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Darkness - DIY SFF case for a microATX HTPC - power problems (updated 1/24)

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by BlackDiamond, 5 Oct 2004.

  1. BlackDiamond

    BlackDiamond New Member

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    Overview:
    ---------

    This PC is my first fully modded PC. The inspiration for this project is the Shuttle SFF cases. I wanted to build my own version of a small form factor for a HTPC. The PC will be used for watching movies. I do not have a surround system so sound quality is not much of an issue. One of the key things is that I am trying to keep the cost down so I used parts that were lying around.
    Future upgrades will include an AGP video card, wireless NIC and eventually a new motherboard and CPU so I can use this computer for games too.

    Reading other project logs has helped me a lot in creating this project. Sometimes the most helpful part was reading the questions and remarks of people reading the project log - asking for sources and step-by-step instructions for something they didn't know. That is one of the best things about these project logs.
    I am going to try to post as much information as possible about the sources and please ask me if there else you want to know (or just comment about).

    Parts:
    ------

    CPU: AMD XP 1700+ (Palomino core)
    MB: PCChips M810
    RAM: 384 MB SDRAM
    HD: 30 GB
    DVD: Creative 2X
    Video: ATI Rage II+ PCI
    Tuner: ATI All-in-Wonder PCI
    CPU Heatsink: Dynatron 1U DC1206BM-R1 Copper
    Case: Acer microATX from a V80 series
    PSU: Generic 145W microATX
    Cooling: 92mm Zalman (intake)
    Additional heatsinks on CPU voltage regulators (cut from a P3 heatsink) and capacitors (from copper sheet)

    Sources:
    --------

    Auto Zone: Rubbing compound, sandpaper, primer and paint.
    Home Depot: Sandpaper, screws and nuts.
    Directron: Heatsink. I also bought a mousepad from them that arrived damaged - their packing sux.
    Sears: Dremel and cutting disks.
    Ace: Piano hinge - a long and narrow brass hinge.
    Local art store: sheet of copper.


    Modifications:
    --------------

    Chassis: The case will be lowered, the DVD and PSU will be relocated and a fan will be added to the front of the case.
    Front panel: The front panel will get a face lift and will be converted to a door type front panel with the DVD placed behind the door.
    Outer shell: the U shaped shell will be cut to 3 pieces and the vents on the side panel will be sealed (no windows ;), sorry).
    Motherboard: add heatsinks to the voltage regulators and capacitors - the airflow inside the case is going to be pretty bad and I know that the voltage regulator circuit on these cheap mobos is low quality (seen enough blown capacitors) so it's going to need some extra care.
    Heatsink: it has machine marks so I'm going to lap it.
    Cables: I'll probably round the IDE cables to improve the airflow or just route them under the mobo.

    Here we go...

    The case - Acer V80M microATX

    [​IMG]

    The chassis

    [​IMG]

    The hole in the front of the case was for a 120mm fan. The hole was done with shears (before I had a Dremel).

    [​IMG]

    The rear

    [​IMG]

    The design for the front of the chassis (shown after cutting the top of the chassis)

    [​IMG]

    The new location of the PSU

    [​IMG]

    From an angle

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 24 Jan 2005
  2. CYRiX

    CYRiX New Member

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    looks good:
    1) What Colors?
    2) Wireless mouse kb combo?
    3) I want to know more!
     
  3. Providence

    Providence New Member

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    I think it should match your setup...for example, I'll be going with a silver/light colored media PC since I have a silver TV...my friend mike has a Black htpc b/c of his black TV and entertainment center...

    I guess the way the DVD is oriented, the case will be laying on it's side?
     
  4. Tulatin

    Tulatin The Froggy Poster

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    nice work, but you need some cooling considerations. First off, mightaswell use a PSU with a bottom mounted 120mm fan, and a thin heatsink with no fan on it at all in here. Second, you should orient the HDDs so that air from the 92mm is ducted between them to keep them nice and cool. Granted, it's near impossible to turn them at an angle, but i'm sure you'll figure it out.
     
