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Scratch Build – Complete ⭐ HPTPC or The Suit-Case... (Harry Potter luggage cart)

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by artoodeeto, 22 Jun 2019.

  1. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Recently we got a message on our blu-ray player (which we mainly use for streaming) - Hulu is ending their app support on blu-ray players as of August 2019. I'd been wanting to build an HTPC but it was never much of a priority, since the dvd player was mostly working fine. Hulu had a tendency to freeze after a couple of episodes, but nothing worse than that.

    Those days of putting off the HTPC are now over. We *could* use our TV to stream Hulu, but then wouldn't be able to use our sound system and the TV speakers are meh. So I started thinking about what I could do to make a cool case. I've already done Star Wars and Dr. Who cases, so no need to rehash those subjects. Eventually my wife and I decided on Harry Potter, specifically a luggage cart from King's Cross. Here's a reference pic I found, to give the general idea of what I'm going for:
    [​IMG]

    This is going to be a fairly quick build. Over the last couple weeks I've been buying most of the stuff I needed - the hardware for the computer, the miniature decorative "suitcases", a stuffed owl, a small decorative birdcage, etc. In the end the whole thing will probably run me around $500.

    First, the hardware. This system will only be for streaming Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc., and doesn't need to be super high powered. I bought a BioStar A10N-8800 motherboard with embedded AMD FX-8800P processor, a laptop-grade system. Should be a big jump performance-wise over the Intel Atom and similar AMD mini-systems, but cost-wise is much lower than the (admittedly much better) Ryzens or Intel chips. The BioStar board seems to be fairly new, although the CPU isn't, so I'm hoping the thing performs ok.

    I bought 8GB RAM for it - not a lot, but it should be fine for streaming, and if it's terrible I can always put more in. I got a 250GB Sabrent Nvme M.2 SSD to be the OS hard drive, it was only forty bucks and should ensure fast start up times. I have an existing 4TB SATA drive for movie/TV show storage that I've pulled out of an external case. For the PSU, I'm using a 430W Thermaltake that I bought for a different system, also lower-powered, that I haven't gotten around to rebuilding yet. I'll buy another PSU for that when I'm ready to work on it. I'm going to use non-lit cooling fans that I have in my spare parts bin, and I think I found a power button in there I can use too.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    That's all I got for now...I've measured the floor space the "suitcases" are taking up and the luggage cart will be about 2 feet long and 1 foot wide. I'll need to buy some metal rods and wheels for the handles, axles, etc. The PSU suitcase will be shut, while the computer one will be slightly open for cooling...more later on how I'll tackle all that. I don't have time today, but I'm hoping tomorrow I'll have time to start (and finish) the luggage cart.

    *Edit - HPTPC means Harry Potter Themed PC. :D
     
    Last edited: 23 Jun 2019
  2. Landux

    Landux Member

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    I'm a big fan of Harry Potter and this mod it's faboulus. Congrats!!!
     
  3. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Made good progress today - I got the luggage cart mostly done. Still left to do is actually attach the handle, wind something around it to give it a grip (probably leather strips), and either stain or weather the wood (or both, I need to do some testing). Not too bad for just using up some scrap plywood I had sitting around in the garage for years.

    [​IMG]

    gotta set the table saw fence. Seems like an unnecessarily delicate procedure, but then my table saw *was* given to me for free, so I can't really complain.
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    Safety first! Also, wearing appropriately themed t-shirts is a must on this project.
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    I decided not to make individual planks. Instead, I measured out lines and notched each side of the board, then lowered the blade and cut grooves to connect the notches together. Makes the top look like planks but leaves it a single piece of wood. The suitcases will be covering most of it anyway.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    After getting this far I realized the outer edges were far too straight and even. Time to do something about that...
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    So much for THAT piece of sandpaper...
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    And the underside, as you can see it's still a single piece of plywood.
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    I bought a 3/16" diam, 36" long steel rod and hand-bent it to shape. Not perfect, but I don't have metal working tools and it's good enough. I tried using pliers for a more precise bend, but...let's just say that didn't work. At all.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Up next, probably next weekend - getting the computer housed in the suitcases, cutting cooling and wire-routing holes, and generally turning this cute little luggage cart into an actual computer case. :D
     
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  4. Landux

    Landux Member

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    Every day your rig it's getting more beautyful!
    Nice job!
     
  5. MLyons

    MLyons Half dev, Half doge. Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Fabulous work as always.
     
  6. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Thanks guys :)

    I made some more progress today after getting work stuff out of the way this morning. Best motivation to work fast - the thought of spending the afternoon building fun stuff in the garage :D

    The luggage cart is nearly done. I'd put some JB Weld epoxy into a couple holes I drilled in the luggage cart and inserted the metal handle, only to discover the next day that the holes weren't really big enough, so while the handle was a nice tight fit, it was so tight it just pushed the epoxy down such that the epoxy bonded to the wood and itself...but not the handle. Ugh. I had to add an extra strip of wood, drill slightly larger holes into THAT, then proceed with finishing the thing.

