NUT Case for Mini-ITX (Prints on Ender 3)

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Introduction: NUT Case for Mini-ITX (Prints on Ender 3)

About: My user name is pronounced May King, as I originally designed it. Others may know me as Volans (flying) Greeting and Salutations

NUT Case - A Novel UtiliTarian Case for Mini-ITX motherboards

I began this project to meet the needs of many people who are looking for a Mini-ITX case that can print on Ender 3 and similar sized printers, including myself. I expect to add a few pieces to expand the options available as my time permits. Sorry for the dust... it's my first try at posting an Instructable. Major updates on Mondays and Fridays for now.

A little background.

I was tasked with the creation of a small computer to add to my wife's 'cozy computer stand'. As a temporary improvement to her aging laptop, I added a 24" monitor to the stand. But ultimately, it's time to replace the basic system. I selected a Mini-ITX (6.7" x 6.7") motherboard since many systems in this class are just as capable as their larger cousins on the north bridge, just limiting the number of slots available. For instance, you will find only 2 memory slots on this small motherboard. But with each slot supporting 32 GB, you can still have a system with 64 GB of RAM if you like.

Many of these boards now support two M.2 NVMe drives, two RAM slots and limit the number of PCI expansion slots to 1. Four SATA ports are standard. Onboard graphics and audio processing is sufficient for 2D games and office applications, so I decided to initially not use the PCIe slot. Maybe a future remix will support a graphics card. This makes the Mini-ITX form factor great for a small build as the system drive is mounted directly on the motherboard.

As a bonus, this Instructable has a few ministructables in the final Step 9: Design Challenges where I discuss 3D design and printing on consumer class 3D printers. I cover basic steps to assemble your own Mini-ITX motherboard with either Intel or AMD processor before assembling the case. Some portions of this Instructable were written on the prototype NUT Case system featured here. In particular, this portion. You must test out your system build somehow. IT WORKS!

The Search for a Case

I first decided to see what kind of commercial cases you can get for the 170mm x 170mm Mini-ITX motherboards. It's been eight years since I built a system from scratch and few things have changed. Unfortunately, most of these cases save little room compared with standard mATX or ATX cases. Not even close to the size reduction I was hoping for.

I looked online for other 3D printed, custom case builds. None of them seemed as compact as what I needed, and they mostly required a larger sized 3D printer to complete printing the larger parts. I saw many comments requesting that cases be designed for Ender 3 class 3D printers. A search for Mini-ITX specs led me to Protocase Resources where I found all the positions of mounting hole patterns and cutouts in standard case construction for the motherboard. But not the power supply.

I'll Design It Myself

After searching other projects here and there, I decided it was possible to create a case that would be of the smallest possible form factor, use regular semi-modular ATX power and allow for stylish elements. Armed with the specific numbers, as crazy as they are, for standard case layouts, I proceeded to build the smallest space to contain the items I had before me! With a few measurements of components and resources like Protocase, I came up with a base dimension of 195 mm x 160 mm, which fits on standard 3D printers of the 220 mm / 8" class. The motherboard case is 196 x 195 mm.

The case is divided into assemblies with the base containing the power supply, the center section handles the motherboard and the top holds additional drives and interfaces. I used a very minimalist approach and clearances are tight. There are mounts for four 2.5" drives as well as a full 5.25" drive bay option in the works.

Along the way I developed a pin rivet system to hold most of the system together. It just turned out that my first attempts worked well with 1.75 mm filament. Just in case I decided to use nuts and screws instead, the case has built-in recesses for 4 mm nuts on the interior of the case in each location where a pin rivet hole exists to join case sections. You may print pin rivets or use 4 mm x 8 mm metal screws with 4 mm nuts to hold the case together.

Steps in a NUT Case

You can build various elements in any order as you print the required parts until you have the major assemblies that will pop together. Mix up this order as you see fit. You may find it's easier to wire things in a different order, and I certainly jumped around to whatever was convenient to plug in or put together.

Print the parts; one each mITX_PS, mITX_MB, mITX_SP, mITX_AI and a minimum of five sets PR54-10-7 pin rivets using a selection of complementary colors! You may also need SWx items to hold a power switch as well as any other I/O panels, like the SWusb. The optional mITX_DB drive bay top hat can hold two 2.5" notebook drives.

    1. 3D Printed Parts.
    2. Pin Rivets and Assembly.
    3. Assemble a power switch.
    4. Assemble USB (optional)
    5. Populate motherboard (Intel)
    6. Populate motherboard (AMD)
    7. Assemble mITX_MB.
    8. Assemble mITX_PS.
    9. Wire and Assemble Sections.
    10. Design Challenges.

    Updates -

    21.02.22 - NUT Case v1.1, a complete Mini-ITX NUT Case instructions (no STLs yet)

    21.02.26 - v1.1 STL files uploaded

    21.03.01 - Additional files added, DaZ flowers, PSinside

    21.03.05 -Step 6: Populate Motherboard (AMD) is added with pictures and a new air intake STL
    . existing Steps are pushed down with updates throughout

    Supplies:

    To Make a NUT Case you need:

    A basic 8" 3D printer - 210 x 210 x 180 mm build space or larger
    . (I used Anycubic i3 MEGA-S and Creality Ender 3 printers)

    • 1 kg Inland PLA+ worked well for me
    • great with multiple colors for various parts
    • your basic 3D printer tools (what ever works for you)

    These items typically come with commercial cases;

    The following items are what I put into this case. But it's your system, so buy what suits your needs. I use these parts to demonstrate the basic elements of assembling your own system. RAM, M.2 NVMe drives, 2.5" drives and CPU are dependent on your choice of motherboard!! Please search other sources to determine what sort of system you need, as motherboard details will change over time. This Instructable is about building a Mini-ITX system in the NUT Shell case.

    misc screws; most of the hardware will come with your components

    • four #6-32 x 1/4" screws
    • four #6-32 x 1/4" screws (with power supply)
    • four 4 mm x 30 mm screws (or use fan supplied mounting hardware)
    • four 4 mm hex nuts (fan)
    • four 3 mm screws (provided with optional 2.5" drives, I hope)
    • thirty 4 mm x 6 mm screws (case, optional if printing PR5x pin rivets)
    • thirty 4 mm nuts (case, optional if printing PR5x pin rivets)

    Step 1: 3D Printed Parts

    Overview

    In this first step, I review the major 3D printed parts that go into this build and the printers I used. The largest piece is the mITX_MB motherboard section which takes almost 300 grams of filament and possibly day or more to print. My last slice for the MEGA resulted in an 18 hr build. That was, accidentally, without support. I set it to print and found that the back opening had completed with a little sag in the top.

    Next in size is the mITX_PS section to house the power supply, the optional mITX_DB, drive bay on top, the mITX_SP, side panel and the mITX_AI, air intake piece with a CPU fan adapter. The smaller bits are covered in the next step.

    My hole spacing to connect major parts is 60 mm throughout the case, as shown in the primary picture for this section. Case fans have their own hole spacing, 105 mm for 120 mm fans. The front panel is designed to accommodate two inserts that can be as large as 20 mm x 40 mm. Two of these openings are positioned between the three attachment holes spaced at 60 mm. Step 2: Pin Rivets & Assembly takes a closer look at the various options for covering the NUT Case standard openings in this case.

