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Scratch Build – In Progress WORKLOG: 5.25" Embedded Motherboard PC (Commissioned Build) Completed 1 Dec '07

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by GAM, 26 Sep 2007.

  1. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    5.25" Embedded Motherboard PC (Commissioned Build) – Day 1
    Note, click on images for higher res. versions.

    Some time back I responded to a forum (OCAU) member looking for a case to be custom built. I replied ;) Well, being my first commissioned custom case job as I wasn't sure what to expect… and I definitely didn't expect a 5.25" Embedded Motherboard PC! In fact, I hadn't even heard of it. Well, not to be put off and following my ideology that nothing is too big or too small, I took on the job. :D

    Brief
    Custom 'functional' case as small as possible, based on the Commell LS-570 5.25" Miniboard
    No frills: no lights, no extreme cooling, no details, no paint jobs, no windows, no, just a plain functional smallllll form factor case.

    Acrylic or aluminium
    2x Low-profile PCI on riser card
    1x 92mm fan
    1x 2.5" HDD
    Power button ('sales' potential! ;))
    Small front panel LCD (Ahhh, frill!)

    Hmmph. Not what I was hoping for. Nevertheless, a very intriguing project. Doing a little research I realised that there is a whole new world of computing out there that follows this 5.25" form factor. Intriguing indeed.

    Purpose/Details:

    Drawing board
    No drawing board for this one, instead I arranged, several weeks later :embarrassed: for the client to come over and spend the day together to get this project off the ground and discern directly from him what his expectations were.

    Construction - Day 1
    Well, not used to collaborating on a project, or having anyone else in my little worksop for that matter, I was distracted and didn't take any pics… except this one:
    [​IMG]

    Two weeks later (today), I quickly snapped off a few more before I progressed with the build and offer something visual for the start of this worklog.
    By the end of that day, we got as far as working out the overall dimensions and catering for the various extremities, locating the 2.5" drive, 92mm fan and front panel LCD and power button. The base plate was cut and motherboard standoffs tapped and fitted. The HDD mounting was also devised and partially constructed (U-channel on the left of the photos).
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Dreadfully dark pics, sorry. I can't be bother correcting them so you'll just have to squint and look closely.
    The other day I just had to drag myself away from the supplier product details I had been working and started to map out the rear panel cutout… this was going to be a little tricky.
    [​IMG]
    The extent of the front panel fabrication completed on that first day.
    [​IMG]

    Well, this is start.

    Cheers
    GAM
     
    Last edited: 4 Dec 2007
  2. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    5.25" Embedded Motherboard PC (Commissioned Build) – Day 2
    Note, click on images for higher res. versions.

    Well I did manage to get something done yesterday, but not as much as I'd hoped.

    Rear Panel Cutout
    Okay, well a short day of cutting and filing…initial rough cuts using the bench mounted jigsaw.
    [​IMG]
    First test fit. Note, at first I thought I had made a mistake by cutting through from the bottom instead of within a hole i.e., removing the bottom edge, but then I recalled that this rear panel will be fixed to the top and sides which will be removable to gain access to the interior and the PCI and Riser Card. It is actually an awkward arrangement with the PCI cards. You'll notice that the PCI brackets are, unconventially, external. Due to the arrangement of the rear ports, some recessed some protruding, there are few convenient options.
    [​IMG]
    Lots of fine tuning with a file to get the panel to sit all the way down. Note that the bottom edges (left and right) should touch the ground.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    It took an hour or two just to get this to sit right. I'm still not sure exactly how I am going to fill the gaps, but I do have some ideas that I hope to explore next. An additional alu section will be cut and permanently mounted to cover the exposed area beneath the ports and possibly cut to fit between the ports, but I think I will probably use some thin plastic instead for this purpose… easier to cut out the fine details required. Note, I should point out that the board doesn't come with a I/O shield like ATX motherboards!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Front Panel LCD Cutout
    Leaving the rear panel on the back burner for the time being, I finished of the filing and cleaning up of the LCD cutout. This is just a mock up i.e., the LCD is not attached.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I was also deliberating over the front panel fixings. Originally I had planned on all rivet and screw fixings, but I think the front panel should probably be glued in place to keep a nice clean fascia. The top panel will be fixed to the sides and the sides screwed to the base to complete the enclosure. I'll probably go with double-sided tape to fix the LCD to the front panel.

    Sorry for the crappy photos, I must have changed something on my camera. I'll look into it for the next round of photos.

    Cheers
    GAM
     
  3. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    5.25" Embedded Motherboard PC (Commissioned Build) – Day 3
    Note, click on images for higher res. versions.