    Today's progress included hurting myself, aging and staining the luggage cart, and starting a Monster Book of Monsters to be part of the suitcase contents. First off, the aging of the cart. I began by buying a wire wheel designed to attach to my drill...so first stop was the hardware store. It's loads of fun when you're a dog!
    [​IMG]

    Next up - time to beat up and age the wooden luggage cart prior to staining it. Hence the wire wheel.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Next - Monster Book of Monsters. First purchase was a strip of very furry fabric from Jo-Ann's, as well as a set of fake eyes (not pictured yet). I was all set to buy a cheap little journal on Amazon to be the inside of the book, when it occurred to me I had some multicolored parchment paper sitting in a box in a drawer. I'd bought it for a different project but only used a couple sheets, so I decided to use the leftovers for the book and set aside several sheets for some spells and scrolls. I then went dumpster diving (and I mean that 100% literally) and fished out a cardboard box. I cut that up to be the cover to which the furry fabric would be glued. The book kept wanting to pop open, so I had to use clamps and heavy weights to keep it shut. Kinda like the one in the Harry Potter books...
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Yep, I used bolts to "bind" it together. I couldn't think of anything else that I had that I could use, that would also result in instant gratification. I'm pretty sure, now that I've committed to using these, they're the reason why the book keeps popping back open. Oh well. I wasn't planning on doing any writing in it, and in fact I plan on permanently tying it shut with some twine or something, so it should be fine.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Note to self, when next using a wire wheel brush, wear. a. glove. You stupid idiot. (It stung a bit but lots of hydrogen peroxide later, I'm fine).
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    Time for some staining...
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    I was trying to get a good crease in the book. Hence the clamp. Didn't work very well.
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    GLUE TIME!!
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    And the award for Creative Use of Clamps and a Drill goes to....
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    Who says I don't have any vices?
    [​IMG]

    That's it for now...tomorrow I'll likely get going on the computer part of all this :D
     
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  7. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Alrightie...made some progress today. First off, I hooked up the computer, downloaded and made a Windows 10 install USB drive, and got Windows on there. Still need to get it licensed, but for now it's up and running. Also confirmed that the various pieces of hardware do, in fact, work.

    In order to test it, the easiest way to hook it up was to one of my TVs, which has an extra HDMI cable on it.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    After that, it was time to get that luggage cart finished up. I started by gluing on the leather padding to the handle.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Then it was time to get the suitcases situated on the cart, get them bolted down, and get holes drilled to allow fans to both pull air in (the one in the PSU) and blow warm air back out (the other fan). It was hard, after having detailed and stained the wooden luggage cart, to cover up over half of it with the big PSU suitcase and then drill huge holes in it...but it had to be done.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The day was not without mishaps. I should've put that drilled-up swiss cheese block of wood I've got under the cart when I was using the 120mm hole saw, but I didn't. And now my table has a new beauty mark...
    [​IMG]

    At least I got the holes drilled in the right places.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And now back to finish the push handle, and to finish the Monster Book. For the book, all that was left was to run glue along the slight bit of excess fur around the edges, and clip said excess over the edge to hide the edge of the corrugated cardboard cover. I'd left excess all the way round for this purpose, but then forgot to do it last night.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    After I was done with this, I realized the easiest way to hook up the fan in the PSU suitcase would be to use an adapter and plug it into one of the extra MOLEX plugs on the PSU. Easier said than done tonight, apparently. I dove into my bag of tricks (ie, extra bits of junk saved over the years) and located the necessary connectors. I then soldered these together. Then I discovered the plug that goes to the fan was wired wrong. The power wire wasn't on it, and the other wires were for the RPM detection and the negative line. After much grumbling, I dove back into my bag of tricks and located the only other male fan plug I have, which thankfully still had all 3 wires. I got that soldered on, plugged it into the fan....then discovered that the MOLEX end was the wrong gender. ARG. Cut that off, soldered in the correct one, and I finally had my adapter. I think my new motto is, "If you're not screwing something up, you're not doing it right."
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    When I took this photo, I was sussing out exactly how to place the suitcases before bolting them down. The bottom big one, for the PSU, really only worked the way it's shown in the photo. The top one though could go on in a number of orientations. I chose the one pictured since the placement allows me to open the case and access the computer if needed, while being angled differently enough from the bottom one that it retains visual interest and minimizes the "sameness" between the two suitcases. This photo is from the "back" of the case, you can see the hinges where the three suitcases' lids are attached.
    [​IMG]

