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Modding NVIDIA ION CUBE by cheapskate and mnpctech... We won!

Discussion in 'Modding' started by mnpctech, 12 Nov 2009.

  1. mnpctech

    mnpctech bit-tech sponsor

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    Those of you won didn't know of the contest, the public submitted their ideas to Modders-Inc for an Nvidia ION based PC back in August. If their design idea was chosen, they could watch their design become reality by one of 5, professional modders. If that PC design won, the designer took ownership of the PC. The winning PC was ours! It was announced by CPU Magazine

    Now I have to figure out how I'm going to ship this to cheaps?!, (I blame it on Cheaps!)

    It was a pleasure participating in this competition with Boddaker, Dennis, and TiToN. I hope we can do another Nvidia contest like this again, but with triple-SLI rigs :naughty:



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    Spider-like fan blades shroud the top 120mm Logysis intake fan.

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    The NVIDIA logo on the base is laser cut from 1/4" thick UV Green transparent cast acrylic.

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    Powered by ZOTAC 330 ION Mini-ITX motherboard

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    Left side of NVIDIA Cube with Power Button

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    Cheapskate's conceptual drawing
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    I had 2 months to build a PC based on cheapskates conceptual design. Even though we didn't win, I'm confident the Nvidia Cube PC will continue to inspire future PC builders and modders for years to come.

    I have more progress to share that my time didn't allow for during the contest.


    "The mind of cheapskate must be a very wild and strange place."

    The first time I looked at cheapskate's drawing, my head just spun "How will I find TIME to build it?" I started to mentally edit the design to save time, without compromising it. The biggest revision would be the huge multi-layered acrylic base. We can save time by emulating it in aluminum instead of multiple acrylic pieces.

    Before I start showing you everything, please understand that I'm a professional PC modder.
    I have the resources to build cheapskate's design efficiently, but don't let this deter you from building your own case. There is multiple online communities like this one with members who can help you get started with PC scratch building and modding.

    There is also online services and communities of Skilled Trade Professionals that can help you with Laser Cutting, and CNC Machining for Hobbyists

    eMachineShop.com is a online machine shop that offers free CAD software that is proprietary to their services. They provide CNC Milling, CNC Turning (Lathe), Rapid Prototyping, Laser Cutting, Waterjet Cutting, Plasma Cutting, Punching, Bending, Casting, Wire EDM, Plastic Injection Molding and more.

    Online community forum of cnc machinists, laser/waterjet cutting specialists, and CAD Designers that allow you to post "RFQs" (Requests For Quotes) How to submit to RFQWork

    CNCzone is nnother community of skilled Machinists you can join for FREE and discuss or seek help with CAD/CAM software, professional machinery, Electronics, mill conversions, lathe conversions

    This laser cutting service will work with PC modders.

    Laser Cutting Service, Inc.
    803 41st Street North
    Birmingham, Alabama 35212
    205-595-7070 FAX 205-595-7021
    http://www.lasercuttingservice.net

    The concept reminded me of when LEGOS started incorporating UV Green parts into their "Space" sets in the late 70s and continue to today.

    LEGO Cyber Saucer kit, 1997
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    UV Green cast acrylic was used for the exterior features

    http://www.mnpctech..com/colored_acrylic_sheet_casemod_window.html

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    The Zotac Nvidia ION 330 ITX A-U Motherboard is nearly ready-to-run out of the box. All you add is memory, hard drive and O.S. This makes it less intimidating to first time PC builders and more affordable to d-i-y enthusiasts. If you're planning to build a HTPC. It produces a crisp picture @ 1080p HDMI. It has 1.3 output support, optional dual monitor, 7.1 channel uncompressed audio output. Coaxial and optical audio output and Blu-ray decode acceleration. Yes!! If you're PC Modder, the ION 330's small size opens the door to your own creativity.. You don't have to be a professional modder to imagine multiple ideas for your own PC. The 6.7" x 6.7' motherboard allows you to mount it in something fun like an R/C car body or a toolbox. I've seen people install ITX computers in their car.

    You can find a large variety of ITX computer cases on the market ranging from $39 - and higher at Logic Supply and Newegg.com

    The ION is low power. Our ION PC is very simple. A 90 watt power brick powers the Zotac 330 ION motherboard, LG DVD optical drive, Corsair x64 SSD HD, Logisys 120mm cooling fan, and four 4" cold cathode lights. The lights are not a necessity, but they look cool! You don't need to add anything else. Check out the specs below, you've got six USB 2.0 ports, eSATA, PS2 port, Gigabit Ethernet port. Plus, our pedestal design allows you to rotate the cube 360 degrees, so you can access all of these ports easily. We're using the 5-pin molex connector on the board to power the Corsair x64 SSD drive and lighting.

