Introduction: Vintage Style HTPC

About: wow, writing things about myself is hard. Modded Leatherman wave always at my side, ill dive into repairing a computer, a diesel truck or a doorknob with the enthusiasm that confuses people. Knowledge of a &…

I am entering this into the "Littlebits Tech Contest." If chosen for the grand prize I would be donating the makerbot and littlebits kit to the high school that my son attends. Please vote for my instructable, so that high school kids can get the chance to learn about electronics and 3d printing!

This all started in 2000, I had a vast collection of CDs and had a hard time finding anything to listen to, and along came the MP3. You converted your CDs and you could search your files faster to listen to faster. I loved this Idea, and an idea began to brew.

Then video files were compressed and my huge collection of DVDs were available with a few clicks of a mouse. The idea intensified and i had a computer in the living room attached to a TV

AMAZING, I know youre thinking. A computer that hasaudio and video files, big deal...

But why does it HAVE to look like a computer? Why not make it blend seamlessly into the living room like its meant to be there? But HOW?

I want to give you a semi step by step for creating a work of art that you will be proud to display and brag to your friends about.

Step 1: Step 1 Collecting of Parts

No real pictures here, parts can come from anywhere, anything. Dishwashers, radios, old computers and scraps of plastic were all used in my particular build along with new computer parts. My wife gave me a budget of 400 for our anniversary, I went over by 75.

A quick highlight of things used:

An old Dell inspiron tower for the LED units, power switch and the atx case back that died a slow painful outdated life

An old dishwasher donated some wires

the case is a BROKEN "electro brand" CD/LP/AM/FM unit that had bad bands, and a misaligned laser.

ASUS motherboard, I3 processor and 4gb ram kit from tiger direct

Kingwin usb3.0 fan controller, wireless card, 60gb ssd, (3) 90mm ultra quiet fans 2 fan filters and a rear mount usb2.0 slot from Frys

Plastic from a broken makeup case (thanks to the wife for this)

various computer cables and angle brackets I usually had laying around my house

Tools used:

Liberal use of a 2.5 lb sledge hammer, grinder with cutting disks, soldering iron, wire cutters, hand drill and bits, epoxy, spray paint, screwdrivers, and sometimes creative use of expletives (yes, sometimes swearing at something DOES make it work!)

Step 2: Step 2, Breaking Things to Make Things.

The radio was shot. I decided to use the hammer to break it apart, I didn't take pictures cause it was just so much FUN breaking it, that I didn't think about it!

Seriously, break something once in a while intentionally if its of no use. It reduces stress!

Cut apart the computer case to the bare minimum, I suggest the mounting plate for the motherboard and the back plate is all you really need. Yes, I had fun wrecking this too, so I didnt take pictures again.

Step 3: Step 3 Fitting and Praying and Fixing and Fitting Again.

So you have a gutted radio case, and a hacked up computer case now laying around, If you did ANY kind of measuring, you know how well this may fit together. congratulations.

If you did it like me, you didnt bother with a tape measure and said "I'll fix what I need when I need." I like your style, it makes it more fun.

I suggest taking off the cover, it makes it easier to test fit components into it. Here Im using the old board with a few bad caps from the dell and my planned 800w power supply. It all slid in easily like this on the first try!

Ok I'm lying, since I didn't measure anything, it fit in on the 5th try.

But wait, what can I do about this solid wood back panel? How can I use that to mount the I/O shield? Oh I cant?

GET THE HAMMER!!!! (God I LOVE that hammer)

Use the (now) top of the computer back panel to mount the top hinges for the radio (youll see why in a later step)

Spray paint it black inside and out (remember to mask it off first)

Use the drill to make some holes for HDD and power LEDs in the volume and tuner knobs and epoxy them in.

Extend the wires using a soldering iron, and some shrink tube to seal them, I had some random wire that I stepped on that volunteered for the extension.

Grab a single AA battery operated clock and use the radio face (you need to be careful, no hammer on this) as the clock face.

Gut the CD player area out, and carve out the "trim ring" along the outside so youre left with a beauty ring. Install a USB back panel slot with epoxy. Carve up some plexi glass to the size you need. Trace the inside of the beauty ring with a dry erase marker and cut generously to the outside of the lines. file and sand down to fit. Be slow and careful, it will go fast or break. Spray paint the plexi glass if you choose (or not to make the computer inside a bit more visible)

Install your fans and filters in a push/pull arrangement. mine pulls in the front, and pushes out the back via 1 90mm fan and a built in 120 fan in the power supply.

Filters have a 3 pc design, 2 clamshell pieces and a filter element. Epoxy the LARGER of the two pieces to the outside where the speakers were, let it sit overnight before putting in elements.

Step 4: Step 4 Lid Components

I wanted fan controls and alarms, hidden esata, and a multicard reader, the lid was the perfect choice for this.

They remain hidden, but I can open the top to access them quickly. next to it I placed my 2.5" ssd since there was enough room.

To do this, I used a few angle brackets I had laying on the workbench (hardware stores sell them for 2 bucks a 4 pack usually) epoxy and screws to hold them in place on the wood (no kill like overkill to keep these off the motherboard)

Mind your cable length and future routing to ensure you have enough length.

Make sure you do NOT place anything too close to the fans or power supply.

Step 5: Step 5 THE GUTS!

Now that the paint is dry, and all the drilling and nastiness is all done, we can assemble our "computer" like any computer is done. Remember to use a ground strap!

Install chip onto motherboard.

Install pegs onto backing plate to correspond to the holes in the mother board.

Secure the motherboard to the pegs.

Install the ram.

Install any cards (video sound wireless networking ect)

Install power supply.

Install the wires for power switch, LEDs, HDD, Esata USB (2 and 3) and power supply to motherboard.

BE MINDFUL OF YOUR AIR FLOW! Route the wires carefully so that you do not block any airflow to components. You are trying to keep things cool, and if you have dead pockets of air, you will destroy expensive components.

At this point you can do like I did, and test fire the computer to make sure it turns on. After all instructions are for wimps and you may have cross wired something. (if you did this, enjoy the smoke. Always read the instructions! I did and was greeted to a warm purr and a boot screen)

Step 6: Step 6 Software!

This computer is a front end only. All of my files are kept on the house server. This was originally going to take its place, but I didn't have enough room for 10TB of hard drives in this case. Keeping that in mind, here's my software list.

Windows 7 professional

XBMC (by the time this contest finishes it will be called KODI) for my media files. It can do music, movies, pictures, TV shows, PVR capability, pandora, it even does the weather. There is a host of instructables for installing this awesome software here and they have awesome support through their forums.

chrome browser

emulators, I have a huge collection of old game systems all the way back to a coleco that I don't have to have out anymore! Thats right! no more 700 carts laying around taking up space! I have two USB wireless PS3 controllers from madcatz to do the controlling.

AVG antivirus - safe just isnt only using condoms.

Step 7: Step 7

Thanks for your interest in my HTPC build, I hope I've inspired you. Please vote for this instructable!

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