Intro: Deskdown, a Hidden Computer
First off: This instructable is not finished yet. I'm a mechanic but i have a special interest for wood-working. I'm building a workshop at the moment and when it's finished you'll be seeing a lot more instrutables from me. Thanks for now for having an interest in my project. The last step offer my lessons learned on this project so be sure to read those. I hope you will enjoy this instructable and follow the progress. Comments and ideas are welcome. My main language isn't English or American so some grammar comments are also appreciated. I will also try to help you if u have any questions. So, let's dive in.
Although i'm an adult, i love gaming. I just hate the prices of gameconsole games. Even when there's a sale i still feel like overpaying. Therefore my favorite platform is the personal computer. In my case i wanted it to be quiet as well and that means i actually own a "platform" for my games. I'm proud to say i'm a father since 11 months but that comes with some, well, responsabillity. I'd like to eat at the dinertable. It was the reason we bought the thing.
Therefore i was constantly thinking of ways to have my ultimate platform without it being seen. The position of where i'm gaming now gives me a free view of the TV so sitting somewhere else isn't an option for me :P. On the internet i found a picture of a wall mounted computer. The graphics card was connected via a pci-e extender-cable. This gave me an incredible idea. There is one place in my room that isn't used in any way. It has no function at all. It's between the table's legs against the wall.
While trying to draw something in paint i decided to look for alternative software and found sketchup. I can advise everyone who is building stuff to take a look at this sofware if you haven't already.
Here we go. This instructable is made to show you how to build this step by step the way i did it. I won't get to much into detail about the dimensions since this deskdown is specifically made for our table but i will share any knowledge i gained with this project
Step 1: Designing and Collecting
First of all measure the space you have for the computer and try to find dimensions on the internet of your components. If you don't know which components you have just open up your computer and measure them.
I did a simple sketch on my computer to see if it fits the board and where i would place all the components. This also gives you an opportunity to do some cable-mangement in advance.
When you're ready for the actuall drawing start with drawing the outside planks. I used 15mm thick board to maintain enough stiffness without it actually standing against the wall.
After you completed your drawing(s), start collecting :). I used an old computer for mountingplates and let my wooden parts be cut by the store since i lack the tool for that job.
Step 2: Assembly
Let's build. Tip: Do a "dry fit. I assembled the wooden parts, glue-ed it up and came to the conclusion i still needed to make holes in one of the boards for the connectors. Even more stupid: i didn't think about the on/off switch. With the sides not being accessable and the cover not being the easiest place, cable-management-wise, the only place i could think of are the two boards on the back of the case.
Step 3: Adjusting and Rethinking the Plan
Without the on/off switch it would become a useless and expensive hidden box. I need to make a hole for the graphics-card as well and i need to come up with a solution to fixate the graphics card as well. Normally it will hang in the pci-e slot but that won't be possible now.
I'll start with cutting out the "slotted side" on my motherboard-mountingplate for mounting pci cards. I cut it out and glued it on.
After assembling the computermounting-parts i got gaps which can "bleed" unfiltered air to my components. I think i'll just glue over some wood to block it off.
I roughly drew out how the cables should go on the back of the board so i could draw it out and think about the maximum depth of cutting. To keep some strength in the board I got a 55mm wide strip on the side where i can go 28mm deep. After that the maximum depth is 13mm. This way i keep a minimum of 2 mm thickness. I was able to keep it thicker so i guess i'm lucky this works out. :P.
Tonight i'll start cutting it out with my router
Step 4: Be Proud And....adjust Your Plan
So....wow.....well, ok. I cut out a tunnel for my "button-cables". Glued a sheet of thin plywood over it and cut out the hole for my graphics card. I installed all the metal, glued in some wood to close the gaps against unfiltered air. Glued up the back and started to dismantle my computer. And that's kinda where i was struck by shock and aww.
Apparently my PSU isn't a standard size (according to google). My graphics card was blowing the warm air against the backplate (no room for an exhaust there). The harddisk mountingplate made the big HD touch the graphics card and cablemanagment could be problematic. I'm now typing at work because my computer isn't, well, can't be working this week.
This needs more tweaking.
Step 5: Execute and ........adjust
My biggest problem for now is my graphics card. Because i had to turn it upside down, the pci-e cable was to short. The cable has to go under the GPU which leaves the third slot (for my wifi-adapter) not accesible. This isn't a real big problem since i had wifi as a backup connection. It's just a pity. With the GPU upside down it was placed to close to the MOBO so i had to "move" the connector-hole. One plus on the other hand is that the GPU now hangs firmly in place.
The PSU is my second problem. I thinned out one of the side of the place the PSU has to be mounted. It's stuck in place so tight now i won't be using any screwes to lock it in place.
My third problem was the HDD mounting. I cut the mounting-plate in two which gives me more freedom in placement of the two HDD's.
Cable management is going to be a challenge but, heck, it's just one of many. I'll live.
Let's just say i'm happy i didn't decide to do a plexi-glass front. Just close it up and never think of it again. Well, maybe when i build a new computer.
Step 6: Build Stuff in And....really?.....adjust
Well ok, i didn't do any adjustments. It's just that my audio connection on the MOBO is on the left side. Now my cable is to short. I really want to use my headphone connections so i searched on the internet for a HD AUDIO CABLE MOTHERBOARD and found one for a reasonable price. If i didn't glue up the back i could reroute the cable and i wouldn't have to wait for two weeks to hear something. I also ordered a longer pci-e cable to get an image on my screen. They both have a two week delivery.
I decided to make the access panels much simpeler. I simply cut off the sides of the frontplate/cover and screwed them in place. I figured that once everything it's installed i wouldn't need to be there every day, week or even year for that mather.
The bottom of the cover is also shortened. When i want to replace the filter or clean it i don't have to open up the computer every time.
The ventilationports need to be made with a big challenge at the GPU. I used a no-screw-glue to assemble the box for the CPU. I build and sanded it before installing it in/on the cover.
To bend the 3mm thick plywood i soked a strip in water for a night while bending it as much as possible. It worked kinda but it still cracked at the ends. I have bought some bendable plywood which should be able to handle the curves dry but i went for the safe road and soaked it as well. I didn't have time to work on the case after bending it. I put it in so it could dry in, somewhat, the right shape.
Step 7: Finish the Job.
I don't have time for this step at this moment. I'm heading for germany for a week and since i'm still waiting for the cables there's no rush for me to do this right now. When it's finished i'll post my pictures.
Step 8: Lessons Learned
In this step i'll share all my DOH-moments and that little knowledge i already had before this project.
over-exitement: keep calm and don't rush with the glue. You can always glue it later on. (Unglueing isn in the dictonary for a reason)
Glue: When glueing sheets together use al brush to spread the glue. Don't do it like in the picture. It won't get flat. Most woodglue don't need a lot of pressure. 5 kg of pressure is enough. More is better but most important is that the pressure is spread evenly.
Remove screws: I glued the backplate over screws. They weren't neccesary anymore because the glue was dry. The screw made adjusting holes a nightmare for my multitool blades and me.
Cable management: Try it out before cutting holes.
No chissel: use a self made file or sand-paper. It looks cleaner. Instead of a file you use a flat stick of wood and cover it with sandpaper. Just glue the paper on for a very fine file.
sanding flat surfaces: If u want to sand down glued edges flat, lie down a sheet of sanding paper on a flat surface and push the workpiece over it. It'll be perfectly flat
Measure: measure the components instead of looking it up on the internet.
Placement of components: In my case everything would be easier if i simply installed the PSU at the bottom on the right.
Don't: over-complicate things
Power button: Don't forget it.