    Here is the specification list of ION ITX-A-U Motherboard

    ION ITX-A-U Specifications
    Processor 1.6 GHz Intel Atom 330
    533 MHz FSB
    Chipset NVIDIA MCP7A-ION
    System Memory, Dual channel DDR2 667 DIMM slots
    Up to 4 GB of memory
    VGA Integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9400M Graphics
    Supported Resolution 1920 x 1440 (VGA)
    Expansion Slots PCI Express Mini Card (wireless card pre-installed)
    Onboard IDE None
    Onboard Serial ATA 3 SATA (3 Gb/sec.) connectors (RAID 0, 1, 0+1)
    Onboard USB 10 USB 2.0
    Onboard LAN Realtek RTL8211C GbE 10/100/1000
    Onboard Audio Realtek ALC662 5.1 channel HD codec
    Back Panel I/O 6 USB 2.0 ports
    1 VGA port
    1 DVI-I port
    1 HDMI port
    1 eSATA port
    1 LAN port
    1 PS2 keyboard port
    2 S/PDIF-out ports (coaxial/optical)
    3 Audio jacks: line-out, line-in, mic-in
    1 DC jack
    Onboard I/O Connectors 3 SATA connectors
    4 USB 2.0 via 2 pin headers
    1 RS-232 COM pin header
    1 Front panel audio pin header
    1 Front panel pin header
    2 Fan pin headers
    4-pin Molex connector (for peripheral power)
    BIOS AMI BIOS 8 Mb flash memory
    System Monitoring & Management: System power management, RTC timer
    Operating Temperature 0ºC ~ 50ºC
    Power DC 19 V @ 4.74 A
    Form Factor: Mini-ITX (17 x 17 cm)
    Includes Driver CD

    Backplate
    CPU fan
    90 W AC adapter & cord
    Wireless antenna
    3 SATA cables
    1 SATA power cable
    User manual


    I apologize for not showing more in-progress photos. I simply didn't have the time to drop what I was doing and take photos. However I do feel that I caught the best highlights.

    The is the core of the cube. It looks very simple, but it's actually a very detailed design. It's constructed from 10, individually laser cut 1/4" thick acrylic pieces. Anyone besides cheapskate and myself will need to call OnStar in order to open this PC...lol, j/k.

    1/8" cast acrylic used for the exterior pieces

    http://www.mnpctech.com/colored_acrylic_sheet_casemod_window.html

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    I chose to cnc mill a 1' x 1', 3/4" thick sheet of aluminum, purchased for $50 locally. I want to take cheap's ideas even further, I want the channels between the squares illuminated Green. My first plan was to mount 5mm Green leds around the inside of the base, but CC lights disperse more light. You need power inverters, 1 per 2x CC lights. We have a total of four 4" cold cathode lights. I had already purchased the 3/4" thick sheet, so the inverters would be relocated inside the cube.

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    Heres is the base 99% finished, after it was anodized Black, assembled with center pedestal and 1/4" thick sheet of UV green acrylic base plate. It's glowing from the ambient light coming in from the window. Notice the NVIDIA logo silhouette, this was the last detail to be covered with illuminated 1/4" thick UV Green NVIDIA logo.

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    Our pedestal design allows you to rotate the cube 360 degrees. You can turn the PC for a different look and easily access all of the rear ports.

    NVIDIA ION CUBE heat sink inspired case badge

    Cheapskate designed a heat sink style plate on the rear of the NVIDIA Cube, it's highlighted Green in photo below.

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    I thought it would be cool to create a real heat sink from 6061 aluminum, with the NVIDIA logo engraved on it.
    An interesting way to create and display a case badge of the NVIDIA Cube.

    NVIDIA's iconic logo engraved in 6061 aluminum.

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    SEM self etching primer, Black. matches type II anodize black perfectly.
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    Beneath the base, the power brick cord and sleeved cold cathode wiring.

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    1/4" UV Green acrylic under aluminum base
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    4" cold cathode light illuminates the NVIDIA logo from beneath.
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    The core of the NVIDIA cube is constructed from 1/4" thick cast acrylic pieces that were laser cut.

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    The NVIDIA cube's core is mounted to the top of the pedestal base.