    I had just modified my Ender 3 for direct drive and added a PEI removable bed when I began this project. This combination worked quite well with the Inland PLA+ I used. Regular PLA doesn't stick as well to PEI so I gave it a shot of 4x hold hair spray when printing regular PLA. The Ender printed most of the larger pieces.

    The Ultrabase bed on my Anycubic i3 Mega S is great with PLA right out of the box. The Mega was my first printer and has been easy to setup, reliable and a real workhorse in my printer farm. Pushing the bed temperature to 80 C for the Inland PLA+ works really well to get it to stick.

    I accidentally sliced an mITX_MB piece without supports and put it to work in the evening on the MEGA using the Inland PLA+ green. By morning, the motherboard I/O shield opening had finished without support. There was droop across the opening, but the wall continued above the 6" opening and only one strand of filament was separated from the top part of the wall. I decided to let the print finish since the remaining openings were smaller at the top. The final print needs a little work to trim back the droops, but it is a usable case. I'm amazed at this filament.

    Finally, regarding my 3D printing practices, I use Cura to slice and transfer to the printer on SD card. I have been using this old, old copy of 123D Design for my CAD, just because it's still on my system (yeah, I need a new computer too) and I'm kind of used to it. I'm working on learning Fusion 360, but not there yet.

    So, here's the major parts and how I printed each one. A few stats are attached. Your results will vary widely depending on your printer and settings. Oh, and, everything is printed with a 0.4 mm steel nozzle unless otherwise noted.

    mITX_MB.stl - Motherboard case

    This part may be the most difficult to print. Have you ever seen a standard Ender 3 flexible bed pull up at the corners and eventually be pushed aside on a large build like this? I have! My first big build for this project used a fairly new standard Ender flexible magnetic bed. And I found the magnetic bed with the start of the build stuck to it dumped in front of the printer after printing overnight. It pulled up severely at all 4 corners. Of course, after that happened, the rest is just angel hair pasta. I worked through several prototypes to get this final offering that, I hope, prints well for you. Step 9: Design Challenges reviews how I tackled challenges that this project presented.

    The PEI sheet on steel works great with the magnetic bed on my Ender. You can remove it to spray it with hair spray away from the printer works, it stays attached to the bed, and it is glass smooth - the bottom of the print doesn't have the Ultrabase waffle pattern that I get on the Mega. I put some hair spray on the PEI to help the PLA stick. For this build I used it with a new roll of Inland PLA+, Dark Blue which sticks fairly well without the spray. The print came out great in open air with a 80 C bed and 215 C hotend. My final proof print is in red, although that is not the color I want for my current build. I'm using a deliverable prototype in most of the pictures.

    I saved a bit of time by pushing the layer thickness to 0.24 mm instead of the more standard 0.2 mm with a 0.4 mm nozzle. The first layer is kept at 0.3 mm for all my builds. Support is required, and if you push it to 70 degrees, the rivet holes will remain free of supports, which I like since it reduces post processing of the print. The rivet holes in vertical surfaces are actually octagons so the angle is 67.5 degrees at the top of each hole. The primary areas for support are the fan opening and other rectangular openings in the case at 90 degrees.

    • 195.8 x 195 x 154 mm print volume 284 g, 29 hr
    • 20% infill , 70 degree support , 0.24 mm layers after .3 mm first layer


    mITX_PS.stl - Power Supply

    The mITX_PS is the base of the system and holds a standard ATX12v power supply. I suppose you could put a smaller SFF style power supply in, but that might be a nice option for future remake or extension to make this little NUT Shell a bit smaller. The layout allows for mounting the unit with it's intake fan pulling from inside the case or from the bottom of the case. Four FT24, the 24 mm tall feet, are recommended to provide clearance for intake air if the power supply fan is oriented towards the bottom.

    I decided to use a silk lining inside the mITX_PS piece to hide the sides of the power supply because it was a nice color and appearance. In Step 7: Assemble mITX_PS, I show how I put that bit together. Alternately, you may opt to install a bare power supply in which case you need to use mITX_PS1 to replace the cardboard I use in this build. This is a simple rectangular piece that is 1.05 mm thick to raise the power supply to the proper height to match the mounting holes.

    • 194.2 x 159.2 x 120 mm print volume, 170 g, 12.5 hr
    • 20% infill, 70 degree support, 0.24 mm layers after 0.3 mm first layer


    mITX_DB.stl - Drive Bay (under construction)

    The drive bay holds the power switch and USB panel in this prototype build. It can also accommodate two 2.5" drives that are mounted to the top inside of the case. A few extra holes are thrown in to attach things later. I setup this configuration with the top panel to show the full build as originally posted. I anticipate developing alternate items for this top hat position.

    The drive bay has the same cross section as the power supply case, since they both mate to opposite ends of the motherboard case. Both parts were developed from the same parent objects.

    • 194.2 x 159.2 x 50 mm print volume, 155 gm PLA, 12 hr print time
    • 20% infill, 70 degree support, 0.2 mm layers after 0.3 mm first layer


    mITX_SP.stl - Side Panel

    The side panel is designed to accommodate an air intake over the location of the CPU fan by utilizing an air intake plate. It centers a 120 mm fan layout over the motherboard. The side panel is a way to interface a custom air duct to this system. I used a hole spacing of 105 mm to mate the required air intake to this piece. See the mITX_AI listed next.

    • 185 x 195 x 14 mm print volume, 39 gm PLA+ ,3.5 hr,
    • 20% infill, no support, 0.2 mm layers, 0.3 mm first layer
    • the side panel allows for attaching an mITX_AI air intake


    mITX_SP2.stl - revision of the side panel to attach to mITX_MB at the top

    I modified the 'top edge' to attach this to the mITX_MB at the top, previously only the sides were attached. The original mITX_SP was designed with the prototype MB piece which was open at the top, like at the bottom power supply.

    • 193 x 185 x 14 mm print volume, 44 gm PLA, 5 hr on the Ender 3
    • 20% infill, no support, 0.2 mm layers, 0.3 mm first layer
    • this modified side panel fixes an overlap problem at the top and provides additional

    mITX_AI.stl - Air Intake, Intel socket 1200 with stock i5 fan

    This side of the case really sucks, air that is. And if you are using a different motherboard, this piece may not match your CPU heat sink fan location!! I plan to continue this Instructable as a living document for the next trip around the sun called 2021. As part of that, I can help with customization of the air intake for different boards. The naming of mITX_AI files will evolve as I develop additional air intakes for the NUT Case.

    I put together an air intake that is passive and relies on the stock CPU fan to pull in air for an LGA 1200 socket system. A screen can go over the opening to prevent your parakeet from entering the system to nest at night. I glued a piece of lacy fabric over the opening to help prevent dust and larger items from getting into the CPU fan. If you use a fabric, make sure it doesn't shed particles. Some glitters could damage the electronics if they are allowed to enter the case.

    The opening can accommodate a 120 mm fan so if you really want to push air, go for it. See the assembly of the motherboard case fan if you go with this option. It is the same in this location, but the hardware that came with the fan works fine here too. You will notice my second board is AMD based and I used the 120 mm fan to replace the 90 mm fan that came with the stock cooler. See the next file.