    Another couple of hours spent in the workshop this afternoon and I've got something that resembles an enclosure…

    Removable Top Section
    Having cut the two side panels and top panel to size on the table saw (after wasting at least two pieces of alu due to stupid errors) I laid them out ready for alignment, marking and fixing.
    [​IMG]

    This time around I decided to try my 'adhesive-tape-prefixed-method' before drilling and riveting rather than messing around with awkward clamping arrangements for drilling. Note LARGE roll of 3M Double-Sided Adhesive tape (soon to be available in store… albeit in smaller rolls ;)). I applied the tape to the pieces of angle and channel that will be used to fix the side and top panels to each other.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    You wouldn’t know it, but I made my first mistake in this area… I had affixed both joining pieces to the outer edge of the panel where they should have been recessed by the thickness of the side panels. Doh! Some gentle lifting with a screw driver and some serious sideways pulling on the joining pieces and I back a few steps. Note, this tape has some serious adhesion!
    [​IMG]
    Right then, having applied fresh strips of double-sided tape, I was ready to try again. Note the tape appearance after removing the red backing tape.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Two joining pieces affixed to the side panels ready for application and then mated for a little 'vice' adhering help.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Rear panel with joining angle affixed in place.
    [​IMG]
    Quick tip… I lightly affix the tape to the mating piece, align the edges, smooth out any ripples, air, eta and then cut to length insitu.
    [​IMG]
    Tape applied to the adjoining faces ready…. And then… an enclosure in the making.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Another quick tip… finger nails are often insufficient to relieve the backing tape so a little 'sharp edged' help is required… anyone here read fingernails? :roll:
    Note, although the technique is correct, in fact I failed here and lifted the adhesive… it is a harder with one hand. ;)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Now we start to really see the makings of an enclosure—inside and rear.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  4. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    Preview…
    With the removable top/side panels affixed in place with double-sided 'tape of the gods', sans rivets, we have a surprisingly solid, stable structure. I inserted it over the rear PCI brackets, gently persuaded it in place and we have a fine preview of what will be. Note that the LCD has been very loosely affixed in place behind the front panel using two tiny pieces double-sided tape.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Now, before you get carried away and think the outer panels are almost done, note that there are no vertical joints and the left-hand side of the top panel needs to be trimmed to size.


    Next things to do include:
    - top panel 92mm fan inlet
    - hard drive fixing points (top panel)
    - side panel located vent (HDD side)
    - trim top panel to correct dimensions
    - vertical joining pieces
    - drill and rivet and/or tap threads for all joining panels
    - properly align and affix LCD
    - cut out bottom panel Compact Flash card access
    - cut and fix bottom rear panel to cover exposed area and consider further gap coverage…
    - file, sand and deburr all faces and edges
    - affix litte rubber feet (elevating the whole enclosure a couple of millimetres)
    - and anything else that I've forgotten or overlooked. ;)

    Thanks for following everyone!

    Cheers
    GAM
     
  5. 500mph

    500mph The Right man in the Wrong place

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    wow, that looks great. its very tiny, but powerful than most mini-itx boards you can find out there.
    keep up the great work!
     
  6. Omni-Blade

    Omni-Blade Duh... Which Way To Go George...

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    That thing is soooooo small and tiny, i dont know what to call it, really small pc, or the first PDA...

    Nice mod clean mod

    BTW what are the specs on it?
     
    Last edited: 26 Sep 2007
  7. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    Cheers guys!

    @Omni, there's a link to the specs of the board in the first post and details of the hardware/config in the 'quote' just below that.

    Cheers
    GAM
     
  8. jokkos

    jokkos too busy to mod *sigh*

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    great start GAM! I'm interested in your mounting idea for the 2.5" Hdd...gives me ideas.
     
  9. derbaum

    derbaum What's a Dremel?

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    also this project is not so much design orientated but im really interested in detail solutions. building such a small system can lead to very interesting and innovative ways.
     
  10. Supra55

    Supra55 What's a Dremel?

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    Very cool :thumb:
     
  11. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    Cheers guys! Thanks for looking... starting to wish I owned this as it really is a very 'neat' computer... literally ;)

    @Jokkos, the 2.5" HDD will be mounted with 2 screws through the top panel and top u-channel alu, holding the drive in place and supported for bumps and movements by another mating u-channel section on the bottom. The HDD doesn't touch the bottom surface but is held in place by the sides of the u-channel.

    Cheers
    GAM
     
  12. 12modderz

    12modderz L33T еÐ3!

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    That looks very cool, Good Start. :)
     
  13. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    5.25" Embedded Motherboard PC – Day 4

    5.25" Embedded Motherboard PC (Commissioned Build) – Day 4
    Note, click on images for higher res. versions.

