1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Scratch Build – In Progress Wooden ATX Build, v1

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Elior Bilow, 18 Dec 2020.

  1. Elior Bilow

    Elior Bilow What's a Dremel?

    Joined:
    2 Aug 2020
    Posts:
    6
    Likes Received:
    5
    I'll preface this by saying that I plan on making this project into a commercial product, but I think that you guys might like to see how the prototypes develop.

    My idea is that oftentimes, commercial PC cases are all made of metal, plastic, and/or glass. I grew up in a more rustic house, so when I built my first PC, I decided to make my own case out of wood so that it matched my home. Here's a photo of that first "prototype":
    Capture.JPG

    After building the case, I realized that other people are probably in my same position, so I decided I wanted to make a better, more reliable version.

    The first pain point on the first case were the motherboard standoffs. I tried screwing them directly into the wood, but a video by Paul's Hardware () clearly shows that there are better ways. Right now, I'm thinking of hammering in female-female standoffs into the wood so that they're pressure-fit. Then, I'll screw the female-male standoffs into those in order to hold the motherboard. A photo of the base plate that will hold the motherboard is shown below. The area where the motherboard will lie is highlighted.
    base plate.JPG
    The next pain-point that I addressed was the bar to hold the expansion cards in. Since the case needs to be able to withstand changes in humidity, I opted to use plywood, but I can't just screw the cards into the side of plywood because that makes a weak connection. I haven't decided on a solution to this yet, but here are my two ideas:
    1) Use a piece of plywood that's rotated and has standoffs in it like the base that holds the motherboard. This has the advantage of maintaining the wooden aesthetic, but it'll likely be hard to manufacture at scale.
    wood expansion card.JPG
    2) Use a metal piece that's pressure fit into grooves in the rear plate. This could be easy to make, but is harder to make it look like the aesthetic.
    metal expansion card.JPG

    Which of the above options do you like better? Which do you think would work in real life better?

    With wood, I don't have the luxury of being able to make many small holes or perforations to help airflow. Instead, I have to use large holes. If I simply butt a fan up against a surface like that, fan performance will be weak. That's why I added cutouts into the top and front panel where the fans will be. The idea behind this is that there will be a pocket of air that the fan can pull from instead of just smaller holes, allowing the fans to pull in more air overall. Oh ya, and while I'm talking about fans, I plan on using long screws that go through the length of the fan in order to secure them to the case.
    fans.JPG


    By far the biggest failure of my first prototype was cable management. Since the motherboard tray is also the back panel, there's nowhere to hide ugly cables! I'm still unsatisfied with my solution, but here's what I've got: I'll use internal wooden structures to cover up the cables.
    cable management.JPG

    There are many parts to this internal structure. The idea is that they're all pressure-fit in place and all pieces are removable. The first structure is the PSU cover (far left). The main purpose of this is to hide cables by the PSU. The second structure is the hard drive mounts (near corner). There are holes in each of the three hard drive mounts to interface with 2.5" and 3.5" hard drives. These mounts are keyed into a holder and into the PSU cover for rigidity (see photos below). The final piece that helped cable management was the one that ran up along the side of the motherboard in order to carry the 24-pin connector and the CPU PWR pins. In order to hold all these cable management pieces, there are grooves cut out into the base plate and the sides (highlighted in the second photo)

    hard drive PSU cover keying.JPG hard drive mount holder.png

    The final struggle of mine is putting all the pieces together. Initially, I was thinking of having these nice, big, contrasting corner pieces that latched together so that the aesthetic would be enhanced and so that I could ship the cases in flat packages like IKEA furniture. However, I'm thinking that this might add a layer of unnecessary complexity so I'll revisit the idea later if everything else goes smoothly. (In particular, the corner pieces cover up the holes for the power supply, the 3x3 material is hard to find, and a lot of testing is required to make a good latching mechanism, of which I'm considering mocking either magnetic or spring-type cabinet latches).
    For now, I'll be testing prototypes by simply gluing the sides together. However, I still don't know how to attach the glass side panel with this method.
    Do you guys prefer the version with or without the corner pieces? How would you recommend attaching the glass in the no-corner method?