    There are two pieces in this print. The smaller part is a CPU fan ring to help interface the air intake to the CPU fan. This helps to force the air flow through the CPU heat sink and improves cooling efficiency. I used a blue silk PLA to get a metallic look on the intake, even though it is hidden behind some lacy fabric.

    • 145 x 145 x 80 mm print volume, 67 gm PLA, 4 hr 15 min
    • 20% infill, no supports, 0.2 mm layers, 0.3 mm first layer

    mITX_AI-WraithPrism.stl - Air intake, AM4 socket with Wraith Prism cooler

    My second Mini-ITX motherboard is an ASUS B550i that has an AM4 socket. The CPU came with the Wraith Prism cooler, so I adapted the NUT Case to provide superior cooling for this combination. The stock fan is 90 mm and was in the way! I decided it was easier to use the fan opening I designed into the side panel to provide cooling air to the CPU cooler.

    Review

    Printing these pieces will take a few days if you only have one printer. I've tried to make them a little more printer friendly. Be sure to review the entire Instructable to ensure this is suitable for your computer build before printing the larger structures.

    NOTE: The air intake, mITX_AI, is designed for the ASUS Z490i gaming Mini-ITX motherboard. The position of the CPU fan may vary on other motherboards. As part of the ongoing development of this Instructable, I'll put together some guidance on how to make an air intake for motherboards that use a stock CPU heat sink and fan like this one. I will also post custom air intakes for any motherboard I use in this system.... I need a new system too, ya know!

    MORE NOTE: The second air intake design is together. It works with a Wraith Prism cooler on an AM4 CPU. Now I need a NUT Case v2 that can hold a graphics card. The ongoing saga of the NUT Case.

    Step 2: Pin Rivets and Assembly

    Overview

    Pin rivets are used throughout the NUT Case. In addition to retaining decorative pieces, pin rivets can be used to hold the entire case together. I would recommend using at least twelve sets and up to 30 sets of 4mm steel hardware (nuts and bolts) to hold the case together if you plan on traveling with the NUT Case on a regular basis, but the pin rivets are great if it's just sitting there or only traveling to another room in the house.

    Each PRxy-z-y.stl file contains 18 sets of pin rivets. You will need lots and lots of these, so, load up a build plate with as many sets as you like. Print these in multiple colors to mix and match pins and rivets for various looks. Sometimes the pin or rivet breaks when removing but they are cheap little parts so keep some on hand. The tools I used include a bent punch, tooth picks (square plastic picks to clear rivet holes), tweezers (offset is nice), a nail file (smooths down the pin shaft), 1.75 mm filament, pliers (again, offset is more useful) and diagonal cutters, for quick disassembly.

    I encountered some variation in diameter of the pins when printed with various filaments. Also, the heads are small and sometimes they can dislodge from the build surface when printing. For this reason I don't recommend combining these on bigger pieces, like dropping a set in the middle of a mITX_PS print. I've had about 1 in 4 failures with printing pin rivets because of the rounded edges at the build surface. It won't be long and I will post rivet only and pin only files. Some of the print failures were with washers printed along with a set of pin rivets.

    Washers are provided in four sizes; two diameters, 10 and 20 mm, and two thicknesses, 1 and 2 mm. The naming convention for washers is Wxyzz.stl. The x represents the diameter of the hole, y represents the thickness as a single digit and the zz represents the diameter as a two digit number. A W5110.stl washer is 1 mm thick and 10 mm diameter. These washers have an inner diameter of 5 mm to match the rivets. I used washers inside the case to hold the SWusb part because the USB plugs are tight and could cause the USB ports to pop loose when pulling the cable back out. The washers are a little smaller than some of the holes for mounting pieces and should be a bit tighter at holding SWx items to the case. I'm also considering glue on that particular piece.

    Sizes

    I needed a method the keep track of the various sizes of pin rivets that may be used in the NUT Shell. I'm using PRxy-z-w where w, x, y and z represent various dimensions in the rivet and associated pin. Pins are designed to match the height of the rivets in each file. I'm using empty Altoids cans to keep these organized by size.

    Using the file name form of PRxy-z-w.stl, the following correspondences are observed;

    • x - Rivet diameter (fits hole size x mm)
    • y - Rivet length, total thickness of material bound
    • z - Rivet head diameter
    • w - Pin head diameter

    For instance, the standard PR54-10-7.stl file has eighteen pins and rivets. The rivets are made for a 5 mm diameter hole and material thickness of 4 mm. The diameter of the rivet head is 10 mm and the diameter of the pin head is 7 mm. This size is used for major assembly of the case and attaching standard parts. I leave open the possibility for different size river and pin heads.

    Using Pin Rivets in Your NUT Case

    As stated above, the standard 4 mm long pin rivet is used for most of the case assembly since the outer walls are 2 mm thick and the interior mounting holes are about 1.9 mm thick. There may be places where you wish to attach a 1 mm thick decoration directly to the 2 mm case. You would need a 3 mm thick rivet. If you stack decorative items on case rivets, you may need longer rivets. Rivet sizes start at 3 mm and increase in 1 mm increments to 6 mm. The 5 mm long rivets can be used with two wall thicknesses and one 1 mm thick decorative piece, like the daisies I attached to the prototype NUT Case shown. Just add up the thicknesses, or use trial and error.

    Decorative items may be placed with any pin rivet location, but specific holes are provided on the mITX_MB bottom and mTX_DB top. These holes are arranged in a 100 mm x 100 mm square, centered, and accept the same pin rivets as the rest of the box. Choose a size that fits the thickness of items that you attach. I will expand on some ideas for decorative side pieces as this Instructable develops over time. I will setup an associated post on Thingiverse when I get this Instructable settled in to further develop this case and decorative elements.

    Alternate Pins

    The holes in the rivets are about 1.75 mm diameter, perfect for securing with a short length of filament rather than a printed pin. I found that toothpicks can work as well, just be sure to trim them, unless you want a spiky look. Yikes. The plastic picks shown are good to clear the hole in the rivet if it is tight. I push one into the head end of the rivet and twist to remove roughness. Another possibility is to use 14 ga hobby wire as a pin which can be bent into any creative shape. The little umbrella toothpicks can be a fun addition on top of a tropical themed case. Use your imagination here. Or just push a bit of filament into the hole and trim it off.

    How It Works

    Press a rivet in place through two or more items to be joined and set a pin in it to secure the rivet. Simple! The hole size in the rivet allows for the use of 1.75 mm filament to secure the rivet in addition to the printed pins. The pin can be inserted from either side of the rivet. It will hold better with the pin pushed in

    The tip of the rivet is thicker than the 5 mm hole it is designed for. So long as there is not a pin stuck in the rivet, the sides can bend a little and the rivet can be pushed in through the holes. After the rivet is set in place and the parts are squeezed together, push a pin into the rivet from either side to secure it in place. It is helpful to push from inside and outside the case to secure the rivet properly. For this reason leave the case fan installation until after everything else is together. The hole for the case fan allows access inside the case which is helpful in setting the rivets that connect major case parts together, the case rivets.

