I had a limited amount of money to buy a computer, and in the end I couldn't get a case and all the other parts. So I made my own. This was really the first version, and I made a couple mistakes on it, but I will use it as is for now. I didn't use the raster capability of the laser cutter, although I had planned on it. Overall this took about 8 hours, but it wasn't a hard 8 hours. Most of that was getting the holes to line up, so I think a person familiar with Sketchup should be able to do this in 2 to 4 hours.
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Step 1: In the Beginning
For about 8 months I just used the components ziptied in a box, and it worked fine, but it wasn't really pretty. Inside the box are:
Gigabyte Z87N wifi mini itx motherboard
250 GB SSD
Mini itx pwer supply
640 GB harddrive
If I were to do this again I would get a fully modular power supply to reduce the number of cables inside the case.
This box probably won't fit a graphics card.
Step 2: Design
I started out modelling the computer parts in sketchup, and then I built a simple box around them. I took the dimensions of that box and used http://boxmaker.connectionlab.org/ to make a box blank.
I imported the blank into sketchup pro and placed all the holes where they needed to go, then sent it to Corel Draw because that is the program that we use to operate the laser cutter at Yukonstruct.
I planned this so that the airflow would work better than it did in my cardboard box. The PSU fan brings in air and ejects it directly out the end of the box. The 120mm fan blows air onto the MB, which assists the motherboard fan. This air then flows over the hard
Step 3: R&D
I first cut out all the parts from cardboard, tested them, and the fixed the ones that were wrong. This step took the longest of the whole thing. I also messed up the motherboard location a bit, so I couldn't put the one hard drive where I had planned. I had to remake several parts 4 or 5 times in cardboard before they fit well enough to assemble and cut out of 1/4" plywood (which is actually 3/16: thick).
Step 4: Assembly
I then installed everything. As you can see, the PSU wires take up a lot of room. I ended up just using double sided tape to attach the hard drives to the surface of the PSU, which works ok and keeps the airflow over the motherboard less obstructed.
To experiment with this box, I used wood glue thinned with a little water painted over the joints after it was all assembled. It seems like it seeped into the cracks well and is pretty strong, but it isn't really good looking.
Step 5: Afterthoughts
It works great, but next time...
I might make the fans on the front the same height. I would then make a boom box style tape deck design to put on the front so it would look really neat.
I would use a modular PSU to cut down on wiring.
I would get a quieter CPU cooler.
I might use more leather, maybe some belts wrapping around it and a brass clasp, so it looked like an old suitcase.
But for now it works great, so I will just use it as a computer.
I have attached the files involved, I hope you can use this to make your own personalized case.
Step 6: Files and Materials
.skp files are for Sketchup
.dxf is Autodesk, but Sketchup Pro and Corel Draw can use them
.pdf is from the boxmaker website, which I imported into Sketchup Pro and Corel Draw
I also used a 20x32 sheet of 1/4" maple plywood and a box of cardboard
Good Luck, let me know what modifications or ideas you have!
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