    Finally a couple of hours spent in the workshop this afternoon until I had to give in to an oncoming illness… I seem to be coming down with something :(

    Removable Top Section continued…
    Two more corner pieces have been cut and affixed in place using double-sided tape.
    [​IMG]
    Then after a big round of measuring, checking, marking, punching and drilling… we have more permanently fastened panels together. Note though that these rivets will be replaced with countersunk versions before a finish is applied.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Now to tackle the oversized top (3mm or so too wide). I used the table saw to get it down close without touching the side panel.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    And then finished off with a ******* file and then smoothing file. I've put a slight chamfer on it so as not to touch gouge into the side panel. I intend to put a 45 degree bevel on all these edges later, so the chamfer won't be present when it is all done and dusted. (no flash, flash ;))
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Top Panel Intake Fan
    With the top section now a little studier I decided to tackle the top panel intake fan… the only fan. After marking it our and punching, I realized I had my first mistake of the day… I punched the mounting holes 5mm too short on each corner. Never mind, I corrected this, drilled all the pilot holes and then realized another slight oversight… I hadn't taken into account the piece of joining angle beneath. No real dramas, I just have to cut out a section of it later so that the fan can sit flush to the underside of the top panel.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    92mm hole saw to the party. This bugger must be getting blunt because it took way longer than it should have.
    [​IMG]
    Voila! Top panel fan hole. I've also inserted the front panel for artistic impression ;) It is not mounted yet, but will be mounted to the bottom panel/motherboard tray.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I had to succumb to 'miserableness' at this point with this cold/flu thing getting the better of me. I'm sure this is why I made silly mistakes today… at least that's what I'm sticking too ;)

    Next things to do include:
    - hard drive fixing points (top panel)
    - side panel located vent (HDD side)
    - tap threads for all joining panels
    - properly align and affix LCD
    - cut out bottom panel Compact Flash card access
    - cut and fix bottom rear panel to cover exposed area and consider further gap coverage…
    - file, sand and de-burr all faces and edges
    - affix little rubber feet (elevating the whole enclosure a couple of millimeters)
    - and anything else that I've forgotten or overlooked. ;)


    Cheers
    GAM
     
  14. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    5.25" Embedded Motherboard PC (Commissioned Build) – Day 5
    Note, click on images for higher res. versions.

    Another hour or two in the workshop the other day… not much to show so I'll call this a 'minidate' ;)

    PCI Card Retention Bracket
    I fabricated a little bracket that will be fixed to the outside of the back panel. The two PCI cards will be screwed to this to keep them in place. I chose some 12mm x 12mm x 3mm aluminium angle for this so that I had a little meat for the threads. Probably not necessary, but I did it anyway. ;) The face that will mount to the back panel was reduced in size on the sanding disc.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Here you can see it in use, although it is not yet fixed to the rear panel. I was going to rivet or glue it in place but have since decided that it would be better to use a screw so that one screw can be removed to disconnect the bracket, with PCI cards still attached, from the case to remove the case top section and access the innards. I realise the whole rear panel is not the best implementation, but the rear ports and PCI on a riser card makes the whole arrangement very unusual and difficult to cater for. I'll have to take another shot looking down on the rear ports to show the weird locations of the ports relative to the back of the board… some are flush, some protrude and some are recessed!?!?
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Compact Flash Card Access
    There is a Compact Flash Card socket underneath the motherboard which the owner will use for the OS. This needs to be accessible. Here I've simply marked up the section of the bottom panel that needs to be cut out. I will fabricate a mating piece that will have a tabbed hinge arrangement at one end and a locking screw at the other.
    [​IMG]

    Still to do:
    - hard drive fixing points (top panel) – Now thinking that it would be better to have the mounting screws located on the bottom so that the top of the case can be removed without any attachments. ;)
    - side panel located vent (HDD side)
    - tap threads for all joining panels
    - properly align and affix LCD
    - cut out bottom panel Compact Flash card access
    - cut and fix bottom rear panel to cover exposed area and consider further gap coverage…
    - file, sand and de-burr all faces and edges
    - affix little rubber feet (elevating the whole enclosure a couple of millimeters)
    - and anything else that I've forgotten or overlooked. ;)

    Note, as you can see, the 'To Do' list hasn't gotten any smaller with this little minidate. ;)

    Cheers
    GAM
     
  15. Andy Mc

    Andy Mc Modder

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    Qucik question, did your client manage to find an ADSL2+ PCI card at all? I wouldn't mind getting hold of one If they are available.
     