    Another technique I used was to insert my offset pliers through a hole near the rivet to hold the inside of the case so I could press the rivet all the way through both pieces before securing it with a pin. If it seems too tight you can trim it a little with a drill, but be careful to leave enough material to catch the rivet. I have been using a #1 Philips screwdriver that seems to have a 5mm diameter shaft so it makes a good test of the hole size.

    Here's a run down on the various parts available. Refer to the nice 3D views available to help select the items to really make your NUT Case pop. Or, create your own embellishments. That's really what I'd like to see. What more can you do to extend this little case.

    SWx Hole Covers

    I made a few power switch mounts, mainly numbered by hole size. i.e. SW7L3.stl is a simple front panel insert with a 7 mm hole and a couple of small 3 mm LED holes. I use one front panel mount for the switch insert and the other for a pair of USB 3.1 ports. You may design your own insert to provide specific I/O for your needs. See Step 3 for more about power switches.

    The SWx family of stl files files also contains several opening blanks to simply cover up some of the 20 x 40 mm holes provided for I/O access.

    FTx.stl - Foot with height of x (optional)

    Print four feet for a vertical or horizontal build. Use FT24 if the supply pulls air from the base. No feet are needed if you pull power supply cooling air from inside the case. But, feet make it a little easier to pickup. The top of mITX_PS case has air intake holes on all sides to supply cooling air in the standard configuration.

    There is an option to turn the completed unit on it's side for a horizontal case. The feet can go in any or all of the accessory pin rivet holes on the bottom of the mITX_MB section. Two on the mITX_PS and two on the mITX_MB works well. This will put the air intake facing up! The two feet on the mITX_MB section need to be 2 mm longer than the two on the mITX_PS in the horizontal position due to the wall offset between the two cases.

    Check out Step 7: Assemble the mITX_PS to see how the feet attach.

    Wxyzz.stl - Washers in various sizes.

    Who doesn't need a few more washers floating around. The simplest of designs, your classic 5 mm washer in a selection of sizes. Wxyzz.stl files are sized with x as the inner diameter, y is the height and zz is the outer diameter. I made 1 mm and 2 mm thick washers in 10 mm and 20 mm diameters.

    DaZx.stl - The flowers I used in the prototype build

    As you can see in the files, DaZ40x4 has four larger 40 mm flowers. DaZ22x9 has nine 22 mm flowers and DaZ20x9 has nine 20 mm flowers. The DaZfield file contains 12 each of the DaZ40, DaZ22 and DaZ20 flowers.

    PSin-side.stl - Color plates inside power supply

    Use two of these pieces on the sides of the power supply. Print an interior color for the power supply case and attach at the decorative attach points. An interior piece for the front of the power supply case is in the works. It's just a 1 mm thick piece with mounting holes to show a color though the holes.

    PSin-front.stl - Color plate in power supply front

    For use in the front of the mITX_PS case to provide a background color for the interior.

    Review

    The 3D printed pin rivets provide a easy method to assemble this case and attach items to it. Find the right size for the thickness you are setting up and it will hold securely. These rivets may break when inserting or removing or if the case encounters an impact, so test the security of each connection. Use 4 mm nuts and bolts to hold the case together if the NUT Case is intended for regular travel.

    Various SWx cover plates may be used in case openings for power or I/O. Others may be covered, decorated or used for air intake with filtering material. Use the variation that suits you and certainly make up something new to post! This little NUT Shell offers ample creative opportunity.

    Step 3: Assemble the Power Switch

    Overview

    There is a degree of flexibility and creative input required of the dear reader, builder, maker. It all starts with the power switch, literally and figuratively and that is where I suggest you begin. Many switches will work to activate your creation. It must be momentary, however.

    This one is good if you like to put the power button someplace that is actually convenient while keeping the PC out of the way, and cheaper than Amazon. I made an adapter (SW16) that should fit this switch, but haven't verified it. This kind of switch needs wires attached. There's a great selection here and ready to go, if you want to wait a month for shipping to the US. Other locations will vary.

    There are many choices out there and each of you has a unique inventory of parts, or lack there of. I'll show you how I put together my own and some options I provide. The SW12 and SW16 switch plates should work with the standard 12 mm and 16 mm switches. After searching for after market PC switches, I decided to expand on the selection of switch plates that I develop for this case.

    I looked at old computer cases to see how the typical power switch assembly works. In many cases, the physical switch is a small momentary switch that is depressed through a button assembly lever system. Power LED and drive activity LED often have clear light pipes to carry light from the front panel PC board to the front of the case. The variety and complexity is amazing in these small but important structures in commercial cases.

    Fortunately, I recognized the switch type because I use them in my projects all the time. I designed the simplest button lever to activate the switch and illuminate the button from behind with the power and drive activity LEDs. You may use any type of momentary switch in this application. I put a couple of front panel access holes in the motherboard case and drive bay assembly to install a power switch assembly and/or USB port presentation assembly.

    You will find many stl files with a SWxx file name here. The SW7L3 and SW12L3 files are for standard 7 mm and 12 mm momentary switches shown in the first picture. There are a couple of holes for the 3 mm LEDs which should press fit in and stay put. (additional pictures in the works)

    Sequence 1 (because this is how I make things)

    1. Identify the polarity of your LEDs.
    2. Mount parts (green LED, red LED, and switch) to a small scrap of perforated board and solder a header to appropriate devices. Your assembly will depend on your choice of front panel options. My layout allows the power and HDD lights to illuminate the power button while keeping the switch itself off to the side in the simplest manner.
    3. Attach the assembled switch board to the printed power button insert SW1a with a SW1b button.
    4. Select an open 20 x 40 slot and secure the with a couple of pin rivets.
    5. Reference your motherboard manual to connect wires to the front panel header on the motherboard.

    Sequence 2 (for off the shelf solutions)

    1. Purchase an after market PC switch.
    2. Select the correct size SWx switch plate to hold the switch and print it.
    3. Mount the switch in the SWx plate.
    4. Mount the plate in any open 20 x 40 mm hole.
    5. Reference your motherboard manual to connect wires to the front panel header on the motherboard.

    Review

    Other switch options are much simpler than my little side project. I supply a few mounting plates for other switches I have laying around. Or, choose a ready-to-go option online. The SW16 piece should work with 16 mm switches, SW7L3 takes a 7 mm switch and two 3 mm LEDs and SW12L3 takes a 12 mm switch and two 3 mm LEDs. The other SWx stl files are to cover openings in the case that aren't used for I/O ports.

    The case openings are 20 mm x 40 mm. There are two case openings and three rivet holes grouped in several areas of the case to accept the SWx pieces and mount switches and I/O. Use these as you see fit in your design.

    Step 4: Assemble USB Insert and Drives (optional)

    Overview

    I only need a couple of USB ports available on the front of the case so I arranged to stack a couple ports in a case opening, like with the power switch insert. The cable I used is here.

    Sequence

    1. Using a printed SWusb insert, attach the USB ports by sliding them into the piece.
    2. Insert the SWusb insert into the chosen opening on the case and secure with a couple of pin rivets.
    3. After the unit is inserted, secure the USB ports with two nylon ties.(It won't fit with ties on first)
    4. Attach the other end of the cable to the proper header on your motherboard in Step 6 or Step 8.

