The Box (Project Melfina)

After I had enough strength training carrying my old rig around, I decided to put FAYE into gaming retirement. (Now it’s my server!) And began working on a new easy-to-carry gaming machine.

After I had enough strength training carrying my old rig around, I decided to put FAYE into gaming retirement. (Now it’s my server!) And began working on a new easy-to-carry gaming machine.


I started planning for this project a long, long time ago. Guess I just thought it would be cool to have a gaming machine in a package that was ready to go. You might ask, “why not just get a laptop?” Well simply put, laptops rank right up there with metal working forges and the sun in terms of heat produced while gaming and I’ve seen too many fail to impress.

This is the box. Cleaned, cut, and under development. My apologies for not getting a pic before I already started.

Well, first thing’s first. I’ve got to find the perfect case. I searched all over the internet and couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, for the price that I wanted. Everything that I found on ebay was either too small, funny shaped, or too expensive. I put out the word about what I was looking for and low and behold a nice free case showed up at my door. Apparently factories throw this kind of stuff out and luckily someone went dumpster diving on my behalf. Thanks Dad!

Sharp edges are dangerous and must be neutralized.

Now the case wasn’t in the best condition. It had quite a few scratches and other battle scars all over it, plus the inside was covered in oil. To make it usable, it would need to be cleaned and the rubber padding taken out. After I started taking the case apart, I noticed that it wasn’t solid aluminum. Which I guess is a little easier to work with, but was disappointing. The padding was difficult to get out, but gave me a good 2 inches all the way around to work with. I took some good old aluminum wheel cleaner to the exterior and bent some of the aluminum supports back into shape.

Oh, here's Nathan. He decided to come help out.

The next step was planning out how all the internals were going to fit in. For this I opened up Visio and played around with a few ideas of where the big parts were going to fit. (Motherboard, Power supply, Hard Drive, etc.) After a little planning I decided to get started. I figured the first thing would be to get the case motherboard-ready. Now I’m not really good about figuring out exactly where I needed to cut and fabricate to get the pci slots and everything to fit perfectly, but I am good at butchering old cases. I have a little graveyard of old systems in my basement that have done nothing but gather dust. Lets do some frankenstein work and put some of those to use.

Here you can see the back panel I stole from the old 350 and the powersupply hole I cut.

I had several old 350 white box machines laying around that are completely riveted together. It was simple to unrivet the plate off the back of one and get a pattern to cut my case with. So, I got out my trusty Dewalt cutout tool and went at it. Turned out to be easier than I thought. Now I just needed something to fasten the motherboard to. That also ment cutting up that 350 case to salvage the motherboard platform which got stuck in place with a little liquid nails. I would have done something a little sturdier, but the case is just too thin for much else.

A close up of the LED and switch layout. Yes, that's a tractor ignition switch.

After getting the motherboard in, I had to worry with getting a power supply hole cut out. This was probably the most difficult part of construction. I fixed a small block in the bottom of the case and measured carefully, but still managed to cut it wrong. But, I managed to do some eyeball cutting and fixed it. Now it was getting time to figure out where I was going to vent the heat out of this little box. Without a lot of clearance on either side, I decided to go with five 50mm and one 60mm fans I got from allelectronics.com, three on each side. (intake and exhaust) This was a fairly easy process, only a drill is required to make six holes.

Here's that control panel being fitted.

After I got some cooling going on, I wanted to make a neat cover plate with fan controls and access to my power buttons and diagnostic leds. Again I went back to that torn apart 350 and cut out a nice piece of the steel cover/door to use as my panel. I’m all about windows, so I only wanted half to be a control panel and the rest to be acrylic. I took a trip to radio shack and bought a bag of misc. leds for the power, hd, and diagnosic lights. I also found a cool military toggle switch that I knew needed to be put on there.

Look at the mess of wire. Of course that's CAT5e, you must use what resources you have.

I’m not an electronics major, so instead of making my own fan controls, I let frozencpu.com do all the work. While I was there I decided to look around at everything else they have in their inventory and found a cool looking HDcooler/enclosure. This was great, since I had forgot all about where to put the HD. After all that It was time for assembly.

This is my attempt to control the wire jungle.

The panel was really easy to create. Just a bunch of cutting and drilling for the components. I also had to make a bracket for the HD cooler and figure out how to wire up that crazy toggle switch and power button.

Here I am cutting out one of the brackets for the Harddrive bay.

Before everything was said and done, I realized I didn’t have a disc drive, handy usb ports, or headphone/mic jacks. No sweat, time to get out the xacto knifes. The case being made of wood instead of completely aluminum paid off. It was simple to carve out a place for my slim DVD-RW and my ports.

Here is the final product.

No comments:

Post a Comment