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Ruhe NMP -[No Moving Parts]-

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Captain Slug, 28 Jun 2005.

  1. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    Preface
    After completing Project: "Remora" and accomplishing every goal I set out to do I decided that the big screen TV needs a similarly easy-to-use machine to allow me to playback whatever is recorded without having to burn a CD or use a keyboard or mouse. While trying to extend my wireless network to the basement I came to realize that the computer I was using previously using was too outdated to function properly with a fast enough wireless standard to be able to stream video from the other computers on the network, so another machine will need to be made as a replacement.
    And since I'm also having some disc compatability issue with my current DVD player I decided to roll DVD playback support into the new unit as well.

    Concept
    Since this machine will be for playback of recorded television programs and movies it needs to be as quiet as possible and unobtrustive. So if you're expecting lots of lights and super-strong cooling setups than this project is probably going to be disappointing. Here's what will be (tenatively) going inside this machine.

    + Mobile Celeron "Banias" 1B ghz Processor [integrated into motherboard]
    + Intel "Shelton" 845G uATX motherboard [7x7.5"]
    + 256mb or 512mb of RAM (not sure right now)
    + Toshiba SD-C2302 laptop DVD-ROM
    + 12gb IBM Travelstar 2.5" HDD
    + 4gb USB thumbdrive (might replace hard drive, but undecided on this)
    + Ituner PW200M DC-DC Power supply
    + HP F1140a 12v 5a 60w AC power brick (so cheap on eBay)

    Goals
    Using the above hardware I will be able to build a completely fanless machine and have designed a case accordingly. During benchtesting I will be testing some RAMdisk software to make a 50-100mb logical drive on the RAM itself so that I can load a small swap file and a few programs (GB-PVR and maybe PowerDVD) from it after the OS has booted. Once the machine is booted and the programs copied to RAM this machine will allow the hard drive to stop moving or (if I decide to do so) stop accessing the thumbdrive. This will in effect make a machine that uses no moving parts (and therefore creates no noise) during normal operation. The only time it will make noise is when it's playing a DVD or booting/shutting down. This should make for an extremely unobtrusive machine and coupled with the software

    Case Design
    The case will be machined out of polycarbonate and acrylic which I will be buying as srap from a local plastics shop. In order to heat-warp the shaping I want I'll need to make a wood form and this may require some practice in advance. The DVD-ROM drive will be windowed to show the DVD loading and spinning (something I've done before and really enjoy seeing).
    [​IMG]
    Basically the case comes in 4 pieces and when built it will be able to be hinged open from either side to access the drives and motherboard.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The drives (and potentially the power supply) will be located under the motherboard tray to allow for easy cable organization and access. The front and rear case panels will be secured together with square acrylic rod which will also be used to mount the motherboard. The case then sits upright in a stand that allows air to passively vent upwards through the case.
    [​IMG]
    The front face will be trimmed in grey plastic to mask the lines of the DVD-ROM faceplate and the power button/light will be made from a solid 1-inch clear acrylic ball.

    My life is a little more busy than normal right now but I'm hoping to complete this project within the next month. I already have the majority of the parts and have most of the plastic I need. I do not have the correct color of acrylic at the moment so if I do not manage to go to the plastics shop soon this case could end up being made out of blue acrylic instead.

    This one is going to be fun. :D
     
  2. TTmodder

    TTmodder Hammertime

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    where did you get that mobo from
     
  3. kickarse

    kickarse New Member

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    Think it's gonna be nice... can't wait.. External psu?
     
  4. Jumeira_Johnny

    Jumeira_Johnny 16032 - High plains drifter

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    I, for one, am very excited by this.
     
  5. frodo

    frodo New Member

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    ANOTHER MOD!!! dood you are teh god of bespoke cases!

    i like that your covering another arena of computing :D

    i hate to admit it, but i (my father actually) got a dell SFF that does what your proposing, press 2 tabs and the whole thing opens in half, with the hdd cd etc etc all on the top cover, and the motherboard and psu on the lower section, it works really well, and hope yours turns out well!

    ive got a huge sheet of clear acrylic i plan on making 3 cases out of, hope i can, if not it was only £29 for a 1800x600 sheet :D yay
     
  6. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    $102 shipped eBay, and the seller has only 2 left. It outperforms C3 processors of the same rating by 30%, was never put into production, and basically what you get a bare-essentials development kit with a super-minimal driver CD, connector diagram decal, and I/O backingplate.
    I'm using a DC-DC power supply with external laptop AC adapter. Both of which are passive.
    You and me both! I've been wanting to make a 0dBa machine for 2 years now.
    I will be using a spring-loaded concealed hinge for one side so that one won't even need a screw. The drive side cover may be too cramped for a hinge, but I'll have to shop around and see if I can find any small enough.

    I finally have enough confidence in myself to machine my own cases again and I want to put some of my new power tools to good use. :dremel:
     
  7. frodo

    frodo New Member

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    best way to do it mate, all the best to you!
     
  8. teejayhoward

    teejayhoward New Member

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    You are a god at case design. That's beautiful. Why are you putting a hard drive in at all, though? There's several distributions of linux that will boot off a thumbdrive (The new debian's my personal favorite). You could then load a ramdisk like you want, and save yourself the extra space needed by the HDD.