    Review

    Some of the motherboard headers are open pins while others have a guide. Sometimes, when removing a tight plug from a header with a guide the guide will come off too. It's delicate work but you can get the guide back on. For this reason I prefer to avoid repeatedly connecting things and disconnecting during the build. I don't need these ports until the unit is finished so I'll plug them in once with the final assembly.

    I also took a picture when I test fit the 2.5 " drives into the drive bay section. I am not using 2.5" drives in this build, but this is one place to put a couple. Some older drives may run hot so check for warpage over time if you put hot drives in here.

    Step 5: Add Components to Your Intel Motherboard

    Overview

    For this system I am installing dual M.2 drives of 1 TB each, an Intel i5 10400 CPU for LGA 1200 sockets and 32 GB of dual channel RAM (2 x 16 GB) onto an ASUS H470 ROG STRIX motherboard. This link goes to the manual for the motherboard I am using. Please find the manual for your motherboard as assembly details can vary.

    This Instructable is not about selecting these parts, as that is entirely dependent on your needs and budget. This is simply what I was able to get my hands on. I made my purchases before the end of 2020 and the motherboard and CPU are sold out at MicroCenter just a month later. I find a scarcity of parts in general (2021 Q1), evidently due to the pandemic increasing demand while making supply more difficult.

    The M.2 drives are type 2280, which means that they are 22 mm wide and 80 mm long. This system can use 2242, 2260 or 2280 M.2 drives. Some system have M.2 slots on opposite sides of the motherboard. This one has a dual M.2 stack with RGB lighting on top. Read your manual to see what it supports and how to mount the parts.

    The CPU is a six-core i5 with onboard Intel UHD Graphics 630 which is capable of 4k at 60 Hz. For this system it will be driving an old 24" 1080p monitor and no POV gaming, so there is plenty of graphics capability for this system's target applications without the need for a PCI graphics card.

    I decided to work on the M.2 drives first because the CPU would be in the way. Leaving the CPU until second gave me room to handle the M.2 stack. Similarly, the RAM would be in the way of dropping in the CPU, sooo the CPU goes next. And the CPU fan, of course. RAM is an easy, drop in item at the end of the process. I attached the 3D printed CPU fan ring at this point. Or wait until later in Step 6: Assemble mITX_MB.

    Sequence - for the ASUS H470 ROG STRIX motherboard

    1. M.2
      My Mini-ITX motherboard supports two M.2 drives. I fill those slots first following instructions that came with my motherboard. Each motherboard is different. Please review the instructions for your motherboard before continuing.
      I carefully removed the dual M.2 stack by removing the screws holding it down and lightly pulling it up. There is an RGB header connecting the top heat sink to the M.2 stack board. It is very fragile!
      First, I mount the bottom M.2 drive on the stack piece that I have removed entirely. Standoffs are provided for each drive. Screw in the standoff at the appropriate location for your drive. Mine are 2280 so I use the farthest location. Insert and lower the M.2 drive and secure it with the screw packaged with the standoff. Check your manual as details could be slightly different. There could always be something you need to remove if using a longer drive. Read the instructions provided with your motherboard.
      Then I flip the M.2 stack over and attach the second drive, which is probably slot 1. It is important to know on this board since the second M.2 slot shares a SATA channel with SATA port 2. But I'm not using SATA drives, just the two new identical M.2 NVMe drives. Again, your details will vary, but you may have a similar situation, so read your motherboard manual.
      Finally, I can attach the M.2 stack to the motherboard. I must carefully align the RGB header when reattaching the stack. These are the smallest, most fragile headers I have yet seen. Once the stack is properly seated I use the screws to keep it there. Keep track of which are long and which are short as you remove them.
    2. CPU - Intel LGA1200 socket
      Attach your CPU to the motherboard. Carefully follow the instructions that came with your motherboard. I'll run through the steps for my board as yours will likely be similar.
      For this LGA 1200 socket, the little arm next the socket provides pressure to hold down the CPU. Release it by pulling the end away from the socket until it clears the retention tab and rotate it up. The CPU retainer clip will pull back so you can rotate it out of the way as well.
      Remove the protective plastic cap and be sure to keep it! It is required if you need to return the motherboard for ANY reason. Notice that it rests ON TOP of the retaining clip - NOT INSIDE!
      The first motherboard I bought was a returned item (picture above). When I looked closely at the CPU socket I could see two areas where a pin was a kilter. I noticed they coincided with pins on the plastic cover, which doesn't go in here! CPU only inside the clip please! MicroCenter accepted my return of the previously returned board and I purchased the board you see here.

      The CPU will fit only one way. Review your motherboard manual to ensure proper orientation. Lightly drop the CPU onto the socket by it's edges only, lining up slots and tabs. Do not touch the contacts. Do not touch the socket! Edges only! And check that manual again!! If it's not lined up, just nudge it gently into place before closing the retaining clip.
      Reverse the earlier steps - gently rotate the retention clip down over the CPU while keeping the little arm rotated up. Make sure the retention clip lines up under the screw at the end and that the CPU does not slip as the retention clip slides into place when rotating the arm back down to the board. Once the little arm is all the way down and the clip is secured under the screw, slip the arm back under it's retention tab. The CPU is now secure. The rest is easy. (Not that this is hard, just the one spot you can easily ruin your motherboard, so take your time. Review the instrucions provided for your system.)
      If this is your first build, rest assured that you can do it! The process requires a little dexterity and knowledge you gain from reading your motherboard and CPU manuals. You are rightly concerned about the fragility of the connections in this socket. So don't open the socket until you have the CPU ready to place! Verify the orientation. Handle the CPU only by the edges. Make sure it is centered up/down and left/right. Notice that the contacts on the CPU are flat across the surface. If the CPU is slightly off, it's ok to gently nudge it into place before closing the retaining clip. Do not close the clip if it is not seated properly.
    3. CPU heat sink and fan
      My new CPU and cooler combination already had some thermal grease applied on the heat sink. I like to even it out with an old credit card or business card before joining. Only a thin layer is required but don't remove too much. And don't leave holes or gaps.
      Identify the header on the motherboard to use for the CPU fan. As you place the heat sink and fan on the CPU be sure to check the cable for efficient routing.
      NOTE: the arrows on the pins indicate the direction to rotate to REMOVE the fan. Spin the four retention pins opposite to the arrow and pull them up before positioning the heat sink assembly over the CPU. The white pins should line up and engage the motherboard holes around the CPU.
      Be sure the 4 retaining pins are all the way through the motherboard and then start depressing the black pins. Start with two diagonally opposite and press down together. Finish clicking the other two pins in and the CPU fan should be secure. Examine the bottom of the board to ensure all four pins are seated properly. Refer to your manual for specific instructions on your motherboard.
    4. RAM
      Populate the memory slots with your chosen memory according to instructions in your motherboard manual. I find it is best to check the orientation key in the slot and match the memory stick to it. Open the levers by rotating them out. Insert the memory evenly and squarely into the slot with a bit more pressure at the fixed side as it engages the connections. Finally, make sure the release levers are fully pushed in towards the memory stick and the memory is seated evenly across the length of the socket.
    5. CPU fan collar
      The fan collar is printed along with the mITX_AI, air intake to fit the stock heat sink supplied with my CPU. It helps to keep the CPU air flow contained and directed across the CPU heat sink and provides an interface to the 3D printed air intake, which filters and guides air into the CPU fan from the exterior of the case.

