC power and molex connectors, you should be all set. Make sure to get the grounds correct! If you don't, you could end up with +5V and -12V, which is NOT good.