Stalled Freilite Brevis S: <5L Gaming Case with internal PSU

Discussion in 'Custom Cases & Projects' started by iFreilicht, May 28, 2015.

  1. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    #1 iFreilicht, May 28, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2016
    Small poll:

    A GPU is not the only thing one might want to put into the GPU compartment, and I've recently made a change to allow for a fan swap. What would you put there?

    Latest update:
    First hinge and Front I/O prototype.
    Full update.
    I got a package from shapeways today. The final result first:



    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the hinge works pretty much flawlessly, there's very little play in it. This solution for Front I/O is the easiest and cheapest one to manufacture and it's the minimum base option that I can guarantee will be offered. More complex I/O or upgrades (more USB ports, audio, USB C-Type, etc.) will probably be implemented as stretch goals.

    More details in the full update.

    Current status:
    First prototype has arrived, and while it is not complete, it is already used as my main system. Currently it's being used for functional testing.

    Overview:
    The Freilite Brevis S is designed to be a portable PC case with support for ITX mainboard, short GPUs and FlexATX PSUs. The goal in terms of size is staying below or at least close to 5L of volume.

    These renders don't represent the current state of the case. They will be updated soon.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Specification:

    Specifications are subject to change during the development phase!

    Mainboard: mITX
    CPU Cooler: 38mm max. height
    GPU: Dual Slot, up to 183mm long, up to 148mm tall
    PSU: FlexATX, 150mm (Seasonic SSP-300SUG included)
    Storage: 2x 2.5", 9.5mm thick

    Components: Compatibility spreadsheet.

    Dimensions (W*H*D): 59mm*418mm*201mm
    Volume: 4.957L

    Material:
    • Front Panel: 3mm brushed, anodised Aluminium
    • Side Panels: 2mm brushed, anodised Aluminium
    • Inner Frame: 1mm Steel, finish undecided
    • Thermal Divider: 4mm Acrylic
    Features:
    • Vertical and Horizontal orientation
    • Horizontal orientation with vents on the bottom for placing underneath screens
    • Easily modifiable Front I/O hidden behind door
    • Footprint similar to TKL keyboard, fits in nearly every messenger bag or backpack
    • Reversible PSU mount allows mounting PSU with cold side towards 2.5" drives
    • Separated compartments allow components to get direct intake from the side and exhaust to the bottom, back and top without heating each other up
    Future Tasks:
    The thermal divider has to be prototyped to make accurate tests with the PSU possible.
    The design needs to be revised to fix issues discovered in the first prototype.
    The cable management solution and front mount are to be finalised, drawn and ordered. Same goes for the outer shell and front panel assemblies, but they have lower priority as they can be omitted or made by hand from wood.
     
    Soul_Est and Phuncz like this.
  2. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    #2 iFreilicht, May 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016
    Updates:
    (Most of these updates are paraphrased, shortened versions of the originals. Links to those are included)

    0. Original Post
    After successfully finishing the Freilite Alpha in the PC-Q12, I of course had to notice how much space was wasted in that case because it wasn't designed for the components I built into it.

    So I got to the drawing board and managed to scrape off two more litres, arriving at currently just under 5L. This is the PC that I wanted to build when I built Alpha, and it is now time to make it happen! (Well sort of, I have to finish the design up, but I want to get it out there.)

    I proudly present:

    The Freilite Brevis S

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It's this small:

    Height: 420mm
    Width: 60mm
    Depth: 197mm

    Enclosing Volume: 4.96L

    It fits this stuff:

    Mainboard: mITX
    CPU Cooler: <41mm
    PSU: FlexATX (150mm, supposed to be preinstalled)
    GPU: 180mm long, 115mm tall, 2 slots (Effectively all mITX GTX970 currently available)
    HDD/SSD: 2 * 2.5"x9.5mm

    [​IMG]

    It has these design ideas:

    Intakes on only one side: This allows the case to be placed under a monitor, be VESA mountable or placed in a HiFi-Rack without suffocating the components and allows an extremely clean look from one side.

    Recessed GPU: By recessing the GPU into the case, the PCIe brackets don't stick out the back and the cabling for its power connectors can run directly into the PSU cabling area.