    And in this photo I was figuring out roughly where the mini ITX Biostar A10N-8800E motherboard would go. I had to leave enough room on one side to mount the 4TB HD (you can see I have an NvME M.2 250GB SSD on the board itself, that's the OS drive), and I had to leave enough room on the other side for a hole going into the lower suitcase through which the wiring from the PSU will be routed, as well as the HDMI cable which will go straight through the lower suitcase, out under the cart, and then up the wall.
    [​IMG]

    The PSU and evacuation fan bolted in place, with the fan plugged in with my newly-made adapter. When all is finished, this suitcase will be completely shut, hence the need for the extra fan to blow air out (the PSU fan will pull it in).
    [​IMG]

    Once more from the back, this time with the push handle finished and both suitcases bolted down.
    [​IMG]

    Placement of everything from the front. When all is done, the top suitcase will be slightly open to facilitate airflow for the computer. However, the CPU fan is a noisy little @#%$& and will have to go. I'm planning on replacing it with two 120mm case fans blow air right onto the motherboard in the middle, and the warm air will exit the case from the sides. I'll fabricate all that tomorrow, so stay tuned for my plans there. The front domed suitcase is not and will not be bolted down, and will not have anything other than "set dressing" items in it. Same thing with the owl cage. I still need to figure out where to incorporate the power button.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    More set dressing - I got a leather old-timey style journal, without which no wizard is complete. I also got a big banner that unfortunately turned out to be see-through...the whole purpose was to hang something to hide the power and HDMI cords running up the wall to the alcove where the TV is...I'll have to get a piece of white fabric or something and attach it to the back to make it opaque. Oy.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And lastly for tonight, the finished Monster Book of Monsters:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 30 Jun 2019
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  8. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    I'm getting close to done - as of yesterday it's now a computer case in actuality. There's still a few necessary things (like figuring out where to put the power button) and a few cosmetic finishing touches that need to be done, but aside from that if I had to I could power it up and start using it now.

    As for what I did yesterday - to start with I got the motherboard and the 4TB storage hard drive mounted in the small top suitcase. But how to hide the fact there's a computer in there, without just closing the suitcase? And really, that'd be a pretty boring option. I'd decided in the initial planning stages to leave the computer suitcase lid propped open slightly, and to have a fan or two blowing air in. The plan is to add "set dressing" to that fan mount/shroud to hide the fact that there are fans there, without obstructing the airflow. I plan on adding various papers and other items, both purchased things I already have, plus some stuff I'm making, and make it appear the suitcase is overstuffed, can't close, with things spilling out. The trick, of course, will be making that convincing without blocking the admittedly already narrow air openings for the fans. (That being said, I don't expect this system to be a space heater so I'm not *too* worried about heat.)

    [​IMG]

    Got a few holes cut for wire ingress/egress. This one's in the bottom of the big suitcase for the power cable and HDMI cable to exit the case. These are the only two cables that'll come out.
    [​IMG]

    Wire routing hole in the lid of the big suitcase. Not pretty, but it'll be completely hidden.
    [​IMG]

    I'd have much preferred to use a modular PSU, but as this system was semi-unplanned I didn't want to spend a fortune on it. Modular PSUs are at least double the cost of the one I bought. I decided against cutting the extra cords off (something I've done in the past) because I don't want to have to replace the PSU if I ever upgrade the system and the new one needs the currently-unused cabling.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Now to get going on the fan mount. I didn't feel like pulling out the table saw, so I made a cut with the chop saw, flipped the piece of wood around, and cut the remaining bit.
    [​IMG]

    Added a few pieces made from scrap wood to hold the fan mount. I thought about bolting the mount to these but decided against it. It completely blocks access to the computer, and I didn't want to have to get a screwdriver if/when I need to tinker with it.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The fans are nothing exciting - two of the six slim 120mm fans purchased for my Sandcrawler case at a time when I wanted the radiator sandwiched by fans and there wasn't physical space for normal 120mm fans. I'd long since stopped using these slim fans so it's nice to have a use for them again.
    [​IMG]

    When you don't have clamps...although because of the lid I couldn't have clamped the back two supports anyway.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And stained, more to help it blend in with the inside of the suitcase than to make it look better. As you can see from the photos above the pale plywood color really stands out; the stained color much less so. Besides which, there'll be stuff attached to this to give the impression of things spilling out of the suitcase, so I'm expecting much of the shroud to be covered anyway.
    [​IMG]

    One of the remaining things to do is mount the ethernet antenna. I got an antenna extension cable so I just need to drill a hole in the suitcase lid. The antenna itself will be disguised as a wand (still figuring out how best to do that). Further, I wanted the antenna to still stick up rather than lay flat, so it needed to be angled. Happily, it's jointed at the base, but that meant I needed to hide the base. So I dug through closets and found a little cardboard box that serves the purpose. Got it wrapped in a paper grocery bag and tied up with twine, and it'll sit atop the suitcase lid and hide the base of the antenna. The visible part is what I'll disguise as a magic wand.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  9. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Bit more progress on the outside, and a lot more on the inside (all necessary software is now fully installed). All that's left to finish is putting the power button somewhere and finishing the exterior cosmetic stuff.

