Log 3LVIS: (3) (L)itre (V)ery small case with (I)nternal psu and (S)creen

infoberg

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Mar 23, 2021
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3LVIS: (3) (L)itre (V)ery small case with (I)nternal psu and (S)creen​



Introduction​

This build was inspired by (or blatantly copied from, depending on how you look at it) the build log by BaK titled "B01T3 ...a 3L Brickless APU Build..." - genius title btw, love the play on B01, 3 litres and French word for "case". I had already ordered a version of the same case from AliExpress when I came across his post and I loved the idea of including the PSU in the case. As I am a total beginner when it comes to soldering, case modding etc, I am a little bit scared of the whole process, but every journey starts with the first step. I am learning along the way, so please bear with my ignorance and clumsiness, this will in no way be a polished build. This first post will detail the plan for the build, the parts I chose and the reasons why I chose them. Any feedback is always welcome!

The title is also work-in-progress, trying to come up with something as smart and elegant as BaK, failed miserably until now :)


The plan​

The first build I did with this case (known as Open-Smart B01, Goodisory B01, Ixkbiced B01 or just B01, depending on the sellers mood) featured the red version with the glass top and as suspected by others, it turned out that having no ventilation holes in the top is indeed inferior to having venitlation holes in the top when it comes to airflow and cooling. The situation can be improved when using motherboard standoffs to lift the glass up by a few milimeters, but if you keep it flush on the case, you can boil an egg on it while gaming. Which isn't bad in itself, as you could claim it's even more versatile than CoolerMasters KFConsole. But that's not the intended use here, so the beautiful showcase has to be left behind.

For that reason I chose the black version with the metal top for this project, hoping that some airflow will be better than none. If it's still not good enough, some 50mm fans added to the side of the case might help. Also I am not too sure if the PSU will be powerful enough for daily operation. The maximum power draw I had measured was 134W during a stresstest, which would definitely be too much. The solution for this could either be switching the APU to a 3400GE (or newer Ryzen 4000 or 5000 series once they become available) or just not stressing the system too much. During normal use (web browsing, watching YouTube vids in 4K) the typical power draw was 80W, which would leave enough safety margin for continous operation with the 120W PSU.

Two modifications are on my list:
  1. adding an internal AC/DC PSU
    Trying to stuff the PSU inside the poor case will also necessitate some changes to the power button, LEDs and USB ports to make enough room for the PSU. As much as I understand why BaK and others were advocating the use of the Meanwell PSU, I decided to try out another option which involves less modifications to the case. It's a AC/DC PSU which was built for powering LED in-furniture installations. It features an all-plastic body, so I am hoping it will not get too warm. Input is standard 220-240V, output exclusively 12V at a maximum of 11A, which gives it a rating of 132W. So that would be the maximum the system could consume, if the 200W PDCB wouldn't provide an output of only 10A at 12V which results in a maximum possible consumption of 120W. I guess I will see how it all works out, hoping I won't fry any components in the process...

  2. adding an LCD Touch screen
    I had the idea of adding a LCD touchscreen when I saw my first case with the glass top. It's about 6mm thick so I thought it might be replaced with a screen to add a nice touch (pun intended). Scouring the Amazons and AliExpress's of the web for hours brought up many different screens, most of them basically knock-offs of Waveshare monitors. In the end I decided to not go with the original because I found one model that is special. All the other monitors have the same connectors (1 HDMI, 1 USB for touch+power and 1 USB for power), all of them on the side of the screen. So when you insert a plug into them, you will need some more space on the side even if using 180° bent adapters. I wanted to avoid that and the screen I found does feature "internal" connectors for all three of them. It comes with cables to connect them to a RaspberryPi, but they can also be used in my project. One is a flat ribbon cable with a fullsize HDMI connector (which I will have to somehow feed to the outside of the case and plug it into the back) on the other end, one is for the touch function and ends in a standard USB-A plug (which I plan on connecting via an adapter to the onboard USB 2.0 header) and the third one has connectors for the RaspberryPi GPIO headers to provide 5V. It features one GND wire and two 5V wires - which puzzles me, because the standard connection to a USB socket would only provide 5V and not 2x 5V. I tested the screen with the ecnlosed power adapter and it never drew more than 4.8W, so I guess using one of the 5V wires from the USB header will be enough. This cable will have to be adapted to also connect to the USB header with the help of a little soldering.
    I will try to add the screen to the metal top, preserving about half of the existing ventilation holes, if the height of the cooler and screen (and my non-existent skills) permit it. But the details of how it will magically merge with the top, if it will be a fixed horizontal top or maybe even feature a hinge of some kind so it can be lifted up for better readability and ergonomics, are still not decided upon. Any and all suggestions are highly welcome!

