Introduction: (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.

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

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

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.

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.