  5. BlackDiamond

    BlackDiamond New Member

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    Some answers/responses first:

    CYRiX:
    1. I am painting it a glossy black and there may be some lighting included (a lighted fan visible through the front grill)
    2. I am thinking of building an IR circuit and use a TV remote for it.
    3. I am aware of the thermal issues (see the following answers) - I came up with some new tricks :thumb:

    Providence:

    1. Glossy black
    2. It will be the way that it is now there is no problem the DVD works in this orientation.

    Tulatin:

    1. There is very little room insde and the only PSU that I can fit in there is a mATX one. Besides, as I mentioned I am using parts that are lying around.
    2. I am not worried about the HD overheating - it's a 5400 RPM POS. The voltage regulator circuit, the CPU and overall case temp are my main concerns.

    Project Progress:
    ----------------

    I have cut the U shaped outer shell into 3 pieces, so now I have a 3 panel outer shell - looks better and easier to work with.

    I cut the front panel

    [​IMG]

    Used JB weld to glue the top and bottom parts, and put a spare 5.25 blank in the empty space

    [​IMG]

    Once that was set in place I applied Bondo (it was my first time with Bondo - and I know it looks like crap)

    [​IMG]

    I sealed the entire front panel because I wanted to start with a clean slate. I knew that I am going to put holes in it anyway but I thought that as long as I have the stuff mixed I should use it anyway.

    After the bondo dried I cut holes in the front panel, sanded the Bondo and applied about 4 coats of primer. During this process, a crack appeared in the seam between the Bondo an the plastic. The white line at the top of the panel.

    [​IMG]

    I removed some of the Bondo and the plastic with 60 grit sandpaper and I filled the new "trench" with JB weld.

    I then sanded and primed it again.

    The holes in the front will be covered with a metal mesh from a car speaker

    [​IMG]

    Here's a sneak preview of the front with the mesh

    [​IMG]

    In the next post I will try to address the thermal issues with this project and my solutions.
     
    Last edited: 22 Oct 2004
  6. bootupbuddha

    bootupbuddha grunge modder

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    This mod is right up my alley

    Very cool, subscribing

    I am curious about where you are going to place the optical drive but I'll be patient and wait...
     
  7. poldank

    poldank New Member

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    nice jobn so far . . im gonna stay tuned
     
  8. CYRiX

    CYRiX New Member

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    extremo niceo
     
  9. ben_jt

    ben_jt New Member

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    Looks good so far - I've registered just to subscribe to this thread (well, so far... I've been reading the forums as a Guest for weeks). I may be wrong, but it looks like you've made a cutout in the back for a standard size ATX PSU... yet you also say you're only using a microATX PSU in it? Could you post a pic of the PSU for me, as I've got what claims to be a microATX PSU which fits into a smaller cutout - maybe you'd want to look into that if they are different.

    Keep up the good work, the ideas seem great :)
     
  10. Buzku

    Buzku New Member

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    This is going to be nice. I will be watching...
     
  11. BlackDiamond

    BlackDiamond New Member

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    Some answers/responses first:

    bootupbuddha:
    1. The optical drive will be behind the door and will be vertical (look at the first post)
    2. BTW, I like your project

    ben_jt:
    1. As far as I know a microATX PSU is the same size just not as deep. I took some pictures of the PSU and I measured it - H: 87mm, W: 150mm, D: 101mm.
    2. A smaller PSU (like you have) could be a SFF PSU or even a hot swap PSU like the kind they use in servers.

    Project updates:
    ----------------

    This post will mostly deal with the thermal issues and motherboard modifications.

    The intake is a 92mm fan. I was going to use a black Zalman fan but I just got a clear Antec fan which I am thinking of turning into a LED fan, green?

    The heatsink needed some lapping because it looked like this:

    [​IMG]

    I followed the lapping instructions here

    And the finished product looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    Here is the motherboard before modifications

    [​IMG]

    The reason that the motherboard was lying around is that it had a broken tab on the CPU socket. The heatsink that I am using is the kind that attaches to the center tab so I needed to do something. Modding time!

    The first thing I did was create heatsinks for the voltage regulator - from a P3 heatsink.