The Parts​


Case: Ixkbiced B01​

Also know lovingly just as B01, available from either Amazon or several sellers on AliExpress
Featured extensively in BaKs build log, so I will only touch on its features ligthly. The external size is 200x200x85mm (7.8/7.8/3.3in), which includes the rubber feet. The case itself has exactly 3 litres volume. I think the build quality of this case is excellent and the possibility to disassemble most of it makes it easy to use for such a project. If using a standard Mini-ITX board and a rather slim PDCB, you will end up with up to an inch (25mm) of available space in the front of the case (where you could usually add a 2.5" SSD/HDD) and half that on the sides. This should be enough for the PSU, cables and any adapters I might need (more on that below). I have been thinking about using a Thin Mini-ITX board to make more room in the case, but for the time being I decided to stick to Mini-ITX.

Yes, quite reasonable, but the marked parts will need to go to make place for the PSU.

Screen: UPERFECT 7 inch HDMI LCD Monitor 1024*600 IPS Capacitive Touch Screen​

This is the touchscreen found on AliExpress. It's a few bucks more expensive than most models with this screen size and resolution, but it comes with really complete accessories (cables for HDMI and Micro-HDMI, USB to MicroUSB, internal cables as seen below, a stand with screws plus a screwdriver and an external power adapter) and also features some not-very-despicable speakers.


AC/DC adapter: FTPC150V12-C​

Built in Poland, currently available only from a few sellers in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Italy and - quite conveniently for me - Austria. 220-240V AC input, 12V DC output at 11A. Cables can be screwed onto the connectors, no soldering of connectors necessary. If it's fit for the job, remains to be seen.


PDCB: MINI-ITX PSU 200W NAS​

200W Plug-In DC Board by Inter-Tech, with 12V input (which the LED PSU conveniently outputs). Only one cable (apart from the input) is fixed to the board, the 12V ATX plug. Two others (containing 2 SATA and 1 Molex plug each) are detachable, which allows for cleaner cabling and more space (which equals better airflow). The board is capable of delivering 120W on the 12V rail, which is the only voltage I really care about, since I won't connect any harddrives (other than the M.2) or other peripherals. If the M.2 will ever be too small (I know it will), then the solution is a PCIe to M.2 adapter to add up to three more M.2 NMVe SSDs (or rather 2 NVMe PCI SSDs and one NVMe SATA SSD).


Mainboard: MSI B450I AC Gaming​

Fairly standard, ATX connector and USB 2.0 and 3.0 headers conveniently located to enable adding all the necessary cables and adapters.

APU: Ryzen 5 3400G​

Might be replaced with a Ryzen 5 3400GE later if necessary for power consumption reasons. The 3400G has a TDP of 65W, whereas the 3400GE is rated for just 35W. I know the TDP doesn't translate directly to energy consumption, but the 3400GE should still be much less powerhungry than the standard version.

CPU cooling solution: Noctua NH-L9a-AM4​

I chose this cooler (in the chromax.black edition, of course) because it seemed to provide the best cooling/noise performance given the relatively low height. On first test in an open case, it ran absolutely silent with the included low noise adapter. Results with closed case and added PSU and screen need to be checked later in the process.

RAM: Corsair Vengeance RAM 2 x 8 GB 3200 MHZ​

Fairly standard "low" profile DIMMs running at the optimal 3200 MHz for a Ryzen CPU.

SSD: Kingston A2000 NVMe SSD​

Just 500GB in size, enough for an operating system, a few applications, select games (heavy gaming would overload the PSU anyways) and a few movies if you want to take the box with you, which I definitely plan to do.

AC plug: C14​

Portability and abundant availability of cables led to my decision on using a standard C14 plug. As the necessary opening in the case needs to be 20mm wide, it will snuggely fit next to the I/O shield in the back of the case. Hopefully it will also be short enough to enable the use of the aforementioned PCIe-to-M.2 adapter if neccessary.

LEDs / Power Button​

The default LEDs and power button need to be replaced to make room for the PSU, just as BaK did.
I managed to find some 1.8mm LEDs locally, even though their price per piece is about the same as the price for 30 pieces on AliExpress. But shipping costs and time and also environmental considerations meant that locally bought parts are preferable to me. These LEDs are tiny (in fact so tiny that I nearly lost one of them twice when I dropped it), rated for 6V input which means they should work with the 5V provided by the mainboard header. I tested them with a 4.5V battery after soldering them onto some cables from an old (or rather ancient) case, they seem to work fine. I went for red for both LEDs, as I found that it fits well with the black/red theme of the mainboard.

A very slim button is needed to fit into the opening in the case, luckily I found the exact same button set on Amazon which BaK used for his build (note the blatant copying here?).


Part 1: First Steps​

At first, the easy steps: disassembling the case, checking all the components for any possible issues.
Assembling the mainboard and components is the easiest task, specially when using a Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut pad instead of thermal paste. Everything fits well, clearance between cooler, RAM and PDCB is great. Test fitting was also a breeze, all straightforward.