    render with corners cropped.png render without corners cropped.png

    I haven't had time to continue this prototype since school started but I plan to make a prototype I'm comfortable with sending to people to test with by the time school starts up again in January. Since the last time I edited this prototype, I've already thought of a new change not shown in the photos. Instead of having 45 degree angles where the panels meet, I'm going to have a zig-zag pattern so that the joints are stronger and, in my opinion, look cooler. I'll post a comment with a photo of what I mean.

    For now, that's all. Please give me suggestions for what you think could be better and comment what your likes/dislikes of this scratch build are.

    As a final shameless plug, here's a (slightly outdated) video summarizing what I went over here if you prefer video format over text format:
    I'll be continuing to make videos to document the build as well as the company's progress so subscribe if you're interested I guess.

    Thanks for reading to the end :)
     
    lxrysprtmscl, Cheapskate and Goatee like this.
  2. Elior Bilow

    Elior Bilow What's a Dremel?

    Joined:
    2 Aug 2020
    Posts:
    6
    Likes Received:
    5
    Photo of new idea for interface between panels: IMG_20201217_222003.jpg
     
    Cheapskate likes this.
  3. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

    Joined:
    13 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,625
    Likes Received:
    1,417
    First up, Welcome to Bit. :D
    If you haven't found them yet, look up Slipperyskip and Greensabbath's logs here. (The pre-forum upgrade pages are broken in search. Try very old ModOfTheYear articles.)
    -f it. Searches are broken. = https://www.nickfalzonedesign.com/ http://slipperyskip.com/
    There's a ton of design inspiration and wood computer building insight somewhere in their project logs.

    As for input, you have a great start. We need to know how you will be fabricating, though. CNC, or traditional power tools?

    Don't be afraid to throw in some metal. Some places like the graphics card riser really need it to survive repeated installation.

    Side panel glass: Slide in via channels in the wood, secured by a removable dress panel?

    The two words you don't want to describe you work here are 'beige' and 'box'. :lol: Breaking up the 'box' shape is probably the most difficult part of case design.

    -Anyway, I'll stop rambling for now. The others might warn you about me. I like to suggest things and push people to excel.
     
    lxrysprtmscl and kim like this.
  4. Elior Bilow

    Elior Bilow What's a Dremel?

    Joined:
    2 Aug 2020
    Posts:
    6
    Likes Received:
    5
    Thank you for sharing! Slippery's and Green's work is outstanding. I see what you mean when you say having a box shape is not the most aesthetically pleasing way to go and I'll definitely be exploring ideas for how to break that mold. While I do think their unique designs are truly awesome, I see myself getting caught in the bushes while trying to make something super unique like they did while still appealing to a wide-ish customer base. My first idea for incorporating unique shapes is through the cable management since that's an aspect that could see a lot of potential with unique shapes.

    I'm planning on making the case in the most effective way possible. I know that doesn't mean much on its own, but I plan on using a combination of traditional tools like table saws and routers as well as my CNC router. If I get access to a laser cutter (which I'm working on right now), I'll probably use that as well for the cutouts then I'll move the parts to the CNC for 3D geometry such as the air pockets by the fans.

    I like the idea of the glass sliding into the wood, but what do you mean by a "removable dress panel"?

    Don't worry about the rambling! If I'm selling a product, I want it to be the best product I could offer!
     
  5. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

    Joined:
    13 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,625
    Likes Received:
    1,417
    :thumb:
    removable dress panel: You could do the frame in ply, and cover the visible areas in something fancier.
     
  6. lxrysprtmscl

    lxrysprtmscl Minimodder

    Joined:
    8 Sep 2008
    Posts:
    149
    Likes Received:
    6
    might consider Japanese wood joinery; held together purely through tension and friction.
     
    Elior Bilow likes this.

Share This Page