    Review

    Follow the instructions in your manual to populate your motherboard with the devices that you need to bring it to life! These steps are representative of what's required, but details for your system may differ.

    Now that the motherboard is populated, you could hook up the power supply and interfaces to check that it works. I printed a simple motherboard stand to keep it off the desk for testing, but I've seen many an open frame computer setup when searching for 3D printed PC cases. I used an LG external USB DVD multiwriter to install Windows 10 pro. I briefly mention installing an Operating System in Step 8: Wire & Join Sections. Of course, if you have a mITX_MB case printed, just mount it in there with a couple screws temporarily.

    Take appropriate static electricity precautions. If you throw sparks around your workspace, it's not your electrifying personality. Get static electricity under control! Often, carpeting and rubber sole shoes can generate a bit of a charge. In particular, a plastic work surface can be a problem. Use an anti-static spray if you have static problems. Or get an anti-static mat to work at. I work on a melamine surface covered with Kraft paper or cardboard.

    Back in the day we used to talk about a "MIL-SPEC-CAT" as your household pet may help you generate a charge when rubbing against you, or your balloon and we were testing items against sparks and radio noise. Now really, don't you always carry a helium balloon? Well, keep it and your cat clear of your electronics workspace.

    Handle electronics by the edges, kinda like the old LP records. Oh my, now I'm really dating myself!

    Step 6: Populate Motherboard (AMD)

    Overview

    The sequence of assembling the AMD motherboard is quite similar to the previous assemblage of the Intel LGA 1200 socket system. Always refer to the manual for your motherboard to ensure proper assembly. I installed one M.2 NVMe drive to the back of the motherboard, installed the CPU, the fan and finally the RAM.

    I decided to remove the stock fan on the provided Wraith Prism heat sink and mount a 120 mm fan to the side panel. I designed a duct to funnel air from the fan to the square heat sink. The B550 north bridge on the system I bought doesn't support currently available CPU graphics but requires a PCIe graphics card, so I'll be working on that! In the mean time, this motherboard will go into a reused case with an RX 580, 8 GB graphics card. I used this board to develop the mITX_AI-WraithPrism air intake in the hopes that other motherboards have the same CPU location.

    Sequence - for the ASUS ROG Strix B550i gaming motherboard (AMD)

    1. M.2
      I located a set of NVMe drive mounting screws that came with the motherboard. The socket I will use for this drive is located on the bottom of the motherboard. My drive came with a large heat sink that I would like to use. The M.2 slot on the top of the board has it's own heat sink, so I'm reserving the top slot for later.
      This is how I put this system together. Please refer to instructions for your specific motherboard to install your parts. I'm using a 2280 NVMe drive, so I place the standoff at the farthest location from the M.2 socket. I firmly insert the NVMe drive into the M.2 socket at an angle, and then lower it to the standoff. It should line up well with the standoff. Hold it down with the screw that was in the bag with the standoff.
      NOTE: My drive has a heat sink and it fit under the board on my mITX_MB piece. I removed the 2.5" drive positioning clip that was in the way.
    2. CPU
      The AMD processor is slightly different than the Intel processor we looked at in the last step. Whereas the Intel CPU has smooth contacts to interface to the socket, the AMD processor has pins. The pins must match to the socket before dropping it in. Check the corners of the socket and the CPU to find the marked corner that is missing a pin!
      Like the Intel socket, there is an arm to open and close the socket mechanism. The socket is open when the arm is in the upright position. Check your motherboard manual and CPU instructions to see the procedure for your motherboard.
      Raise the locking arm and drop the CPU into the socket. It should rest flush with the socket and be a little loose. Then, rotate the locking arm back down into the horizontal position and secure it under the catch. Don't touch the pins on the CPU. Handle it only by the edges!
    3. CPU fan
      Follow the directions that came with the CPU and motherboard to attach the heat sink/fan assembly to the CPU socket. Identify the clips and the side of the heat sink with the locking arm. My heat sink came prepared with thermal grease so I didn't have to apply it.
      Drop the heat sink onto the CPU with the hold down clips aligned with the catches on the motherboard socket. Clip the side with the locking lever first. Make sure the locking lever is in the unlocked position, to the left. Next, press down the clip on the other side of the heat sink to engage the catch. Finally, rotate the locking arm clockwise to secure the heat sink to the CPU and socket.
      The Wraith Prism cooler has a 90 mm fan attached to the heat sink. It has been useful through the process so far as something we can grab onto and not damage the heat sink fins. I removed the fan by slipping a small screwdriver under two clips on one side and work the fan assembly off the heat sink. Now the Wraith Prism heat sink is exposed, so be careful.
      I found the assembled motherboard to be compact and easy to handle. The NUT Case design uses a 120 mm fan to supply cooling air to the CPU.
    4. RAM
      The RAM pops in easily after the heat sink is in. Depending on your motherboard, this is an area that could cause problems. Some memory sticks have taller heat sinks than others. The sockets may be closer or farther away from the CPU. In some cases, heat sinks have been known to interfere with RAM due to close proximity.
      Populate the memory slots with your chosen memory according to instructions in your motherboard manual. I find it is best to check the orientation key in the slot and match the memory stick to it. Open the levers by rotating them out. Insert the memory evenly and squarely into the slot with a bit more pressure at the fixed side as it engages the connections. Finally, make sure the release levers are fully pushed in towards the memory stick and the memory is seated evenly across the length of the socket.

    Review

    The AM4 socket is different than the Intel LGA 1200 socket. I have always preferred the AM4 socket with the clip hold down. Often, a cooler will come with parts to switch to the LGA type socket.

    Step 7: Attach Parts to the MITX_MB Case

    Overview

    After cleaning up the mITX_MB by removing supports and bumps, your next steps depend on your configuration. If 2.5" drives are installed below the motherboard, you need to work out any decorative side element before installing them. Pin rivets need to go in before the drives to hold the piece to the case like the feet on the mITX_PS section. Oh, that's in the next section. If there are no drives here, the pin rivets can attach in the standard fashion from the exterior of the case and you can skip this.

    You also have the option to install two 2.5" drives inside the optional mITX_DB, drive bay section, in Step 8: Wire & Assemble Sections. If you have 2.5" SSD drives to mount under the motherboard, put them in before attaching the motherboard to the motherboard case. Here I show where they go, but I didn't use 2.5" SSD drives in this build. Short wires, maybe a right angle SATA connector at the motherboard. Let me know how it works if you put drives down here. There is a very short run from the drives to the motherboard SATA ports. But there are no long runs since this thing is so tight.

    While most parts of the case use the pin rivet to hold things together. When holding down the motherboard, it is best to use the four standard #6-32 motherboard screws. They will cut their own threads into the plastic standoffs. Also in this section, four 4 mm x 30 mm screws are used to attach the fan to the case. Four 4 mm nuts are press fit into the case to receive the screws.