  16. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    Hi Andy, apparently not. ...hot off the press of another forum:
    Cheers
    GAM
     
  17. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    5.25" Embedded Motherboard PC (Commissioned Build) – Day 6
    Note, click on images for higher res. versions.

    Three hours in the workshop yesterday afternoon… in 34c workshop heat and I have some inspiring new teasers to show…

    Compact Flash Memory Access and Side Vent
    Started with marking out the sections to be cut out for the CF Card access area beneath the MB/Case and the side panel vent. As I typically, I mark and punch near the corners for drilling to assist nice curved corners instead of sharp right angles. In this instance I've chosen a 6mm bit which works nicely with my 5.5mm round file.

    [​IMG]
    For the side panel vent, I had to remove the panel first to ease handling and working. If you recall, I pre-adhered the joining angles and panels together before drilling and riveting. This made things more difficult as I had to carefully pry the pieces apart using my 'good for anything' old chisel, and then had to remove the double-sided table and clean it up the faces with some citrus-based cleaner (Goo Remover). The fresher strips of double sided tape pulled away nicely leaving very little residue, the older stuff was significantly more difficult.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The long edges of the vent were long enough to use the table saw to cut using a 'stopped, drop-cut' method. DO NOT try this unless you have good experience with a table saw. This is a particularly dangerous method of cutting if you don't know what you are doing. It is also prone to easy mistakes and errors.
    [​IMG]
    I forgot to drill the corners first, doh! I realise and regret this later. The second shot shows the two panels ready for cutting on the jigsaw bench. You can't really tell from this picture, but the sawn slots are so close to the drilling points that the drill was inclined to veer into the slot rather than follow the punched centre point.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Two panel sections roughly cut on the jigsaw table and ready for filing.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Making use of the remaining 'considerate' noise time, I quickly cut the CF Card door, round perf. alu, vent, several strips for the CF Door seal and some 'Mars Red' Fluro Perspex which I am hoping to tease and entice the customer with. ;)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    I had an idea the other night that I thought would nicely tie in my proposed LCD window and give the case some subtle 'bling'. The idea is to mount red fluro beneath the top panel so that you only see the red fluro edge. A couple of LEDs might be required to illuminate it more, but this stuff catches and glows nicely with smallest amount of light that I think we could get away with any additional light sources and just rely on it catching the ambient light. The LCD window should illuminate brightly with the LCD backlight.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Translucent Perspex Fluro goodness ;)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    If you were wondering… these little guys will line and overlap the inside edges of the CF Card access hole on three sides. The fourth piece will be adhered to the hinging end of the access door to create a pivot point and retain one end. The other end will have a locking screw.
    [​IMG]
    After too much careful and 'corrective' filing… :rolleyes:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    And so ends today's small but rich update ;)

    Still to do:
    - hard drive fixing points (top panel) – Now thinking that it would be better to have the mounting screws located on the bottom so that the top of the case can be removed without any attachments. ;)
    - tap threads for all joining panels
    - properly align and affix LCD
    - finish bottom panel Compact Flash card access door
    - cut and fix bottom rear panel to cover exposed area and consider further gap coverage…
    - file, sand and de-burr all faces and edges
    - affix little rubber feet (elevating the whole enclosure a couple of millimeters)
    - and anything else that I've forgotten or overlooked. ;)

    Note, as you can see, the 'To Do' list still hasn't really gotten any smaller with this little update. Oh well… :)

    Cheers
    GAM
     
  18. KaotiK

    KaotiK What's a Dremel?

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    Don't know if its been mentioned but how are you planning on powering it? Separate PSU or another way?
     
  19. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    Hi Kaotik, no, not mentioned in this thread AFAIK, but mentioned on another forum...
    Cheers
    GAM
     
  20. GAM

    GAM What's a Dremel?

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    5.25" Embedded Motherboard PC (Commissioned Build) – Day 7
    Note, click on images for higher res. versions.

    Finally managed to get a decent run in the workshop today and have some nice additions and teasers…

