DIY Paper Tray Computer Case




This is my first Instructable.

The intension of this project was to build a small computer case to a computer car. Using a small touch screen monitor and applications as Multimedia(MP3, Video, Photos, etc), GPS, wireless networking, surveillance, SMS and e-mail reader, car diagnostic via ODBII, etc.

This requires a combination of components with low power consumption. This project requires only 130 Watts. And uses a DC-DC power supply connected to the car battery.


Main parts
- A pair of acrylic paper tray as seen on image
- A small and low power consumption motherboard - I used a MSI 945GCM5 Socket LGA775 to Intel Processors. Small and cheap. You can use a Mini-ITX (Via EPIA) but this motherboard performance is a joke.
- A Pentium Celeron Processor. I used a Celeron 420 1.6Ghz. This processor is one of the best Celerons ever made and requires only 35 watts! This amazing processor is build with the Conroe-L core. The same used in the Core 2 Duo processors. In fact it's a core solo processor nice and cheap!
- Memory. I used 1Gb 800Mhz DDR2
- Hard Disk Drive. I used a common 80Gb IDE HDD. Optionally you can use a notebook HD or even flash memory(pendrives) as HD.
- A small wireless PCI or USB card
- A big can to make the cover of the computer case.

Other parts
- Small computer fan for the case
- Power switch
- Hdd led
- Power led
- Internal speaker(optional)
- Fan grill
- Power connectors
- Screws, nuts, jigsaw, drills, knife, scissor, sandpaper, pliers, etc, etc, etc.

Step 1: Cutting the Tray

Now let's cut the tray.
I used these paper trays because the moderboard fit exactly inside. But you can use something else.

Cut both paper tray to fit motherboard. The motherboard will be fixed in bottom tray. Use screw and latches to this job(last image).

Step 2: Making Holes for Fan (pun)

I discovered that my old kettle cover has the exactly size for a 120mm fan grill hole.

Measure where the processor fan will stay and mark the position.

Heat the kettle cover on fire and melt the acrylic until cut it as seen on images.

Step 3: Drill, Drill, Drill

Verify where the secondary fan can be placed and drill another lateral hole for the secondary case fan.

Drill holes to fix the hard disk at the top cover. Again verify before where the HDD can be placed.

Drill holes to fix the top grill.

Now we are ready to manufacture the brass cover to close the computer case.

Next step please!

Step 4: Manufaturing the Panel

Find a good brass can and cut it using a big scissor, jigsaw or dremel.

Make a model in cardboard of the panel as seen on the picture. The cardboard model is easiest to work and will help you to foresee and correct defects.

Using a nail, make the holes where the screws will stay. Don't make them too big. The screws will enlarge the holes when they were fastened.

Cut the exactly space to fit the motherboard panel for the connections.

Drill holes in the acrylic trays to fix the panel you made.

Step 5: Finishing the Panel

Fix the power connector wiring harness to the panel.

Fix the motherboard connector panel.

Bend the extremities of the panel where the screws will fit

Now it's time to put all together.

Step 6: All Together Now!

This step looks like to mount a ship inside a bottle.

There are a small space for all components.

Take patience and don't force components to fit or you may damage your project.

Use the spacers of the paper tray to hold them together

I hope you enjoy it. Forgive my bad English.




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    36 Discussions


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 6

    You're very generous. Thank you so much! I currently use this computer as my backup with a remote desktop connection.


    4 years ago

    I like the way how you make the hole for the fan


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I used an automotive DC-DC power supply to use it as a carputer:


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Where did you get the paper tray from? I tried to find them in the megamart but found none matching the size of my mobo.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for your comment. I don't know where you can find it in your country. Here, in Brazil it is made by Acrimet:


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Awesome instructable!  Very nice design and you did a great job on your computer.  Only thing missing is a CD drive.  I'm thinking about building a car computer for my VW Bug and might use this idea for it.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    thats cool nice for a little router pc too. Rack mount anyone!!


    9 years ago on Step 2

    On this step (2) I had to do a facepalm, I can't believe I hadn't thought of this sooner. I didn't have a kettle like yours but was able to (carefully) use an empty can of fruit that was approximately the same size as the hole I needed. Thanks to you I was able to install fan holes in my machine last night. Needless to say this was a brilliant idea you had. I just couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of this before! Thank you

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 2

    "Need is the mother of invention". Thank you Xenint!


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Nice project (and clever) I was wondering what size (fan) hole you have near the antenna , I know the top one but not the side.

    2 replies

    10 years ago on Step 6

    Ja!!!! tanto tiempo buscando un case y lo podia frabricar yo. Gracias por la idea, ahora colocare un mi servidor de correos central con un mb viejito que tengo.