    Since the front fan is used for exhaust, I am working on a system to deflect the air coming out. The fan hanging on the front like that needs some work as it is visually distracting and some fans are even worse colors.

    There is an air intake, mITX_AI, that attaches to the case and helps direct air down to the CPU fan. I made this piece in two parts to easily allow customization. Your CPU location and fan situation may vary. Since the fan height is often of concern, you could interrupt the mITX_AI tube before it finishes to get a shorter version. But alignment is critical, so if your CPU has a different position and or fan, a new mITX_AI piece would need to be designed. I used the loft feature in my CAD program to create this air intake.

    The mITX_AI/mITX_SP air intake and side panel combination might be better replaced with a single piece for some of the larger CPU coolers on the market. This is certainly an area I will explore further as I work on a NUT Case with a graphics card for my next build in the coming months.

    Sequence

    1. Press fit fan nuts
      Place the empty mITX_MB case fan-side down on a solid flat clean work surface. Align a 4mm nut in a fan attachment point and press down with a solid flat object and wiggle it side to side until the nut is pressed into place. Repeat with the other three nuts. If it's too tight, you could use a screw and washer on the other side to pull it in or heat it. Always handle hot items with care and proper tools. If you are using 4 mm hardware for case assembly instead of pin rivets, also press 4 mm nuts into all the locations where you plan to use 4 mm hardware.
    2. Press fit case nuts (optional)
      In the same manner as used with the fan nuts, press 4 mm nuts into the case attachment locations that you want to use with 4 mm hardware. You may choose to skip this step and assemble the case using pin rivets
    3. Install drives (optional)
      Using screws that came with the drives, mount one or two 2.5" drives to the mITX_MB piece of the NUT Shell. There are holes in the bottom of the mITX_MB case for the 2.5" drive screws. Use a power extension to the drive because the space does not allow for a power connector that is in the middle of a connector. Standard SATA data connectors work fine in the cramped space, just not right angle connectors at this end.
    4. Mount motherboard
      Using four #6-32 screws that came with the motherboard, mount the motherboard in the mITX_MB case. If there are connections you need to get to near the PCI connector, I found it easier to connect those wires before screwing down the motherboard. In this case, I fed the fan wire into the case and attached it to the motherboard before mounting it. Note the locations of power switch and other I/O headers you are using before mounting the motherboard.
    5. Assemble mITX_SP, side panel and mITX_AI, air intake
      I started by gluing a piece of lacy fabric to the air intake opening. Make sure you choose something that doesn't have glitter that flakes off by rubbing it against itself. One of the first fabrics I considered had gold bits that flaked off easily so I continued my search. It also should breather easily.
      I then attached the mITX_AI air intake to the mITX_SP side panel using four PR54 pin rivets. Note the orientation of the air intake on the side panel. I put an arrow to indicate 'up' on the air intake so I install it correctly on the side panel. The arrow needs to be parallel to the vertical connections that hold this piece to the mITX_MB case so it points to the top of the vertical case.
    6. Alternate mITX_SP2, side panel and mITX_AI-WraithPrism, air intake
      With the AMD configuration I am using a 120 mm fan on the side panel to replace the stock 90 mm fan. The fan mounts inside the mITX_SP2 side panel and the duct mounts to the fan. It's all held together with 4 mm hardware and 35 mm long screws. The key headers on this motherboard are easily accessable with the air intake in place.
      Make sure the fan pushes air into the case. A screen is in the works to protect your fingers. This one can bite you.
    7. Attach side panel to case
      You may use pin rivets or 4 mm hardware to hold the side panel with the air intake to the motherboard case. Align the air intake with the CPU fan or directly to the Wraith Prism cooler. The Intel air intake should already be prepared with a CPU fan ring that prints with the mITX_AI air intake. Note how much your access is restricted to areas of the motherboard when this piece is in place. Last chance to make some connections up there before continuing.

    Review
    This step should be done in conjunction with Step 8: Wire & Assemble Sections regarding the installation of the power switch and I/O panels to make sure you can get to the headers you need. The system really goes together quickly once the motherboard is together.

    Slightly different assembly is required for the AMD motherboard vs the Intel LGA 1200 system. Moving forward I may try to use the 120 mm fan on the side panel for the CPU cooling.

    Step 8: Assemble MITX_PS Section

    Overview

    The standard ATX12V power supply fits in the bottom section of the mITX_PS case. There's enough room for the motherboard power cables and a SATA power cable. A non-modular power supply would be quite cramped with cables. If you can get by without 2.5" SSDs or the CD/DVD, like me, you don't need the SATA power at all. However,if you need to plug any modular cables into your power supply for accessories, leave the power supply outside the mITX_PS case for now. It is best to wire the various bits and parts first and leave the power supply as the last thing to go together. That's one of the nice things about modular power.

    The original ATX power supply specifications called for the power supply to help cool the CPU. There is a fan opening in the bottom of the power supply case if you prefer to have power supply cooling air come in from below the unit and be independent of the air flow within the case. The tall feet are recommended when operating in this configuration. No feet are required at all if the fan faces up.

    I found a more complete ATX specification and used this for the power supply back panel screw holes. This is the specification I wish I had found first for the power, but, better late than never. It is too old to have Mini-ITX specifications listed, but the power supply mount has not changed in decades.

    Sequence

    1. Attach the four feet to the power supply case using pin rivets. Push the rivet through the case from the inside and attach a foot, then insert the pin by inserting into the foot! This prevents the rivet from lifting the power supply and possibly causing misalignment with the mounting screws.
      Note: Feet are only required if the power supply pulls air in from the bottom. It is recommended to use the tall feet in this case. I put the 8 mm feet on this one to get my fingers under it when I need to lift it.
    2. I assembled a silk covered sleeve to provide a background and hide the sides of the power supply. If you place the power supply in the mITX_PS without a sleeve like this, you can use one or two mITX_PS1 to lift the power supply a millimeter or two and align the screw holes on the back. There could be a slight difference in power supplies.
      I used a calendar cardboard as support for the silk. The sides don't come up quite as high as I like, but the coverage is enough to get the effect I want. Hang the calendar in Oz. We only need the cardboard
    3. The alternate solution is to attach
    4. If you don't need extra power cables, mount the power supply to the power supply case in your chosen orientation and secure it with 6-32 screws. They should come with the case. Holes are available for either orientation.
      Or wait to mount the power supply until all needed modular connectors are ready to plug in at the final stages of the build.

    Review

    Putting the power supply into the case is rather trivial. Insert, with appropriate 1 mm lift. Use 4 screws to hold it in. Deal with the feet if you like. So I focus a bit more on how to add design elements to the look by wrapping the power supply. Choose paper, cloth ... anything colorful will do. Coordinate with your design elements.

    This is a simple method to get some additional color into the mix. If you like black, you could just cover the side of the power supply with writing with some black paper or cloth. The possible color combinations are limitless. And if the NUT Case is used in the horizontal orientation, the power supply fan opening could house a picture.

    Step 9: Wire and Assemble Sections

    Overview

    I like to save the bulky power supply cables until after the front panel, USB and SATA cables are all hooked up to the motherboard. Since it's a semi-modular power supply, you should connect the power cable to your devices as you install them and then plug the cables into the power supply as the pieces are mated.

