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Old 02-24-2011, 07:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Want to try a first build, with a twist... Advice?

First things first, hello! I'm new to this forum, new to building computers, but not new to computers themselves. I've read the rules and scanned the stickies, but I was hoping I might get more specific advice with a thread of my own. I apologize in advance for how long this is (skip-to point in blue).

So, I'd like to build a computer. I'm just a wee lad of 17, but I know some stuff (what RAM is, drives, SATA vs. IDE, etc.), and my dad is a career electronics technician (my mother was one, too), so I've got some things going right for me already.
I'm looking to build a bottom-of-the-line machine on the supercheap, with outdated but functional components.
The twist: I'm forgoing purchasing a regular mATX case, and I'm going to build a custom wooden case that looks like a Commodore PET (below). It'll keep my Commodore 64 company!
I am fully aware that this is a very much suboptimal idea for the first computer I want to build, and that I'm making it rather difficult for myself by doing this. Forgive me!
My father is an ET by trade, but a fine woodworker by hobby--I'm actually quite confident that this can be pulled off.
Skip to here if too long... So, then, I've got a bunch of parts bookmarked and in online shopping carts; I'd like to make sure that I've A) got everything I need, and B) chosen stuff that's compatible.
So now it gets funky. The motherboard has a regular VGA output, but, I'll use a VGA-to-VGA cable to connect it to a VGA-to-RCA-component converter box, powered off of one of the back USB ports.
That RCA signal goes to a 7" portable LCD TV which will be the monitor, and have its own wall wart (independent of the PC's PSU).
Input/Output, I'll set a cheap tiny keyboard in the front, kinda built-in, and also hook it up via USB; any old mouse; audio, either plug in speakers or a headphone-to-RCA-audio cable and use the TV speakers.
OS, Ubuntu or similar (compatible, I checked).

Whew. If you're reading this, you've got the patience of a saint (or a fast scroll wheel ). Three questions...
- Am I missing something vital, like drive mounting rails, or can I build brackety-shelfy mounts for the drives myself?
- I know that I need to put the motherboard up on risers of some sort, grounded to the body of the PSU (since the case'll be wood, I'll use metal screws, and some kind of physical wire between the mobo screws and PSU screws?)
- Does the CPU fan blow hot air away, or draw cool air towards? I'll make some sort of air-directing duct to the outside of the case either way.

So, hi again! Thank you for reading my novel of post, and thanks in advance for any advice/admonishment.
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Old 02-25-2011, 12:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Want to try a first build, with a twist... Advice?

the only thing I am not sure of, is static electricity, many cases have metal frames which allow you to "ground" the electrical system and not have individual static loads, perhaps investing in a bit of thin wire to connect to individual metal mounts to dissapate any buildup, but that does seem like a neat Idea, on a wood note, I would not have wood direct contact your parts, use metal stand-offs and brackets to give you a moisture barrier, I would also clearcoat/paint/seal the inside to avoid moisture issues as much as possible.. those bits said, it reminds me of my first portable 80-88 with the keyboard that locked over the screen. thank you for sharing. to the static comment, you should visit a place that carries PC cases and see how they handle the Acrylic/plastic/clear cases and that will give you something to at least consider. good luck!
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Old 02-25-2011, 04:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Want to try a first build, with a twist... Advice?

Thanks for the good ideas! I'll definitely put some sort of polyurethane coating over all the wood surfaces, and I'd been thinking of running a thin wire to ground everything to the outside of the PSU. Something that contacts a mounting screw, etc. on all of the components. As for standoffs, I'll make sure to have only metal hardware in contact with the PC parts.

I'm also thinking that a 7" screen is really small; I might have better luck putting a non-widescreen 15" monitor in place of a little TV. That also eliminates the fidgetyness of a signal converter box, which would save headaches (and cash!), I'm sure.
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Old 02-25-2011, 04:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Want to try a first build, with a twist... Advice?

not sure how far along you are in purchasing, buuuttt, if you want to go smaller than 15 maybe finding a main brand hunk-o-lappy (used/refurbed etc) for cheap and just seperating the parts and using a USB keyboard for your top bit, this would let you get down to 13" and make your parts smaller, if you tear it apart you can pretty well clean up the heat issues that plague them and possibly even just mount them as separate bits. that is, IF you want a sub 15". there are a tooon of refurbed lappy's on the market for less than what your spending I would think. the down side is you give in to the man and go proprietary, the upside is its smaller and less work.

since you are in the states, geeks has a 10" that might do ya nicely on this topic
ASUS Eee PC 1001PXB Atom N450 1.66GHz 1GB 160GB 10.1" LED-Backlit Netbook XP Home w/Webcam (Black) - B ASUS 1001PXB-BK301 Eee PC 1001PXB
ASUS Eee PC 1001PXB Atom N450 1.66GHz 1GB 160GB 10.1" LED-Backlit Netbook XP Home w/Webcam (Black) - B

I know this steps away from what you were talking, but it also gets you another path to your goal, hope I'm not stepping on toes
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Old 02-25-2011, 05:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Want to try a first build, with a twist... Advice?

The easiest way to mount the motherboard will be to scavenge from an existing case. Try to get at least the motherboard tray and the rear plate. Also, it would make sense to mount the motherboard tray so that you can slide it out from the rear of the chassis.
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Want to try a first build, with a twist... Advice?

page 12 in this .pdf will tell you the motherboard/tray/risers locations.

http://www.formfactors.org/developer...matxspe1.2.pdf

You can find more info about size specifications here

http://www.formfactors.org/formfactor.asp
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Want to try a first build, with a twist... Advice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by beengone
not sure how far along you are in purchasing, buuuttt, if you want to go smaller than 15 maybe finding a main brand hunk-o-lappy (used/refurbed etc) for cheap and just seperating the parts
...
I know this steps away from what you were talking, but it also gets you another path to your goal, hope I'm not stepping on toes
Not a bad idea at all! Although I'd like the experience and fun (or frustration!) of putting all the parts together myself from scratch, it could be really neat in the future to disembowel a netbook and make a computer out of something really surprising... I do have some broken typewriters...

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmote
Try to get at least the motherboard tray and the rear plate. Also, it would make sense to mount the motherboard tray so that you can slide it out from the rear of the chassis.
Like I said, I'm new to this, so: the motherboard tray is just a removable part of the case designed to hold the motherboard and allow it to be removed without unscrewing, right?
I don't really have much to scavenge from... but is the idea to mount the board and back shield to a single flat panel, and then slide the whole shebang into your case, to avoid having to drive screws inside a box? If so, I'll make a modular, probably plywood (moisture-sealed o'course) slide-out tray of my own, mount the motherboard to it, and then affix the tray to the inside of the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaymate
page 12 in this .pdf will tell you the motherboard/tray/risers locations.
Awesome, thank you! This will be very handy. I imagine it's better than trying to measure across a motherboard with a metal ruler.

Thank you for the ideas and help, everybody!
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Old 02-26-2011, 07:39 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Want to try a first build, with a twist... Advice?

Few motherboard trays are removable, you would probably have to drill out the rivets the line it up on your wooden frame and screw it in. Whether you choose to make that part of the wooden frame slide in is up to you but I can't think of any other good way to access your components.
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