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PicoCube [FINISHED!!]

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Neji, 25 Apr 2007.

  1. Neji

    Neji New Member

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    This is the work log for for my project which I'm calling, due to an utter lack of imagination 'PCube'.

    Introduction
    I started the project in late February but have only posted it now because I knew that initial progress would be slow due to lack of money and time.

    I work in a junior high school and until now have been using a 5 year old laptop to plan lessons and stuff. It's not fun to use, it's heavy, and is getting slow and unreliable so I wanted a new computer (and an excuse to get a new toy). My desk is small so the computer has to be too. I use word processing, simple DTP, and graphics stuff to make materials for my lessons so I want to have a nice screen to look at and I obviously don't have to take the screen home with me.

    The Brainwave
    I got to thinking it would be cool to have a computer inside a Gamecube. It's small, has a ready made handle and fits with my Nintendo fanboy image. I decided to check if this was possible and found Nano-ITX.

    A Nano ITX motherboard (12cm x 12cm) will just about fit in the space at the bottom of the GC but the I/O ports won't be very close to the outer edge, and it would be a tight fit. When I found out about Pico-ITX (10cm x 7.5cm), I decided to use this board instead, I just hope I can get a hold of one.

    I then thought about what else I would want in the box. Here are the (planned) specs:
    • Pico ITX
    • 60GB hdd
    • 512mb RAM
    • Slot loading slimline drive

    First Steps
    I bought a junked GC on Yahoo Auctions for 100yen and began taking it apart with the help of a special screwdriver to tackle those pesky screws Nintendo loves to use on it's consoles.

    [​IMG]
    The case is a bit grubby but I'll clean it up before I finish.

    [​IMG]

    The screws on the bottom were a bit tough to remove but I'm glad Ihad the right tools. I did initially try the 'melted ball point pen cap' trick but I couldn't get it to work.

    [​IMG]

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


    With that done I looked at what I had and scratched my head. How was I going to mount the motherboard with all this bumpy stuff in the way? I wanted the motherboard to sit low in the case. The only way I saw was to hack up the bottom of the case and get rid of the junk. Commence hacking!

    This is a good point to show you my workshop

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Yes, it's my genkan (porch-hallway-type-thing).

    This was a long and smelly road which, when I finally reached the end, resulted in a (pretty ugly looking) space to put a mobo tray of sorts. I went back quite a few times to try to tidy things up and increase the space I had to work in. So I went from this:

    [​IMG]

    To something slightly less gnarled which I'll post at a later date as I don't have a pic.

    Much Headscratching
    The bottom of the GC is fitted to the top shell by way of four pillars at each corner. These pillars also act as supports for the front and rear panels of the GC. My aims of keeping the outside of the GC looking as stock as possible meant it would be best to keep these pillars intact.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    These pillars are proving to be a pain but I want to keep them if I can. I had to do some extra hacking of the pillars on the bottom of the case so that the corners of the motherboard would fit in. After changing to Pico-ITX, this was no longer a problem. I also discovered that the pillars on the top of the case were not wide enough apart to allow the optical drive to sit flush with it and were barely wide enough to allow a CD to pass through them. No biggie, right?

    The gap measures about 118mm, a CD is 120mm in diameter, and an optical drive is 128mm wide. Even my mathematically challenged brain could see I had a problem. With some minor filing of the outer shell though, it should be possible.

    I'll admit, my design for mounting the hardware in the case lacks a certain finesse. However, it's the best that my skills will allow. I knew I'd have to get the tray cut for me, as I don't have the tools to make decent cuts. I did a lot of measuring and made a few paper mock-ups of the design before placing my order.

    So that's as far as I have got with the main part of the computer. I'm waiting for the mobo tray to come back and I really have to get the motherboard now, but I may have to wait until next month as money is tight.

    Fortunately, there are other things I can be getting on with, independent of the main box. I'll post a bit about those in the next few updates. These have to do with the display, keyboard, and memory card slots.

    Thanks for reading (or just looking at the pictures), I welcome any comments.

    Doumo! :D
     
    Last edited: 7 Sep 2008
  2. exitus

    exitus New Member

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    Cool, this will be interesting! Keep it up!
     
  3. FR34K

    FR34K New Member

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    :wallbash: dammit! I was already in the progress of the same mod...I ran out of money for the project a month or two ago though. :sigh:

    I had even solved the problem of fitting an optical drive in it as well.
     
  4. Krikkit

    Krikkit All glory to the hypnotoad! Super Moderator

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    Wow, nice idea. I never even considered how small a Pico-ITX mobo was, and how decently sized a GC case is for a PC! I might do this same mod after you've finished (with the right amount of credit, of course).

    Can't wait to see how this turns out. Subscribed tbh.
     
  5. elbarto241

    elbarto241 New Member

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    it would be aswsome if you could use the connectors on the GC to connect mouse and keyboard... just a thought >_<
     
  6. Duste

    Duste Sierra my delta, bravo!

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    With the DVD drive, are you going to try and make it to-loading? Like, convert it?

    I don't think you'd be able to do that with a slot-loaded drive, but maybe a normal slim drive would work, yes?
     
  7. Neji

    Neji New Member

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    I'm not going to bother with a top loading drive, I'm using a slot loader. As for the keyboard, well, watch this space.

    I figured there would be people with the same idea but I haven't seen any others yet.
     
