Buidling a Steampunk Mini Computer for the Ladies Desk




About: I am a home constructor, an inventor and a dreamer. If you ask me who guided me and who inspired me then this people comes in mind: Carl Benz, Guglielmo Marconi, James Watt, Thomas Alva Edison, Nicolas Tesla...

Most computers are ugly, made of plastics and have ultrabright blue LED´s to "brushup" its design.  ;-)

Tired of those "Desktop Devices" I builded a small, nice looking computer. Even for the desk of a lady.
The plan was to have a computer that is able to browse the web, read mails, write letters and do some calculations with a spreadsheet program. Wireless was a "must" for this computer.

Step 1: The Mainboard

I found a 12cm x 12cm nano ITX Mainboard on the internet. The board has a lot of features:

12V single Power
500 MHz Geode CPU
Capable to drive up to 1 GByte of RAM
Sound pn Board
Ethernet 10 / 100 MHz on Board
VGA on Board
2 USB 2.0 on Board + 2 USB 2.0 on an external cable
CF Slot for the secondary IDE channel
44pin IDE Port that connects direct to a Ntebook HDD

So everything you need to build a whole computer.

Additional parts:

1 GByte Ram
1 WIFI Card
1 Pigtail WIFI connector
1 WIFI antenna
1 Power switch
1 Reset switch
12 V Power supply.

Step 2: The Case

I decided to build a case out of wood and slotted aluminium metal plate.


2 pieces of wood 12,5x12,5 cm 6mm thick
2 pieses of wood 13,3x13,5 cm 6mm thick
4 pieces of aluminium metal plate (see pictures) 12,5cm x 6 cm
4 brass profiles (see photo)
1 piece of wood 20cmx10cm 21mm thick for the stand
some brass screws and washers

I drilled 4 holes in the smaller piece of wood for the srcews to mount the mainboard. The harddisk is located underneed the board.
I glued the second pair of wood pieces together to build the top of the case.
In both I drilled a big hole for the airflow and 4 holes for the baring, we will see later.
I used wax stain in mahogany colour for all wooden parts.

Step 3: Mounting

Harddisk and Mainboard.
The backplane with USB Ports and reset switch.

Step 4: The Bearings

The bearings are made of two thin slices of wood with brass applications.
I covered the bigger peace by a red cord with brass endings.
The brass nut covers the power switch.

On the opposite side of the case there is the WIFI antenna and the angle bracket for mounting the computer on the stand.
The stands have been bought in a clockworkers shop called SELVA.

Step 5: Operation

The computer runs DEBIAN with OpenOffice. It is fast and everything works smooth.

Thank you for reading,

JnEn AKA Horatius Steam



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    18 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    The design is beautiful.
    I don't see a reason to hide the antenna. It looks almost like a hand crank arm (that could be assumed to be powering the computer). You could glue on a light piece of black plastic or wood on a right angle if you wanted to get that look. If the black plastic look isn't appealing but you want to avoid metal, painting on wood grain or enamel is appropriate.
    Here's some crank arms for illustration: http://www.allmetricsmallparts.com/products/handwheels.htm


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I was thinking one of the very small ones like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Edimax-EW-7811UN-Wireless-802-11b-150Mbps/dp/B003MTTJOY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1346308257&sr=8-2

    it wouldn't really impact on the design then

    Can't you just make the existing antenna look a little more S-punky? Put it into a plastic tube and paint it to look like brass or copper, for example. Think "stage props" and you can find something that looks great and works, too! Great design here.

    1 reply


    I tried to use brass, copper and bronze paint.
    Bad idea ;-) because there the metal partials in the paint miss tuned the antenna completely and the reflections back into the electronics destroyed the transmitter.
    Beside this the link quality is very bad with a covered antenna.
    Next thing I tried to build an antenna by my own.
    I found a lot of fractal antennas but I needed a 360 degree antenna.
    If someone have an instrutable for such an antenna, please let me know.

    With kind regards,

    Horatius Steam


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is a beautifull computer. The only thing is (sorry about the nit pick) the antenna doesn't go with the rest of the machine. Like I said before, it is beautiful, I like it alot. Awsome job!

    1 reply

    Sorry for the late reply. I am searching for a nice looking antenna for this computer. I tried to work with internal antennas but the link quality was to bad.

    With kind regards,

    Horatius Steam


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Ahhhhh man you just triggered SO many ideas in my head by making such a cheap lil computer!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    i dont see where the ram plugs onto the board, is it on the other side or is it soldered right onto the board?

    4 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction


    The RAM ist on the back of the board. The mini PCI slot the same- This is one reason why the board is so small. They but the components on both sides of the board.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    if it wasnt for the 500mhz processor i would definitely look into one of those, but even 500mhz would be fine if you arent looking to play games on it.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, you are right. 500 MHz is enough for daily work. Even if you put DEBIAN on it without all the grafical toys, like transparent windows etc.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, only 12V all the other power needed generates the board itself.

    The board is drawing 2,1 A from the power supply on full operation (video playback)