    Just how big, er… small is this thing anyway?
    Guys you've been asking and asking and I hadn't managed to deliver until now… Some photos with a standard 5.25" CD-ROM drive to show the relative size of this little machine.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Some new tools and possible GAM Mods products
    I finally found a 117mm hole saw, Lenox brand. My 121mm is too big for the perfection I'm seeking but I couldn't find an alternative until recently. I had to order this and it took nearly 6 weeks! I also ordered a new straight router bit for use with aluminium and hard plastics. This is an 'upcut spiral single flute 1/4" straight bit'. And thirdly, a 'set' of 3.3mm drill bits for rivets. I've been using the 3.3mm bit from my tap set and have been meaning to get replacements before I wore it out. They didn't have them individually, but I figured these days having 10 wouldn't hurt. I will probably put some on the GAM Mods site for customers too.
    [​IMG]
    WTF? Three different brands of masking tapes were applied 8 weeks ago. From memory, 3M, Tesa and Packmate, each significantly different in price. This is a trial before I purchase a carton of them for resale on the store. Anyway, the result is that they all removed cleaning without leaving any adhesive residue. Hence, I think I'll be stocking the cheaper option for us modders. ;)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Something's a little hot!
    Some time ago, my Enermax Liberty 620w in 'HTPC' died unexpectedly for the second time, fortunately still under warranty (at the replacement was still under its new warranty). Anyway while I was waiting the 6-8 friggin weeks for the replacement I had his cheapo PSU running it. Well, this died a week or two before the replacement arrived. FYI, HTPC is running a Pentium D820 overclocked to 3.5Ghz. I guess the cheapo Shaw couldn't handle the juice ;)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Compact Flash Access and the New Router Bit
    Prior to the following pics I had some practice/trials with some scrap and thought I had identified the potential pitfalls of routing out the inside edges of a hole in aluminium. Well, the practice wasn't sufficient for me avoid stuffing up the real thing. As I have to remind myself constantly, these guys don't like going in certain directions, or more to the point, they really go and get away from you certain directions ;).
    The last edge and… bzzitt. 'F---!' Oh well, the access needs to be a little bigger I suppose ;) I rerouted that edge to the new dimension. I will have to practice these techniques a lot more before I proficient.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Bad shot, but after some finishing filing and then with the new, larger, door resting in place.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Plastic Weld high strength two part glue was mixed up ready to adhere the little tabs and pieces that will secure the door in place. (Note, one part of the glue started flowing out rapidly, so pushed out the other part to max… meaning miles more glue than I wanted or needed.)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    I removed the spill out with a 'Stanley Knife', old trusty chisel and flat screw driver… Some residue was cleaned up with citrus cleaner.
    [​IMG]

    Fluro Fun!
    While I was waiting for glue to set, I embarked on some more experiments with the router and some of this new Perspex Fluro acrylic I've got. Using an ordinary 45 degree bevel bit, I beveled the edges of a piece of scrap on the router bench and then after some quick sanding and polishing we have…. Mars Red Fluro glory!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    This shot shows where it is intended, over the LCD. Here you can also appreciate the level of translucency (click on it for higher res.)
    [​IMG]

    Compact Flash Access continued…
    As clamps would have been a bit awkward, I decided to apply a little piece of 'Tape of the Gods' (3M double-sided clear tape) to hold the door in place while I drilled the locking screw hole. I wanted to ensure the door was centred in the hole with the slightest gap around each side. Then marked, punched and subsequently drilled and tapped.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Sweet, if I do say so myself!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    In this shot you can see how it all works, pretty simple really. Tongue on the door at one end and two lips that overlap the corners of the door near the tongue. The opposite end is screwed to a fixed plate.
    [​IMG]

    Hard drive madness, er… mounting
    Silly me, starting to rush a little as the day drawing to a close, I had overlooked that the mounting holes in the 2.5" HDD were not centre to its height. Of course, I drilled the mounting holes centre to the u-channel alu without thinking. Here you see the somewhat dodgy but still fine solution…
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Due to the thickness of the u-channel alu. and the bottom panel, longer M3 screws are required. I just grabbed some old rusty ones I had nearby.
    [​IMG]
    The next problem was the fact the channel was fractionally too small for the drive to be seated properly. Poor Rich on his first (and only, probably for good reason ;)) he spent much of it painstakingly filing and sanding the inside of the channel to fit the drive. Unfortunately it still wasn't good enough, so this time I ran it over the table saw and gained another 0.5mm and also took out the bottom corner that was forcing the drive to tilt.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    After sawing the outside edge.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    With top panel just sitting there to give you the idea of how it works—anchored at the bottom, held in place at the top to prevent lateral movement.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Sneak peek of side panel vent with HDD. Mesh is not fixed, just placed at this stage.
    [​IMG]

    Still to do:
    - tap threads for all joining panels
    - properly align and affix LCD
    - cut and fix bottom rear panel to cover exposed area and consider further gap coverage…
    - file, sand and de-burr all faces and edges
    - affix little rubber feet (elevating the whole enclosure a couple of millimeters)
    - and anything else that I've forgotten or overlooked. ;)

    - New, insert fluro panel beneath the top panel for a little design 'detail' to complement the proposed fluro LCD window.

    Well, the to do list has reduced somewhat.:)

    Cheers
    GAM
     

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