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Modding Storage Box

Discussion in 'Modding' started by jake9891, 29 Jun 2010.

  1. jake9891

    jake9891 Loves Internet Shopping

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    Hello Everyone!

    For the last couple of years I've been reading and looking at various Project Logs and Mods and I always wanted to do something like that myself, but never really had money, spare parts or even tools to do it. Finally after some time I've gathered few old parts and started to think what can I do with them, so I looked around my room to get some ideas for the project. Few years ago my computer was not capable of storing large amount of files, so everything was stored on CDs/DVDs and they also had to be stored somewhere. Under my TV I had two storage boxes that could store up to 300 CDs each. As they were not needed anymore, because I kept all of my files on the HDDs I thought that I could use one of the boxes for the case for the PC. That's how the "Storage Box" project started.

    The idea behind the project was to build an HTPC capable of storing movies and music and being able to play HD content on my parents Samsung 50" TV. It needed to be fairly quiet and also have good airflow to keep the components cool. All components were the standard desktop PC components, so the computer is future proof, because each part can be easily changed or upgraded. It also saved me some money, because I didn't have to buy any new parts. I had mobo plate from the old case, Gigabyte motherboard with Intel CPU, 2 GB of Geil RAM, Samsung 500 GB HDD, Arctic 500 PSU and box full of CDs, so it was time to start the project.

    First Cuts

    The first thing to do was to remove all unnecessary things from the box, such as rails, black material interior and then cut out space for 2 fans and mobo plate.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG]

    HDD and PSU

    Next thing was to strip down PSU and think about a way to fit it in the case. As there was not much space at the bottom, I decided to fit both, PSU and HDD, on top of the case, in the part that opens, let’s call it doors. My only concern was that the PSU's heatsink will touch the Intel Stock cooler, but it turned out to be ok, I think there is about 2 cm space between them. To make sure that the PSU is fitted correctly, I cut out the bottom piece of the PSU's case which was then fitted with the rivets to the 'doors'. For HDD I've used 4 L-shaped pieces of metal (sorry don't know how to call them). My first thought was to use thumbscrews, but once when I took apart BT vision box I found something that could be very useful, screws with some rubber pads. I drilled holes in these 4 pieces, and also in the case, and put everything together with rivets. Before fitting PSU’s plate I put the black material interior back in the top bit of the case.

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

    Mobo plate, fans & fan guards, PSU switch and case switch.

    Next step was to fit the mobo plate, fan guards, make space for the PSU switch and PSU power connector and also make a switch for the case. The mobo plate was sprayed black to match the black material interior of the case. For the fans I decided to use non-LED fans, because I think that LED fans would only distract while watching movies at night. I went for Akasa 12cm Amber fans, as they are fairly quiet and cheap. The case switch was made of two buttons from the old case and the centre rail that was fitted in the storage box. It was easy to make, it looks good, and it does the job well :)

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

    Fans

    First of all I had to decide on the airflow in the case. Firstly I thought that both fans should pull out the heat from the case, but then I realised that it wouldn't be a very good idea, so I decided that the left fan should push air into the case and the right fan (the one near CPU) should pull the air out. There was another thing I had to consider, it was the speed of the fans. By default the fans connected to PSU run at 12v and maximum speed. I had two choices to either buy and fit fan controller or do the 5v & 7v Mod :DThe left fan is running at 7v, so there is a lot (or at least enough) cold air pushed into the case to cool the components. The other fan is running at 5v, which is also enough to pull the air out of the case.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Final Bits

    With mobo plate, PSU plate, HDD holder, all the switches and fans fitted and modded, the last thing left was to put everything together. These are the final pics after I've finished:

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

    Workplace and tools :dremel:

    My workplace and the tools I used. Because it was December, and it was really cold in my garage, I had to work on the project in my room.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Problem

    Everything was fine, however, after few weeks, the PC was struggling to play HD content. At first I thought it could be the CPU as it only was Dual Core Celeron OC'ed to 2.0GHz, but because the CPU usage didn't go above 60% when playing HD movies I thought it must be something else. I came to conclusion that the on-board GPU is not capable to play HD content, so I decided to add graphic card and upgrade HDD (due to running out of space). I went for Asus EAH4350 Silent 512MB as it was only £23 and it is passively cooled, so it runs quietly.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    After it arrived, I fitted it right away with high expectations that this will solve the problem, however, it only improved playback a little bit :wallbash: Then I swapped 500GB Samsung 502IJ HDD for 1GB Samsung HD 103SJ, so I had to reinstall Windows.

    Solution

    First of all I reset BIOS back to the default settings. I installed Windows XP with SP3 on the HDD, installed all the drivers, CCCP codec and started XBMC to see if the playback improved or not. I was very surprised to see that HD movies played without problems . The playback was really smooth with no delays whatsoever :D

    Possible cause?

    Then I realised something :idea: that maybe it wasn't entirely the hardware's fault, but because the PC had internet connection and was loaded with all software, such as antivirus, web browser, web cam software, skype, wireless connection to the Internet and few others things, there was too much background processes running, which slowed down HD playback. Maybe that was the reason, maybe not, I could be wrong. However, having installed only necessary things and not connecting PC to the Internet, the playback improved significantly and fixed the problems with playing HD content. That particular PC doesn't need internet connection as it is only used for playing movies and listening to music. There is a laptop in the same room if someone needs the Internet. If I need to add something to the PC, like a new movie or some music then I use my WD external HDD.

    Specification

    Here is the spec of the 'Storage Box' as it is now:
    Operating System: Windows XP SP3
    Other software: CCCP codec’s and XBMC with Aeon Stark skin for playback
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-73PVM-S2H with F8 BIOS version
    CPU: Intel Celeron E1200 512K Cache, 1.60 GHz, 800 MHz FSB under stock Intel Cooler
    RAM: Geil PC-6400 2x1GB
    GPU: Asus EAH4350 Silent 512MB
    Screen resolution: 1360x768
    HDD: Samsung HD 103SJ 1GB
    Peripherals: Logitech DiNovo Edge

    Here are some screenshots of temps and XBMC, the movie played is Transporter 3 1080p.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    ...and last one picture of the 'Storage Box' hooked up to the home cinema and TV.

    [​IMG]

    Hope you like it and thx for reading :thumb:
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2010
  2. The_Beast

    The_Beast I like wood ಠ_ಠ

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    Pretty cool setup :thumb:
     
  3. jake9891

    jake9891 Loves Internet Shopping

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    Thx The_Beast I am glad that at least you like it :)
     
  4. The_Beast

    The_Beast I like wood ಠ_ಠ

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    It really sucks to mod something and have no one tell you that you did a good job. That's why I like commenting on lesser known mod threads to encourage small time moders to continue posting.


    Try putting a link in your sig like I did, it seems to help a little
     
  5. Puk

    Puk (A shrewd and knavish sprite)

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    Thats pretty cool, i spend most of my life taking stuff around mates houses on a itx board in a hoojum cubit3 case which isn't the best for taking bumps, looks cool but less than ideal, might have to use a similar idea. Good mod!
     
  6. Javerh

    Javerh Topiary Golem

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    Simple and clean! That would be a nice LAN box.
     
  7. jake9891

    jake9891 Loves Internet Shopping

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    Glad to know that you guys liked it :) and definiately yeahh, i might make another one from the other box that is left :) that could be used for a lan box :)
     
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