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    Laser cutting 12" x 24" , 1/4" UV Green acrylic sheet. The file is a pre-outlined lay up of each part, like a model kit.

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    After peeling off paper backing.

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    I am ION man!

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    Assembling 5.25 optical drive & 2.5" SSD tray with Weld-On #3

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    Corsair SSD!
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    MB tray installed, Corsair SSD and DVD fit beneath it.
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    2x cold cathode power invertors
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    MB tray inside the Nvidia ION cube
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    Trim piece on the rear of the Nvidia ION cube
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    Assembly of some the cool exterior features of the Nvidia ION cube.

    This is the wheel located on the corner of the shell.
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    I use scotch green tape 233+ to temporary prop acrylic pieces together as the Weld-On #3 acrylic cement cures. I use this syringe applicator.
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    Spider-like blades are the grill for the top 120mm fan
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    It has to be the single coolest feature of the entire PC.
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    Installing acrylic switch plate for 22mm Lamptron vandal switch
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    Black anodized aluminum pedestal rod for Nvidia ION Cube
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    Installing left front exterior trim for optical drive
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    MB tray for Zotac 330 ION, power switch wiring was shortly after, out of necessity!
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    1.6 GHz dual core Intel Atom 330 processor with NVIDIA MCP7A-ION chipset and GeForce 9400M graphics.

    I love all of the included features on this ITX motherboard.

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    This is our 120mm anodized black machined aluminum fan grill. This is the first product that Mnpctech started manufacturing in 2001. So for sentimental reasons, it was important that I utilized a part of our product history in this build :D

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    Last edited: 18 Nov 2009
    mvagusta and kureshii like this.
  2. Kylevdm

    Kylevdm The Mod Zoo Podcast Host

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    I blame it on Cheaps!!!

    Awesome case! Congrats Bill!
     
  3. craigbru

    craigbru Now... with more CNC!

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    Congrats to the both of you! (Cheaps for the insane idea, and Bill for the amazing execution!)
     
  4. M7ck

    M7ck Ⓜod Ⓜaster

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    A stunning build. Congrats and well done.
     
  5. stonedsurd

    stonedsurd Is a cackling Yuletide Belgian

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    That's right, blame cheaps! :p

    Congrats once again you two! :clap:
     
  6. bigsharn

    bigsharn Officially demotivated

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    It's complete win... Well done gents :)
     
  7. jhanlon303

    jhanlon303 The Keeper of History

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    Without the step by step pics it would be labeled Photoshopped! You are ION man!

    Congrats to both of you.

    What one mind can envision, another can create.

    Quite the tag team you two.

    john
     
  8. Stuey

    Stuey You will be defenestrated!

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    Congrats! Very nice work!
     
  9. disturbed13

    disturbed13 New Member

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    god why am i reminded of the Borg?

    resistance is futile
     
  10. [ZiiP] NaloaC

    [ZiiP] NaloaC Well-Known Member

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    That is a pint-sized piece of awesome! Well done to Bill for the construction and to Cheaps for the design.
     
  11. phinix

    phinix RIP Waynio...

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    Sweet Jesus.. I have no words...
    This is the most sophisticated build I've ever seen....
     
    Last edited: 18 May 2010
  12. capnPedro

    capnPedro Hacker. Maker. Engineer.

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    That is a damn impressive case!
     
  13. woody_294

    woody_294 Wizard Ninja :P

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    Amazing!
     
  14. Nanosec

    Nanosec absit iniuria verbis

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    Grats to all, and I agree if it were not for the step by step pics, those could easily have been renders.....

    Great Job folks !!
     
  15. mnpctech

    mnpctech bit-tech sponsor

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    I would attribute this illusion to painting the core Matte Black. There is no reflection of light.


    Thank you for the comments everybody :thumb:
     
  16. Guest-23315

    Guest-23315 Guest

    Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude.

    :thumb:
     
  17. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Thanks everyone!:D I'm glad you like it. Bill took an absolutely hideous design and made it good.
    Also- I've been getting hit with hamster wheel jokes constantly since the pics were posted.:hehe:
     
    mvagusta and kureshii like this.
  18. mnpctech

    mnpctech bit-tech sponsor

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  19. stonedsurd

    stonedsurd Is a cackling Yuletide Belgian

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    :eyebrow:
    Really? Obvious influences?

    Guess some folks over at Engadget are as strange as Cheaps :hehe:
     
  20. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    In truth, I was going for the cryo sphere from Akira, only square.:p Bill opted not to run hoses and cables out of every orifice.
     

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