    The heatsinks were attached to the voltage regulators with Arctic Silver adhesive

    [​IMG]


    Now to the heatsink clip - I took a clip from a generic aluminum heatsink and the clip from the 1U heatsink

    [​IMG]


    And cut the tab part of the 3 tab one and attached it to the 1 tab clip. Sorry I didn't take a picture of the clip after I attached the parts.

    But here is how it looks on the motherboard

    [​IMG]

    And now to the thing that I promised all along - the solution to cooling the capacitors - the "Capsink"

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is version 1.0 of the capsink. I am thinking of attaching them to the capacitors by using a thermal adhesive on the sides and probably some thermal compound on the top where there is actual contact between the copper of the capsink and the metal of the capacitor.

    Here are a few images of the way it looks on the motherboard

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here are some pictures of the PSU

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I placed the HD on top of the PSU for reference
     
    Last edited: 22 Oct 2004
  12. Enak

    Enak Also known as Kane

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    Capsinks? WTF
     
  13. gigik

    gigik New Member

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    it will be gr8 i like micro :D
     
  14. Godboy_g

    Godboy_g New Member

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    Looks good so far. I can't wait to see what direction you take with this. :thumb:
     
  15. Brew

    Brew New Member

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    Looking sweet dude, I always love projects that involve resizing something. I hope you keep the whole thing that smooth looking.


    But keep up the work man, I cant wait to see what you do with this. :thumb:
     
    Last edited: 9 Oct 2004
  16. BlackDiamond

    BlackDiamond New Member

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    This article on MSI's website explains some of the theory behind the capsinks.

    And another article explaining why you should cool electrolytic capacitors

    Thanks for your responses, keep'em coming!
     
    Last edited: 8 Oct 2004
  17. ben_jt

    ben_jt New Member

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    Interesting... I looked up the specs for the PSU I bought (476-1816 from RS), and it claims to be a mATX PSU. Here's a pic:
    [​IMG]

    Smaller in every dimension if you orientate it the same way, or about 1/2 the size in total. That's an 80mm fan on the top for reference.

    Anyway, this is kind of offtopic now, so I'll shut up, and just keep following this log :D

    Hope the capsinks work for you, it's something I've never seen before.
     
  18. BlackDiamond

    BlackDiamond New Member

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    I am thinking of putting active cooling on the capacitors instead of the capsinks - they take too much time to fabricate and the are very flimsy.

    The motherboard has a CNR slot (which I am not using) between the AGP slot and the voltage regulator circuit - I am going to put a 60mm fan there. I have not abandoned the capsink idea but I need something that is easier to fabricate and a little sturdier.

    Stay tuned.
     
  19. slater

    slater Mummy Says Im Special

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    LoL @ the cap sinks, nice idea.

    slater..
     
  20. BlackDiamond

    BlackDiamond New Member

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    Progress and updates:

    I finished patching up the front of the chassis and painting it

    [​IMG]

    I am still painting the outer parts but here is a preview of the door

    [​IMG]

    I am not done with the black paint yet. And I have not even started with the clear coat.

    I decided to get an AGP video card and a wireless LAN.
    I got a radeon 9250 and a D-link 108MHz card (to go with my D-Link router).

    The capsinks take too much time to fabricate so I decided to go with a fan, I had a

    60mm from a retail AMD heatsink and I attached it to a slot cover.

    [​IMG]

    I was a curious as to see how everything fits and sounds like so I assembled all the electronics.

    This is the motherboards and the cards.

    [​IMG]


    The next step was putting the 92mm fan, the PSU, the drive cage (with the HD already

    in it) the DVD and then secure the PSU into place - it's such a tight fit that the

    DVD can go in only if the PSU is not bolted to the chassis.

    Side view

    [​IMG]

    Rear view

    [​IMG]

    Front view

    [​IMG]

    I also put the hinge for the door in place (the shiny bronze thing on the right side)

    And then I powered it up.











    It worked.

    But...

    It's loud, I mean really loud.

    So first I undervloted the intake and voltage regulator fans.

    Still loud...

    Now I am going to undervolt the PSU fan and I am probably going to build a custom

    mount for a 80mm fan that will replace the 60mm on the CPU.
     
    Last edited: 27 Nov 2004

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