  8. The_Beast

    The_Beast I like wood ಠ_ಠ

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    you should try to put in a 4.5" LCD in the old top loading slot
     
  9. FR34K

    FR34K New Member

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    I was gonna post mine once I finished it, or actually had all the parts purchased.

    I got to the point where everything was disassembled, and some of the original parts were modified, etc...

    Good luck with the mod though Neji, I unfortunately don't have access to a pico-itx board(that I've been able to find anyways, cause the US sucks when it comes to technology :grr: ), so I'm sure there'll be plenty more space than what my plan was.
     
  10. mario_cell

    mario_cell New Member

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    Wow, cool project. The GC looks really nice with this color. I have one on my own, but never thought of that :hehe:
    Keep my eye on u
     
  11. cr3ativ3

    cr3ativ3 New Member

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    nice ideia! :idea:
    that's the perfect PC to take to LanParty's and so..! :thumb:
    i'll be watching this one!
    keep us posted
    i tottally agree with you mario! i love orange, and if you finish it up, i bet it will look great, thanks to that orange :D
     
  12. Neji

    Neji New Member

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    So the motherboard will be available by the end of May and I just put my order in. Good news is the price has gone down.

    I started work in relation to the display so I'll update you guys this Sunday.

    I chose the Orange as it was, at least initially, I think, a Japan only colour.

    FR34K - I'd love to see how far you got and how you planned to do do your mod. Maybe you could post it or send me a PM?
     
  13. ZenX

    ZenX How are you gentlemen?

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    Nice project man! Gotta love the color
     
  14. FR34K

    FR34K New Member

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    alright, I'll send you a quick pm of what I have and a small description of what I had planned.
     
  15. jokkos

    jokkos too busy to mod *sigh*

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    very interesting, I'm following this one
     
  16. myriad

    myriad New Member

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    You sir, are amazing.
     
  17. Neji

    Neji New Member

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    Hi there! I'm back with a small update. I'd planned to update sooner but didn't really have much to say. Progress is slow.
    Let me explain where I am with the display. I already have the display as I saw a great deal on it and thought it was best to get it. It's a great looking monitor and I don't really need to do much to it but I wanted to extend the theme beyond the Gamecube itself. I won't be painting it orange or anything crazy like that though.
    [​IMG]
    BenQ FP93VW

    I decided I wanted to put a logo on the bezel, and that means I have a height of about 2.5cm to work with. I couldn't decide between the classic (and still used) logo, and the Nintendo Gamecube logo. After much thought, I decided I would try to make the GC logo using aluminium and iddy biddy widdle files.

    I thought I could save money and I already had enough aluminium lying around. I tried and retried a few times and I managed to make a couple of letters from the GAMECUBE part.
    [​IMG]
    The first two letters cut from pretty flimsy alu.

    They don't look too bad but I couldn't get the straight edges I wanted and it was really frustrating. I also realized that it was going to be beyond me to do the NINTENDO part as the letters are so small. I'm am now 'exploring other options'.

    I'm still waiting for the motherboard, I was told I'd have to wait until the end of May, so yeah, I'm not expecting it until mid-July. I got the motherboard tray back and it looks pretty good. It's purely functional and isn't much to look at but I think it'll do the job fine.
    [​IMG]
    Back of the tray is slightly tapered to get closer to the back of the cube.

    I'm not going to attach it to the base until I have the motherboard. VIA have a habit of changing things at the last minute so I don't want to assume too much. Even some of the pictures on their website are of incomplete boards with no SATA connection and/or different board layouts.

    I want to use one of the GC controller ports for the keyboard. I'll use the ps/2 header on the motherboard so I can free up a USB port. At first, I planned to put a ps/2 plug on the end of the USB lead and then another inside the Gamecube leading to the header. I then decided to just put a GC controller plug on the end and have that plug into the original socket and then have that connect to the ps/2 header. Much more authentic. Here is a pic of the GC controller connection and a table to show how I'm using it with usb and ps/2.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Well, having an idea is one thing, actually being able to pull it off is another. I have little confidence in either my powers with a soldering iron, or my knowledge of electrickery, but I thought I'd give it a try anyway. The keyboard I'm using, supports both USB and PS/2 so I can't see why it wouldn't work. I don't have any pictures of the process but the pinouts and tables should give you an idea. Anyway here is my proof of concept test run.
    [​IMG]

    Yeah, it ain't pretty, but I'm going to cover up the graft soon and I'll give you a pic of the cable with the keyboard at that time. Next step is to solder up the controller ports and that'll be in the next update. I'm not sure if I'll bother with a port for the mouse for two reasons:
    1 I was thinking of using a wireless mouse
    2 The wired mouse I have in mind wouldn't really suit the mod, I don't think.

    Well, as always, plans change so nothing is set in stone. Thanks for bearing with another slow moving mod. Of course I welcome all comments :D
     
  18. Noobkiller

    Noobkiller New Member

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    A Gamecube turned PC mod? This looks interesting! I'll be watching this one ;)
     
  19. FR34K

    FR34K New Member

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    any updates?

    I just calculated how much I'd need in order to do my similar project. Looks like it'll cost me $725.25 without tax or s/h...gonna be an expensive little *******.:wallbash:
     
  20. Teyber

    Teyber ******

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    hmmm i like this!
     

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