DIY computer case/enclosure

Case build

One of my earlier projects; Being a student, and generally a poor one I needed a cheap server that could be used to host a number of files on the local network. I was living in student "digs" at the time and hence, needed to ensure that the server was low in power, silent in operation - since I was sleeping in the server room, my bedroom - along with a small footprint. Since the case was for a server it meant that it didn't need to be as aesthetically pleasing as a normal desktop pc.

After quite a bit of thought and perhaps not enough pencil work I set about making the base for the case using 1" angle aluminium since this is easy to cut, drill and quite cheap - Approx £3/m at time of writing.

     

I started by building the base, cutting the aluminum to size using a hacksaw and drilling all of the required holes using an SDS drill fitted with a a conventional 13mm key-chuck converter and the hammer switched off. This drill was less-than ideal and some of the holes reflect this. All of the measurements were made as required using an old ATX P2 motherboard as a guide. I then used a rivet gun to rivet all of the pieces together.

  
  

Once the base was complete and the motherboard mounting sorted out, it was then time to build the side and top sections. This was done in much the same manner, the height of the case was determined by the height of the power supply, I also designed some uprights on the top for an 5.1/2' IDE CD drive but the design was awkward so they were removed at a later stage.

        
  

That was the server case pretty much complete, all we needed to do now was install the motherboard, CPU, PCI cards and power switches etc.

     

Final system specification

The following list provides details of the final system specification:

Motherboard: MSI 6163 Pro ATX BX Mainboard
CPU: PII 800MHz - running at 400Mhz
Memory: 64MB dimm 100
Graphics: NVIDIA Mighty Banshee 64MB AGP graphics
PCI: 10/100Mbps Ethernet card
HD: 80GB Mini-IDE laptop drive
Power supply: 400W ATX
Operating system: Linux: Debian server

As can be seen from the above list, I have under-clocked the CPU to try and reduce the power consumption of the unit by as much as possible, this has also allowed me to remove the fan for the CPU along with the fan for the power supply - especially as the only drive we have in the system is an old laptop mini-IDE drive. In due course I will get a power meter on the server to confirm how much power it is consuming, I would hazard a guess at around the 100-150 W region. As well as reducing the power consumption of the unit we have also reduced the noise produced by it by removing all of the cooling fans. The following pictures show the final system implementation: - Minus a hard drive.

     

The System runs very smoothly on the whole with the CPU getting no higher than around 25-30 degrees and the power supply hardly warming up at all. The unit runs very well with the Debian base system, I had it set up over the space of a month as my printer, file and webcam server using ssh to issue commands to the system - no GUI.

That's about it for the time being; since moving from the previously mentioned student "digs" I have had no cause to use the above system, and as such, it has been sitting in a cupboard ever since. However, I am sure it's day will come.

I have also managed to pick up a new small pillar drill now so I intend to try again since this should enable me to smarten up the design somewhat. I will also try to get some design on paper next time so that I can add it here.

Watch this space!

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