    Portability: By being very thin and short, this case fits into many sidebags or backpacks while still leaving space for other gear.

    HDDs far from heat sources: By being placed on the cold side of the PSU and far away from the underside of the GPU, the HDDs experience the most minor heat from other components possible in such a small enclosure.

    Minimal waste of space: By using an angled flexible riser, having the PEG connectors intrude into the area in front of the PSU, letting the HDDs connectors intrude into the Mainboards PCIe connector space and using the space next to the GPU for a front USB3.0 cable, the height of the case is kept at a minimum while using every little bit of space available.

    Easy installation: To ease installation, most panels can be removed, giving easy access to most components.

    [​IMG]

    What's left to do before I can make it:

    Tasks:
    • Thermal dividers between all three main components, maybe made out of acrylic Done
    • Stands for vertical and horizontal mode
    • Sample of the flex riser from LiHeat to make sure it fits Done
    • Redo intake and exhaust holes Maybe done, maybe I'll redo them again

    Questions:
    • Should the case be made a little bit taller to make sure the HDDs fit with mainboards that have their socket right next to the PCIe connector and wider GPUs? Currently you can only have two of the three at the same time or resort to one HDD instead of two.
      Yes, added 6mm to allow two HDDs always.
    • How can I mount the HDDs? Adhesive tape seems like the easiest way, it decouples the drives and makes installation quite easy. But it seems like a cheap solution.
      HDD bracket is designed with no drawbacks from adhesive tape.
    • Is there space for a TRRS 3.5mm audio jack? (That's what smartphones use.) I personally like that as a solution for Front Audio because you only have one jack which looks sleek but still maintain all functionality you'd get from two jacks.
      Yes, there is. Now to designing a PCB for that.

    • Is it possible to design the PSU mount in such a way that replacement PSUs can be mounted upside down? They should always have the hot side facing away from the HDDs and I'd want to enable the use of other PSUs. Jup, done.

    1. First design advances
    This update was posted on a different forum before SFFn was started.
    The intake holes were reworked.

    [​IMG]

    The PSU mount was redesigned to be reversible.

    [​IMG]

    And a TRRS 3.5mm Audio Jack was added to the front.

    [​IMG]

    While it looks much better than two separate jacks, it isn't standard for PC cases, so I also set out to develop a custom PCB to make this work.

    As it turns out, this is quite a complex thing to do if you want to do it right.

    2. The LiHeat Riser
    Full update.
    To keep the height of the case down, an angled PCIe riser is required. The first company that I found to make decent quality ones was LiHeat. I ordered one of their risers and tested it a bit:

    [​IMG]

    It worked out fine, no stability issues or anything like that, but didn't do any benchmark comparisons.

    It was also determined that their A-Type riser, which is angled downwards, would work just as well while blocking less of the exhaust.

    [​IMG]

    More details can be found in the update about that.

    3. Many new features
    Full update.
    The thermal divider between GPU and PSU was drafted:

    [​IMG]

    Back vents were added for improved exhaust:

    [​IMG]

    The vents were redesigned once more:

    [​IMG]

    A concept for the Horizontal stand was designed:

    [​IMG]

    As well as a concept for a VESA-mounting solution:

    [​IMG]

    5. New HDD mount and small changes
    This is a multi-post update. Open the spoiler to see details.
    It was decided that I needed to switch from mounting the mainboard directly to the outer panel (like the LianLi PC-Q12) to having an internal frame that the board is mounted to, like regular PC cases do. That way, there's easy access to the back of the mainboard and side panels can be made from pretty much any material.

    A new HDD mount was also designed. It was decided later on that this would be made from steel rather than aluminium. More info in the full update.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    6. An add-on for more drives and an ODD
    Full update.
    I had an idea how to make the case more attractive to users that wanted to use it as an HTPC and cared less about transportability.
    It uses the mounting holes for the horizontal stand.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And this is what it could look like inside:

    [​IMG]

    Space for an ODD, up to four 2.5" drives or PCIe brackets to extend I/O. That draft doesn't allow for actual full-height PCIe cards, though:

    [​IMG]

    After exploring this, I decided that I should stop messing around and get on with actually working towards a first prototype. It was an interesting thought experiment though.