    Made some potions bottles to go in one of the suitcases:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Got the Wifi antenna mounted, now just need to make it look like a wand:
    [​IMG]

    And lastly, got the lighting in the upper suitcase installed. The overall design of this is pretty neutral as far as the houses are concerned (I did this on purpose - idea being the viewer can look at it and imagine it's their stuff rather than somebody else's). So it's a matter of opening up the control app on the phone and changing the color to make it one of the specific houses. Here's the fan mount/shroud, which I'll put papers and other things on and around it to help hide the fans a bit.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    That's it for now. I'm hoping/expecting to have it done this weekend.
     
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  10. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Taking a dog to Lowes... :lol: You are one of THAT crowd that makes hitting the hardware store on the weekend nearly impossible. The dogs I don't mind, but the 6 unattended children darting around the forklift and generally trying to get killed while their parents camp in the middle of an isle eating takout from the cart... Weekend hardware store traffic is like a circus for some reason.
    It's looking great. I think your owl may be dead. :worried: You might get an issue with the psu taking in the heat dump air. -Possibly add a flexible skirt between the two holes?
     
  11. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Not a bad idea about putting a skirt or barrier between the intake/outake fan holes, although I suspect a bigger issue in the long run will be dog hair and dust. I'll probably need to figure out some sort of filter to put over the intake hole (the computer I have hooked up to the piano, I put a piece of windowscreen mesh over the intake fan. Seems to work ok). And re: the dog, I rarely take her to the hardware store. Only reason she was with me that day was I needed to get her claws trimmed at the pet store and the two are pretty close together. The employees all liked seeing her, she's super happy and excited to see everyone, and I kept her out of trouble. I too hate the kids running everywhere while the parents aren't paying any attention. :D

    Also, I tried CPR on the owl but just got a mouthful of fuzz. Oh well. At least he doesn't stink.

    More photos in a few. As I type this, it's 100% finished. Just waiting for the glue to dry on the banner I got to hang on the wall and cover the power and HDMI cables that run from the computer up the wall into the TV alcove. Glue being necessary b/c I had to glue a white sheet of fabric on the backside as the banner, it turns out, is slightly transparent. Which would sort of defeat the purpose of using it to hide wires. Be nice if they'd mentioned that little detail in the product description. On the other hand it was only ten bucks...
     
  12. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Alrightie, it's all done! I didn't end up hanging the banner to cover the wires running up to the TV, for the simple reason that it doesn't fit in that little corner spot. I might at some point figure out a way to squeeze it in there, but for now I'm not bothering. The cords are sort of behind the fireplace mantle anyway.
    [​IMG]

    First off, making the antenna look more like a wand. I wrapped a leather lace around the base, tightly, to make it look like a handgrip, then continued the wrapping up and back down the length of it. I glued it on and had to scrape off quite a lot of excess glue prior to painting it. I left the leather wrapping at the base its original color but painted the rest.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    My banner. Not sure what I'll do with it if I'm not able to figure out a way to hang it where I'd intended. The banner was partially transparent so I got a sheet of white fabric and glued it on the back. We had the gold brocade leftover from some other long-ago costume project my wife worked on, so I used up the last of it by bordering the top and bottom of the banner. It's not *too* ostentatious, plus it meant using something up (I'm a big fan of using things instead of throwing them out).
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    As you can see, it really doesn't fit (I'm holding it up by hand in this photo). And even if it did at least kind of fit without partially blocking the TV, our Wii, and part of the mantle, I wouldn't be able to open or close the curtain on our sliding glass door. Oy.
    [​IMG]

    And here we go. All done! In a couple of the pics you can see the little red power button. I tried to cover it up with stuff, but the angles were weird and the low tack tape I used didn't want to stick. It worked fine on the stuff in there that's laying flat. I used sticky-backed velcro for the potions bottles in the little open suitcase to hold them in place. We just had a couple huge earthquakes here in southern CA in the last couple days, biggest in 20 years, so I haven't been in a mood to tempt fate.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  13. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    I'm not sure if it counts as a computer case or a computer disguise.
    :another 7.0 hits: "Arg! I gotta re-pack my computer." :lol:
     
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  14. Dr. Coin

    Dr. Coin Active Member

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    Very nice work.
     
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