What followed, were first steps in soldering. It's amazing how far an undecipherable set of instructions which came with a Chinese soldering iron and a few YouTube tutorials can get you. I managed to solder the two LEDs onto some wire and still leave them in a working state. No burned fingers or desks, not looking too pretty, but as they say: "form follows function". It was just for a quick test, will tidy up and add shrink tubing later.



More to come soon, next up is getting acquainted with a Dremel 3000 to start chopping up the case, as this holder for a 2.5" SSD/HDD has to be removed:

If all goes well (and I still have enough fingers left to type on a keyboard), this log will continue probably around next weekend...


To be continued...​

 
Last edited:

BaK

King of Cable Management
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May 17, 2016
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Flattered to see a similar build to mine in a B01 casing! :)

Looking forward to seeing how this LED PSU will behave!
And of course how the case will look with a screen on its top! Although I am a bit pessimistic here thinking how it will decrease the cooling ability of the case, which is already not that high. But as you said, 50mm fans could be helpful about that.

Nice find with this low profile 200W PDCB! It should get some airflow thanks to your low profile RAM, unlike what I experienced with my taller Vengeance Pro.
And hopefully your thinner PSU will fit without the need to unsolder the cable on the PDCB and put them back on its other side. That' really something I had a hard time with!

Good job with the LEDs btw, not an easy task for a first try on such small parts! :thumb:

Can't wait to see this coming along together!
 
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infoberg

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Minor progress​


Thanks for the positive feedback so far guys!

I didn't make any relevant progress this week, hoping to get some stuff done tomorrow. I spent the week acquiring some more tools (crimping tool, wire stripper, ...) and familiarizing myself with them (spceially the Dremel). So far I am quite happy with them and confident I won't electrocute myself or cut off a few fingers on first try :)

The PDCB does indeed play along nicely with the PSU after removing the SSD/HDD holder from the interior of the front panel. The wires in the photo are not aligned in the correct way, they will both be leading in the same direction, but there is enough room above the PSU. If you're wondering why the PSU is upside down: that way the primary circuit is on the right, on the same side where the input will enter the chassis at the back. It also allows to use one of the provided mounting points, aligns perfectly with the screw hole in the front panel if propping up the PSU by a few mm.



The instructions that came with the PSU specify that load has to be connected to the secondary circuit before connecting the unit to mains. As I don't currently have a mainboard for testing available with 24 pin ATX connector (only 20pin), I will connect it to a 12V LED (instead of the PDCB) tomorrow to see if it works and measure the output, before connecting it to my mainboard.

I also got myself a new C14 connector with included on/off switch. I hope I can fit it in the back of the case, this will require some precision work with the Dremel. Or I might switch to a C6 connector if I am too scared of ruining the case.

available width next to the I/O shield: 23mm
C14 cutout width required: 20.4mm


C6 cutout width required: 17.6mm

Keeping my fingers crossed that the PSU will do it's job, or it's back to the drawing board.

PS: couldn't have done the soldering of these tiny LEDs without the holder with illuminated magifying glass.

to be continued...​

 

BaK

King of Cable Management
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May 17, 2016
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The PDCB does indeed play along nicely with the PSU after removing the SSD/HDD holder from the interior of the front panel. The wires in the photo are not aligned in the correct way, they will both be leading in the same direction, but there is enough room above the PSU.
Looks good, tight bend on the AC wires but they fit!


As I don't currently have a mainboard for testing available with 24 pin ATX connector (only 20pin)
There are these PSU testers, very helpful and cheap:
Amazon product

available width next to the I/O shield: 23mm
C14 cutout width required: 20.4mm
That leaves only a bit more than 1mm of metal on each side of the C14. Don't forget you are going to apply some force there when attaching the power cable to the C14!
 

infoberg

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Mar 23, 2021
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PSU not exploding yet...​


That leaves only a bit more than 1mm of metal on each side of the C14. Don't forget you are going to apply some force there when attaching the power cable to the C14!

You're right, I will definitely need to use the C6 socket instead of the C14. Currently looking for a slim C6 socket with included switch, but didn't have any luck on Amazon, ebay, AliExpress or mouser yet...

As for the PSU, it is working allright by itself, lighting up a 12V LED with stable 12V (+/- 5%) power delivery:

Of course that's not too difficult when there's only a tiny LED pulling 20mA. It remains to be seen how it performs together with the PDCB, ordered a ATX PSU tester as suggested, to keep from frying all the expensive components. And its stability and thermal performance under load need to be evaluated as well.