    7. Small changes, first prototype ordered, HDPLEX riser discovered
    Full update.
    The Kensington Lock Slot and Nameplate found a place on the cases back.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Dimensions were slightly changed as well, the final height of the case is now 59mm.

    The main mount and GPU mount were ordered from a metal-working shop and are scheduled to arrive a month later. They are now to be made from steel instead of aluminium for higher structural integrity.

    I also discovered the HDPLEX Silicon riser, which is very thin and seems to be of high quality.
    It was tested a week later or so and I made a separate thread about that.

    [​IMG]

    8. First prototype parts arrived!
    Teaser and full update.
    The parts of the prototype arrived, and they're looking pretty good.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And here they are with components mounted:

    [​IMG]

    I had to use the LiHeat riser, which is about 15mm too short, so the GPU mount isn't screwed onto the main mount at the moment.

    Everything fits pretty well, apart from the GPU, which uncovered a crucial design flaw:

    [​IMG]

    In a following up update, this was crudely corrected:

    [​IMG]

    It was also shown that the Seasonic SSP-300SUG, which is now a good candidate for being the included PSU, is not exactly adhering to the FlexATX standard, which results in a fitment issue:

    [​IMG]

    9. Cable harness completed, first tests with new PSU
    Full update.
    Because the stock harness of the SSP-300SUG didn't include PEG connectors, I had to make a custom one. This took quite a bit of work, but it was well worth it:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm also walking through the connectors and the problems that arise with the limited pin-count on the modular connectors.

    Short tests with the new PSU make me very confident that it will be bundled with the case in the future. It is very quiet in idle and has acceptable noise under load. The thermal divider isn't in place yet, so it could be that the GPU heated up part of the PSU and made the fan run faster than it would've needed to.

    10. First hinge and Front I/O prototype.
    Full update.
    I got a package from shapeways today. The final result first:



    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the hinge works pretty much flawlessly, there's very little play in it. This solution for Front I/O is the easiest and cheapest one to manufacture and it's the minimum base option that I can guarantee will be offered. More complex I/O or upgrades (more USB ports, audio, USB C-Type, etc.) will probably be implemented as stretch goals.

    More details in the full update.
     
  3. Aibohphobia

    Aibohphobia Admin aka James
    Site Staff Kimera Industries

    Oh cool, nice to see your case thread here too.
     
  4. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    I figured it was about time and we need to solve the chicken-egg-problem to give this forum a bit of momentum :)
     
  5. PlayfulPhoenix

    PlayfulPhoenix Just another human
    Site Staff Kimera Industries Gold Supporter

    I like the tall, skinny profile from the front, with the rounded top and the button smack dab in the middle. Very provocative, compared to the dimensions of most computer cases.

    Very densely packed, too. Under 5L is impressive!
     
  6. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    Thanks! I'm having ideas for ways to mask the front ports if desired, because the first design without any front I/O except for the button looked even sleeker and I think quite a few people would like that.
     
  7. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    I didn't post it here previously, but this is my idea for the front port masking:

    [​IMG]

    You would have a small patch that could be inserted from the inside and be kept in place by the front mount.

    Also, I received some negative feedback on the adhesive mounting solution, so I came up with this:

    [​IMG]

    This is the one at the front, the one at the back is a lot shorter. I would keep the foam tape on the top panel (and the PSU), but it would only adhere to that, not to the HDDs. That means that the adhesive tape would never have to be replaced, no matter how often you swap the HDDs.

    What do you think?
     
  8. Aibohphobia

    Aibohphobia Admin aka James
    Site Staff Kimera Industries

    So the bracket would be taped to the top panel?
     
  9. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    No, that would mean that the top panel couldn't be removed without unplugging the HDDs, which I wanted to avoid. It will be screwed onto the front mounting panel with countersunk screws like so:

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Aibohphobia

    Aibohphobia Admin aka James
    Site Staff Kimera Industries

    So there'd be a similar bracket for the rear HDD? And they partially sit on top the PSU?
     
  11. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    Yes, just shorter. Well the brackets will only be as close to the PSU as the HDDs and I don't want them to sit directly on the PSU, that would highly increase the noise from vibrations.