    Edit: Come to think of it, you should be able to make the thumbdrive internal if you really wanted to get crazy.

    Edit2: You've already thought about this. Go figure :)
     
  9. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    If I use a thumbdrive it will be internally mounted using a USB header plug mount. And once I perfect the OS installation and usage of RAMdrive I will probably go ahead with plans to use a thumbdrive.

    The only problem I have with thumbdrives is their short read/write lifespan which wouldn't be condusive to daily usage. This is what originally facilitated the need for a RAM drive, the need to extend the life of the thumbdrive by moving the swap file and programs I plan to run over to a RAMdrive. Doing this would mean the system had a 1,000,000 boot-cycle life span, instead of a 1,000,000 read/write cycle life span.

    And linux might work, but I don't have enough experience with it to bother installing mythTV. The software I'm using on-top of XP right now (GB-PVR) is basically the same thing as MythTV but has more features and is easier to skin.

    Teensy update: I just switched from the 2.5" 12gb IBM travelstar to a 2.5" 10gb Fufitsu hard drive. The IBM drive is rated around 19dBa while the Fujitsu drive is only outputing 8dBa. This makes a HUGE difference when the only thing in the machine making any noise at all is the hard drive. And luckily I had this one as a spare.
     
    Last edited: 28 Jun 2005
  10. kickarse

    kickarse New Member

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    Vedy nice
     
  11. simosaurus

    simosaurus New Member

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    this looks cool, itll be nice to see a computer that thin, the cuts on the top look cool too.
     
    Last edited: 29 Dec 2007
  12. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    The weird smoothing groups are slightly intentional. I just need the images for conceptual and measurement purposes only so I can work out the spacing and placement of parts.

    Another Tiny update: I just turned this machine on with just the hard drive and motherboard plugged into a 120w power supply that uses a wattage-draw-controlled fan and I couldn't tell the machine was running without watching the power supply fan spin. 9dBa total noise output is really really hard to audibly detect in a house with central air conditioning.

    However, my original goals still stand and I will now start working on the RAMdisk tests. I will probably only be capable of detecting the hard drive going into sleep mode by touching it to feel vibration.
     
  13. Bbq.of.DooM

    Bbq.of.DooM Custom User Title

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    Def get 512.
     
  14. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    256mb is working great so far and this system has been optimized quite bit by disabling a bunch of unneeded services. With a 64mb RAMdrive setup for just the swap file this machine is quite peppy.

    It appears that my wireless-G network can't handle streaming DVD quality video through an access point between two computers, so I will probably be covertly running cat5 cable from the upstairs switch to this machine in the basement. Everything will just be simpler that way.

    I do have good news though. The hard drive shuts off after only 3 minutes after loading the running programs to RAM and stays silent the rest of the time the machine is turned on. I will most likely be replacing it with a thumbdrive though so that operation of this unit will be completely silent unless a disc is spinning in the DVD drive (which won't happen often). If I want to watch a movie REALLY quietly I could load the DVD into a drive on another computer on the network and watch it remotely. :D
    Absurd, but the possibility is enough to make me happy.
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2005
  15. Firehed

    Firehed Why not? I own a domain to match.

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    now isn't it cheating to put the page file on a ram drive.... :D
    good way to cheat though, takes the slow out of page files, doesn't it?
    btw, you couldn't let me in on how to do that? I've done a quick googling and not a whole lot that seems to work... :(

    Good plan, hopefully you can execute it well.
     
  16. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    I'm using: http://www.superspeed.com/ramdisk.html

    Some of the other titles (Like this one) can automatically backup/re-copy the RAMdrive whenever the system is shutdown or booted if you want to load a program permanently from RAM.

    Note: Some machines may perform better with the page file completely turned off which forces XP to use just the RAM. But for programs that require a minimum page file size or if you want a RAMdrive for Photoshop's scratch file this is a great solution.
     
  17. TTmodder

    TTmodder Hammertime

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    if i should use that program at that tiny mobo use at least a 1024 mb module
     
  18. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    The board I'm using supports a maximum of 512mb in a single slot. I haven't had any performance issue using 256mb, which is no big suprise considering I'm only running 2 programs which are 15mb total when run together.
     
  19. orenc17

    orenc17 New Member

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    GOOD LUCK MAN
     
  20. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    Once I start work on machining this case this project log will start getting more picture laden. For now I'm just fiddling with software and there's nothing to really show. One thing I do have to show is the skin I made for GB-PVR.
    [​IMG]

    In other news I've setup the RAMdisk perfectly. An 80mb logical drive on the RAM houses the installation of GB-PVR and the swap file. The rest of the running programs are loaded to memory by windows. 3 minutes after the machine has booted the hard drive turns off and the machine is completely silent.
    I also setup the remote. I bought a Cyberlink USB remote from eBay (an addiction I know) and configured it using Girder 3.3.8 and the HID plugin. Once the USB Infrared receiver is plugged in the remote acts as a combo HID mouse and keyboard using default windows drivers so the majority of the buttons work even on the login screen allowing me to select user accounts and login without a mouse. Yay!
    Plus it matches the planned color scheme of the case perfectly!
    [​IMG]

    Now I just need to do some testing with the DC-DC power supply that arrived earlier today. I'm going to have to replace the barrel plug in the end of the AC Power brick so it's off to Radio shack for me.
     

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