Bending the input cables upwards helps with not making them bend too tight. Also the retention clip of the PDCB is nice enough to assist in keeping the PSU in place:

There is even enough space left on the side of the PSU to install the new 90° USB3 sockets with flat ribbon cables:

To be better prepared for thermal problems, I have acquired a Noiseblocker BlackSilent Fan XS 50x10 fan, there's plenty of space for it (or 2-3 of its kind) on both sides of the case. The manual for the PSU states that there should be 50mm of spacing between the PSU and the surrounding for convection. As this is not really possible in this chassis, I guess it might need to be cooled with a fan or two...


Next up: getting the new, tiny power switch ready, waiting for thermometer, caliper and PSU tester to arrive to advance with the PSU integration part.

to be continued...​

 
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BaK

King of Cable Management
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Currently looking for a slim C6 socket with included switch
I only find that one, But it unfortunately needs a 24x30mm hole:



There is even enough space left on the side of the PSU to install the new 90° USB3 sockets with flat ribbon cables
I wish I had such an option, nice find!
 
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infoberg

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I only find that one, But it unfortunately needs a 24x30mm hole:


Yeah, that was the only one that turned up. But as the orientation of the C6 plug (just learned that it's the plug and not the socket, because it's male) is horizontal, it doesn't help with my problem. So I am now going for a slim C6 plug and a separate switch which should fit in one of the extra holes in the back :)

I wish I had such an option, nice find!

It took literally days to find this adapter on AliExpress, looks like it's not a common issue I am trying to solve...

It's currently still baby steps I am making, too many things left to consider, specially with regards to the screen. I think it will not be feasible to integrate it into the existing case top, probably should design a new one with more ventilation where possible (i.e. in the surface not covered by the screen).
 

BaK

King of Cable Management
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May 17, 2016
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separate switch which should fit in one of the extra holes in the back
This is the one I've bought for the reset switch:


It fits perfectly into the bigger 8mm hole at the back of the case.
But it is a momentary switch, I failed to find an equivalent rocker switch for the on/off power. 8mm black vandal switches were to no available from what I remember.
Let me know if you are more skillful! ;)

In another hand, enlarging the hole at the back to accommodate a 12mm (vandal) switch should be easy, but such switches are often long, coming close to the PCIe to M2 adapter or the CPU cooler.
 
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infoberg

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This is the one I've bought for the reset switch:


It fits perfectly into the bigger 8mm hole at the back of the case.
But it is a momentary switch, I failed to find an equivalent rocker switch for the on/off power. 8mm black vandal switches were to no available from what I remember.
Let me know if you are more skillful! ;)

In another hand, enlarging the hole at the back to accommodate a 12mm (vandal) switch should be easy, but such switches are often long, coming close to the PCIe to M2 adapter or the CPU cooler.

That's exactly the kind of switch I was looking for yesterday, but as a rocker switch. Maybe I didn't look in the right places yet, I gave up after 3-4 hours of scrolling through endless pages of momentary switches. So I failed on that mission as well 😁

You're right about the length of a switch (or even the inlet) possibly interfering with the M.2 adapter in the PCIe slot, that's why today I gave it another shot looking for a C6 inlet with switch. I think what got me lucky was searching for "IEC 60320 C6", derived from "IEC/EN 60320-1/C6" which is the standard defining the C6 connectors. Although this search will yield only 2 results on AliExpress (but a lot more if searching for "IEC 60320"), I got lucky with Google leading to the Holy Grail:

It can be found searching for the order# 498-2827 on your local website of https://www.rs-online.com/, but it seems the manufacturer is Schurter of Lucerne, here are the specs. Schurter apparently only sells to distributors though. I sent an email to their listed Austrian contact, let's see what they say.

Not sure though how this housing can be mounted in the case, maybe to the side panel? This inlet together with a C14/C5 adapter (so you can use any standard C14 cable) would do the trick for me. The inlet measures only 53.3mm x 18mm, I guess that's about as slim as possible. if using readily available standard components.
 

infoberg

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Mar 23, 2021
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Or maybe I just found a 8mm locking switch on AliExpress that could be used? The photos and drawing with measurements do not really match however, so I am not too sure it would work. Plus it will take several weeks to arrive...

 

infoberg

Trash Compacter
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Mar 23, 2021
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There you go! 8mm cutout, available in 2 variants: self-locking/latching or momentary, about 21mm in length


Now I just need to decide which way to go: inlet with integrated switch using an 18mm cutout, or only the inlet with 13mm cutout plus an extra switch in the existing 8mm hole. @BaK which one would you choose, given your experience?
 

Valantar

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I ended up ordering this switch because it's specified as being fit for 220V. Not sure if I'll use it though.
Hm, I'd be very wary of only breaking one of the two incoming power leads to cut power. Depending on your location and your AC outlet type you might not be able to control whether you're breaking live or neutral, and depending on how your country's AC grid works you might still have a live power connection for half the sinus curve, meaning shorts to ground at ~110V (IIRC) are still possible. You need to break both live and neutral for safety.