    I have the option of putting foam tape on the PSU or reroute the riser to be between PSU and HDDs and either putting foam tape on that, as I don't see anybody replacing the riser, or just letting the HDDs rest on the riser. With the latter option I'm a little bit worried whether the masking of the riser will get worn out or torn with the HDDs vibrating.
     
  12. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    Small Update!

    The flex riser from LiHeat arrived, and damn is it a fine product!
    The riser is not only shielded but also nicely sleeved, which gives the whole cable a really nice look and feel.

    [​IMG]

    This is the approximate configuration I'll run it in. You'll notice there is a small bulge in the middle. That is due to the cable consisting of somewhere between three and five layers internally that all have the same length. Because of the bends it does, the inner shielding is on a shorter way, so it has to compensate by bulging. (I hope that was an understandable explanation) Not a big issue, though, I have more than 13mm below the GPU.

    [​IMG]

    The bend radius is also quite sharp, the cable is about 2.3mm thick and can easily do a 180 in just 5, maybe 6mms of space. This means that my solution for the GPU mount is feasible and I could even scrape 5mms off the case height at the bottom. This is a huge advantage over straight ended risers like the 3M one which would require me to make the case 20+mms higher.

    [​IMG]

    I also tested the distance the PSU has to have from the motherboard and the one used in my CAD model is perfectly fine, could even reduce it a little bit.

    I installed it into Freilite Alpha and am writing this on that rig right now. :D
    Additionally, I tested the performance non-scientifically with GTAV, and still got smooth 60FPS in 1080p as always. (Most settings on very high, some on high, density and variety settings on maximum, no AA, 16x AF)

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I will have to order a custom made ~360mm long riser for the real prototype, but right now I just wanted to assess whether everything fits, which it fortunately does.

    There were connectivity issues when installing the riser first, but that was quite probably caused by the way I bent the riser (very close to the solder points, and LiHeat does offer "armoured" versions of their risers that prevent that sort of thing. Once it ran, it ran really well, though. The connection is well made, even waving the GPU around, bending the riser like crazy and wiggling on the connections didn't change a thing. Very solid, I love it.
     
  13. Aibohphobia

    Aibohphobia Admin aka James
    Site Staff Kimera Industries

    Wow, those are some really nice looking cables.
     
  14. PlayfulPhoenix

    PlayfulPhoenix Just another human
    Site Staff Kimera Industries Gold Supporter

    Agreed, easily the nicest PCI riser cable I've seen. Where did you get it? And how much did it cost (if you don't mind my asking)?

    The whole thing is looking good!
     
  15. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    I got it from LiHeat, a taiwanese company. The riser can be bought via ebay (http://www.ebay.com/usr/liheat48), I used that just because it made payment easier. I previously had a lot of email contact with their rep. Very helpful, but there was a language barrier. They have information scattered around the internet, some on facebook, some on blogspot, some on their website, some on linkedin.
    Price was quite good, about 64€ including import tax and shipping to Germany.
     
  16. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    Small Update!

    So the conversation with LiHeat is going very smoothly, they linked my build log update about their riser on their facebook page and even offered to send a riser with the correct length to me free of charge! :D
    We were also talking about the necessity of using the B type riser like I did so I asked them whether they could measure the minimum height for me with both A and B type risers. This is the result (red lines were made by myself, yellow by LiHeat):

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the A type riser takes up quite a bit more space vertically, but it also clears the side of the GPU and would let air flow out way easier.
    The problem is, 54mm are about 2mm too much for my case. So either I make the case 2mm thinner, which would increase the Volume from 4.7L to 4.8L, or I'll choose the B type riser.

    0.1L doesn't sound like much, but using an A type has an additional problem: Fan swapping for the GPU.
    With the B type riser, I could make it possible move the GPU down by 10mm and install a 120mm, maybe even 140mm fan instead of the stock ones, which could improve noise levels for certain GPUs.
    With the A type riser, that's not possible, and I kind of fear that I would regret that decision later on.

    I really don't know what way to take at this point, so I made a strawpoll for you to vote on. If you have any other suggestions or reasons why I should or should not use an A type riser, it would be highly appreciated.
     
  17. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    Small Update!