    If the mITX_DB, drive bay is used, it can be attached to the mITX_MB case before hooking up the power supply. Connect things in the order that seems to make sense.

    Simply lay the sections next to each other in alignment and finish connecting power from any drives or I/O items to the power supply. After you attach modular power cables to the power supply, put it in the mITX_PS case and secure with four #-32 screws. Finally, plug the power cables into the motherboard. Slide the pieces together and align the rivet holes

    Sequence

    1. Front Panel wiring
      Connect power to any items in the drive bay or under the motherboard. Then connect the proper connectors to the headers on the motherboard. At any point, you may attach the mITX_DB, drve bay section to the mITX_MB section and route cables around the edges.
    2. Main Power
      Attach the main ATX power cable to the motherboard and the auxiliary power as well.
    3. Mate the Assemblies
      Attach the mITX_PS section to the mITX_MB section using printed PR54 pin rivets or M4 hardware.


    Your NUT Case Mini-ITX case is done.

    Every ending is a new beginning, so now you can put your new creation to work. What are your needs? What software will this system be tasked with? Of course, these are questions that should precede the selection of system components! I'm not getting into a discussion here of operating systems. I simply chose Windows 10 pro because it supports all the programs my target user needs.

    I noticed when looking at other Mini-ITX Instructables and projects elsewhere that many people setup a system like this with all SATA ports populated for NAS systems. So I made sure you have a place to put some 2.5" drives, although it is tight. Maybe I'll look at a creating a 3.5" drive module later.The standard SATA cable works in either location.

    Shine some kindness around where ever you are.

    Oh wait, there's more?! The next "Step" is the after word or conclusion section.

    Step 10: How I Met Some of the Challenges the NUT Shell Presented

    Meeting Challenges

    This was a rather large project in the amount of detail that went into several pieces that need to fit together easily and stay together solidly once assembled. From the outset I decided to incorporate design features that would encourage others to create additional pieces to custom fit other Mini-ITX form factor motherboards and/or other top hats. I specifically want to remake the mITX_MB to handle a 150 mm graphics PCI card at the expense of two 2.5" bays as an option, but that is not required for the initial build. So it is put off to a later remix.

    I've been an avid 3d printer owner for only 18 months at the time of this project's inception. Most of my projects are round things that don't have corners, so I tried various methods to help corners in this project to print well. My initial prints were having major corner lifting problems.

    I've heard it said there are no problems, only solutions, so here are my solutions.

    Solution: Pin Rivet

    The first challenge was how to hold the major assemblies together. I did not want to send you off to find some 100 pack of nuts and bolts, although I did allow for assembly with nuts and bolts at your option. I thought it would be nice if the same method worked to attach decorative panels to the sides of the case that are flat and blank. Hence, the Pin Rivet.

    I noticed this style of holding things to a board when mounting CPU cooling assemblies. Many stock heat sinks hold the assembly to the motherboard using a similar, but more complicated system. My first try happened to fit 1.75 mm filament as a pin, so I decided to shoot for that as a pin diameter. I found that, in addition to 1.75 mm filament, you can use; 1.75 mm filament, plastic toothpicks, 14 gauge hobby wire, ... See more on Pin Rivets in Step 2: Pin Rivets and Assembly.

    Solution: Find Specifications

    The next challenge was establishing correct spacing of piers and screw holes to mount the major components; motherboard, power supply and 120 mm fan. I found the Power Supply Specs and made my layouts accordingly for the back panel mounting screws. Another site contains the motherboard specs and options to design a case and have it made. I just grabbed the mount locations and related positions and threw together bits and pieces to get the motherboard mounted securely and accurately. And set the I/O shield location in the back wall. The same specification has details on securing a PCI card for the next phase in developing this case.

    Solution: Round sharp corners

    If you have been printing for long you may have experienced sharp corners of your build peeling up as the print progresses. You may try to enclose it, heat it, cool it, a brim. You may try tape, hair spray, ABS acetone slurry (if ABS inclined), PEI sheet, PEI on spring steel, some magical dancing ritual to sooth the 3d printing spirits. You may probe the build surface for nano micro accuracy and still have some bit of flotsom clog your nozzle late in a long print. Well, we just try to our best to know the materials and find what works on the printer at hand. All of these materials shrink as they cool and that leads to stresses that can pull up sections of the print.

    I'm trying to use rounded corners and cutting circles in the opposite directions in the 3rd - 4th and 7th - 8th layers, based on 0.2 mm layers, to try and change the direction of stresses as the material cools. I began printing without brims using this method and get acceptable results on stock Anycubic glass (maybe a light spray with Rave 4x mega hair spray) and PEI on steel with my Ender 3 (also may use a light spray occasionally).

    Solution: Put holes in the sides

    Related to the issue of pulling up corners, corner cracks further up can also develop in solid walls that meet at right angles. A solid wall will often pull and shrink causing stresses in the corners.

    So, while I don't really want my case to look like a milk crate, I do need some holes to break things up and reduce stresses as the print progresses. I tried different methods and ended up with intersections of octagons in the power supply section and the motherboard section. With some horizontal overlap, the intersecting octagons become diamond shape. You will see that you can brighten up these holes using colorful fabric or construction paper

    Solution: Add an Artifact to Strengthen the Fan Area Support in mITX_MB.

    While you do want your supports to break away cleanly and easily when the print is complete, they must remain in place until the area they support have a few layers going. If the support structure fails, the print may have major problems even if it finishes with some upper areas intact.

    I added a small artifact in the fan opening of the mITX_MB and back of the mITX_PS section to add support on the sides of the original support structure. I also changed the original open mITX_MB design to enclose the top of the final system, eliminating the need for the mITX_FP if you can do without the two 2.5" drive bays. By adding the third vertical wall, the print has more support to keep the original walls from wobbling as the print nozzle deposits dozens of layers of material.

    Finale

    I hope you enjoyed this Instructable. If you make your own NUT Case, I'd love to see you post a picture of your variation. I set out to present a project that engages your inner maker to encase your next PC build. Hopefully, these large prints are not too challenging on your printer. Check back for new updates as I will be working on additional options like; sff power supply case, full size drive bay, PCIe card support... And always, air intakes for other motherboards and coolers.

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      6 Comments

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      Trish-in-Denver
      Trish-in-Denver

      5 days ago

      Very, very cool. Love the detailed instructions!

      2
      Dexter Song
      Dexter Song

      10 days ago

      gaming pc nice.

      0
      Maeching
      Maeching

      Reply 10 days ago

      Maybe gaming with a remix that uses the PCIe slot for a graphics card! although, you can get by with onboard graphics for lower quality game settings.

      0
      Maeching
      Maeching

      Reply 10 days ago

      Thanks Penolopy. I posted the wrong picture as the Top one that's seen in the list with other Instructables. Is there a way to change it? The First one in the Intro would be better, I just hit publish too late last night and missed that picture in the Top level settings.

      0
      Penolopy Bulnick
      Penolopy Bulnick

      Reply 10 days ago

      No problem. All you need to do is go back to the edge page, and click the orange save button which will take you to the publish page. You can choose a new intro image on the right and then save it when you are done! Let me know if you have any issues :)