    After seeing a few more answers on the poll and thinking about it all day, I decided to add the extra 2mm to accommodate the A type riser. Airflow for the GPU should NOT be an issue of any kind anymore.
    I also spent hours today going through multiple designs for the HDD brackets, because the previous one actually blocked the entire air intake for the PSU. Whoops. :rolleyes:
    What I came up with solves multiple issues:

    [​IMG]

    • The front mount can be removed without interfering with the HDDs now, which makes building a lot easier
    • The HDDs don't protrude over the PSU anymore so they aren't blocking any of its airflow
    • There's no need to put adhesive foam tape on the PSU anymore. The tape will be put on the bracket and on the top panel to somewhat decouple the drives.
    • It is now possible to mount a single HDD in parallel to the PSUs orientation which alleviates all clearance issues with wider cards or CPU sockets close to the PCIe slot.
    • If two HDDs are used, there is now much more flexibility in moving the bracket around, allowing to always use the maximum space available

    I think those are very important changes. The only thing that could be criticised is that you generally have to remove the HDD bracket if you want to change the PSU because the former is resting on the latter, but as it's only mounted with two screws and can be removed very easily, I see this as a non-issue.
    Not sure whether I want to keep the screws countersunk or not, either. The ones for mounting the HDDs will have to be countersunk for spatial reasons, but the main mounting ones don't really need to, and countersunk M3 screws are quite small, so they won't offer as much stability.

    The other thing I spent a lot of time thinking about is the GPU mount. Normally, PC cases have slots that the smaller ends of PCIe brackets slide into for additional stability. But because the GPU mount on my case is bent backwards, I can't just cut such a slot into the sheet.

    [​IMG]

    I could theoretically just leave it like this, as the cards used in this case won't be very heavy anyway, but as this is a highly portable case that will surely be moved around a lot, I'd like to have a sturdy solution here. I thought about a single angled piece that would come through the back of the mount which could contain the slots.
    The front panel could also have those slots cut in, but maybe it would look bad having those two holes with silver or even grey steel pieces in it.

    Also, I thought a bit about the AMD R9 Nano, and noticed that the reference design is actually just 6" (~153mm) long, which means that it will easily fit inside the Brevis S even though it has its power connector sitting on the front edge.
     
  18. EdZ

    EdZ Virtual Realist
    Gold Supporter

    IIRC, PCI-E slot spacing is 20mm, and the width of those bottom 'tabs' are standardise as 12.06mm. A short M8 bolt protruding between them (either from the outside for external aesthetics, or from the inside to add an extra retaining action from the bolt head) would prevent the tabs moving. Might be tricky finding a press-fit nut that didn't interfere though. Or a very short press-fit stud of the correct diameter could provide enough detent action to keep the backplates in place, though may make installation a bit fiddly.
     
  19. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    20.32mm, and the tabs are 10.18mm. Using screws was suggested on [H] as well, and I quite like the idea, but I don't think I'd want to use an M8 bolt, that seems a bit excessive. Having two M3 screws per bracket might work quite well, though.
    Not sure if I want to use press-in nuts or just have the threads cut into the sheet metal directly as of yet, though.
     
  20. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter Gold Supporter

    Today I played around with ideas for the screws, and this is the best I could make (click for larger images):

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    I don't really like this, to be honest. The missing screw in the rounded corner looks kinda odd, and I'd rather go for a cleaner look with less screws anyway, maybe even none, but that doesn't seem to be possible.
    There was a post on OCN recently where someone showed a ~11L case with a FlexATX PSU and sliding, screwless sidepanels that were then held in by the front panel.
    I think something like this might be possible by doing this:

    [​IMG]

    So there would be a slot milled along the whole front panel and the top and bottom panels would be chamfered, so you can slide the front panel on the bottom panel first, secure it with screws, then slide in the top panel from the back and secure that as well. I would probably need flanges on the top and bottom panels that allow screwing the panels in from the back like most regular PC cases do, but then most screws would be eliminated without sacrificing any stability. It may well be that the stability even gets increased by this.
    On the other hand, this may require to increase the thickness of the front panel to 3 or 4mm so the indent won't be a weak spot and the exact shape of the slot would be determined by the method of manufacturing.
    Also, having that chamfered edge of the panels be halfway visible around the chassis might look pretty cool.
    Is that worth it, though? Or should I just go with the screws as they are right now?